This article is part of our DraftKings AFL series.
New to DraftKings, the Australian Football League offers a combination of basketball-like point totals and rugby-like physicality unlike just about anything else in the sports world. As it's brand new to DFS, everyone gets to start on a roughly level playing field in terms of knowing what kinds of players to target, what salaries may be strong values, etc. Those insights should come into focus as the season progresses, but for now we'll offer out best guesses on how to assemble a winning roster.
DK's format features a starting lineup of nine players – one ruck, two forwards, two defenders and four midfielders – and a scoring system that rewards points on the board (+6 for a goal, +1 for a behind) as well as possession and defensive stats (+4 for a tackle, +3 for a kick, +3 for a mark, +2 for a handball, +1 for a free kick, +1 for a hitout). Conceding a free kick get a player docked -3 points as well. If you have no idea what rucks, behinds, and marks are, this is a good place to start, although note that the length of each quarter has been reduced to 16 minutes from 20 for the 2020 season. Also, check out some of our other tools to help you compile a lineup.
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Fremantle vs. St. Kilda (-12.5), o/u 120.5: The Saints have won three of four since the restart and despite having to switch hubs since their last contest as the league throws together a schedule on the fly, they get a strong opportunity to keep rolling here against a Dockers squad that only found their first win last week. Freo does get Nathan Fyfe back after a one-game absence due to a hamstring tweak, but the club lost Sam Sturt during training Thursday to a sprained ankle so still won't be at full strength. Zak Jones returns from his own minor hamstring strain for St. Kilda, and their implied score of 67 is the second-highest on the slate.
West Coast (-30.5) vs. Adelaide, o/u 124.5: The Crows are the only winless team left on the ladder, while the Eagles are starting to wake from their post-break slumber, so it's no wonder this one carries a lopsided 78-47 implied score. West Coast will likely be a massively popular stacking option as a result, but there will still be plenty of ways to distinguish a lineup for tournaments, especially with Luke Shuey sidelined. Adelaide has shuffled its lineup once again, and defender Andrew McPherson will make his AFL debut.
Melbourne (-6.5) vs. Gold Coast, o/u 119.5: The tightest game on the slate per the odds, the Demons emerged as the favorites after Matthew Rowell went down for the Suns. Gold Coast still has a wealth of young talent, however, while Melbourne is plugging four new names into its starting 18. This game also features a chance of a larger rainfall than the others, so if you're looking for a contrary option to an Eagles stack you may want to steer clear.
Essendon (-8.5) vs. North Melbourne, o/u 120.5: The Bombers remain one of the fresher squads in the league after their earlier postponement against Melbourne and certainly looked the part last week, while the Roos have dropped three straight. Essendon gets Zach Merrett back from a one-game suspension while North Melbourne will be without the services of Ben Cunnington, leaving a fairly large hole in their midfield. The implied 65-56 score may be selling the Bombers short – the Roos haven't won a game without Cunnington in the lineup since 2013.
Todd Goldstein, Kangaroos ($8,300): There aren't any clear value options that jump out at ruck on this slate, so it's a good week to pay up. Max Gawn's astronomical salary puts him out of reach in my mind if you want to hit that 12x value range, but Goldstein stands a much better shot of achieving value by simply reaching the century mark in fantasy points. The veteran big man has hauled in 30-plus hitouts with at least 15 disposals in four straight matches, and with Ben Cunnington sidelined, the Roos may need to lean even more heavily on Goldstein's skill at keeping the offense flowing.
Rowan Marshall, Saints ($6,900): If you want to save a bit of cap space at ruck, Marshall is a strong alternative to Goldstein. St. Kilda started the year using a tandem at the position, but with Patrick Ryder playing through injury Marshall's numbers have shot up the last two weeks and he's compiled 47 hitouts and 34 disposals. Fremantle's also near the bottom of the league in hitouts allowed per game, giving the 24-year-old additional upside.
Hugh Greenwood, Suns ($5,800): The 28-year-old former Crow is coming off his best performance of the season, but his recent surge in productivity has been fueled by his defensive work more than anything else. He's piled up 32 tackles over the last three games, a testament to the Suns' freewheeling style of play, and with Matthew Rowell out of the lineup, Gold Coast could find themselves on their heels more often than not, giving Greenwood more opportunities to bring down opponents. He's also hit for 20 or more disposals twice in five games, however, so he's far from one-dimensional. Note that Greenwood is listed at M/F by DraftKings.
Andrew Gaff, Eagles ($8,000): Gaff came into 2020 having averaged at least 29 disposals a game for five straight campaigns, topping the 30 disposal a game mark in each of the last two, and even with the reduced match time this season he was still piling up huge numbers on that front until last week's disappointing 18. With the Eagles expected to dominate play, Gaff should see an awful lot of the ball, especially without Luke Shuey available to take some of that load.
