The waiver wire is thinning out as finals approach, with many leagues having snapped up most players with any ounce of scoring potential as they try to get their squad in fighting shape. Sometimes making a speculative selection at this time of the year can pay dividends, but if you find yourself out of contention, you may find yourself approaching the waiver wire with a more long-term approach, with an investment in youth a trend among most keeper leagues in late July. Here are the better performers from Round 18, with both approaches addressed, typed painstakingly slowly as my reconstructed shoulder reminds me that sometimes real football can be just as frustrating and debilitating as Ultimate Footy. Happy hunting!
BACK OF THE WEEK: Shane Biggs
The 2016 premiership defender had a solid afternoon against the Suns on Saturday, collecting 18 kicks, nine handballs, 10 marks and two tackles on his way to 111 points. While his opponent for much of the game, Jack Martin, was also influential, Biggs’ ability to hit targets running out of defence set the Dogs up for many successful forays forward. The targeting of influential running half back by opposition teams in recent weeks means that Biggs has found himself filling that role more often, and he’s been consistently scoring reasonably well as a result.
While it was his first ton of the season, Biggs has scored 70 or more points in eight of his eleven matches, with a season-low score of 60. His spot in the side now looks secure after some form issues early on, and you can be confident in locking him in for a fifth field position if you’re struggling in that area. Ideally Biggs is a solid bench option, and is currently available in 30% of all leagues.
Best of the rest:
Despite making headlines for his spat with Taylor Duryea following a falcon to the head, James Sicily was great for the Hawks against Fremantle, scoring 104 points from his 15 kicks, 14 handballs and 11 marks. The swingman has recently hit form and scoring relevance since making the switch to defence, with his intercept marking a strength. The dual position back/forward, who was the highlighted forward in Round 15, is a free agent in 40% of leagues and has dropped below 85 just once in his last five games.
Shaun Atley scored 99 points from his 25 disposals, eight marks and three tackles rotating between half back and the wing against Essendon. While he’s never developed into a consistent scoring option, Atley (72% availability) has a strong month of football under his belt, scoring above 75 in his last four games. Teammate Aaron Mullett is also worth considering, with his score of 79 on Saturday giving him a four game average of 85 points, and a season average of 72. He’s the pick out of the two, and is still available in 39% of leagues.
Oscar McDonald and Phil Davis both scored well for 90 and 97 points respectively, but as key defenders they haven’t been anywhere close to relevance on a regular basis. Nick Vlastuin could be worth considering, however, with the determined Tiger scoring 87 points from 21 disposals and 11 marks in the wet. He had 81 points in his return to the senior side last week, and is a free agent in a generous 75% of leagues.
This week’s defenders to keep an eye include dual position back/forward Blake Hardwick and Brisbane duo Cedric Cox and Jarrod Berry. Hawk Hardwick (84% availability) had 17 kicks, six handballs and six marks for 87 points; his fifth score over 70 this season. He may be a while off relevance as a scorer, but is looking more comfortable as the season progresses. Cox (98% availability) and Berry (78%) both scored 82 points against the Blues, with the former collecting a composed 18 disposals, four marks, five tackles and an impressive first goal. Berry had 21 disposals, seven marks and three tackles, and has a three-round average of 81, and looks to be the more developed of the trio so far.
CENTRE OF THE WEEK: Luke Dunstan
The hard-at-it Saint has been on the fringe of scoring relevance for several seasons now, and was fantastic in the disappointing loss to Sydney on the weekend, working hard for his 14 kicks, 15 handballs, seven marks, three tackles and a goal to score 107 points. The 22 year old midfielder is averaging 19 disposals and 78 points from his 11 games this season so far, with a couple of VFL stints breaking up an otherwise consistent season. Dunstan has scored below 70 just twice, with a 45 in Round 5 and a 56 in Round 15 his only blemishes. Hopefully your midfield is settled by now, but if not, Dunstan is definitely worth bringing in and fielding with confidence.
Best of the rest:
Last week’s highlighted midfielder Jack Redden continued his resurgence, with the Eagle scoring 105 from his 15 kicks, nine handballs, six marks and most tellingly, seven tackles. Redden’s work rate is back to the level he displayed when at the Lions, and his output has increased as a result. He scored 118 as a late inclusion last week, and 94 point in Round 15 after a slow start to the season saw him playing in the WAFL. He’s still available in 31% of leagues, and he is your primary focus this week if you need a mid spot filled.
Round 2’s highlighted midfielder Trent Dumont bounced back after indifferent form to score 106 points from a game where he collected 28 disposals, five marks, three tackles and a goal. His scoring has been average since Round 10, but he’s still going at 77 points per game, and at 22 years of age, has plenty of upside. The tough Roo can be found on the waiver wire in 48% of leagues.
