AFL Fantasy Expert Panel: How to make a move in the final eight-round stretch?

It’s crazy to think there’s only eight rounds left in the AFL Fantasy season but that’s the reality so it’s time to complete your side and make a few unique moves. But that’s always difficult so we’ve asked the gurus.


Honeyball has assembled an AFL Fantasy Expert Panel, featuring Melbourne-based programmer/tech lead Nick Millar, who finished fifth in 2020 and is currently ranked 227th.

We’ve also got St Kilda fan Noah Bufton, whose Red Snappers are currently ranked 407th, and Eagles supporter Keeshan Rawlner, whose Riskit for the Biskit are 1031st, having recently slipped outside the top 1000 with designs on surging back in.

HB: How far off a ‘completed’ 22 are you? Which premos are you trying to bring in in the next 1-3 rounds and why?

Noah: After trades this week I will have one rookie left on the field.  This week I turned Matt Flynn into Brodie Grundy and he must be a priority either this round or next. Other people I’m eyeing off over the next few rounds include Lachie Neale and Patrick Dangerfield, due to how cheap they are and the fact they’ve had a few weeks back from injury, I think they’re both ready to explode. A few PODs I’m keeping a close eye on include Ben Keays, Ben Cunnington and Luke Ryan.

Keeshan: Depends on how you define complete. If we’re talking rookies off the field complete, I’ll have one more on the field after trades. I prefer to look at who my worst three players are, and with Nick Hind/Oleg Markov in the list, getting my last rookie off my field wouldn’t make it complete in the sense that I wouldn’t want the team final round. In that case, I’m about four players away from a team I’d be happy with in the final round.

Nick: As Calvin says “completed” is a relative term. But I’ve only got one rookie left to clear in Josh Treacy. That said I don’t have Brodie Grundy, (cut him for Sean Darcy during the byes) so I have to chase that too, and then there’s Oleg Markov. Aside from Grundy I don’t have cash to bring in too many. My next two rounds will probably be Grundy in for Darcy, and Jordan DeGoey (or similarly priced) in for Treacy.

I’ll run through some premos I’d target in the lines though:

Forwards: Dayne Zorko. I held him which cost me in R14 but he’s getting to be a must-have. Steele Sidebottom presents value (I cut during byes may have to get back on) .Others include Scott Pendlebury, Lachie Hunter, Patrick Dangerfield (although I’m hesitant– not just cause of all my annoying Cats fan mates and the tone deaf song they made up – although that doesn’t help).

Mids: Lachie Neale. I don’t have him and with his run he’s an upgrade target for sure if his shoulder is reliable. Avoid Darcy Parish and Touk Miller unless your flush with cash. Way too expensive now. Boat Missed. People like Jack Redden and Ben Cunnington represent interesting value.

Defenders: Dan Houston is a steal at his price for his form, hopped on that train during byes. No regrets. Brayden Maynard is a smokie, new coach, good form, could be a Markov upgrade. Nick Haynes and Isaac Cumming are fantastic. Lachie Whitfield’s a gun.

Rucks: The big two, Reilly O’Brien and Sean Darcy can hold down the Fort (pun intended). Not much else, except Ben McEvoy presents some versatility, and Big Oscar McInerney has my curiosity.

HB: Should getting rookies off field be the priority or can you shuffle premos yet?

Keeshan: I’m a big fan of getting rookies off the field first. Joel Amartey’s 39 on the weekend is a perfect example of why we need the consistency of premiums. Having said that, if you’re happy with a potential 40 for a week to chase some insane value elsewhere, I’d tick that off.

Nick: Tough one. I think it’s a little of both. Yes, getting rooks off you field is super important, but as our benches run dry (and as we get deeper in the year it’s perfectly fine to have red dots), cash gen becomes difficult, so shuffling premos may just be the perfect solution. Saving $100k+ doing, for example, Ziebell to Danger and then throwing it on Tom Phillips and buying Pendles? The points gained over the pair is huge.

Also at the end of the day it’s a points game. The points to be gained by jumping off an out-of-form premo and into a form premo can be huge.  Ye olde timey Fantasy wisdom says don’t trade your premiums. But expensive spuds don’t win cars.

Noah: Getting the rookies off the field is definitely the priority at the moment; while it can be tempting to get an under-performing premium off your field they have a better track record than any rookie out there!

I have Hugh McCluggage in my team and while it is frustrating watching him I have to ask myself, would I prefer McCluggage and Dangerfield, or Tom Mitchell and Cody Weightman? The answer I think is McCluggage and Dangerfield. Who knows what the rookies will pump out each week, Amartey is a great example of that!

HB: From a rankings point of view, what’s the strategy now?

Nick: Step 1: Get rooks off field. Step 2: Get Grundy (maybe). Step 3: Get better premos, maybe some premiums who are slightly less owned than others (DON’T GET CRAZY HKDOS PODS!)

