AFL

Free Agent Targets: Round 17: Crunch Time

With only a handful of games left before Ultimate Footy finals, it’s time for coaches to prioritise free agent selections in relation to where they sit on the ladder in their respective leagues.  If you’re gunning for a finals berth, you should be looking at players who you think can score relatively well, even if they’re short-term options.  If you’re out of contention but are part of a keeper league, you should be looking for players with potential to break out next season or fit in with your keeper plans. The weekend saw a lot of scores around the pass mark, with a host of formerly-relevant players stepping back into the spotlight. Here are the standouts to consider:

BACK OF THE WEEK: Shane Savage

Savage was one Saint who could hold his head high after Friday night’s crushing defeat at the hands of the Bombers.  The former Hawk racked up 16 kicks, 15 handballs, eight marks and a tackle for 106 points off half back, providing much-needed run for a Jimmy Webster-less St.Kilda.   Savage (38% availability) has struggled for consistency and opportunities this season, playing only six games so far, but scored 94 points from 22 disposals and eight marks last week, as well as 88 in Round 10.  He’s averaging 24 disposals, eight marks and 96 points from his last three outings, so if you’re after a defender to see you through, he’s your man.

Best of the rest:

Veteran Eagle Shannon Hurn was sensational in the Western Derby, scoring a mammoth 137 points from his 22 kicks, 12 handballs and 14 marks.  He’s going at 75 points per game this season, which includes the 18 points he scored in Round 14 after being concussed in a collision with Jack Viney.  He should be good for around 75 for the rest of the season, but is a chance to grind out a sub-70 game along the way.  If you want to back him in, he’s available in 31% of leagues.

Lachie Henderson and Daniel Howe both topped the ton on Saturday, scoring 106 and 105 points respectively.  Henderson (68% availability) backed up his ton from last week, collecting 10 kicks, 13 handballs, 10 marks and five tackles in a key position role.  The big Cat is going at 68 points per game, and while he’s been great, his scoring output can drop depending on his opponent each week.  Dual position back/mid Howe has been similarly inconsistent, with a few tons separated by sub-70 scores.  He’s by far the more attractive choice out of the two, and is a free agent in 36% of leagues.

Aaron Mullett followed last week’s 101 with a solid 90-point outing against the Power, after finding the ball 27 times and taking three marks from a half back/wing.  He’s been on the up in recent weeks, and definitely worth considering if you’re among the 55% of leagues where he remains a free agent.

Saint Jake Carlisle (65% availability) was more than a stepladder for Joe Daniher on Friday night, as he worked hard for his 98 points, taking 11 marks to go with his 19 disposals and three tackles.  The dual position back/forward has been way to inconsistent to consider fielding though, as his 17 points in Round 12 suggests.

Keep an eye on young Bomber Martin Gleeson and Giant first year DPP back/mid Harry Perryman.  Gleeson (87% availability) towelled up debutant Josh Battle, collecting 19 disposals, 10 marks and three tackles to score 97 points, and is worth considering as a keeper league defensive rookie as he gains experience and confidence.  Perryman (88%) looked more settled than in previous weeks again Sydney on the weekend, as his stat line of 13 kicks, seven handballs, five marks, six tackles and three free kicks suggested.  He scored 89, and is definitely one to watch.

CENTRE OF THE WEEK: Jack Redden

Former Brisbane Lion Jack Redden made the most of his late inclusion by scoring 118 points in the Eagles’ win over Fremantle, racking up 16 kicks, 13 handballs, 11 marks and four tackles in a return to form.  The 26 year old was a big scorer from season 2013 to 2015, averaging as high as 105 in 2014 as a Lion.  Redden has struggled to fit into the West Coast midfield since his move, but his last two weeks suggest he may have turned the corner.  If he can keep finding the ball and improve his tackle count anywhere near the 7 per game he has averaged in the past, he could be a late-season midfield steal for your side.  While ideally you’d like him to have played more games lately, now is the time to pounce and put your faith in him, as he’s currently available in 56% of all leagues.

