This article is part of our DraftKings AFL series.
New to DraftKings, the Australian Football League offers a combination of basketball-like point totals and rugby-like physicality unlike just about anything else in the sports world. As it's brand new to DFS, everyone gets to start on a roughly level playing field in terms of knowing what kinds of players to target, what salaries may be strong values, etc. Those insights should come into focus as the season progresses, but for now we'll offer out best guesses on how to assemble a winning roster.
DK's format features a starting lineup of nine players – one ruck, two forwards, two defenders and four midfielders – and a scoring system that rewards points on the board (+6 for a goal, +1 for a behind) as well as possession and defensive stats (+4 for a tackle, +3 for a kick, +3 for a mark, +2 for a handball, +1 for a free kick, +1 for a hitout). Conceding a free kick get a player docked -3 points as well. If you have no idea what rucks, behinds, and marks are, this is a good place to start, although note that the length of each quarter has been reduced to 16 minutes from 20 for the 2020 season. Also, check out some of our other tools to help you compile a lineup.
Daily Fantasy Tools
West Coast (-9.5) vs. Sydney, o/u 126.5: The Eagles remain winless since play resumed – although the teams they lost to are the top three teams on the ladder at the moment – while the Swans are 1-2, so the line here reflects preseason expectations perhaps more than it should. West Coast's implied total of 68 is actually the second highest on the slate, but you'd never know it from their lineup juggling, as Lewis Jetta is the latest veteran to be a somewhat surprising omission. Sydney's doing some shuffling of its own, however, as it tries to compensate for injuries to Callum Sinclair and Sam Naismith.
Geelong (-19.5) vs. Gold Coast, o/u 124.5: The Cats will be a popular stacking option given the implied 72-53 score, and it's not like they haven't been delivering so far – only Port Adelaide is averaging more points per game than Geelong. The young Suns remain undefeated since the break, however, and while the Cats have held two of their last three opponents under 50 points, a shootout seems just as likely here as the projected blowout. On the other hand, this is the only game on the slate with a chance of significant rainfall, and a slick pitch would dampen everyone's output.
Western (-5.5) vs. North Melbourne, o/u 125.5: The two teams appear to be heading in opposite directions, with the Bulldogs winning two straight while the Roos have dropped two in a row. There's a chance of light rain in this game as well, so the implied 66-60 score is safely conservative. Western did lose a couple of quality forwards last week to injury, including veteran Sam Lloyd, but they should have the depth to survive.
Brisbane (-1.5) vs. Port Adelaide, o/u 129.5: The marquee matchup on this slate, the Lions are the slight favorites here despite the fact that the Power have the only perfect record remaining in the league. This will be the first real test for both teams since the break – Adelaide, Fremantle and a struggling West Coast squad, the three teams they each toppled in June, don't exactly represent the cream of the AFL. The Lions are getting Stefan Martin back into the lineup, so maybe that will tip the scales. That uncertainty regarding whether each team's success so far is due to their own talent, or the lack of it on the other side of the pitch, creates plenty of volatility in the possible outcomes.
Nick Naitanui, Eagles ($5,300): Naitanui's minutes have been closely monitored this season as the Eagles try to keep the big man healthy, and as a result he's posted some erratic totals through the first four rounds. His hitouts have been rock solid, however – he's racked up at least 30 in each of the last three games – and with Callum Sinclair and Sam Naismith both sidelined for the Swans, Naitanui has a golden opportunity to add some other production to that base even if his time on the pitch is a bit limited. At this salary, though, the hitouts alone get him halfway to a 12.5x value target.
Jy Simpkin, Kangaroos ($7,100): The 22-year-old is enjoying a breakout campaign at the centerpiece of the Roos' attack, collecting at least 23 disposals in every game so far and splitting the uprights in three of four contests. The Bulldogs' defense also showed some significant holes last week, and Luke Parker's facilitation skills were on full display. Simpkin could find similar success in Round 5. Note that he's listed as a M/F by DK, giving you some flexibility in how to fit him into your roster if you make him a target.
Gryan Miers, Cats ($6,200): Miers has been alternating excellent performances with mediocre ones so far this season and would land on the latter in Round 5 if the pattern holds, but that seems like a poor reason to fade him. The reasons to roster a very talented 21-year-old in his second AFL campaign, on the other hand, are more abundant. Miers has recorded at least 16 disposals in all three contests since the break, scored at least one goal in three of four games, and twice struck for nine marks, and those numbers don't look out of place at all next to his impressive rookie output. If you're expecting this game to hold to form and produce fireworks, Miers figures to do more than his share of the damage.
Travis Boak, Power ($7,300): Boak had been Mr. Automatic for Port Adelaide during the team's outstanding run to open the season, at least up until last week, but a high-profile clash with Brisbane should perk him back up. The 31-year-old is coming off a 2019 campaign in which he averaged an astounding 30.3 disposals a game, and while he unsurprisingly hasn't been able to match that pace in a season with four fewer minutes a quarter, he was still clocking in at 25 a week until his "disappointing" 19 in Round 4. If the Power are for real – incredibly, the team's plus-199 point differential is higher than the Crows' entire Points For total so far – this will be their chance to prove it, and Boak should be a huge part of that effort.
