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 our 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 gets 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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Brisbane vs. Greater Western Sydney (-1.5), o/u 129.5: With only three matches on this slate, and none of them particularly standing out in terms of implied totals, it's going to be tough to find value. The spread here is a bit curious given the teams' respective spots on the ladder, but the Giants had won two straight before being held in check by the Power in Round 6, while the Lions saw their four-game win streak decisively crushed last week by the Cats. GWS' depth will be tested with Toby Greene and Callan Ward sidelined, and Daniel Lloyd not yet ready to return from his concussion.
Gold Coast (-2.5) vs. Sydney, o/u 123.5: The Suns felt the loss of Matthew Rowell keenly last week, and with two straight losses they're starting to resemble the inexperienced, rebuilding club everyone expected them to be before the season began. The Swans are in no better shape, though. Isaac Heeney is done for the year, and Josh P. Kennedy is also sidelined with an ankle injury. Those injuries do create some opportunities for other players, however, as you'll see below.
North Melbourne vs. Richmond (-9.5), o/u 120.5: The closest thing to a stackable squad on this slate is the Tigers, who are looking at an implied 65-56 final score in their favor. After looking sluggish coming out of the break, they've reeled off two straight wins and now get to face a Roos team that has dropped four straight. Richmond is also the healthier side, as North Melbourne will be missing regulars Paul Ahern and Tarryn Thomas.
Jarrod Witts, Suns ($6,700): As the only stud ruck on the slate, Todd Goldstein's going to be on an awful lot of rosters, but his high salary basically gives him no ceiling (although he has a rock-solid floor). For nearly $2,000 less, you can instead go with Witts, who has shown flashes this season, including a 38-hitout performance against Fremantle in Round 4. He's coming off two lackluster showings, but the real selling point here is the opposition, as Sydney goes into this game without a real ruck. The Richmond duo of Ivan Soldo and Mabior Chol won 31 of 36 hitouts against the Swans last week, while Nick Naitanui was even more dominant against them in Round 5. Witts has the upside and ability to take full advantage of his opportunity here.
Lachie Whitfield, Giants ($7,500): DraftKings has Whitfield as an M/F, making him the most expensive forward on the slate but only the fourth-priciest midfielder, but I'm still listing him here because none of the other high-salary forwards really jump out at me. The 25-year-old has become indispensable for the Giants over the last couple years, amassing over 1,100 disposals in 2017 and 2018 combined, and while he had a bit of rust to shake off after the break he's now posted at least 24 disposals in each of the last three games while piling up 24 total marks to boot. If the book is correct on GWS being the favorites, Whitfield will be one of the team's keys to victory.
Josh Kelly, Giants ($7,600): The 25-year-old was held in check by Port Adelaide last week, but his Round 5 numbers (30 disposals and a career-high 12 marks) highlight Kelly's upside. He's also had some trouble finding his range on the attack so far, managing only one goal against five behinds. Considering he'd scored 43 goals in 58 games over the prior three seasons, he's due some positive regression on that front as well, potentially setting him up for a big performance.
Touk Miller, Suns ($7,100): When Matthew Rowell went down, it was Miller who slid into his role up front, and the 24-year-old responded with one of his best efforts of the season in last week's loss to the Demons (23 disposals, 91 fantasy points). Miller's well-rounded skill set – he's usually good for multiple tackles and marks every game in addition to his ball distribution – sets him up as a player with a strong floor but still an intriguing ceiling.
Dayne Zorko, Lions ($6,300): Great as he is, it's impossible to recommend Lachie Neale at his exorbitant salary, but there are other Brisbane midfielders worth considering. Zorko is actually the cheapest of the bunch. However, his price tag has been suppressed by a lingering calf injury that's been bothering him since the restart. When he's healthy, the Lions' captain is a dynamic force on the pitch, posting at least 450 disposals and 23 goals in each of the last four seasons, and he looked to be nearly back in form last week against Geelong. Grabbing him before he has his seemingly inevitable breakout could pay big dividends.
