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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Port Adelaide (-7.5) vs. West Coast, o/u 129.5: This is the showcase matchup on the slate, but the implied 69-61 score isn't all that sexy. The Power are the first team to three wins and have steamrolled their competition so far, allowing the fewest points per game in the league while scoring the second-most behind Geelong. The Eagles have been flat coming out of the layoff but still have talent, and have made some sweeping changes to their lineup in response to two straight losses. The under has been the safe bet overall so far, but this is a tilt that could see some fireworks if West Coast perks up.
St. Kilda vs. Richmond (-14.5), o/u 128.5: The Tigers and Saints have both been among the worst teams so far in terms of allowing disposals by the opposition, which could bode well for the fantasy floors of stars on both squads. Richmond's implied score of 72 is also the highest on the slate, and the fact that they're still looking for their first win since the layoff gives them plenty of motivation to run up the score. St. Kilda crashed back to earth hard last week against Collingwood, but this should be a fairer test of where they are right now.
Essendon (-4.5) vs. Carlton, o/u 129.5: This is the most volatile match on the slate, due to the Bombers' game against the Demons getting postponed last week. There's really no way to predict whether the additional time off will be a boon, or just put them back at square one when it comes to rust and fatigue. The Blues also seemed to regain their 2019 form last week in a win over the Cats, so if any implied score could wind up looking inexplicable, it's the 67-63 Essendon result here.
Gold Coast (-6.5) vs. Fremantle, o/u 124.5: The Suns have been one of the surprises of the league since play resumed, but whether that's due to their real talent level or just the advantage of young legs recovering quicker remains to be seen. The Dockers are one of two clubs still looking for its first win, and while their numbers are at least better than Adelaide's, Gold Coast might still be able to look like world beaters for another week.
Rory Lobb, Dockers ($6,200): The 27-year-old has had a couple of quiet games since play resumed after a dynamic Round 1 performance, but with Sean Darcy still sidelined, Lobb will continue to operate as Fremantle's primary ruck. His chances at a rebound here are a little stronger, as Gold Coast have allowed the most opposition hitouts per game in the league so far, and if he can secure 20-plus points in that category this week, his margin for error to reach value through disposals and marks becomes a lot wider.
Brad Ebert, Power ($7,000): Port Adelaide's tremendous start to the season has been spurred in part by Ebert's consistency. The veteran has a goal, plus at least 16 disposals and five marks, in every match while chipping in four total behinds as well, but he's still only the fourth-priciest Power player on the slate. That scoring prowess doesn't appear to be a fluke, either, after he scored 13 goals with 11 behinds in only 11 games during an injury-shortened 2019. Now 30 years old, Ebert isn't an exciting youngster, but he appears to have a lot of footie left in him.
Matthew Rowell, Suns ($7,800): Speaking of exciting youngsters, the 18-year-old Rowell has been the centerpiece of Gold Coast's sudden surge to relevance. He's been all over the pitch the last two weeks, scoring multiple goals and netting 20-plus disposals in each game, and there's little reason to think he'll slow down in this matchup. A midfielder has topped the century mark in fantasy points against the Dockers in every game so far this season, and Rowell seems poised to join that club.
Dion Prestia, Tigers ($7,100): Prestia posted sluggish numbers last week as the main focus of Richmond's attack, but with Dustin Martin back in action he can resume the supporting role that led to 45 disposals and 10 tackles through the first two games. St. Kilda's defense may have been exposed in Round 3 by Collingwood and both midfielders should be productive, but with Prestia checking in $1,300 cheaper, that savings could be crucial elsewhere on your roster.
Ollie Wines, Power ($6,400): Port Adelaide didn't miss a beat last week when Xavier Duursma went down, in large part because Wines returned to pick up the slack. The 25-year-old has averaged better than 25 disposals every season since 2016, huge volume for a player in this price range, and this matchup against a reeling West Coast squad gives him at least one more opportunity to rack up significant production before his salary begins to catch up to his ceiling.
