NOTHING is ever easy in AFL Fantasy and there were plenty of twists and turns throughout round 18 that had coaches on their toes.
On Thursday night, popular RUC/FWD Sean Darcy (103) went off the ground with a knee injury that initially appeared to be serious. The Dockers are hopeful the big man will play in round 19.
Friday brought the news shortly before lockout that James Harmes would miss due to an ear infection. Coaches were scrambling to prioritise their trades with Patrick Cripps, Lachie Whitfield, Kyle Langford, Oleg Markov, Changkuoth Jiath and Ben Cunningham ruled out.
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The biggest news was the kidney injury Dustin Martin (51) sustained against the Lions. The third-most popular player in Fantasy Classic will miss the rest of the season and will be yet another forced trade for the 60,000 coaches rocking with the Brownlow medallist.
Ups and downs continued throughout the weekend with rookies outscoring premiums and captain selections dictating match-ups.
Then Sunday happened.
In this COVID-affected season, coaches have been conditioned to expect the unexpected. Around 20 minutes before the bounce for the final game of the round, the Giants announced that Toby Greene and Matt de Boer were late outs as they would need to isolate. For the Swans, Callum Mills, Harry Cunningham and Colin O'Riordan would also sit out.
Mills was the big one with many of the top-ranked coaches owing their seasons to the second-best Fantasy DEF of the year. His 17 per cent ownership is much higher in the top 100 coaches vying for the Toyota HiLux.
And after all of that, Josh Kelly (84) hobbled off with an ankle injury in the third quarter. Ah, don't we love playing Fantasy!
Fantasy Pig of the week
Put your hands together for Sam Walsh (155). With an average of 111 and now a value of more than $800k, the former No.1 draft pick has been outstanding in his third season. Sunday afternoon's masterclass where the young Blue led his side to victory was topped off by a last-quarter goal that brought up his highest-ever AFL Fantasy score. He racked up a game-high 39 disposals along with nine marks and five tackles. Walsh has averaged 135 since the bye rounds.
Jack Steele (149) is the only player to have scored more points than Walsh in the last month. Once again, he was among the best for the round. Other ball-magnets such as Tom Mitchell (144) and Ollie Wines (140) continued their epic seasons while the surprise packet of the year Aaron Hall (136) took 14 marks. Hall has been one of the best selections of the season, scoring more than 120 on eight occasions. Karl Amon (131) will have impressed his Draft owners making it back-to-back scores of 130-plus.
Top scores - R18
- Sam Walsh 155
- Jack Steele 149
- Tom Mitchell 144
- Ollie Wines 140
- Aaron Hall 136
- Karl Amon 131
- Sam Menegola 129
- Darcy Parish 128
- Ben Keays 128
- Brad Crouch 126
- Clayton Oliver 126
- Tarryn Thomas 126
- Jeremy Sharp 123
- Rory Laird 122
- Rowan Marshall 122
Cash cows of the round
The best player with a starting price under $270k will be awarded the Michael Barlow Medal as the best cash cow of the year.
The votes for round 18:
5 – Jeremy Sharp (123) Gold Coast Suns, MID
A second-year player top-scoring in a game featuring the Harlem Globetrotters of AFL Fantasy? Jeremy Sharp had 30 disposals and 10 marks to post career-high numbers and provide some handy points at one of the last rookies on field for some coaches. Well done if you were able to take the score!
4 – Jack Payne (91) Brisbane Lions, DEF
A previous high of 51 this season, Payne took nine marks and laid five tackles to boost his numbers.
3 – Trey Ruscoe (77) Collingwood, FWD
Five marks to go with his 23 disposals made the one per cent of coaches with him on field happy.
2 – Ollie Henry (76) Collingwood, FWD
In just his fifth game, Henry had kicked three goals and had 58 Fantasy points at half-time.
1 – Connor West (76) West Coast Eagles, MID
The mid-season draftee played his role on debut collecting 19 disposals, four marks and four tackles.
LEADERBOARD: James Jordon 26, Tom Powell 15, Errol Gulden 14, Chad Warner 13, Matthew Flynn 12, Deven Robertson 11, Caleb Poulter 10, Miles Bergman 10, Nik Cox 9, Sam Flanders 9.
Devon Smith (38) – Let down a lot of coaches this season in Draft. He was taken with an average draft pick of 138 but is now only selected in 36 per cent of Draft squads due to his season average of just 62.
Matt Rowell (53) – Not a lot to say except at least he will be cheap next year.
Dan Houston (56) – What has happened? His price was right a few weeks ago where he went on a run of scores of 97, 98, 86 and 97. Back-to-back 50s has put him on the chopping block.
Nic Newman (61) – Calvin was all over Newman this week and picked him up due to his great draw, starting with the Pies who give up plenty of points to defenders. It didn't happen.
Steele Sidebottom (69) – Saved his score somewhat with a 32-point third quarter. The Pie has been on the nose recently and not producing the scores his price tag suggested; decreasing more than $200k this season.
Tom Stewart (81) – It might be harsh giving Stewart a rage trade rocket but when he was on 66 at half-time, the sky was the limit for Stewart. His solitary 'kick' in the last quarter wasn't completely his fault, the ball wasn't in the Cats' backline.