Zach Merrett celebrates a goal during the match between Essendon and North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium in round 10, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

FOR THE second time in three weeks it was the 'Bont Show' with the inspirational Western Bulldogs skipper Marcus Bontempelli (MID, $955,000) leading the way with what is now known as the 'Flu Game'.

After spending the week leading into the game unwell, The Bont spent more time forward as a result, but unlike a number of other midfielders, when he spends more time forward, he is a threat to the scoreboard. After circulating rumours about his role and the possibility of not playing, the superstar did his best work forward of centre collecting 30 disposals and kicking three goals for a round high 142. He will be a popular trade target following his bye given he has dropped $101k and is averaging 131 in his last three, with a BE of just 85.

FANTASY LATEST Tips, strategy, draft, podcasts, more

A fresh crop of players coming off their bye has coaches ready to pounce, while some under-performing premiums' job security is getting shakier in our teams by the day. As tempting as it is to straight swap premiums this round, make sure your team is in a position to do it. You don’t want to get to the end of the 'three-trade' period and realise you still have multiple rookies or under-performing mid-pricers on the ground, So, prioritise wisely despite the temptation, because there is still a long way to go.

Listen to the AFL Fantasy Podcast with The Traders at Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts.

The ability to be agile was evident on the weekend with popular trade target Jy Simpkin (FWD/MID, $580,000) a late withdrawal following a minor hamstring complaint. With only four teams left to play, options were limited but teammate George Wardlaw (MID, $696,000) turned out to be the best like-for-like play with instant reward of 117 while many with cash banked enjoyed the work of Lachie Whitfield (DEF, $839,000) across half-back for his second 120 on the trot. Personally, I cashed out to a rookie, so now it's on me to use the money wisely this week.

While on the topic of taggers, hopefully you did enjoy Whitfield's performance, because he is one that will cop the nasty T word this week, along with many of our star ball-winners as a number of teams have realised you can still play team defence while targeting an opposition star. One who was also a popular pivot, and copped a tag, was Power star Zak Butters (MID, $856,000), who dished up just 67 as a result.

Zak Butters during Port Adelaide's match against Adelaide in R8, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos


  • Zach Merrett (MID, $898,000)
  • Arie Schoenmaker (DEF, $236,000)
  • Christian Salem (DEF/MID, $706,000)
  • Connor Rozee (MID, $712,000)
  • Sam Walsh (MID, $931,000)


  • Jack Steele (MID, $852,000)
  • Joel Freijah (MID/FWD, $410,000)
  • Darcy Wilson (MID/FWD, $590,000)
  • Kane McAuliffe (MID, $338,000)
  • Jeremy Sharp (MID, $689,000)


  • Joel Amartey (FWD, $474,000) +$73,000
  • Eric Hipwood (FWD, $575,000) +$59,000
  • Billy Dowling (MID/FWD, $301,000) +$54,000
  • Jake Riccardi (FWD, $563,000) +$50,000
  • Lachie Bramble (DEF/MID, $559,000) +$48,000)


  • Connor Rozee (MID, $712,000) -$59,000
  • Matt Roberts (MID/DEF, $444,000) -$59,000
  • James Aish (MID/DEF, $629,000) -$55,000
  • Riley Bonner (MID/DEF, $664,000) -$55,000
  • Noah Answerth (FWD/DEF, $368,000) -$49,000


  • Billy Dowling (MID/FWD, $301,000) -20
  • Arie Schoenmaker (DEF, $236,000) -9
  • Joel Amartey (FWD, $474,000) -3
  • Karl Worner (DEF, $319,000) 9
  • Nathan Kreuger (RUC/FWD, $326,000) 12


  • Zak Butters (MID, $856,000) 148
  • Josh Dunkley (MID, $904,000) 143
  • Rowan Marshall (RUC, $962,000) 142
  • Nick Daicos (DEF/MID, $926,000) 141
  • Caleb Serong (MID, $922,000) 138


Errol Gulden (MID, $1,003,000): Coming off his bye, I warned that the Sydney running machine will be over one million dollars like the blink of an eye. Well, two weeks down the track and look what we have here! Normally I wouldn't say he remains a priority with a lot of value picks available, but he is clearly the No.1 midfielder in the game and it will be a long and slow end to the season for non-owners. He has a BE of 92 and a three-game average of 132, which suggests he presents value.

