Another very quiet round for prospective free agents, but there is plenty to like about some of the players who debuted on the weekend. Keep your eyes on some of those first-gamers, and hopefully you’ll back yourself in to pick them up before they make an appearance in this column. There are still a few players who performed admirably this week, and I’m confident you can find someone who’ll add value to your squad as we highlight the free agents for round 9:
BACK OF THE WEEK: Lachie Weller
Fremantle have seemingly found their feet over the past month, with position changes freeing up the veterans such as Hill and Walters to play more fantasy-friendly roles, but it has been the younger players stepping up who have arguably had the most impact. Along with Connor Blakely, Lachie Weller has been one such Docker. Playing off a half back, Weller had 17 kicks, nine handballs, five marks and two tackles to score 92 points in the comeback win over Carlton on Sunday. While he was coming off a quiet fortnight with scores of 67 and 53, Weller has been relatively consistent throughout the season, and played 90% game time on the weekend, showing that Ross Lyon has faith in him when games are close.
While other free agents defenders scored higher this round, there are a number of reasons Weller was chosen as back of the week. He is available in 31% of leagues as a dual position back/forward, which is handy if you need injury cover or are playing the bye round. He has the tank and ability to move into a midfield role further down the track, which can only add to his scoring output, and his job security is strong, with Lyon outspoken in his praise for the young half back. At 21 years old and averaging a touch over 73 points per game, he is a must if you’re playing in a keeper league, and if not, is worth playing in a fifth spot down back or up forward.
Best of the rest:
The Bombers had a field day against West Coast, with nine players scoring a ton. Two of these high scorers were defenders Mark Baguley (120 points) and Michael Hartley (101). Baguley (53% availability) collected 18 kicks, eight handballs, 14 marks and two tackles, while Hartley helped himself to 13 kicks, eight handballs, 13 marks and three tackles. While these are impressive numbers, they are rare for these players, who have found themselves in lockdown roles for much of 2017. While Baguley is coming off three season with averages in the mid to high 70’s, he has been inconsistent this season for an average of just under 65, and with last week’s score of 21 from a full game I’d be treading carefully. Hartley (98% availability) is a straight up no, with no scores above 42 in his previous two matches.
Swan Nick Smith (96% availability) scored 101 from 11 kicks, 12 handballs and 14 marks in the flogging of St Kilda, but had a previous season-high of 56 points from all games, so like Hartley, it’s a definite no to bringing him in.
Swingman Harry Taylor had a great night down at Geelong on Friday, with the forward line experiment finally paying dividends as he kicked five goals from 13 touches, five marks and five tackles for a score of 99. Available as a back/forward, Taylor has struggled to find the consistency that had made him fantasy-relevant as a defender in the past, and had only kicked two goals prior to Friday night for the season. If you decide to ignore the fact that his good games have been marred by five scores under 60, he’s available in 65 % of all leagues.
Saints Daniel McKenzie and 100-game Crow Luke Brown both managed to score 96 points in their respective matches. McKenzie impressed in his first match of the season with 12 kicks, eight handballs, six marks and six tackles. The 21 year old Saint is available in 94% of all leagues, and is well worth watching, if not picking up now. While an underrated defender, Brown (91% availability) is hardly fantasy-relevant, and his 18 kicks, seven handballs and seven marks were probably due to the fact that his team mates looked for him in his milestone match.
CENTRE OF THE WEEK: Scott Selwood
The younger Selwood was brought into the Cats’ side after their dismal tackling effort last week, and in his first game of season 2017 he didn’t disappoint. The former Eagle laid an incredible 17 tackles, also collecting 17 disposals and booting a goal on his way to 119 points for the night, as Geelong recorded a club-high 134 tackles in defeating the Bulldogs. While injury has marred Selwood’s previous three seasons, his last full year of football at West Coast in 2013 produced an average of 108 points per game, and even though he may not get back to those heights, he has proven to be a reliable scorer when fit. Even if assigned a run-with role, the tackle pressure of Selwood should ensure that he remains fantasy-relevant, and is unlikely to be demoted any time soon after his round 9 performance. If you believe his injury woes are behind him, he’s available in 29% of all leagues, and would be fine to slot straight into a field position in your side.
Best of the rest:
Travis Colyer was great in the win over West Coast, collecting 16 kicks, four handballs, seven marks, six tackles and a goal to score 99 points. The Bomber continues to frustrate, however, as his high scores often come after a low score or two, a pattern that has seen coaches lose patience with the wingman. Averaging 76 for the year, the dual position centre/forward scored 124 earlier in the season, but then followed it up with a score of 56, highlighting his inconsistency. If you want to roll the dice and jump on the Bomber, he’s available in 38% of leagues. But having been burned earlier in the season, give me a player who scores 76 each week over him any day.
