There might be a temptation to swap Jonathan Giles for Aaron Sandilands, but you should resist.
Photo: Getty Images
Preliminary final week is perhaps the toughest week for team selection. Do you put all your trades in the one basket and hope that you can win through to the grand final? Or is it better to keep one swap up your sleeve just in case your premium players are hit with suspension or injury this week?
Whatever your strategy, here are our tips for making the most of the second-biggest weekend of Dream Team action for the year.
Hawthorn's Matthew Suckling has suffered a classic case of the second-year blues following his breakout campaign in 2011. For many DT coaches, it was a choice between Suckling and his teammate Grant Birchall for one of the premium defender berths at the start of the season. Birchall has proven the wiser choice at the business end of the year, averaging 30 points more than his teammate in the past three weeks. Corey Enright, Sam Fisher and Heath Shaw are all more reliable contributors than Suckling, and require just a modest top-up on the Hawk's price of $326,300.
If you can afford him, get back on the Dane Swan bandwagon. To borrow racing parlance, the star Magpie performs brilliantly first up from a spell and he has a point to prove after missing two weeks on a club-imposed suspension. He remains the most prolific player in the game and only 69,800 coaches have him in their sides. Adding Swan to your midfield could be the boost that gets you into a grand final.
David Mundy has battled for much of the season but like his side, the Freo midfielder has hit good form of late. Scores of 121 and 130 in the past three weeks give him an average of 108 in that time with games against North Melbourne and Melbourne to come, he should provide good value at $408,100. Other enticing midfield prospects include Giants youngster Toby Greene ($443,300), Magpie Dale Thomas ($390,500) and a risky left-field option in Matt de Boer ($340,000) who has scores of 123 and 104 in the past fortnight.
GWS ruckman Jonathan Giles looked to be tiring a month ago but he has bounced back to his best form, averaging 102 in the past three weeks. It might be tempting to swap the Giants tap man for a fit-again Aaron Sandilands but hold off for another week. Sandilands faces Todd Goldstein and North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium on Sunday, where he is unlikely to vastly improve on his first-up 80 against Richmond.
We hate to say it, but if you've stuck with Lance Franklin this far, you may as well take the Hawks at their word and hope like hell that he doesn't get sick / ping the other hammy / crash his car / jump out of the plane before Saturday's clash against Sydney at the SCG. Carrying the big Hawk for six weeks at the business end of the season has hurt but if he fires, you want him in your side. Revisit this advice if Buddy conjures up another reason not to take the field against the Swans and you somehow manage to win through to a DT grand final.
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