Highly rated Giant Will Setterfield made his debut in torrential conditions against Richmond on Sunday, finding the ball 12 times, taking three marks and laying six tackles. He used the ball well, and would’ve scored higher if his two shots on goals hadn’t missed. The number 5 pick in the 2016 National Draft (78% availability) is going to be a ripper, and if you’re playing in a keeper league and have a spot in your list available, bring him in!
RUCK OF THE WEEK: Majak Daw
It’s been a rough year for Daw, who has faced media criticism in recent weeks and was captured on camera copping a verbal spray from coach Brad Scott during Saturday’s match against Essendon. He was thrown the number one ruck spot this week after Todd Goldstein was dropped, and had a decent crack to score 96 points from 33 hit outs, four kicks, 10 handballs, four marks and five tackles. Daw (70% availability) is unlikely to score at this level on a regular basis, as this was his first score over 60 this season, but battled manfully against big Tom Bellchambers to keep him name in the senior side mix at Arden Street alongside Goldstein and the enigmatic Braydon Preuss.
Best of the rest:
Callum Sinclair played what could only be described as a huge game on Saturday night, booting 5.3 from 13 kicks, six handballs, ten marks and four hit outs playing predominantly forward on Jake Carslisle. The dual position ruck/forward scored 117 points for his efforts in his first senior game since Round 14, and would be an ideal backup ruckman if he continues to attack the ball with the same vigour. Round 6’s highlighted ruckman has scored under 65 just three times in his 12 games, and if you’re among the 39% of leagues where he’s available, he could be the player you need to fill your bench spot as finals approach.
Keep an eye on young Saint Rowan Marshall (90% availability), who scored 60 points on debut against Sydney. He moved well as he collected 14 disposals, four marks and five hit outs and two tackles as relief for Billy Longer, and could well be worth monitoring in the early days of his career.
FORWARD OF THE WEEK: Ben Brown
The big Tasmanian threatened to win the game against Essendon off his own boot at times, finishing a huge match with 6.2 from 12 kicks and nine marks to total 119 points. With Jarrad Waite often injured, Brown has been the Kangaroos’ main forward target, and has booted 47 goals to be sitting second behind Buddy Franklin in the Coleman Medal race. While key forwards are difficult to commit to in terms of Ultimate Footy selection, Brown has scored well enough to suggest he’ll join Joe Daniher, Buddy and Nick Riewoldt as recent examples of those who buck the trend to develop into relevant scorers.
Brown is averaging 71.5 points from his 16 games this year, despite scoring less than 60 points in half a dozen of those games. The low scores might be enough to turn one off bringing him in, but he’s been in red-hot form recently, having booted 18 goals in the last five weeks, with only one score below 73. If you think the tables are turning for Brown and like the look of his opponents in the coming weeks, he’s available in 63% of all leagues at present. At only 24 years of age, he might be worth taking a punt on as a keeper as well.
Best of the rest:
Taylor Garner also shone for the Kangaroos on Saturday, spending time rotating between half forward and the wing to pick up 17 kicks, eight handballs, ten marks, seven tackles and a goal on his way to a huge 129 points. the 23 year old scored 86 points last week after a quiet fortnight, and is going at a reasonable 68 points per game in season 2017. His scoring tends to rely on his ability to find space to collect uncontested possessions, and as a result can be up and down. He’s available as a free agent in 81% of leagues if you think he’ll be able to build on his strong fortnight.
Much-improved Lion Ryan Lester managed 102 points after collecting 26 disposals, nine marks and kicking a goal after switching from the forward line into defence in the win over Carlton. The DPP mid/forward was Round 13’s highlighted player, but had dropped off in between then and now. He’s still averaging 73 points a game, and can be picked up as a free agent in 51% of leagues.
Charlie Curnow is fast becoming the name on everyone’s lips. He booted two goals from 15 disposals, seven marks and six tackles on his way to scoring 95 against the Lions. the young key forward (40% availability) has a five-round average of 92 and is absolutely flying. He is a must for keeper leagues, and almost for regular leagues now as well.
Keep an eye on first-year trio Ben Ainsworth (78 points; 66% availability), Lewis Young (77; 83%) and Darcy MacPherson (71; 97%), who all impressed in Cairns on Saturday. 18 year old Young has impressed in his two games across half back for the Dogs, while Sun MacPherson looked as comfortable against the Dogs as he has all season, with Ainsworth also progressing nicely as a DPP mid/forward.