Predicted Round 1 line-ups for Games 7-9: The expert supporters have their say on likely 22s

Round 1 of the 2022 AFL season is only days away but there’s still plenty of uncertainty about likely line-ups, causing AFL Fantasy and SuperCoaches hesitation, especially in the cheap defender category.

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We’ve asked top AFL Fantasy or SuperCoach players to offer their predicted line-ups for the clubs they know best, the ones they support, to help you piece it all together.

We’ve predicted the teams for the Sunday games of Round 1, while we have also predicted the rest of the line-ups across two stories. Here’s games 1-3 (Melb v WB, Carl v Rich, SK v Coll) and games 4-6 (Geel v Ess, GWS v Syd, BL v PA).

Hawthorn v North Melbourne

Hawthorn

Written by Dylan Bolch @BolchDylan

Hawthorn
Full backsHardwickHartiganSicily
Half backsScrimshawFrostJiath
Centre-linePhillipsMitchellWard
Half fwdsMooreKoschitzkeWingard
Full fwdsBreustLewisGunston
FollowersMcEvoyO’MearaWorpel
BenchNashShielsNewcombe
Reeves
SubMacDonald

It’s tough to predict how the Hawks will line-up against North Melbourne in Round 1 with mystery still surrounding new coach Sam Mitchell’s preferred side.  The AAMI Series was used to give a variety of players game-time before the season opener, with others on managed minutes or missing entirely.

Josh Ward all but secured a Round 1 debut after a scintillating 29-disposal display against the Tigers whilst fringe players Conor Nash and Jai Newcombe were also some of the stronger performers on the day.

From a SuperCoach relevancy perspective, Ward looms as a great rookie selection at just $180,300 but don’t expect him to post massive scores like he did against Richmond when Tom Mitchell and Jaeger O’Meara are reintegrated back into the side. He’s in 51% of sides at the time of writing already and a great pick for your SuperCoach side.

If he does get the nod, Connor MacDonald is cheap as chips and could be placed on your bench. The former Dandenong Stingray is an elite ball user and makes good decisions. MacDonald had 16 disposals and a goal against Richmond and I reckon he can average 60 pretty comfortably.

James Sicily is the other notable Hawk. He’s back in that intercepting role that is so conducive to high scores, and he’ll also be a key distributor out of the back half given who’s out for the Hawks. He’s at a discounted price following a year on the sidelines with an ACL injury. A cheaper option for D3 or D4.

Injury implications

Speaking of those on the sidelines, the Hawks have a few that will be unavailable for selection in the early rounds including Jarman Impey, Lachie Bramble, Will Day and Connor Downie.

The major question is does Mitchell back in some tried and tested players like Shiels and Phillips or does he fully embrace the youth movement right from the get-go and get games into DGB, Brockman and Maginness?

In the mix

Maginness, Morrison, Howe, Brockman, Grainger-Barras, Lynch

There are some players in this batch who have been around the traps for a while and unable to really cement their place in the best 22 whilst there’s also some fresh new talent who are still developing their games. Max Lynch probably battles it out with Ned Reeves for the second ruck slot next to captain Ben McEvoy.

North Melbourne

Written by Isaac Cullen @IsaacCullen_18

North
Full backsCorrMcKayTurner
Half backsZiebellWalkerMcDonald
Centre-linePolecGreenwoodPowell
Half fwdsThomasLarkeyHorne-Francis
Full fwdsZurhaarXerriStephenson
FollowersGoldsteinSimpkinDavies-Uniacke
BenchHaydenLazzaroMahony
Taylor
SubScott

Jason Horne-Francis: By far the most picked North player currently, Horne-Francis has shown very positive signs coming off a half-forward flank in the preseason. Kicking 2 against Sydney and scoring 87SC/78AF proves that he can score well without much midfield time. Lock him in.

Tarryn Thomas: A silky mover and ball user, Thomas’ performances last season were a sign of hope for North supporters. However, there are a lot of players who vying for CBAs, especially with the additions of Hugh Greenwood and Horne-Francis in the offseason. With players such as Heeney and Butters around a similar price, Thomas is a wait and see for me, with potential to be an upgrade target.

Tristan Xerri: Only selected in 3% of SC teams, Xerri has potential to be a heavily underrated cash cow. As a $209k FWD he could potentially take over the reins from Todd Goldstein as the No. 1 ruck, as seen in the game against Sydney. Keep an eye out.

