This article is part of our DraftKings AFL series.
Following Western's loss in Round 7, an interesting situation has made this Saturday slate extra important at both ends of the ladder. At the top, Melbourne has the chance to widen the gap over the Western Bulldogs in second place, while a matchup of the league's worst teams in Collingwood and North Melbourne could have big implications in who finishes last this season. In that first matchup, Lance Franklin and Dane Rampe will return to bolster the Swans while the 'Dees still haven't had to make many changes to their best lineup. Around the league, a tight game could be expected between Gold Coast and Saint Kilda as they both look to prove they're capable of sneaking back into the top eight by the fall. For this week's lineup, some familiar faces join other talented stars in the hopes of being the best of the bunch.
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.
Saint Kilda Saints (14th) vs Gold Coast Suns (10th)
Essendon Bombers (15th) vs Greater Western Sydney Giants (11th)
Collingwood Magpies (17th) vs North Melbourne Kangaroos (18th)
Sydney Swans (5th) vs Melbourne Demons (1st)
Adelaide Crows (13th) vs Port Adelaide Power (4th)
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.
Kayne Turner, North Melbourne ($4,500): Though this week's forwards have more at stake in avoiding a Wooden Spoon award than winning a flag, Turner and his 'Roos are improving in form at the right time for Round 8. After putting up at least 66 points in three of the last four games, Turner gets the Magpies on the back of five straight losses. What makes Turner's production more interesting is that he has yet to kick a major this season and is still keeping his price at the mid-4,000 range with some excellent work in possession. When facing a struggling team that found themselves recently dominated in midfield by Gold Coast, Turner could be in for another field day after putting up 109 points against first-placed Melbourne in Round 7. Among the others to watch out for are Daniel Lloyd and the boys from GWS who will need to pick up the slack without Jesse Hogan, though Izak Rankine has been named as a follower in the early lineup and could have more value if he's indeed positioned in the middle of the park.
Jordan De Goey, Collingwood ($3,800): Not a lot of people would have expected Collingwood to be as far from the top eight as they find themselves now, but that's helped suppress the value of some truly talented players. With de Goey, he'll find himself against the only side lower than him in the ladder against North Melbourne in what will be his second game back since missing time with a concussion. Before picking up that injury, de Goey wasn't always the most valuable option with seven goals scored in four matches, but he's logged at least 16 disposals in each of his healthy starts. As most of that work came against top teams like West Coast and Brisbane while his best performance of the season came when Carlton was still struggling, there may be few opportunities as favorable for de Goey. Perhaps the only other candidate with similar potential is Dan Butler, who put up 103 fantasy points in Round 7 against Hawthorn and will face a GWS club now pushing for a place in the top 8.
Josh Kelly, GWS ($7,300): Kelly fits into the picture after amassing 121 points in the Round 7 drubbing of Adelaide. On his own, a stat sheet with 27 disposals and 10 marks is more than enough to reach the best numbers one can achieve for fantasy, though he's also been solidly consistent with at least 89 points in three of the first four rounds this season. When facing an Essendon club that lost the midfield battle in their defeat at the hands of Carlton, Kelly should have better odds of reproducing his previous showings against the Bombers. If that doesn't happen, Rory Laird ($7,100) has fallen so low that he's the third-most costly midfielder on the Crows, though the expected return of Rory Sloane could certainly change the picture this week and going forward. As this is relatively cheap for a top midfielder pickup, one of Clayton Oliver or Christian Petracca could also be worth taking from Melbourne, though each costs at least $8,000 and it would be difficult to fit both into the picture in any week of the season, no matter how tough of an opponent they face.
Darcy Parish, Essendon ($6,900): Parish could be key this week if he's able to top 100 points for third straight week and fourth time this season. Last time out against Carlton, he was still one of the most productive Bombers for fantasy during a high-scoring loss. If he's still managing to log decent numbers even when his team struggles to get much going, that's a good sign for what he'll need to do against an in-form GWS club that has won three of its last four games. Though Parish may not have produced as many fantasy points as Andrew McGrath or be as expensive as Zach Merrett, Parish has his own merits as the next best thing when the others get shut down. Though they won't feature in this lineup as much as they did last week, look to the game between Saint Kilda and Gold Coast as a matchup full of midfield value around Parish's price. Some of those names include Hugh Greenwood, Sebastian Ross or Lachie Weller.