Last week’s Rising Star nominee Tim Taranto has continued to improve each week, and scored 84 points in the narrow win over Richmond on Saturday. Rotating between the midfield and forward line, as his dual position status suggests, the first year Giant had 11 kicks, eight handballs, four marks, four tackles and kicked a goal in arguably his best match of his short career to date. While he has started more slowly than some of the other first round draftees, Taranto is starting to show why he was selected at pick two by GWS, and is a must if you’re playing in a keeper league. Even if you’re not, if you are playing in one of the 50% of leagues where he’s available, get him in!
RUCK(S) OF THE WEEK: Tom Boyd/Nathan Vardy
The dire ruck situation has come to a point where no prospective free agent ruckman impressed enough to be named ruck of the week, and so this week it is shared between previous ROW’s Tom Boyd and Nathan Vardy.
Boyd put together an incredible game against the Cats on Friday night, with his huge score of 117 coming from 33 hit outs, eight kicks, 12 handballs, four marks, three tackles and two goals. He’s available as a ruck/forward in 25% of all leagues, and is worth a look, especially if you need a back up ruckman or want to see how he develops across the next few seasons. Vardy backed up his impressive match last week with a 78 point game against the Bombers, which was highlighted by 22 hit outs, two goals and six marks. Recommended purely as a bench ruck, the former Cat can be picked up in 39% of leagues.
Best of the rest:
While it may seem like all is lost if your number one ruckman has gone down through injury, there is plenty to be excited about heading into Round 10. We are due for another Ultimate Footy position change announcement on Wednesday, and Demon forward Cam Pedersen is a sure thing to gain dual position ruck status. He’s averaging 102 with a low score of 94 from his four matches, and would be worth trading for to bring in as first ruck if you can, as he’s owned in 89% of leagues already.
Young DPP ruck/forward Darcy Cameron (93% availability) has been impressive in the Swans’ NEAFL side, with his 148 points on the weekend coming from 55 hit outs, and shouldn’t be too far away from a senior game. Roos’ beast Braydon Preuss (42%) has had a huge month in the VFL, also having 55 hit outs on the weekend to score 93 points. He’s bashing down the door, and if Brad Scott decides to go tall he’ll be the first from the two’s selected.
FORWARD OF THE WEEK: Hugh Greenwood
It was a huge week for Tasmanian Hugh Greenwood. After a promising college basketball start in New Mexico, Greenwood decided to turn his back on an NBL career with the Perth Wildcats to have a crack at playing AFL football after being headhunted by the Crows. The rookie earned his debut after solid SANFL form, and was electric on Saturday night, booting three goals from his nine kicks, six handballs, tow marks and nine tackles for a total of 93 points. Playing across half forward, Greenwood kicked all of his goals in the first half, with his first coming from a strong overhead mark on the quarter time siren. His other two came from contests at ground level, and his nine tackles showed that he is able to compete when the ball hits the deck.
Athletic and agile, Greenwood slotted straight into the Crows’ forward line at the expense of the established Josh Jenkins, which shows just how highly he is rated by Don Pyke. His score was all the more impressive as he only managed one disposal in the third term, which suggests he could continue to score at a high rate. Currently available in 77% of all leagues, expect his popularity to skyrocket this week. If you like what you saw, now is the time to bid for Greenwood as a restricted free agent.
Best of the rest:
Tom Papley scored an even 100 points against the Saints from 11 kicks, nine handballs, six mars, four tackles and two goals. Averaging just under 72 for the season, the dual position centre/forward Swan has gone at just under 90 across the past month, and was stiff to not have been named forward of the week this round. He’s available in a generous 74 % of all leagues, and given that his first two matches only yielded a total of 73 points, he’s been in great form.
Small forward Kayne Turner impressed in the outing against the Demons, scoring 95 points from his 20 disposals, six marks and six tackles. The Kangaroo competes well and similarly to Papley, is averaging 86 points across his last four matches. He can be picked up in 82% of leagues, and you could do a lot worse than to bring him into your forward line.
Paul Puopolo popped up for 104 points in the Hawks’ heartbreaking loss to the Pies, with his 13 tackles, 15 disposals and two goals totalling 104 points. Available in 70% of leagues, he’s averaging a shade under 70 this season, but his inconsistency means that he’s better used as a Friday night loophole specialist than a regular forward.
Ryan Lester (46% availability) continued his consistent form, with his 87 points coming from 13 kicks, 10 handballs, four marks and four tackles. The young Lion is averaging 85 points from his last five matches, and 77 for the season. George Hewett, a dual position centre/forward, is scoring at a similar level, with a season average of 79 points. He scored 89 on the weekend from 19 disposals, six marks, five tackles and a goal, and hasn’t dipped below 61 points in a game this year. The improved Swan can still be selected from the waiver wire in 29% of all leagues.
Finally, key forward and Arden Street cult figure Ben Brown impressed with a five goal haul for 90 points against the Demons on Sunday. Brown also had 10 kicks, three handballs and six marks in that match to now average 72 for the year, and if you think that he can become fantasy-relevant like Joe Daniher has this season, the big Tasmanian is currently available in 62% of leagues.