Tim Kelly, Eagles ($6,800): The player most likely to replace Shuey in his role might be Kelly. The third-year player is something of a jack-of-all-trades skill-wise, but he hasn't produced fewer than 17 disposals in a game this season while occasionally chipping in with strong tackle (six or more twice in five games) and mark (five or more twice) numbers. Kelly also has yet to get going offensively – after scoring 24 goals in each of his first two AFL campaigns, he only has two so far in 2020. Things could be set up for him to erupt in this one.
Zak Jones, Saints ($6,000): Jones got his first campaign for St. Kilda off to a great start, posting 96 fantasy points in Round 1 and 108 in the first game after the break on the back of 51 total disposals and 12 marks, but a hamstring injury in Round 4 cut short his momentum. He's healthy again now, though, and he'll provide a jolt to a Saints offense that has looked surprisingly potent so far.
Jordan Ridley, Bombers ($6,200): Essendon's defense put on a clinic last week against Collingwood, and while veterans Adam Saad ($5,900) and Michael Hurley ($5,700) delivered strong numbers in the win, young Ridley was also at the center of that effort with 18 disposals and seven marks. At this salary, he would have achieved 12x value three times in four games this season, and the 21-year-old's upside makes him worth paying a bit extra for compared to his teammates if you have a few hundred dollars going unused – in his debut back in 2018, Ridley piled up a massive 25 disposals, although he hasn't reached those heights since.
Bradley Sheppard, Eagles ($6,100): The veteran has been a marking machine to begin the season, amassing 13 last week and never grabbing fewer than five in a game so far. Some of that production may be due to West Coast's early struggles and play being back in their own end more often than they'd like, but Sheppard's career indicates he can go up and grab it regardless of how well the Eagles are doing as a unit – he averaged nearly eight marks a game last season, including 16 (with 31 disposals) in two games against the Crows.
Oscar Allen, Eagles ($4,500): In a potential blowout like this one, the Eagles could see an opportunity to manage Nick Naitanui's workload and give the big man some extra rest. In that case, ruck duties would likely fall to Allen, who's listed as a forward by DK. The 21-year-old has already flashed his offensive prowess this season, potting three goals last week against Sydney, and while his limited disposal numbers give him a risky floor, he's proven he can be productive when he gets extended run. Adding double-digit hitouts to his marks and goal-scoring potential only boosts his ceiling higher.
Izak Rankine, Suns ($2,500): The third overall pick in the 2018 AFL draft, the 20-year-old Rankine will finally get to to make his debut for the Suns after having trouble staying healthy last year. The loss of Matthew Rowell puts the entire Gold Coast offense in disarray, but there's still a lot of young talent on this roster, and Rankine will be looking to prove he deserves a spot in the starting 18 for the long haul. At minimum salary, any spark he can provide will lead to value.
Rory Sloane, Crows ($4,600): It's tough to recommend any Crow right now, but if any player is going to help wake Adelaide up, it's Sloane. The 30-year-old has averaged better than 20 disposals a game every season since 2011, but he's clocking in at a woeful 14.6 a game so far in 2020, a decline that's as much due to the play around him as the playing time lost to 16-minute quarters. West Coast has been inconsistent this season at best, though, so while they should run away with this one, it's entirely possible the Eagles play down to the level of their competition and give the Crows enough of the ball to let Sloane shine.
Darcy MacPherson, Suns ($4,000): While Rowell's injury won't allow MacPherson to move out of his bench role just yet, there will still be open minutes on the pitch to account for, giving the 22-year-old extra opportunities to produce. At this salary, though, even his usual output should produce solid value, but he's capable of much more – MacPherson averaged better than 18 disposals a game in 2019 during his first full AFL campaign.
Harley Bennell, Demons ($2,900): Bennell checked into the lineup in Round 2 after overcoming a calf injury that cost him Melbourne's opener and posted adequate numbers, but he's been omitted from the lineup since as he tries to get back into form after barely playing the last five years. The 27-year-old has apparently showed enough in training to get another chance, however, and it's not like the 1-3 Demons have any laurels to rest on. It's hard to tell what Bennell might have left in the tank, but he topped 20 disposals a game for four straight seasons with Gold Coast back before his troubles, and at this salary he doesn't need to do much to return value – even a repeat of his Round 2 numbers would more than suffice.
Jarryn Geary, Saints ($3,300): The veteran defender strained his hamstring in Round 2 and returned to the lineup last week, but despite scoring two early goals against Carlton he faded down the stretch. An extra week to get back into form should do him wonders. Injuries are part of the package for the 32-year-old at this stage of his career, but the Saints captain can still produce when he's fit, topping 400 disposals over 20 games in 2018. At this salary, though, Geary only needs to repeat the 15 disposals he posted in the opener to easily provide value.