Which teams/players to avoid during AFL’s 20-day fixture frenzy

It may be a TV broadcaster’s dream but the looming fixture overload is an AFL Fantasy and SuperCoach coaches’ nightmare. It’s going to be pure chaos.

We all knew it was coming but you can’t legitimately plan for this unprecedented chaos.

So now we know the fixtures and SuperCoach and AFL Fantasy (although there’s nothing official yet on the bye rounds) have confirmed their rules, how do we make sense of it all to make a belated plan.

With a round to go before the chaos, there’s an opportunity to adjust your side to an extent, while avoiding certain players/teams.

But with all of this in mind I got the abacus, biro and notepad out and figured out each clubs’ lot from the Rounds 9-12 draw.

I’ll preface all this by noting, from an AFL perspective not Fantasy or SuperCoach, it is anticipated teams who got ‘bad’ draws in Rounds 9-12 will get the reverse from Round 13-17 and vice versa for teams who got ‘good’ draws. I’d also speculate there will be more ‘resting’ later in the season, closer to finals, but let’s worry about the present.

Some of the key AFL Fantasy and SuperCoach factors to consider will be likelihood of rotation (plenty of coaches have already flagged it) and when final 22s and extended squads will be announced, plus to a lesser extent, opponent and travel/venue. The rules on naming final 22s will remain the day before the game.

The table below includes each club’s match date in July or August, plus the state they’re playing in (I’ve badged Gold Coast and Brisbane together as they’re only an hour apart) and finally what that schedule means in terms of games per days.

ClubR9R10R11R12Schedule
Adelaide1 (Qld)5 (SA)11 (SA)16 (Qld)4 in 16
Bris. Lions31 (Qld)4 (Qld)8 (Qld)15 (Tas)4 in 16
Carlton31 (WA)Bye9 (WA)15 (WA)3 in 16
Collingwood2 (WA)6 (Qld)11 (SA)15 (Qld)4 in 14
Essendon31 (Qld)7 (Qld)12 (Qld)16 (Qld)4 in 17
Fremantle2 (WA)Bye10 (WA)15 (WA)3 in 14
Geelong1 (WA)5 (Qld)10 (Qld)14 (Qld)4 in 14
Gold Coast2 (Qld)6 (Qld)12 (Qld)17 (Qld)4 in 16
GWS2 (Qld)7 (Qld)Bye13 (WA)3 in 12
Hawthorn31 (WA)Bye10 (WA)16 (WA)3 in 17
Melbourne30 (Qld)5 (SA)9 (Tas)15 (Qld)4 in 17
Nth Melb.1 (Qld)5 (Qld)9 (Tas)15 (Tas)4 in 15
Port Adel.30 (Qld)3 (SA)8 (SA)14 (Qld)4 in 16
Richmond29 (Qld)4 (Qld)8 (SA)17 (Qld)4 in 20
St Kilda1 (Qld)6 (Qld)10 (Qld)16 (Qld)4 in 16
Sydney1 (Qld)6 (Qld)Bye13 (WA)3 in 13
West Coast1 (WA)Bye9 (WA)16 (WA)3 in 16
W. Bulldogs29 (Qld)3 (SA)9 (Qld)16 (Qld)4 in 19
Qld = Queensland (Brisbane or Gold Coast), SA = South Australia, WA = Western Australia, Tas = Tasmania

Adelaide

Not a bad draw with four games in 16 days, including two in Adelaide, but Round 10 is a red flag for rotation, coming off a four-day break and a trip home from the Gold Coast. Most worryingly if you’re relying on Crows rookies, selection will be scary as they play on the penultimate day of the round in three of the four rounds, meaning you won’t know their 22 at lockout.

Brisbane Lions

Four games in 16 days and three games in Queensland before a trip to Tasmania. Currently second, if they uphold their lofty position, expect plenty of rotation, especially with two four-day breaks. You’ll know Brisbane’s 22 in two of the four rounds, as they play on the opening two days of Rounds 10 and 11. Not bad.

Carlton

One of six clubs to have a bye during the stretch due to the WA quarantine rules. Given SuperCoach’s best 18 rule (let’s assume AFL Fantasy follow suit), I wouldn’t be too fazed unless you’re stacked with players from those four clubs who’ve got the bye in Round 10. Expect rotation later in the season.

