Tim’s free-hit strategy

Whether you like it or not, the boys at FanHub have introduced the Round One “Free Hit” for AFL Fantasy this year. It means the casual fan can avoid the confusion of the split first round and partial lockouts, andreset the pieces of their shattered Darren Glass-filled sides (I honestly had to look up whether or not he was still playing…that could have been embarrassing). However, it also serves as an opportunity for the hardcore fantasy players – basically the ones reading articles like this – to conduct some deep research into the strategy of a erasable team. Out of the goodness of my footy-obsessed heart and in lieu of more pressing engagements, I would like to share with you some of my findings.

(All stats are from our good friends at dream-stats.com and footywire.com)

The Strategy

Go cheap on your bench. The aim of the game in Round 1 is to maximise the value on your field according to fixture strength, a player/team’s history against the club, and their potential to break out with a positional change (always happens in the first rounds – Westhoff…). So, it makes sense to spend as little as you can on your bench, especially since there should be some guys at $115k who might play anyway – more on them later.

The rolling lockout is also important when you consider the rookies to put on your field. Pick the guys who should be good regardless of fixture (McDonald, Tyson, Polec etc.) but then look out for the vest candidates to avoid. Be vigilant in checking the starting 18s and, with the shortlist of rookies I’m sure you all have, pick the ones who pop up as starting before each game. Picking for opposition should be secondary to job security (or vest security).

The Fixtures

I’ll lay out each fixture like this. The club will have a slash line next to it that shows how many players average above 80 in their last four against that opponent, followed by how many average above 70, and lastly, how many average above 60. For each game, I’ll pop a sneaky pick underneath, and a player to avoid to think about.

Collingwood (10/12/21) vs. Fremantle (5/12/21)

  • Using the first game as an example, we see that Collingwood has a field day against the Dockers, with 10 guys averaging above 80. Fremantle, conversely, has only five. This means that it would be smart to pick up Swan, Pendlebury, Beams and maybe some fringe stars like Cloke, but unwise to bank on the fringe Freo elite scorers – say, Mundy and Fyfe.
  • The lines also show the potential for rookies. When a team like Fremantle has the propensity to inflate every Collingwood player’s score when they play each other, picking someone like Jackson Ramsay to fill that last spot on your field could be a smart move (unfortunately, they can’t all be premiums – trust me, I’ve tried).

Sneaky Pick: Paul Duffield (95 from his last four against Collingwood)
Avoid: Colin Sylvia (93 – but still don’t be tempted…)

GWS (3/8/15) vs. Sydney (11/18/20)

Sneaky Pick: Adam Treloar (93)
Avoid: Josh Kennedy (101) – there are better options against GWS

Gold Coast (9/15/17) vs. Richmond (12/16/22)

Sneaky Pick:  Trent McKenzie – averages 93 in his last four. Also, CANNON!
Avoid:  Gary Ablett (104) – hamstring issues, one of his worst DT opponents, never great against Daniel Jackson

Carlton (13/14/21) vs. Port Adelaide (6/11/19)

Sneaky Pick:  Andrew Walker – 97 last four, all above 85 and two hundreds
Avoid:  Bryce Gibbs (89) and Justin Westhoff (85)

Geelong (6/13/20) vs. Adelaide (8/13/21)

Sneaky Pick:  Matthew Wright (88 – under-priced, can you rely on him for even one game?)
Avoid:    Stevie J (67, includes a 1, but the others are uninspiring 66, 99, 100), Patrick Dangerfield (84)

North Melbourne (8/18/23) vs. Essendon (8/13/17)

Sneaky Pick:  Drew Petrie (94)
Avoid:   Lachlan Hansen (81) – his end of 2013 form will trick too many, don’t be among them

Hawthorn (10/16/23) vs. Brisbane (5/9/13)

Sneaky Pick:  Brad Sewell (101)
Avoid: Tom Rockliff (88) – sorry…

St. Kilda (9/15/20) vs. Melbourne (8/14/25)

Sneaky Pick:  Shave Savage – average isn’t relevant but no Steven, Hayes or Montagna against Melbourne…
Avoid:  Jack Grimes (88) – never again, never again, never again

West Coast (16/18/22) vs. Western Bulldogs (9/12/16)

Sneaky Pick:  Josh Kennedy (110)
Avoid:    Chris Masten (69) and Tom Liberatore (90)

The Players

I’ll go through the “safeties”, the “uniques” and the rookies that I like the most, followed by a sample “free hit” team. The “safeties” and the “uniques” will mostly have their average from their last four games against that opponent next to them. No narrative, straight stats.

