Richmond v Port Adelaide
After copping a bit of flak for talking up Sam Gray (FWD/MID, $427,000) early in the pre-season on the back of an outstanding finish to the year, it is nice to see he has silenced the critics with another outstanding performance, leading the Power's scoring against the Tigers with 107 from 28 possessions. Ollie Wines (MID, $513,000) looked great scoring 90, as did fellow under-priced mid Brendon Ah Chee (MID, $314,000) who had 92, with both playing just 64 per cent game time.
With slim pickings in the back line, Bachar Houli (DEF, $481,000) looks a sure thing to be a top-six defender and he did his selection prospects no harm with an impressive outing against the Power, amassing 24 kicks on his way to a game high 125. Dustin Martin (FWD/MID, $573,000) scored just 53, despite playing 71 per cent game time, but don't stress, he will fire up against the Blues in round one. With injury hitting the Tigers hard, stocks rise for Connor Menadue (FWD/MID, $138,000), who continued his impressive pre season with a solid game where he demonstrated his ability to play all over the ground for 14 disposals and 49.
Carlton v Sydney Swans
The Swans are looking like finals contenders again, with a number of their superstars ready to return to their best this season. Dan Hannebery (MID, $613,000) is playing at another level, which he demonstrated against the Blues with 38 possessions and 10 marks for a game high 151, making it very hard to not squeeze him in despite the hefty price tag. Lance Franklin (FWD, $452,000) is massively under-priced, and showed why with a vintage performance that included three goals on his way to 108. Buddy looks to have timed his run perfectly on the eve of the season proper and is ripe for the picking. Luke Parker (MID, $533,000) did enough with two goals and 73, but it was once again Callum Mills (MID, $227,000) who caught my eye with veteran-like poise throughout his 23-possession and one-goal game for 78, making him a lock.
Nick Graham (MID, $353,000) continues to fly under the radar despite his sensational NAB Challenge form that continued against the Swans with 30 touches, a goal and a team high 122. Keep an eye on Graham in your Elite draft, because he would be a perfect bench option with a late selection. Sam Kerridge (FWD/MID, $299,000) showed his game against the Hawks was no fluke and backed it up in impressive fashion with a well-rounded game including 26 possessions, six marks and three goals for 105, almost placing him in the 'must have' bracket for that price. Patrick Cripps (MID, $477,000) was ridiculously good, racking up 24 touches and 87 in just 53 per cent game time, while Jacob Weitering (DEF, $232,000) is putting his hand up for the last spot on your field with another impressive performance that included seven marks and 56.
Patrick Cripps and Callum Mills did their AFL Fantasy chances no harm. Picture: AFL Media
Gold Coast v Adelaide
Aaron Hall (FWD/MID, $422,000) was touted as being an awkward price, but he has proven that is not the case – he is in fact heavily under-priced after consolidating a midfield role, even with the return of some missing stars. He had another great match with 29 touches and two goals for a game-high 130. Unfortunately Matt Rosa (DEF/MID, $411,000) has not done enough to prove his worth in the back line with another disappointing return, scoring just 52 despite gathering 22 possessions. If Ryan Davis (MID, $125,000) is elevated to the senior list before round one, he may be worthy of a bench spot. He had 65 from 68 per cent TOG.
Sam Jacobs (RUC, $533,000) reminded everyone why he deserves a starting ruck spot with a team high 111 which included 41 hit-outs, while Paul Seedsman (DEF, $353,000) played his best game as a Crow with 23 touches and a goal for 105, which provides a bit of food for thought in the back line. Matt Crouch (MID, $396,000) is all but locked in my team after having it on a string again for 28 touches and 100 from just 69 per cent game time.
Collingwood v Western Bulldogs
Taylor Adams (MID, $560,000) is one of a handful of Pies mids who are ripe for the picking. Personally, I can't say no to Adams, who looks set for a huge year on the back of 113 against the Dogs with 29 possessions. Adam Treloar (MID, $576,000) was great on debut for the Pies and is set to continue to grow into one of the elite Fantasy players in the competition. He kicked two goals on his way to 90, while Scott Pendlebury (MID, $615,000) continued to spend the majority of his time across half-back and scored 86 as a result. We haven't seen the numbers we expect from Pendles across the pre-season, but once the Pies are playing for premiership points, I think he will return to the middle and churn out the tons. Jordan De Goey (FWD/MID, $342,000) did enough to lock himself into my team with 81 and he looks set for a big year.
Jason Johannisen (DEF, $426,000) jumped into back line consideration with a standout performance of 129 from 33 possessions nine marks, while Lachie Hunter (MID, $433,000) is on track for a significant break-out in Fantasy average after scoring 111 with 31 touches playing predominantly off a wing. Tom Liberatore (MID, $443,000) was solid, but may not be the walk-up selection we thought. He registered 14 possessions (10 handballs) on his way to 39 from 79 per cent game time.