Injury implications

Josh Walker received an elbow to the jaw and lost a few teeth. Since has had successful surgery and hopefully should be available for R1. If injured, expect Kyron Hayden to come into the lineup and Bailey Scott or Josh Goater to be brought onto the bench. Will Phillips is recovering from glandular fever too, opening the door.

Aaron Hall is recovering from a hamstring injury sustained during an intraclub a couple weeks ago. Very likely that Hall isn’t available Round 1 but may be available a few weeks into the season. Expect him to push Hayden out of the side

In the mix:

Goater, Comben, Coleman-Jones, Curtis

Goater drafted out of the Calder Cannons is an athletic midfield/half back flanker who likes to run and use his left boot. Coach David Noble has said that he was surprised by Goater’s ability to ‘run, his rebound and his capacity to see the game ahead’. Whilst Goater may not play R1, hopefully he can get his chance this season.

Charlie Comben cracked into the side late last season before breaking his collarbone last year. Comben has been riddled with injuries so far in his young career, however if he can stay fit then I would expect him to challenge Xerri and Goldstein for key forward games this season. Callum Coleman-Jones is another player who could very easily crack the side if one of Goldstein/Xerri underperform

Adelaide v Fremantle

Adelaide

Written by Dylan Evans @dullunevans

Adelaide
Full backsBrownButtsMurray
Half backsSmithDoedeeMcPherson
Centre-lineShollCrouchDawson
Half fwdsRacheleKeaysMcHenry
Full fwdsThilthorpeFogartyHimmelberg
FollowersO’BrienSloaneSchoenberg
BenchHingeSoligoJones
Berry
SubMilera

All eyes will be on Matt Crouch as he makes his long awaited return to football after spending 2021 on the sideline with groin surgery. Ben Keays emerged as one of the leading Fantasy and SuperCoach players of last season in Crouch’s absence, and the question of whether the two accumulators can share the points available will be asked early on. If evidence from 2020 is anything to go by, alarm bells will be ringing, with Keays only averaging an adjusted score (due to shortened quarters) of 76.5 while Crouch was fit and healthy. Maybe Rory Laird’s early absence helps.

First round draftee Joshua Rachele looks locked and ready for a Round 1 debut after coach Matthew Nicks stated he is already in the squad’s best 22. Rachele should be seriously worth considering as an immediate cash injection option with a tantalisingly low breakeven score of 33 for R1, and already delivering healthy fantasy scores in the Crows pre-season matches against Brisbane and Port Adelaide. Keep an eye on Jake Soligo who also looks likely to make his debut after strong showings in the practice games.

Injury implications

Jordan Dawson is struggling with calf tightness and hasn’t played in any of the pre-season matches for the Crows. Nicks will give him every opportunity to play R1 but don’t be surprised if they take a cautious approach with their new star. If Dawson doesn’t play, Mitch Hinge should see more game time, with the possibility that Wayne Milera slots into the side for his first game in nearly two years. 

Other notable injuries to consider are Laird who suffered a broken hand in the AAMI Series match, as well as Paul Seedsman who is battling ongoing concussion symptoms from an incident during training in January.

In the mix

Milera, Hately, Cook

Milera played for the reserves side after being placed in COVID protocols during the weeks prior, and although he didn’t set the world on fire, came away injury free and kicked a goal in the last quarter. He has a spot in the Crows best 22 and don’t be surprised if his return to senior football is expedited to R1. Jackson Hately and Brayden Cook also impressed in the SANFL trial and have thrown their name into the mix.

Fremantle

Written by Shanae Walton @Walton_Shanae

Fremantle
Full backsLoguePearceRyan
Half backsClarkCoxYoung
Centre-lineAcresFyfeTucker
Half fwdsSwitkowskiLobbFrederick
Full fwdsSchultzTreacyWalters
FollowersDarcyBrayshawSerong
BenchBrodieMundyChapman
Henry
SubColyer

With Adam Cerra’s departure, and promising preseason form, expect Will Brodie to slot into the 22 for Round 1. Brodie has a proven track record for scoring and is a great price for a cheap forward option, but doesn’t come without his concerns. The big watch will be monitoring his security in the team.