The Safeties:


  • Jarrad McVeigh (108)
  • Nick Malceski (93)
  • BacharHouli (109)
  • Paul Duffield (95)
  • Andrew Walker (97)
  • Sam Mitchell (109)
  • Luke Hodge (103)
  • Trent McKenzie (93)
  • Heath Scotland (92)


  • Dane Swan (135)
  • Michael Barlow (113)
  • Dayne Beams (111)
  • Scott Pendlebury (110)
  • Ryan O’Keefe (114)
  • Kieren Jack (107)
  • Trent Cotchin (124)
  • Brett Deledio (115)
  • Callan Ward (101)
  • Marc Murphy (106)
  • Kane Cornes (110)
  • Joel Selwood (110)
  • Jobe Watson (115)
  • Brent Stanton (108)
  • Brendon Goddard (107)
  • Matthew Boyd (109)
  • Matthew Priddis (111)
  • Scott Selwood (102)


  • Aaron Sandilands (103)
  • Dean Cox (119)


  • Tom Mitchell (113)
  • Dustin Martin (108)
  • JarrydRoughead (91)
  • Josh Kennedy (110)
  • Mark LeCras (98)

The Uniques:


  • Heritier Lumumba (57)
  • Greg Broughton (87)
  • David Swallow (62)
  • Kade Simpson (68)
  • Matthew Broadbent (93)
  • Hamish Hartlett (80)
  • Andrew Mackie (87)
  • Jimmy Bartel (78)
  • Corey Enright (73)
  • Michael Hibberd (74)
  • Lachlan Hansen (81)
  • Jed Adcock (81)
  • Pearce Hanley (62)
  • Matt Suckling (87)
  • Grant Birchall (75)
  • Jarryn Geary (68)
  • Jack Watts (78)
  • Jack Grimes (88)
  • Sam Butler (87)
  • Shannon Hurn (87)


  • Nathan Fyfe (73)
  • David Mundy (69)
  • Tom Liberatore (90)
  • Brandon Ellis (89)
  • Gary Ablett (104)
  • Dion Prestia (84)
  • Andrew Carrazzo (100)
  • Dale Thomas (83)
  • Bryce Gibbs (89)
  • Brad Ebert (94)
  • James Kelly (99)
  • Stevie Johnson (67)
  • Rory Sloane (100)
  • Scott Thompson (99)
  • Dyson Heppell (61)
  • Levi Greenwood (101)
  • Nick Dal Santo (96)
  • Jack Redden (96)
  • Tom Rockliff (88)
  • Brad Sewell (101)
  • Jordan Lewis (100)
  • Chris Masten (69)
  • Luke Shuey (100)


  • Shane Mumford
  • Matthew Kreuzer (91)
  • Matthew Lobbe (68)
  • Hamish McIntosh (86)
  • Sam Jacobs (85)
  • Matthew Leuenberger (86)


  • Craig Bird (94)
  • Adam Treloar (92)
  • Colin Sylvia (93)
  • Lance Franklin (77)
  • Matthew Pavlich (78)
  • Travis Cloke (77)
  • Jack Riewoldt (80)
  • Mitch Robinson (94)
  • Justin Westhoff (85)
  • Chad Wingard (67)
  • Matthew Wright (88)
  • Patrick Dangerfield (84)
  • Paul Chapman (89)
  • Drew Petrie (94)
  • Brent Harvey (88)
  • DayneZorko (99)
  • Jack Gunston (63)
  • Nick Riewoldt (90)
  • Shaun Higgins (74)
  • Jack Darling (84)

The Rookies:


  • Alexis Georgiou
  • Luke McDonald
  • Tom Clurey
  • Ben Griffiths
  • Angus Litherland
  • Will Langford
  • Brodie Martin
  • Dylan Buckley
  • Tom Langdon
  • Jeremy Laidler
  • Jimmy Webster
  • Matt Fuller
  • Nathan Wright


  • Clinton Young (86)
  • Dom Tyson
  • VivMichie
  • Jared Polec
  • James Aish
  • Patrick Cripps
  • Martin Gleeson
  • Harry Cunningham
  • Luke Dunstan
  • Jack Martin
  • Sean Lemmens
  • Eli Templeton
  • Dom Sheed
  • Alex Woodward
  • Andrew Boston
  • DerickWanganeen


  • Daniel Currie
  • Tom Derickx
  • Fraser Thurlow


  • Matt McDonough
  • JarmanImpey
  • Jay Kennedy-Harris
  • Robin Nahas
  • Gary Rohan
  • Ben Kennedy
  • ZacMerrett
  • Lincoln McCarthy
  • Mitch Honeychurch

Traverse the mountain of stats and glean what you will. Happy Hunting.