Jason Johannisen didn't take the clash with the Magpies lying down. Picture: AFL Media
Fremantle v Geelong
Michael Barlow (FWD/MID, $515,000) confirmed his place in many forward lines, overcoming a slow start to collect 27 possessions and 93 points, and Nat Fyfe (MID, $581,000) owners, don't be deterred by his score of 75 – he will be fine once the season proper begins. Thomas Sheridan (DEF, $359,000) remains an under-priced option after scoring 75 with 21 touches and Harley Bennell (FWD/MID, $509,000) was impressive on debut, scoring 71 from just 58 per cent game time.
Good luck to anybody flirting with the idea of leaving out Patrick Dangerfield (MID, $589,000). He hasn't missed a beat throughout the NAB Challenge and continued his good form against the Dockers with 30 touches, two goals and 112. Dare I say it, he could be set for career highs this season. Mark Blicavs (RUC/MID, $539,000) played his best pre season game with 12 tackles and 95, providing a unique option in the ruck department, while although Tom Ruggles (DEF, $125,000) only scored 38, he may be a cheap option for your last bench spot in the back line.
Hawthorn vs North Melbourne
Why and how we don't just lock in Sam Mitchell (MID, $574,000) and Luke Hodge (MID, $615,000) every year is beyond me. The pair of them are defying age and seemingly getting better every year. Mitchell laughed off an attempted tag, going on to score 142 from 45 touches and Hodgey scored 71 from 41 per cent game time before putting his feet up in the second half. Daniel Howe (DEF, $265,000) is the man to keep an eye on. He continued his good NAB form with 10 marks, playing predominantly across half-back, with a few stints in the midfield. If he can get a game in round one, he will be in for me.
Daniel Wells (FWD/MID, $293,000) is moving better than I have seen him in years, and is one of the easiest selections this year. He scored 104 from 24 touches and a goal and looks set for a big season if he can avoid injury.
Brisbane Lions v GWS
Stefan Martin (RUC, $631,000) showed why he is the number-one man with an outstanding NAB Challenge debut for 118 from 24 touches and six marks. He comes at a cost, but my question is, can you afford not to have him? Ryan Harwood (DEF, $198,000) took nine marks and did enough to suggest he can return to his best, which consolidates a spot in my team, while popular rookie Rhys Mathieson (MID, $158,000) was quiet, before he caught a high bump in the third and sat out the game with six touches to his name.
Jack Steele (FWD/MID, $324,000) looks to be the benefactor of Adam Treloar's absence, collecting 26 possessions and laying 11 tackles for a whopping 119, which could force last-minute changes to many squads. Heath Shaw is officially the most sought defender in the competition after continuing his cracking pre-season with 29 possessions and 118. He was hungry and appeared all over the ground racking up possessions at will, so bend over backwards to get him in. Steve Johnson (FWD, $479,000) looked sensational, playing a lazy 39 per cent game time for three goals and 59 points, suggesting that he is under-priced and worthy of a unique selection.
Stefan Martin is number one for a reason. Picture: AFL Media
Melbourne v St Kilda
Jack Viney (MID, $462,000) continued to suggest a break out is on the cards with an impressive 102, including a trademark eight tackles, while Max Gawn (RUC, $509,000) has to be in the mix as a starting ruck after continuing his good form with 87, despite an uncharacteristically low 25 hit-outs. The big news was Clayton Oliver's (MID, $238,000) dominance, which justifies paying for his inflated price tag. He managed 18 touches and two goals for 94.
Jack Steven (MID, $618,000) reminded everyone why he costs the big bucks with a standout performance of 117 from 30 touches after a blistering first half. Leigh Montagna (FWD/MID, $603,000) didn't miss a beat and has to be considered as a forward on the back of 27 touches and a goal for 97.
West Coast v Essendon
Matt Priddis (MID, $570,000) looks like producing his usual big numbers for another season. He barely worked up a sweat under his mop for a game-high 124 from 33 touches, while Jack Redden (MID, $537,000) eased into his Eagles' debut with a promising 60 from 61 per cent game time. Keep an eye on him sliding in Elite.
The big news from the Bombers is that Matt Dea (DEF, $170,000) and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti (FWD/DEF, $162,000) have moved well ahead of Mitch Brown (FWD/DEF, $194,000), who played 58 per cent game time for 36. The pair were very impressive for scores of 81 and 76 respectively, despite the Bombers being comprehensively beaten on the scoreboard.
Good luck with your team. Hopefully there was some information in here that helps you make a vital call or two. Hit me up on Twitter if you have any further questions: @RoyDT