The talk around Fyfe all pre-season is his return to the midfield, but without seeing him in the AAMI Series it’s hard to know how that could impact the scoring of Andy Brayshaw and Caleb Serong. I think the latter two to be legitimate options this year, with Brayshaw poised to take his game to another level.

Despite some minor injury concerns in the pre-season, I still think Darcy will have another great year and could be an option for those looking to roll with a somewhat unique ruck combination.

Injury implications

Darcy Tucker didn’t feature in the AAMI Series as he recovered from a hamstring injury, but should slot straight onto the wing if he’s available. Fyfe looks set to be right for Round 1. Matt Taberner was ruled out on Monday with a hamstring injury.

In the mix

Colyer, Crowden, O’Driscoll, Aish

Travis Colyer could easily slot in for Acres which would allow Liam Henry to be moved onto the wing. Henry has been talked about as a possible wing option this year but isn’t a big accumulator of the ball, leading me to think that any transition to the wing will be more of a slow burn throughout the year.

Second-year player Nathan O’Driscoll impressed in pre-season but will likely have to wait for an injury before an opportunity presents given the midfield depth.

West Coast v Gold Coast Suns

West Coast

Written by Shanae Walton @Walton_Shanae

West Coast
Full backsHurnBarrassRotham
Half backsFoleyMcGovernHough
Centre-lineNelsonReddenNaish
Half fwdsPetruccelleWatermanLangdon
Full fwdsRyanKennedyRioli
FollowersNaitanuiGaffShuey
BenchB.WilliamsPetrevski-SetonJones
West
SubO’Neill

All signs point to captain Luke Shuey being available Round 1 following an impressive intra-club hit out on Friday. Shuey comes with obvious risks but could be one to watch in the early rounds.

Likewise, keep an eye on Patrick Naish and his role this year. Naish presents value as a wingman but could get pushed out into a different role when the troops return, like Alex Witherden who is suspended, return. Brady Hough has been confirmed to make his debut.

Tim Kelly was at his dominant best in the AAMI Series game and kicked a few goals to boost his numbers. If he can maintain that form he could well be a sneaky fantasy option but he’ll miss Round 1 due to COVID-19 protocols.

There’s every possibility Connor West gets more time in the middle with Elliot Yeo missing and the Eagles needing more grunt around the ball, but at an awkward price, there are probably better forward options.

Injury implications

West Coast have a number of medium to long term injuries that won’t have much sway on Round 1 teams, but keep an eye on best 22 mainstays Shuey and Liam Duggan in the lead up, while Kelly was on Monday ruled out for Round 1. SSP signing Tom Joyce will also miss with an ankle injury, while Liam Ryan is currently in protocols too.

Duggan is on his way back from injury but has had limited playing time in the pre-season so may need more match conditioning, and for that reason has been left out. However, if available, expect Luke Foley to just miss out with Nelson filling the remaining half back spot due to his versatility.

In the mix

Dixon, H.Edwards

Bailey Williams’ ability in the ruck gets him the nod this week over Hugh Dixon, but he will be right in the mix until either Jack Darling or Oscar Allen return as the second key forward.

Gold Coast Suns

Written by Dale Clohesy @DPC888

Gold Coast Suns
Full backsGrahamCollinsLemmens
Half backsPowellBallardSwallow
Centre-lineSharpAndersonEllis
Half fwdsAinsworthCholLukosius
Full fwdsRankineCasboultHolman
FollowersWittsRowellMiller
BenchWellerFioriniSexton
MacPherson
SubFlanders

Touk Miller looks to continue on his unprecedented form at the start of the year, his follow-up work and elite two-way running mean that he is a fantasy option, even though he is worth so much. Matt Rowell has cast doubts aside with a dominant performance in the AAMI Series game last week, he looks well underpriced.

Injury implications

Jarrod Witts will work into the season, having played low TOG in the AAMI Series after an ACL injury and probably isn’t an option early. If Witts is injured or managed, then Ned Moyle will come in for him, though it looks like Witts will start slowly and work into the season.

In the mix

Atkins, Burgess, Davies

The entire bench, sub and in the mix players could make the team on any given week. A very even group of players. Sadly Elijah Hollands seems to be down the pecking order after an untimely pre-season injury.

We have also predicted the rest of the line-ups across two stories.

Here’s games 1-3 (Melb v WB, Carl v Rich, SK v Coll).

Here’s games 4-6 (Geel v Ess, GWS v Syd, BL v PA).

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