  • So, the team we pick for this round, we can totally change for round 2?

  • Still some spots to fill in my rdt league code is 390290 4 guys in this league made top 2000 last year so join up if u wanna be in a competitive league

  • Wtf is going on in fantasy classic I can’t get into my team is anyone else having trouble it just says too much traffic

  • What a joke this is pathetic they wanna hurry up and fix the problem

  • Great article, thanks Tim. Note that Ryan O’Keefe has been named as an emergency!

  • 340994 RDT league for consistent players, playing casually! Also, great article! ;)

  • Only one person thanked or even acknowledged Tim for writing this awesome and indepth study to try help us all, rather this has become a noticeboard for filling up your leagues.. fkn pathetic!!! Thanks heaps Tim. Great job mate!!

    • Thats the problem with this board nowadays Dools – it’s all just me, me, me or whinge, whinge, whinge

      Not like you and me hey….give, give, give

  • good write only time will tell what will work the best, hopefully the free hit won’t make all the teams similar. Actually it kind of sucks for the people who have done loads of research

  • okay so let me get this straight, we get to totally reshape our team with unlimited trades after round 1? so by that i mean end of WCE v WB game being the end of round 1 on Sun March 23 up until lockout for round 2 being Rich v Carl Thurs March 27 (rolling lockout) then total lockout with our final team set Ess v Haw on Fri March 28 … is that right or am i missing something ???

  • Some spots left in Super Coach THE CREAM LEAGUE (202759). Competitive league.
    Join quick, time is running out.

  • Tim, this was really helpful and saved me hours of research. I’m anticipating that my first round team will be very different from my team going forward from round 2.

  • In what league in what universe is Gary Ablett a unique????

  • jackson wont play tomorrow night and harwick has said they wont tag ablett does this change things

  • Hey guys, I understand most of how this works except for the scoring. Say if I pick Andrew Walker and he scores badly, so I trade him out. Do I get his score or the person I bring in’s score?
    Hope that makes sense. :)

    • After you have picked someone (Walker) and they play, you get their score for that week. When you trade out the player (Walker) and trade in a new player (say Birchall), from that week onward you get the new player (Birchall) score.

    • can’t trade out a player after they have played but if you don’t trust walker you can put him on the bench with Emergency on him. if he scores well you can put a wk2 non-player on the field and Walker’s Emerg score will count

  • Just a warning to those considering the loophole around the ground, I copped a donut last year trying to do the captain loophole through an unlucky late out. It practically leaves you with no emergency. Just a warning.

  • Interesting how many strategies neglect the rookies for round 1. They’re well and truly part of mine! Captain loophole and rookie loophole oh yeah!

  • Please join my RDT league.

  • RDT places still available, Code 109085

  • So have I got the captain loophole / free hit right…

    Put VC on Abblett for this weekend, C on Watson or Libba (options for nxt week if Ablett stinks), and make sure both my bench players are not playing this week so they dont get locked in (Templeton+Wanganeen) and are flexible for free hit moves.

    Then if Ablett stinks, next week after teams announced, just put keep the C on Watson or Libba, OR
    If Ablett scores well, move the C onto Wanganeen or other nonplaying mid and put them on field, with Watson on bench as an E

    Have I got it? Dont want to fuck up coz for a bit there today I had the E on Cunningham who plays this weekend, meaning I wouldnt have been able to switch things up :/ Then with free hit I just swap out rookies etc for whoever shows most promise with Rnd 1 and NAB cup form combined…

  • Great article Tim, however be a little cautious, The Gary Ablett rule to avoid doesn’t count as Daniel Jackson is not playing. You have Ryan O’keefe in your side who also hasn’t been named for round 1….

  • Still need 8 more teams for a league. Come and join at Z9SUFCUE

  • Need fantasy players to join experienced league

  • DT Talk League!

    DT Talk Chapman – MPEH2XCY

    Same structure as last year.

  • the worst article by far, sorry but this is all b***s***

  • DT STYLE Ultimate Footy Draft league!

    Live draft Sunday at 7:00

    18 scoring players, maximum 8 coaches, captain enabled, no trade restrictions.

    League name = DT style 8 teams
    Password = footy

  • Good write up on the free hit! I think I’d end up single if I put that much time in. Actually, haven’t seen my girlfriend since the Prospectus arrived. She’s Carlton, I’m Collingwood!

  • Are we %100 sure this is going to work with all the bugs that have been happening? I did pick my team thinking I could would still be able to change my entire team for the round 2 lockout. Today(sunday) when i got to trade someone it tells me i have unlimited trades BUT only 2 trades for round 2! WTF!!??

  • 141 Tight hammy Ablett says hi.