Zach Merrett (MID, $898,000): Sometimes boring is good and when boring is averaging 109 for the season while dropping under triple figures on just two occasions, all of a sudden we all want to get bored. The Bombers ball-magnet has been one of the standout performers in the game for years and while he hasn't hit the same ceiling scores as some of his rival premiums, he has an outstanding fixture on paper over the coming weeks. Obviously he attracts the tag, but he also works tirelessly to break them. He is available for a bargain price after dropping $121k since the start of the year.

Sam Walsh (MID, $931,000): The 23-year-old Blue is one of the hardest workers in the game and like Merrett, he attracts tags but it doesn’' stop him giving his all. He is having a great season, averaging 110 and has a sensational draw over the coming weeks including a great match-up with the Cats this week (as long as 'Blics' isn't tagging him). He has a high BE of 127 but don't let that stop you buying in if you have the funds.

Connor Rozee tackles Sam Walsh during Port Adelaide's clash against Carlton in round 18, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

Christian Salem (DEF/MID, $706,000): Although it never seems to end well, the 28-year-old Dee is once again putting his hand up for selection after recording some impressive numbers. He is this cheap due to an early injury that occurred in round five, limiting him to five points that round. Since his return, he has been great with scores of 93, 133, 88 and 95 which leaves him with a BE of just 49 which reinforces his value. It's a high-risk play, especially given we only have one best 18 round remaining, but his form is certainly there and his responsibility is at an all-time high following the season-ending injury to Christian Petracca.

Connor Rozee (MID, $712,000): The Power skipper is certainly under-priced compared to what he is capable of, so it's no wonder he has such a high level of interest this week despite having a BE of 130. We all saw what he did at the start of the season where he was unstoppable, averaging 112 over his first five before injury derailed his season. He hasn't reached triple figures in his last five games but it’' inevitable he will bounce back soon and I am comfortable with coaches going early based on his potential vs price. It's also fine to wait until he bottoms out in price over the next couple of weeks.


Jack Steele (MID, $852,000): The Saints skipper was in beast mode at the start of the year, back to his very best with five hundreds and three scores over 120 but a combination of injury, form and a tag on the weekend has resulted in a disappointing loss of form which has been reflected by reaching triple figures in just three of his last nine games on the back of 74 from 16 disposals. He has a BE of 129 and the bye serves as a good excuse to trade to a premium demonstrating more consistency.

Rowan Marshall and Jack Steele look dejected after Euro-Yroke's loss to Narrm in round 11, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Jack Macrae (MID/FWD, $659,000): The former ball-hunter looks a shadow of his former self, averaging just 75 on the season with 70 in his last five. He has dropped $170k since the start of the year while playing a variety of roles and his remaining 12 per cent of coaches need to take the opportunity this week to upgrade him to a premium. 

Riley Bonner (MID/DEF, $664,000): After looking like the pick of the season for the first 10 rounds, Bonner has dropped right off in the last four weeks with scores of 65, 60, 37 and 59 from his most recent game which consisted of 16 disposals, five marks and no tackles. It leaves him with a BE of 129 following his bye and the 27-year-old needs to be moved on this week. Despite his recent form and money bleeding, he has still increased $201k on his original asking price which is a great effort.

Zak Butters (MID, $856,000): The damaging Power midfielder has had a great season, averaging 101. Unfortunately, his recent form doesn't reflect that with a three-game average of 76 which leaves him with a BE of 148. He showed on the weekend he is susceptible to the tag with a score of just 67.

Jeremy Sharp (MID, $689,000): When some coaches traded Sharp on his bye, others questioned whether it was too early given his scores leading up to it were 86, 118, 88, 105 and 80. Well knowing when to fold em' was the winner after he returned from the break with a performance that quite frankly, you had to see to believe. He spent 87 per cent of the game on the ground, collecting four disposals for a score of 15. He has a BE of 125, so take the $405k he has made since the start of the year and move him on.

Get expert advice from The Traders during the season in the Fantasy Hub. Follow AFL Fantasy on Twitter and Instagram and 'like' the Facebook page to join in the conversation.