Step 4: Wear Hat, take more selfies. Be self indulgent. Rejoice.

I might do some crazy captain moves at some point. I think different captains can have a big result. But I’m hoping a more mature team can start bringing me up the rankings week by week, and I’ll see how it goes for a month or so before doing anything silly (lack of silly moves not a guarantee).

Keeshan: I’m a bit lower than where I wanted to be at this stage of the year, so I’m considering going all out high risk, high reward. I feel a safe approach won’t improve my rank by a huge amount, and if you’re not top 100, it doesn’t really matter how far off you are.

Noah: Being ranked 407 I’m in a very hard position. I have to make up roughly 40 points a week from here to finish in the top 100 which is going to be difficult. I’m really torn on whether to be playing it safe and backing my team to perform or trying to take big risks and potentially blowing it all.

I will mainly be bringing in $170k rookies from this point to maximise the cash I can spend each week. Only do this if you have enough money to upgrade your team for the rest of the year however. You should almost have the rest of your year planned out, if you’re going for that elusive top 100.

I think captains and vice-captains become so important now, nailing them could be the difference between flying up the rankings or falling down them. I will be looking at going a POD for my VC each week to try and make up some ground.

HB: Do you play league? If so, how does this affect strategy?

Noah: I am in three leagues, some cash and some not (gamble responsibly), all of which I’m currently first. I think because of my rank I’m not too focused on my league outcomes, however in saying that I figure if I’m moving up the rankings, I’m probably going to get the win in my leagues.

If it comes to the last few rounds and I’m not able to make the top 100 I may focus my attention to league to try and get the premierships!  Viewing your opponent’s team before each week can help you plan your trades that week, if you think your POD players are better then their’s bring in someone they have to make it a battle of the PODs. It’s also important to track who they have as their C and VC and depending on how the round is going either match them or go for glory!

Keeshan: Not Classic, but I’m in a few draft leagues. I prefer draft because there’s more interaction with the other players in the league.

Nick: I do and I don’t really notice it, If I’m honest. I focus on overall ranking and let the league take care of itself. Although I’m not in any leagues where its super competitive, “must beat my mates kind of thing”. That’s what Keeper is for, or it should be, if I was any good at it.

HB: It’s hard to generate the $$$ now to go upgrade-downgrade each round, so can you nominate any value options for a final 22 and why?

Keeshan: Bit of a vanilla answer here, but Pendles and Haynes would be fine at the end of the season as a F/D6, or there’s De Goey/Stringer if you love a gamble. If my structure allowed it, I’m a big fan of Nic Newman and think he’s got huge upside if you don’t mind the injury risk. In the midfield, at a similar price to Neale (who is a great pick) is Taylor Adams, who yes, is injury prone, but is also super unique and has so much upside.

Noah: There are plenty of good value options out there and it’s important to keep an eye out for these in the last few rounds as they could help you climb up the rankings! Neale, Adams and Cunnington all have very high ceilings and are good POD options! Adams’ body is the only thing letting him down.

Jake Lloyd and Nat Fyfe will lose some more cash and could slot into your D/F5 or 6 positions by the end of the year. Dangerfield and Dusty are both about to explode and could be top 6 forwards from here on I think. Luke McDonald is a good one to watch, will lose a fair bit more cash and if he can get back to full fitness could be a good little pickup in a few rounds.

Nick: There’s a few obvious ones floating around as well as a couple who come with a risk. But a price and a break-even that could almost justify it.

Cumming ($663k DEF): He’s worth it based on the amount of jokes you can make alone. Also he’s actually pretty good.

Haynes ($556k DEF): Just keeps getting it done and so cheap. Can you have too many GWS guys? Logic says yes. But logic can get stuffed.

Pendlebury ($603k MID/FWD): Dependable guy, seems to be back in the mid. Good for a 90+ most weeks. Maybe De Goey affects?

Houston ($605k DEF/MID): Cheap, decent scores and got a good role. Potential for injury is a concern, that guy farts and pulls a calf muscle.

Bailey Smith ($575k MID): One to watch (or keep watching if you’re a PODPOD fan) if Bevo keeps chucking him in the mid, which he probably won’t cause he’s a jerk!

De Goey ($515k FWD): So cheap, mid role, but yeah it’s risky, but you don’t get cheap without risk. With a break-even of 34, he’s well worth a role of the dice for F5/F6.

Matt Kennedy ($507k MID/FWD): I love what he’s doing. I can’t trust what he’s doing, but I love it. I’ll probably avoid, but for those with a sense of adventure and a penchant for Carlton players, why not….

Jesse Hogan ($494k FWD): Before he injured himself (again) he was starting to find form. He may not be super consistent, but he’ll pump out 90s if he’s on. And for that price, could be worth a punt. Injury as always, a massive concern. Could wait a week, but then he may not be this cheap again.

HB: What a wealth of insight and knowledge! Thanks so much lads and good luck for the run home!

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