AFL

Free Agent Targets: Round 21: Looking ahead

Round 21 and the first week of Ultimate Footy finals are done and dusted.  If you made it through, congratulations.  If not, then there’s a silver lining, as we shed light on the players whose performances on the weekend suggest they’re ready for an impressive 2018.  If you’re part of a keeper league, you still have a fortnight to solidify your squad, and we’ll be listing the players to bring in or keep an eye on.

If for some reason your premiership hopes are still alive, but you’re a player short, we have some bandaid fix suggestions too.  Here are Round 21’s stand outs:

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BACK OF THE WEEK: Nick Vlastuin

The 23 year old Tiger fought hard in the loss to the Cats, collecting 16 kicks, eight handballs and ten marks for his 92 points.  While a shoulder injury kept Vlastuin sidelined for 10 weeks, he’s been in sensational form since returning to the team in Round 17, scoring under 80 points just once in the past five matches.  He may have started the season slowly, but with the Tigers in great form, Vlastuin (49% availability) has stepped up to become a reliable scoring defender.  He’s a player you could bring in now if you need defensive cover, but also consider for next season.

Best of the rest:

Big Kangaroo Robbie Tarrant (28% availability) scored an even 100 against Hawthorn in Tasmania, taking 12 grabs to go with his 16 kicks and eight handballs.  While key defenders can be inconsistent with their scoring, Tarrant has been registering reasonable statistics of late, with just one score below 71 from his last four games.  Only bring him in if you really need a defensive emergency this week.

Last week’s highlighted defender Matt Scharenberg (25% availability) is in stellar form, and continued to impress in the loss to Port Adelaide, scoring 95 after having 16 kicks, eight handballs and 11 marks opposed to Justin Westhoff.  The Magpie seems to have shaken off the injuries that have plagued him in his short career to date, averaging 93 points from his past four games.  If he’s a free agent in your league, make him a priority, as he’ll score well both this week and next season.

Geelong defenders Jackson Thurlow (84 points; 78% availability) and Jake Kolodjashnij (81; 92%) played strong matches against Richmond on Saturday.  Thurlow backed up his score of 90 last week in gathering 21 disposals and 10 marks as an outside defender, and looks to have found form after spending considerable time in the VFL.  Kolodjashnij spent more time up the ground than usual to find the ball 20 times, with his game complemented with five marks and four tackles.  Monitor both Tasmanians as they have the potential to break out in 2018.

Dual position centre/back Andrew McGrath was sensational against the Crows, keeping Eddie Betts goalless while collecting 14 kicks, 11 handballs and eight marks for 88 points in a composed performance across half back.  The Number 1 draft pick has certainly lived up to the pre-season hype in 2017, and amazingly is still available in 25% availability of leagues.  He’s likely to score you around 80 next week, but if you’re in a keeper league he’s a must for 2018, where he could spend more time through the midfield.

Other potential keeper defenders who impressed across the weekend and are worth monitoring for the next week or so include Nathan Wilson (75 points; 29% availability), Alex Keath (82; 98%), Tom Langdon (82; 37%) and Connor McKenna (77; 85%).

 

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CENTRE OF THE WEEK: Angus Brayshaw

With a number of head knocks sidelining the 2014 Number 3 pick for much of the season, the Demon returned to the senior side wearing a helmet, and was sensational in the crucial win over the Western Bulldogs.  The dual position mid/forward shook off a concerning early head clash with Koby Stevens to gather 12 kicks, 14 handballs, four marks and three tackles to score 89 points.  Brayshaw averaged 62 from his 21 games in his debut season, and went at 70 points from the ten matches he managed last year, suggesting he’ll be very much a fantasy-relevant midfield option if he can stay injury-free.  Available in a generous 56% of leagues, he must be snapped up now if you’re in a keeper league.  You can field him with confidence this week as well if your midfield or forward stocks have been hit by injury.

Best of the rest:

With Geelong’s midfield stocks decimated by injury and suspension, the shaggy-haired Cameron Guthrie stepped up to score 100 points from his 25 disposals, three marks, six tackles and a goal.  He may continue to play a similar role with Joel Selwood missing for the rest of the home and away season; he’s available in 50% of all leagues should you decide to back him in against Collingwood this week.

