This article is part of our DraftKings AFL series.
The first major shift in the standings for multiple weeks comes with Melbourne losing their grip on first place as the 'Dees were jumped by both the Western Bulldogs and Geelong before Round 20. Despite that happening, there's still plenty of value to find throughout the Melbourne clubs even in another injury crisis at North. Given some of the turmoil at the top and another busy slate, this week's picks sample good-value targets across the ladder as each are capable of making the difference on their own on a good day. If in the market for a good game, Sydney and Essendon are the closest opponents by place on the table and both teams are capable of exceptional feats of skill.
If this is your first time checking out Aussie Rules Football, welcome to a sport that combines the physicality of rugby, the stamina of soccer players and the impressive verticality seen in the American code of football. To make sure you know exactly what each stat looks like, check out this helpful video.
On the pitch, there are 18 players fielded by each team with four interchange options that can rotate up to 75 times per match. In DK competitions, lineups are permitted just nine players: two forwards, four midfielders, two defenders and one ruck. To earn points, players can add to the score (+6 for a goal, +1 for a behind), keep the footy under control (+3 for a kick, +3 for a mark, +2 for a handball) or stop the other team from advancing (+4 for a tackle, +1 for a free kick, +1 for a hitout). On the other side, conceding a free kick is a deduction of three points.
It's worth noting that AFL fantasy is heavily weighted to those who can touch the footy the most times, which is why there are extra midfielders available as they are usually capable of scoring the most points without ever needing to enter the 50-meter line. And with that, here are some potential picks to give you an idea of who to watch out for on Saturday.
Adelaide Crows (15th) vs Western Bulldogs (1st)
Geelong Cats (2nd) vs North Melbourne Kangaroos (18th)
Melbourne Demons (3rd) vs Gold Coast Suns (14th)
West Coast Eagles (7th) vs Collingwood Magpies (16th)
Sydney Swans (6th) vs Essendon Bombers (9th)
This Week's Picks:
Always remember to check your lineups! The initial team sheet will come out well in advance of the match, but teams only finalize their selection an hour before first bounce.
Ben King, Gold Coast ($4,100): While facing Melbourne on the back of their draw and loss over the last two rounds, King makes plenty of sense as a value pick with nine goals scored over his last three games against Brisbane, Western and Richmond, which are all in the finals places. Even if he doesn't come close to topping 100 fantasy points scored, King should be able to give exactly what his needed out of his place in fantasy. If in the market for a top-end forward, consider Taylor Walker could produce similar value as a mid-tier midfielder without much effort after putting up four in his last effort against Hawthorn.
Ben Brown, Melbourne ($3,900): At less of a cost than the first Ben and on improving form, Brown offers realistic expectations from a low-cost forward who's scored eight goals in eight games this season. Additionally, if he remains available in Round 20 against Gold Coast, it his longest stretch of consecutive games played with four, and he's improved both his goalscoring and touches with each passing week. Maintaining that trend against a softer opponent shouldn't be too tall a task. Other options worth considering are Jack Petruccelle in his return from a hamstring injury, though he's only listed on the interchange bench for now, or Aaron Naughton, who only costs $4,300 in his matchup with Adelaide.
Luke Parker, Sydney ($6,600): With so many players on offer, there's no reason to rely on one high-priced option at the expense of a balanced lineup. This results in Parker being a solid pick in the first midfield spot as he's scored at least 96 points in eight straight rounds, with 117 and 110 recorded as his last two fantasy outputs. With some of the returning players from their isolations like Callum Mills and Harry Cunningham, Parker should have even more support around him during what should be an exciting matchup with Essendon. One of the more unfortunate situations to deal with comes from Brayden Fiorini, who's scored over 100 points in four straight games but is listed on the interchange bench to start, and Jed Anderson, who is on track to return from his injury but still remains out of the full lineup. For the same reason that picking Anderson makes sense, Jy Simpkin could be worth the cost while Ben Cunnington is out indefinitely due to surgery.
Patrick Dangerfield, Geelong ($6,400): This Cat also brings solid numbers with over 100 points scored in three of his last four starts, which is something that Dangerfield had failed to do in the first five games of his season. Facing off with a North Melbourne club that once again is shorthanded due to injuries, Dangerfield remains an important player in his own right due to Mitch Duncan's knee injury that leaves the Cats in need of more help. If he's able to keep up his solid possession numbers from his last month of matches, Dangerfield has a good chance to put up a good scoreline this weekend. A solid alternate in this spot is Jack Redden, who comes back from a knee injury and had scored over 100 fantasy points in three straight games before picking up his knock.
Jeremy Sharp, Gold Coast ($6,200): Where Brayden Fiorini isn't starting, Sharp kept his place in the lineup for Round 20 after logging 61 disposals combined and at least 110 fantasy points per game over his last two starts. With his performances coming against two stronger opponents in the Western Bulldogs and Brisbane, it's a sign that Sharp isn't limited by who lines up against him. We'll see if he can prove this theory against the 'Dees, though things are looking positive for now. While Sharp originally scored no more than 79 points in his first three games, Sharp slotted in for the absent Hugh Greenwood (torn MCL) another solid performance would help him keep his place in the lineup for the rest of the season. If looking to take advantage of a cheaper option who might have more reliable potential to go with the risk consider Kyle Langford in his comeback from a hamstring injury. Over his last nine games, Langford has scored over 100 fantasy points on five occasions.
Angus Brayshaw, Melbourne ($4,900): After running down a list of players in solid form, here's finally one where taking what's left is the key to the story. With Brayshaw's average of 18.6 disposals per game, his positioning at center against Gold Coast should at least yield consistent value, even though he hasn't logged over 20 disposals in any of his last four games. Someone in a similar position would be Justin McInerney, who slots in at center for Sydney and recently scored 96 fantasy points in Round 18 against GWS.
Chris Mayne, Collingwood ($7,400): The advantage of a cheaper midfield means an expensive defender can be taken who has the capability to produce a similarly high output. Mayne may take things a step further in his initial listing as a center for his contest against West Coast. To follow this train of thought, Mayne has scored over 100 points in six of his last nine games and never recorded less than 24 disposals in a game during that stretch. Against an inconsistent Eagles club, Mayne has the matchup to continue what has been a solid season and make himself worth the cost. Among the most expensive defenders, it's also worth considering plenty of the option from West Coast like Shannon Hurn or Liam Duggan to get more flexibility from their cost. Away from that route, Jack Lukosius is now listed as a defender and even at $7,000, has scored over 100 fantasy points in two of his last three games and could be capable of doing the same again this weekend.
Easton Wood, Western Bulldogs ($3,400): Wood has a favorably low cost in his return from over two months out with an ankle injury. With season-highs of 22 disposals and 11 marks coming in two separate games, Wood has the ability to put up good numbers if he can find his stride. Given some of the other injuries to the Bulldogs' defense despite their first-place spot on the ladder, Wood could take on a bigger role than would otherwise be afforded to a recently-injured player. Another player who costs less than Wood is Aaron Francis, who hasn't played since June, but it's mostly important to pick someone who's in the starting lineup and will still get a few touches.
Reilly O'Brien, Adelaide ($6,300): While picking the most reliable ruck tends to mean the most expensive one is picked, this time it's somewhat possible to drop down in cost thanks to O'Brien's recent efforts. With 101 points scored in his last match against Hawthorn and a favorable positional matchup against Tim English and the Western Bulldogs, it wouldn't be surprising to see O'Brien put up a solid number. On either side of O'Brien are two more ruckmen with decent value in Todd Goldstein and Tom Hickey, which both enter this weekend on the back of solid performances throughout July.