Hugh McCluggage, Lions ($7,000): Apologies in advance for any luggage-related puns. Dayne Zorko's recent battles with lower-body injuries has opened the door for McCluggage to put together two huge performances, and the 22-year-old has topped 100 fantasy points each of the last two weeks despite some poor accuracy (seven behinds versus one goal). Imagine his numbers if he starts to connect on a few more of those kicks. Lachie Neale's $9,300 price tag is going to put him out of reach for a lot of people, but rostering McCluggage allows you to benefit from Neale's scintillating form without paying full freight for Brisbane's superstar, and with Zorko still sidelined, there's no reason to think McCluggage can't continue to carry on at his current elevated pace.
Ben Cunnington, Kangaroos ($6,600): Cunnington was a star for the Roos back in Round 1, but minor back trouble has mostly kept him out of action since play resumed. He's been declared fit this week, though, and the veteran is a key part of North Melbourne's attack, topping 500 disposals in each of the last three seasons and five of the last six. This price tag certainly isn't a bargain considering the risk he's not 100 percent healthy, but assuming he can stay on the pitch, Cunnington has the potential to blow past value at this salary.
Mark O'Connor, Cats ($5,100): It's always dangerous to chase last week's stats – you run the double risk of a letdown performance from what could be a highly rostered player – but it's hard to ignore O'Connor's performance last week after Tom Stewart went down. The 23-year-old, who's only in his second season as a regular member of the Geelong lineup, erupted for career highs with 17 kicks and a dominant 14 marks, and with Stewart potentially out for up to two months after surgery on his fractured collarbone, O'Connor will get a chance to establish himself as a consistent force on the back end for the Cats. Maybe his numbers last week were a fluke, but there's a good enough chance they signaled a breakout that it's worth going back to the well.
Hayden McLean, Swans ($3,700): Sydney is down its two main rucks in Callum Sinclair and Sam Naismith, who had combined for 118 of the team's 136 hitouts so far. McLean, a 21-year-old who will be playing in only his seventh AFL game, will be pressed into duty in their place. He wasn't highly recruited and the matchup against Naitanui will be a difficult one, but McLean does at least have decent size, and at this salary he doesn't need to produce big numbers to return value.
Alex Sexton, Suns ($3,900): Gold Coast's impressive run since play resumed becomes even more remarkable when you consider that they haven't gotten much of a contribution yet from Sexton, the team's leading goal scorer each of the last two seasons (67 total in 44 games). A hamstring injury kept him out of Round 1, and while he used the break to recover he's taken a back seat to Matthew Rowell and company since then. It's only a matter of time until the 26-year-old's uncanny knack for splitting the uprights is needed again, though, and a potential banger against Geelong could offer the perfect opportunity for Sexton to get going.
Karl Amon, Power ($5,200): Unlike prior weeks, there weren't any young upside midfielders drawing into the lineup for the first time this season and coming in at a low salary, so instead I'm going to focus on players who might be able to help you round out a stack. Aside from a quiet performance against Fremantle in Round 3, Amon has reached value at this salary every week, sometimes easily. The 24-year-old doesn't supply a lot of goal-scoring upside, but his consistent disposal numbers give him a solid floor, and he has the size to grab at least a few marks each week as well. If Port Adelaide does come through with another high-scoring night, Amon should be in the thick of it.
Jack Steven, Cats ($4,000): Steven was featured in this section back in Round 3 and came through with a very disappointing 21 fantasy points, but given his layoff and situation it was perhaps a bit much to ask of him to be productive right out of the gate. The 30-year-old came through with a much better effort last week against Melbourne, piling up 17 disposals and five marks and looking more like the St. Kilda stalwart who averaged better than 20 disposals a game from 2012-18. His salary is still very reasonable for a player with his upside, but it won't be for much longer if he keeps stringing together numbers like that.
Kyron Hayden, Kangaroos ($3,000): Two North Melbourne players made the cut in the Top Options section, so let's triple down with one more. Hayden is still just cutting his teeth in the AFL – Saturday's game will only be his fifth – but the 21-year-old showed a nice spark with 15 disposals last week against Hawthorn. At this salary, a repeat of that number alone will bring value regardless of whatever else he does on the pitch.
Aliir Aliir, Swans ($4,300): As mentioned above, the Swans have lost both their usual rucks, so they've had to get a bit creative. Aliir will split duties with the younger McLean, but the veteran defender has some upside of his own. In a similar spot last year against Essendon in Round 16, Aliir came through with 23 hitouts and 17 disposals, numbers which would make him a huge bargain at this salary. Even a handful of hitouts added to his usual defensive numbers would make him a solid addition to a roster.
Jackson Nelson, Eagles ($3,100): While Jeremy McGovern ($4,000) is also checking back into the lineup for a West Coast squad whose defensive line has become something of a revolving door, if you're going the bargain route in this spot, Nelson might be the better play. The 24-year-old has never been more than a depth option for the Eagles in his career, but when he gets chances he tends to take advantage of them – in 2019 he delivered at least 13 disposals six times in 13 games and twice topped 20. At this price point, that would be more than enough to provide value.