So, what’s the answer? Get as many players on the field as you can – utilize the DPP if possible, pray that guys like O’Brien make the squad, and make two trades if you still have them. As all of these players except Cloke (and Suckling, but he is still named) are midfielders, we’ll try and make your job easier with a look at the ten best replacements – including a few smokies you might want to take a chance on.
The highest priced player in the comp – selected in 18% of teams – ROCKLIFF has been a machine this season, averaging an incredible 129.8 pts per game. With an average of 145 in the last 5 rounds, ROCKY is an obvious choice – however bear in mind he may get the Crowley tag this week, and he plays the Cats in the final round.
2. Joel SELWOOD (Geelong)
A perennial favourite in the fantasy football world, SELWOOD rarely disappoints and this year has been no exception, with an average of 119.7 pts per game. Selected in 41% of teams and with an average of 135 in the last 5 rounds, strangely NOT having him might be a POD – especially given the Cats play Hawthorn this week.
3. Matt PRIDDIS (West Coast)
The perfect replacement and another ball magnet, PRIDDIS faces the demoralized Demons in Perth this weekend and could rack up huge numbers. With a season average of 115 and only in 4% of teams, his last five games have netted and average of 127 pts. With games against Melbourne and a tagger-less Gold Coast, PRIDDIS is a must have.
4. Jordan LEWIS (Hawthorn)
Probably having a career-best year, LEWIS has been the quiet achiever of SC in 2014, averaging 107 pts per game but lifting that to 129.6 in the last five. Selected in less than 1% of teams he could be your wildcard – however he only averages 90 pts per game against his final two opponents in Geelong and Collingwood. Be wary.
5. Steele SIDEBOTTOM (Collingwood)
Another to sneak under the guard when competing with PENDLES and BEAMS, SIDEBOTTOM has travelled along nicely, averaging 113 pts per game for the less than 2% of teams that have him. He should score big this week against GWS, with his round 23 matchup against Hawthorn not ideal. One to keep an eye on, especially if PENDLES is a late withdrawal this week.
6. Rory SLOANE (Adelaide)
The young gun from the Crows has slipped into 10% of teams with an average of 113.7 pts per game in 2014. The Crows take on the Kangaroos (no established tagger) and St Kilda (no genuine tagger – maybe Weller) in the last two matches, with looks good for SLOANE’s chances at some big scores. He could be the one to get you over the line.
7. Jobe WATSON (Essendon)
Back last week with a comfortable 93 pt game, WATSON is definitely one to consider with games against Gold Coast and Carlton to come. Selected in under 6% of SC teams, WATSON is a proven performer who will only carry more expectations with HEPPELL now out. A cheaper option, I’d expect WATSON to pump out at least a pair of 120s to round his season out, even if Curnow tags him in round 23.
8. Luke SHUEY (West Coast)
If you need a left field option, look closely at SHUEY – especially given the Eagles play Melbourne and Gold Coast in their last two games. With an average of 98.8 for the year, his last 5 games have netted an impressive 116 pt average – and he is only selected in 1.6% of SC teams. With pace to burn, SHUEY could be the one to break the game open for you.
9. Brandon ELLIS (Richmond)
One of the most improved players in the comp this year, ELLIS is averaging 97 pts per game overall this year, but 110 pts per game in the last 5 weeks. Selected in 1.5% of teams, he seems to be ‘untaggable’ at the moment, racking up possessions at will. Against the Saints this weekend expect him to do the same, with most attention going to COTCHIN and MARTIN.
10. Ryan GRIFFEN (Bulldogs)
Finding his feet after a lackluster and injury-affected season, GRIFFEN could be a sneaky left field option this week. Selected in 3.37% of SC teams, he now averages 94 – but has locked in an average of 110 in the last 5 games. With matches against Sydney and then the Giants, GRIFFEN is certainly one to consider – along with his team mate LIBERATORE.
Hopefully you have enough trades in the bank to use the above information wisely, enabling you to make the right selections for your team and minimize the damage as much as possible. Personally I have slotted PRIDDIS and WATSON into my team, so fingers crossed. For those of you who have Travis CLOKE, look to replace him with Luke BRUEST, Josh J KENNEDY or Mark LeCRAS.
Good luck all – hopefully you sneak through to a Grand Final berth and return here next week for some valuable information on the composition of your final selections.