Ryan Bastinac (33% availability) continues to score well, registering 90 points from his 21 disposals, six marks, two tackles and a goal in the Q-Clash win over Brisbane.  with an average of 79 for the season.  While he ground out 56 points in Round 18, that’s his only score below 72 in the past nine weeks, with three tons scored in that time.  The Lion is going at 80 points per game this season, and can be selected this week if required without a second thought.

Consistent scorers Billy Hartung (88 points; 36% availability) and Trent Dumont (79; 38%) both played reasonable matches on the weekend.  Hawthorn speedster Hartung racked up 26 disposals, five marks, two tackles and a goal against the Kangaroos, and had scored under 70 only three times all season for an average of 79 points per game.  In the same match, Dumont had 25 disposals and three tackles, with the Roo averaging 77 for the season.  His one recent blemish was the 47 points he put up in Round 18, but he’s been solid if not spectacular, and like Hartung, is worth considering as midfield cover this week.

Brash Lion cub Rhys Mathieson scored 83 points after collecting 17 disposals, four marks, six tackles and a goal against the Suns, and while not a viable midfield option for finals, is worth keeping an eye on.  He’s available in 52% of all leagues, and will improve on this season’s average of 71 in 2018.

 

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RUCKS:

Big DPP ruck/forward Demon Cam Pedersen stepped up against the Saints, scoring a mammoth 125 points from 28 disposals, eight marks, six tackle, four hit outs and two goals the most of his match against the Saints.  If you’re playing a final this week and your number one ruckman is unavailable, Pedersen (30% availability) is undoubtedly the man to bring in.

Contested beast Braydon Preuss (40% availability) scored 87 points after a quiet fortnight, working hard all day for 25 hit outs, nine disposals, five marks, three tackles and two goals against the Hawks.  With Todd Goldstein having a very quiet day and Majak Daw injured, Preuss could go big for the Roos again next week, but I’d recommend bringing him in as a keeper for 2018.  With a big pre-season, he could be one of the form ruckmen next season.

 

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FORWARD OF THE WEEK: Jacob Hopper

The out of contract Giant had a solid outing in the win over the Western Bulldogs on Friday night, collecting 16 disposals, six marks, four tackles and a goal to score 80 points.  Hopper has endured a shocking run of injuries in his short career so far, with the latest setback, a fractured finger, costing him a large chunk of 2017.  Averaging just under 70 from his eight matches this season, Hopper will be a big scorer in 2018, and should be brought in this week and locked away if you’re among the 38% of leagues where he’s available as a free agent.

Best of the rest:

The enigmatic James Harmes (40% availability) booted three goals from 21 disposals, six marks and two tackles to score 99 points against the Saints on Sunday.  The dual position back/forward has been inconsistent but entertaining this season to average 71 points per game.  Monitor his output and consider drafting him next year.

Man-mountain Jonathon Patton manhandled Bulldog pup Lewis Young and Zaine Cordy on Friday to boot four goals from 11 kicks and eight marks, tallying 91 points for the night.  The key forward (25% availability) has had a breakout season, averaging 73 points per game after kicking 40 goals.  He has come off a quiet fortnight, but should be considered as a keeper for next season at the very least.

Kangaroos duo Ryan Clarke and Taylor Garner have been big improvers this season, scoring 85 and 83 points respectively on Sunday.  Dual position mid/forward Clarke has a three-round average of 89 points after his 27 disposals and eight marks on the weekend, and is available in 60% of all leagues.  Garner (64% availability) backed up his 82 points from Round 20 with 16 disposals, six marks, three tackles and two goals against the Hawks, with the 23 year old now going at just under 70 points per game in 2017.

Keep an eye on Brisbane DPP mid/forward Jacob Allison, who scored 82 points from 19 disposals, seven marks and two tackles against Gold Coast in his third senior game.  He’s averaging 75 and can be selected from the waiver wire in 80% of leagues.

Top 6 finals considerations:

Angus Brayshaw

Matt Scharenberg

Ryan Bastinac

Cameron Pedersen

Cameron Guthrie

Nick Vlastuin

Top 6 Future Keepers:

Andrew McGrath

Matt Scharenberg

Jacob Hopper

Angus Brayshaw

Braydon Preuss

Taylor Garner

 

 

 

 

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