Lachie Weller, Suns ($6,500): A relative graybeard on this team at 24 years old, Weller has been a big part of Gold Coast's defensive success so far, recording at least 20 disposals in each of the last two matches. This also counts as a revenge game for him after he began his career with Fremantle, and Weller piled up 22 disposals and seven marks in last year's tilt against the Dockers.
Adam Saad, Bombers ($6,000): Saad has had a very productive start to the campaign with 48 disposals through Essendon's two games, and while that is far ahead of his career pace, he could continue to roll in this rivalry game. The 25-year-old relies on quickness rather than size to disrupt the opposition attack, an asset that could be invaluable against a Blues squad whose most effective weapon so far has been ruck Levi Casboult.
Toby Nankervis, Tigers ($4,300): Richmond made some wholesale changes to its starting 18 after last week's poor showing, with Ivan Soldo among the players dropped from the lineup. That opens the door for Nankervis to serve as the team's primary ruck. The 25-year-old has typically been good for 20-plus hitouts and disposal numbers in the teens during his career with the Tigers when he gets full run, and that production would allow him to easily hit value at this salary.
Ben King, Suns ($4,700): Remarkably, King has been the most-targeted player inside the 50 in the entire league through three games, with his 38 targets leading the next-best player by 10. All that attention has led to five goals, including a hat trick last week against woeful Adelaide, and 22 marks. Fremantle haven't been much better, so while he might not reach those heights again, even matching his Round 2 performance against the Eagles will give the 19-year-old strong value.
Stephen Hill, Dockers ($3,000): The 29-year-old Hill was a key man for Fremantle as recently as 2016, when he totaled more than 500 disposals for a second straight campaign, but his role and production have been in freefall ever since. With the Dockers still looking for their first win, however, and Sam Sturt and Brennan Cox both sidelined, coach Justin Longmuir will give the veteran a chance to turn back the clock. Rookie Caleb Serong (see below) will be making his debut and might be the more exciting bargain, but don't overlook Hill's established track record as part of a desperate Fremantle squad.
Jack Martin, Blues ($5,800): Traded from Gold Coast this offseason, Martin's Carlton career got off to a huge start with a four-goal performance in Round 1, but he has yet to split the uprights since the layoff. His poor performance against Melbourne in Round 2 seemed due to a knock he received in training earlier that week, and he produced solid numbers in last week's win against Geelong. Martin isn't a superstar, but if he can add a couple goals to his typically solid disposal numbers he'll deliver tremendous value at this salary.
Kamdyn McIntosh, Tigers ($3,700): McIntosh will make his first appearance of the season as part of Richmond's shakeup to its lineup. The 25-year-old has averaged solid numbers the last two seasons when he worked his way into the 18, including about 14 disposals and four marks a match in 2019, and that kind of production is all he needs to be a useful bargain option in a lineup.
Caleb Serong, Dockers ($2,800): The eighth overall pick in last year's draft, Serong will make his Dockers debut this week. While Sam Sturt's injury did create an opening for the 19-year-old, Serong's own performance in training was apparently earning him a starting berth anyway, and given that the Dockers are still looking for their first win, they have little to lose by letting the kid loose and seeing what he can do. The AFL has seen some very impressive performances already this season from teenagers, including Gold Coast's own Matthew Rowell, and Serong could be poised to make a mark of his own.
Jeremy McGovern, Eagles ($4,300): McGovern sat out last week's match due to a one-game suspension after he punched the Suns' Alex Sexton in Round 2, but he's back following a brief scare in a round 3 scratch match and immediately slots back into the lineup for a West Coast squad looking for someone to light a fire under it. The 28-year-old was having a quiet start to the season with only eight marks through two games, well below his usual output, and a return to the 7-8 mark average he's been reaching the last few years for the Eagles would make him a near certainty to return value at this salary.