Jake Lloyd, Swans ($6,900): Lloyd has been a busy, busy man this season with Sydney playing back on their heels more often than not, but that's nothing new for the 26-year-old. He's racked up more than 600 disposals in three of the last four seasons (and just missed in 2017 with 597), and he'd be right on pace for a repeat in 2020 were it not for the 16-minute quarters. He's hit value at this salary in four of five games since the break, and he seems likely to do it again against the free-wheeling young Suns.
Jasper Pittard, Kangaroos ($5,300): The veteran defender has been a bit erratic to begin his second campaign with the Roos, but Pittard seems to be rounding into form, putting up solid disposal numbers in three of the last four games. The key to his value is his ability to haul in marks, however – he posted a career-high 131 in 22 games last season, nearly six a game, and he bounced back to that level with seven marks against Hawthorn in Round 4 and then five more against Essendon last week.
Callum Sinclair, Swans ($5,400): If you don't want to splurge on Goldstein, Sinclair also has some upside as an alternative. The veteran big man has been sidelined since Round 4 with a knee injury, suppressing his salary, but he's now fit and ready to resume his duties. The Suns have been something of a gatekeeper for opposition rucks this season, holding lesser lights to modest production but getting manhandled by the likes of Reilly O'Brien and Max Gawn. Sinclair, who racked up 667 hitouts as recently as 2018, is capable of matching that level of performance if he's 100 percent.
Jack Ziebell, Kangaroos ($5,100): Out since Round 4 with a hamstring strain, Ziebell is ready to rejoin the starting 18 for the Roos. The veteran came into his own as an offensive force the last two seasons, potting 59 goals in 44 games, and the Tigers' defense has been far from airtight this year. He's also strong in the air, pulling down 14 marks in Rounds 2 and 3 against GWS and Sydney before getting hurt.
Zac Langdon, Giants ($3,100): Tempting as it was to recommend Ian Hill because for some reason his nickname is Bobby and I'd be able to make King of the Hill jokes, for $100 more I'll take the slightly surer thing in Langdon. The 24-year-old has a solid debut season in 2018 that included 21 goals in 21 games, but he's spotted in and out of the lineup since. The Giants' injuries have given him a chance to rejoin the starters, and at this salary double-digit disposals would be enough to return value. As he showed a couple years ago, though, if he works his way into an attacking position, he can convert.
Josh Caddy, Tigers ($5,800): Now in his fourth season with the Tigers after stints with the Suns and Cats, Caddy has been a role player rather than a star, but the 27-year-old is flashing some interesting skill development in 2020. He's averaging over five marks a game so far this season and has yet to grab fewer than four, big numbers for a guy who's previous best over a full season was 4.2 marks a game in 2017. He has the size and athleticism to keep that up, and he's also due for some positive regression on his goal scoring – Caddy has yet to split the uprights this year after scoring 84 goals in 62 games through his first three campaigns with Richmond. A matchup against the sagging Roos could be just what he needs to get going.
Noah Anderson, Suns ($4,500): The 19-year-old has been impressively consistent for Gold Coast in recent weeks, posting at least 14 disposals and 56 fantasy points in every game but one since the restart (and that one was against Adelaide, when he wasn't really needed). The Suns' attack obviously isn't the same without Matthew Rowell, but Anderson has shown he can contribute with or without the team's other teenage phenom at his side.
Elijah Taylor, Swans ($2,900): Last week, Dylan Stephens made an impressive AFL debut for Sydney. This week, Stephens heads to the bench to make room for Taylor's league debut. Listed at M/F by DraftKings, Taylor will look to inject some speed and energy into the Swans' attack, and he has the talent to significantly overproduce at this salary. A matchup against a defensively generous Suns squad doesn't hurt either.
Liam Baker, Tigers ($4,300): The 22-year-old is quickly emerging as a key figure on the back end for Richmond, and just in time too following Alex Rance's unexpected retirement this offseason. Baker has notched 17 disposals in back-to-back games, and his eight marks in Round 6 against Sydney tied his career high while also propelling him to a massive 80 fantasy points. If the Tigers do take control of this contest, it will likely be because the Roos can't get anything going on offense – and because Baker is continuing his breakout.