Best of the rest:

Third year midfielder Liam Duggan played a career-best game on Sunday, racking up 20 kicks, 11 handballs, 11 marks and two tackles in a half back role.  Duggan flourished in the absence of Elliot Yeo, with the left-footer using the ball well to cut Fremantle apart.  While the highly-regarded 20 year old hasn’t been a big scorer this season, he has been relatively consistent in recent weeks, with a low disposal count of 17 across his past five matches.  This includes a score of 86 from 22 disposals against Port Adelaide in Round 16, suggesting that he is finding his feet. Don’t expect Duggan to solve any midfield woes right now, but he looks like he’ll be a strong scoring option in the future, and is a young midfielder worth looking at in time.  The young Eagle is currently available as a free agent in 82% of all leagues.

Andrew Swallow reminded us that he’s still a viable midfield scoring option, laying 11 characteristic tackles to go with his 11 kicks and 13 handballs for a score of 111 points in the Roos’ loss to the Power.  The former captain (34% availability) has found himself out of form and favour this season, but has now played four straight games after being dropped in Round 9 to cement his spot in the midfield.  He’s going at a touch under 80 from his ten matches so far, with a four-round average of 88.

Forgotten Tiger Anthony Miles finally broke through for his third game of the year, following strong VFL form and Richmond’s big loss last week.  The hard-nosed midfielder collected 10 kicks, 14 handballs, eight marks and four tackles en route to his 93 points in a return to relevancy as a viable midfield option.  Miles (60% availability) has averaged in the high eighties over the past three seasons, and if he remains in favour and adds to his tally of three games, there’s no reason why he can’t score at that rate for the rest of the season.

RUCKS:

If you’re not sorted for a ruckman at this stage of the year, you’re in trouble.  No potential free agents put up anything of note across the whole weekend, so you’ll have to cross your fingers and hope for an injury or team change.  Keep an eye on team whisper early Thursday, and also on the VFL scores, as several ruckmen were well below par this week and may be replaced at the selection table.  It’s a leap of faith or a trade this week if you require a big man.

FORWARD OF THE WEEK: Bailey Dale

Third year Bulldog Dale was influential in the win over Carlton on Sunday, kicking two crucial goals to go with his 18 kicks, nine handballs and five marks on his way to scoring 104 points.  The half forward has been a steady fixture in the senior side since breaking into the team in Round 6 to be going at 69 points per game, which includes a poor score of 27 against Sydney in Round 12.  Part of the VFL Premiership side in 2016 as a dangerous small forward, Dale has dipped below 70 points just once in the past five weeks and is growing in confidence as the season wears on, with his ton on the weekend a due reward for hard work.  Available in 76% of leagues as a dual position centre/forward, Dale is an ideal bench option at this point in time, but with huge upside and scoring potential.

Best of the rest:

Alex Fasolo backed up July scores of 103 points and 89 with a solid 91 points against the Gold Coast after a busy first term.  The Collingwood focal point kicked two goals from 19 disposals and eight marks and has played himself into consideration as a forward option, with a four-round average of 88 and season average of 73 points per game.  Bear in mind that Fasolo’s scores usually depend on him kicking goals, but seeing as he’s had no trouble ticking that box of late, is unbelievable worth thinking about if you require a fifth field option.  He’s available in 45% of all leagues, but I’m not recommending him wholeheartedly.

Dashing Demon Jay Kennedy-Harris finally broke back into the Melbourne side after dominating at VFL level and scored 102 points from 13 kicks, 15 handballs, four marks and five tackles.  He definitely has the ability to rack up the touches at AFL level, but couldn’t find the ball earlier in the season when given a chance.  If you believe he has turned the corner, he currently remains a free agent as a DPP mid/forward in a whopping 91% of all leagues.

 Daniel Menzel and Dan Butler both booted three goals to finish with scores of 90 and 98 respectively.  Leading forward Menzel (50% availability) is back in form after a mid-season slump and has scored 80 points or more in his last three matches.  Butler (91%) has 16 disposals and seven marks on the weekend, but isn’t a viable scoring option currently so steer clear.

Finally, Jed Lamb (95% availability) scored 95 against the Bulldogs from his 16 kicks, six handballs and seven marks.  Ignoring his score of 1 point in the game where he was knocked out early on, Lamb has scored over 80 in his last three games, but don’t pull the trigger on him yet.  Same goes for DPP mid/forward Travis Colyer (47%), who scored 92 points against the Saints on Friday night.  The speedster is just as likely to go missing, but pick him over Lamb if you’re all out of options.

Top 5:

Shane Savage

Jack Redden

Anthony Miles

Andrew Swallow

Aaron Mullet

Future Keepers:

Liam Duggan

Harry Perryman

Bailey Dale

 

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