Callan Ward, GWS ($5,700): The way this season is going, this isn't the first and likely won't be the last time that Ward is worth your consideration for the Saturday slate. That's because he's logged at least 20 disposals in three of the last four rounds and also made seven tackles in the Round 7 win over Adelaide. While his average production otherwise sits in the mid-50s for fantasy points on his worst days, the potential is certainly there for a mid-tier midfielder in a team that's improving in fitness and performance by the week, even after the loss of Jesse Hogan. At a similar price point, Jaidyn Stephenson is available for his bottom-table matchup with Collingwood and so is Zak Jones, who scored an incredible 151 fantasy points against Hawthorn in Round 7 and will next face the Gold Coast Suns, whose solid team defense may make it tougher on the Saints even with Paddy Ryder.
Angus Brayshaw, Melbourne ($4,800): While avoiding guys who are only named as interchanges unless they're expected to be involved, be careful when picking low-price midfielders at any point in the season. This conundrum brings us to Brayshaw, who gets the start at left-center for the first-placed Demons. Despite his name coming up last on the list, Brayshaw has still logged at least 70 points in all but two rounds this season and recorded 92 against GWS. Though the Swans do return Dane Rampe in defense and Lance Franklin at forward, Brayshaw will still get plenty of time on the footy as long as his more-talented teammates are able to establish their presence in this high-profile game. As an alternate option still available, look to Bradley Hill of Saint Kilda as a cut-price option in the midfield who has scored as many as 105 fantasy points and as few as 36 in different games this season.
Jack Ziebell, North Melbourne ($8,400): It's always worth picking a star to build around each week, and the man with the most fantasy points of any defender and third-most of any player is certainly worth that status in Ziebell. If he ups his productive pace a little more, it wouldn't be that surprising to see Ziebell win a Wooden Spoon on the league's worst team and record the most fantasy points in 2021. In the present day, Ziebell will face his closest opponent for the Wooden Spoon in Collingwood, who have also lost a handful of matches in a row over the last month. Additionally, this 'Roo has recorded at least 100 fantasy points in four of the last five weeks, with only one of those games dipping below 139 points. That makes for a potentially vital showing of any player available in this week's slate. Elsewhere, it will likely become prudent to routinely consider Lachie Whitfield and Lachie Ash on a regular basis, as the former is essentially an extra midfielder and the latter averages a respectable 91.4 fantasy points per game.
Jy Farrar, Gold Coast ($3,900): Finding a defender at a low cost who's also a starter can be a struggle, but there isn't too much to refuse with Farrar as the alternate to Jack Ziebell's higher potential contribution. That's because Farrar, though he's only played three times this season, recorded no fewer than 74 fantasy points in his first two games before a quiet showing in Round 7 against Collingwood. He'll now head into a game against Saint Kilda, which seem to be finding their stride after a rough start to the season and could provide a greater challenge than the 17th-placed Magpies. An option with an even lower price tag than Farrar is Aaron Francis ($3,400), who has been named to the early lineup against GWS and is expected to return from an ankle injury.
Shane Mumford, GWS ($4,700): The best rucks in the game can usually rank in the top-10 for total fantasy points, but sometimes it's worth finding out who can do their job the most effectively in a situation, as one bad matchup can see a ruck completely taken out of the game. This brings Mumford into a solid if tough situation against the ruck duo of Rowan Marshall and Paddy Ryder, but defensive help should balance out the mismatch in numbers in favor of Mumford. When looking at Mumford's personal production, he's only played three times this season but has recorded at least 15 disposals and 16 hitouts. If he can play a decent role in possession, that should help out his value if disposals are harder to come by this week. One of the most productive ruckmen in the league last season was Todd Goldstein, but he still hasn't put up many exceptional performances in 2021 and could be worth following if his Kangaroos show any improvement over the coming month.