Collingwood

The Pies have the toughest draw, with four games in 14 days, and if you include Round Eight, five games in 20 days. They also need to travel from Perth to Brisbane to Adelaide and back to Brisbane. Expect heavy rotation, particularly given they’re currently third. They also play a few days into every round, so you won’t see rotations coming at lockout. I’d avoid trading in any Pies until after this stretch.

Essendon

The Bombers don’t leave Queensland and have a softer run of four games in 17 days. However, they do play on the final day of two rounds and the penultimate day of Round 12 so selection will be a mystery. They’ve also still got a game in hand, so coach John Worsfold may pull some surprises.

Fremantle

The Dockers don’t leave WA but have the Round 10 bye which shouldn’t faze you as per Carlton, as long as you’re not stacked. Freo play deep into each round so selection won’t be clear but I don’t expect much rotation at this stage given they essentially play one game per week as per normal. Their Brownlow Medallist might be cherry ripe and under-priced after the bye.

Geelong

The Cats, like Collingwood, have a brutal schedule coming back from WA, with four games in 14 days, but they only travel from Perth to Brisbane, unlike the nomadic Pies. There’s a few under-priced Geelong premiums on peoples’ radars following injuries but expect rotation without warning. Tread carefully.

Gold Coast

The Suns have had a dream season with a blessed run with injury (except for Sir Highness Matt Rowell) and don’t leave Queensland in this stretch with three games at Metricon. They play four games in 16 days. But the big red flag is they play on the final day of three of the four rounds, so selection will be totally blind if they rotate and you’re relying on them.

GWS Giants

GWS have a Round 11 bye, alongside only the Swans, so I wouldn’t be too stressed if you’ve got two or three Giants. They play three games in 12 days – which is the toughest of all the sides with the bye – and travel from Gold Coast to Perth, when they play the first game of the round. Expect rotation later in the season, for now, I wouldn’t be afraid of having a few of the key Giants.

Hawthorn

The Hawks have a Round 10 bye while they’re in Perth quarantining. They play three games in 17 days, all in Perth, so I’m not expecting much rotation yet from Alastair Clarkson. Worry about them later.

Melbourne

Remember the Dees have a game in hand at some point so they’ll be wanting to keep their side fresh. They’ve also got a lot of travel, with four games in 17 days across three states, going from Queensland to SA to Tasmania and back to Queensland with two four-day breaks. They also play two of the hardest sides to score against in this stretch; Port and Collingwood. They do play early in two rounds, but in Round 11 the opening game between Port-Richmond starts at 4:35pm AEST, meaning the following days’ 22s won’t be available at partial lockout. Horror show. Hold off on your Max Gawn move. Avoid.

North Melbourne

The Kangas have four games in 15 days, going from Queensland down to Tasmania for the latter two matches. They’ve also got two four-day breaks, so expect rotation. They play midway through every round, except the aforementioned Melbourne game, so you won’t know their 22s at the initial lockout ever.

Port Adelaide

The ladder leaders may be permitted a bit of rotation given they’re a game and percentage clear. The Power play four games in 16 days with one four-day break. They travel to Brisbane twice from Adelaide. The good news is they play two round opening games and on the second day of the other two rounds, so you’ll know their 22s before lockout in every round. Pretty safe.

Richmond

Beyond the sides with the byes, Richmond have the widest set of fixtures with four games in 20 days, settling up in Queensland with one trip to Adelaide. They have one four-day break for their Adelaide trip which is a red flag against Port, who are tough to score against but also given the quality of the opponent they may opt not to rest key players. The best news is they play two round opening games and the second game in Round 10 so you’ll know their 22s on three occasions.

St Kilda

The Saints don’t leave Queensland and play four games in 16 days with only one four-day break. They’ve also had a blessed run with injury in 2020. The bad news is they play a few days into every round, so you won’t know their 22s at partial lockout.

Sydney

The Swans start off with two games in Brisbane within six days before flying to WA where they’ll have the Round 11 bye. Similar to the Giants, I wouldn’t be afraid of having Swans.

West Coast

West Coast effectively play one game a week at home over three weeks in a comfortable schedule which shouldn’t require too many changes. The Round 10 bye is a consideration, particularly if you’ve got Dockers, Hawks or Blues. Round 11, after their bye, may be the perfect time to swoop for any under-priced Eagles you fancy, but expect rotation later in the season.

Western Bulldogs

The Dogs have avoided any four-day breaks but coach Luke Beveridge expects a tougher run later in the year. They’ll play four games in 19 days, but travel to Adelaide amid that run. Even better news is they play on the opening day of three of the four rounds, so selection surprises will be minimised before lockout.

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