This article is part of our DraftKings AFL series.
The midseason byes have begun so less teams will be playing for the next few weeks and only three games are available in this Saturday slate. Absent from our options are the top six teams on the ladder, and only two teams enter Round 12 after winning their previous game. The team to watch is Essendon if they can turn their two-game winning streak into three and Richmond stand in their way to that goal and a place in the top eight. Elsewhere, Collingwood feature a deeper lineup for fantasy than reality with a few useful pieces at the back end to fill in for high-profile absences.
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 (12th) vs Sydney Swans (6th)
Collingwood Magpies (16th) vs Adelaide Crows (15th)
Richmond Tigers (8th) 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.
Isaac Heeney, Sydney ($6,300): With seven goals, 68 disposals and 26 marks, Heeney's last three rounds make for a sensible inclusion as the Swans look to win more than one game in a row for the first time since the first four rounds of the season. Though Saint Kilda won their most recent game against North Melbourne, they haven't fared as well against teams on pace to make the finals as they were handled easily by the Western Bulldogs in Round 10. For Heeney, it will be important to take advantage of a favorable schedule in the two games before the bye and continue his exceptional form. Aside from Darcy Cameron and maybe Dustin Martin, there aren't many who can take a forward spot in this slate who have the same scoring potential and recent success as Heeney. He may be the most costly forward, but his production is good at a position that's never going to feature the biggest salaries in DK.
Mason Wood, Saint Kilda ($3,500): Wood is someone who could be considered shockingly cheap after scoring three times and logging 104 fantasy points in Round 11 against North Melbourne. He's been a recent revelation for Saints after only making two appearances until last week's efforts, and it will be interesting to see what he can do with an increased role in the team against a much stronger Swans club than the 'Roos are likely to be all season. Even if he doesn't reproduce his points total in this game, anything close will make his inclusion beneficial given his low salary. If neither of the options sound good so far, consider someone from Essendon, a club which will feature heavily below and go into their meeting with Richmond with two straight wins, while also carrying plenty of reasonably priced players at forward.
Darcy Parish, Essendon ($7,600): Some of the heaviest hitters in fantasy footy aren't available this week, but Parish isn't even the most expensive midfielder despite scoring no fewer than 106 and as many as 156 fantasy points over the last six rounds. The aforementioned two-game win streak is a big sign of Essendon's progress after an inconsistent start to the season and facing a Richmond club without many key players should be enough to give Parish another good platform for success. Even if Richmond do claim the victory, they faced a lesser Adelaide club in Round 11 and still let Ben Keays take the most disposals with 31. That's a good sign for whomever can fit into a lineup in a week where the Bombers should have plenty of admirers. If he ever manages to find his form, Steele Sidebottom could be a valuable pickup this week while Taylor Adams is out, and among players with salaries over $7,000, Luke Dunstan would be the riskiest pickup after scoring 140 points in Round 11 and seeing his price spike unlike Saints teammate Mason Wood.
Josh P. Kennedy, Sydney ($6,900): Kennedy, and for that matter much of the Swans midfield, is worth considering as this week's matchup against Saint Kilda. Until Saints are consistently able to rely on both Paddy Ryder and Rowan Marshall, their fairly outmatched in the midfield by struggling to win possession despite the talent in their club. As a result, Kennedy is the tier 2 pick this week after scoring 105 fantasy points in two straight games and scoring 84 and 97 points in the two rounds before that. Picking someone else in this spot requires a little more trust, as both Rory Sloane and Paul Seedsman are cheaper than Kennedy in their matchup with Collingwood. For Sloane, he's coming off a better performance with 29 disposals against Richmond while Seedsman scored just 53 fantasy points in the same game after putting up 137 the week before.
Kyle Langford, Essendon ($6,500): Is this a bit of a makeup pick after watching Langford score 123 fantasy points against West Coast? Certainly! While last week he still put up a big game despite starting as an interchange, he's now slated to play as a follower alongside Darcy Parish, which shows that he's gaining more trust from his coaches and more confidence in his talents as the season reaches its mid-point. With at least 100 points in three of the last four games, Langford could easily outscore some of his more expensive counterparts if the Bombers are able to continue their two-game win streak with another strong showing against Richmond. For $100 less, Brad Crouch is also available in a similar hot streak despite the poor season for Saint Kilda, as he's done well to earn his large contract with at least 100 fantasy points in four of the last five rounds.
Nikolas Cox, Essendon ($4,100): To fit in the better talent available from his own team as well as selections at forward and defender, finding anyone who's shown recent success at this price point is the goal. Cox himself only scored 46 fantasy points in Round 11 against West Coast, but he's now scored three goals over his last three games and should do a little better against Richmond for some of the same reasons that apply to his teammates. His positioning as a center is also very helpful to this cause, and unlike some players in the $4,000 area, Cox is already listed among the first 18 names for the Bombers. After recording 20 disposals in Round 11 against Brisbane, Marlion Pickett is listed as an interchange but meets the value threshold to be considered for the final spot in a prospective DFS lineup.
Darcy Moore, Collingwood ($5,100): Even when the Magpies have failed to live up to expectations all season long, Moore hasn't looked so bad over the last month with at least 21 disposals in three of the last four rounds. As one of those games came against another bottom feeder in North Melbourne and then against a better team in Port Adelaide, Moore has shown he can make things happen against teams on both ends of the ladder. Someone who would require major reshuffling of the lineup but checks off all the boxes for a fantasy defender would be Chris Mayne, but he's been managed for Round 12, so his work on the footy will have to fall on other shoulders against the Crows. Pretty much anyone among the top-salaried defenders but Bachar Houli has routinely put up over 100 fantasy points, so there aren't many ways to go wrong there if a more expensive defender can fit into a lineup.
Harry Cunningham, Sydney ($5,000): The interchange risk strikes again as Cunningham will have to rotate into Round 12 after starting against Carlton last week. Instead of leaving him out, it could worth taking a chance on Cunningham while Sydney are short a bit of depth defensively, especially after Cunningham scored 115 points on 27 disposals against the Blues. An alternate selection could be Brayden Maynard after recording at least 20 disposals in four straight games, but that would see two Collingwood defenders picked when other selections are already fairly dependent on the successes of a single team.
Callum Coleman-Jones, Richmond ($4,700): The loss of Toby Nankervis for a month is an important gap to fill for the Tigers, and Coleman-Jones is one of two who will try to make that happen alongside Mabior Chol. Both only just made their debut in Round 11, but Coleman-Jones managed to score four majors in the win over Adelaide. While neither is likely to put up huge numbers as long as both are called into ruck duties, Coleman-Jones has reasonable value in a week where many top rucks are hurt. The best option to look for is probably Reilly O'Brien, who hasn't played that consistently this season but did put up 97 points in his Round 11 game.