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  • Liam Kermode

GameDay Squad Aussie Rules: Round 1 Team To Beat

Join us as Kerm puts on his general manager cap and selects his dream team going into round 1 of the AFL! He'll have the entire player pool to choose from, which should make selecting 6 defenders, 5 midfielders, 1 ruckman, and 6 forwards weekly easy right? Well, let us know who you agree with and who else you might have selected down below on all of our social channels twitter, facebook, instagram, discord.

Andrew Brayshaw, Tim Taranto and Sam Docherty ahead of AFL  round 1 AFL fantasy

Defenders (DEF)

Sam Docherty's diamond GameDay Squad player card

Sam Docherty

Carlton Blues

Verses Richmond at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne

Thursday at 6:20pm AEST

Every matchup is a favourable matchup for someone like Sam Docherty. Coming into Carlton's round 1 matchup against the new and improved Richmond Tigers, Docherty ranks first amongst defenders in my dream team series released earlier this week, and for good reason! He's the reigning GameDay Squad Aussie Rules MVP, owns a 2022 GDS average of 131 GDS points per game! Absurd numbers for a defender but not every defender is like Sam Docherty. He's the safest bet at the defender position, so lock him and load him into your round 1 teams.

Angus Brayshaw's legend GameDay Squad player card

Angus Brayshaw

Melbourne Demons

Verses Western Bulldogs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne

Saturday at 6:25pm AEST

I love this match up for Angus Brayshaw in what should be an absolute bang out in the middle of the park as two giants at the midfield position go head-to-head on Saturday night. Gus' will come up against the Western Bulldogs and the likes of Jack Macrae, Marcus Bontempelli, Tom Liberatore and Bailey Smith, an exciting prospect for fans as Godzilla meets Kong. In this meeting last year, Angus had a decent game, scoring 100 GDS fantasy points this time last year. But later in the season in round 19 when the Dee's met the Bulldogs for the second time in 2022, Gus went ballistic for 149 GDS fantasy points, off the back of a 23 disposal, 11 mark and 3 tackles performance. Gus is primed for a big performance, I think we see a repeat of the 149 GDS point outing come Saturday night.

Jordan Dawson's bronze GameDay Squad player card

Jordan Dawson

Adelaide Crows

Verses Greater Western Sydney Giants at GIANTS stadium, Sydney

Sunday at 12:10pm AEST

Jordan Dawson should enjoy a nice little day out in Sydney on Sunday. Dawson is another who enjoyed a very good preseason game considering he never really left second gear. He posted a score of 124 GDS fantasy points against the West Coast Eagles, after notching up 26 disposals and10 marks. Something of note from that preseason performance, 23 of his 26 disposals were by foot! He's a machine by foot, they love it in his hands and he should see a lot of the footy as Adelaide lean on their new captain and take on GWS in Sydney!

Jack Sinclair's platinum GameDay Squad player card

Jack Sinclair

St Kilda Saints Verses Fremantle Dockers at Marvel Stadium, Melbourne Sunday at 3:40pm AEST I refuse to put too much stock into Sinclair's sub-par performance in St Kilda's preseason matchup against the Essendon Bombers. Sinclair was disappointing by his standards from a fantasy perspective as he only managed to score a total of 89 GDS fantasy points on 90% time-on-ground percentage. It wasn't completely doom or gloom however, Sinclair still had 21 disposals, worked his way into the game as it went on and didn't really look like broken stride all game. He meets the Dockers on Sunday which is a hard game to project, the Saints will need some run and carry off the half back flank and some penetrating movement by foot to come out on top and who better to provide that than Jack Sinclair?

James Sicily's gold GameDay Squad player card

James Sicily

Hawthorn Hawks Verses Essendon Bombers at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne Sunday at 2:20pm AEST

James Sicily meets the Bombers in what will be his first game named as Hawthorn's captain! Sam Mitchell and the Hawks will lean on Sicily heavily as they'll look to start hot fresh off a long preseason. 2022 was Sicily's best fantasy season since 2018, his role down in defence for Sam Mitchell proved fruitful for fantasy as Sicily wen't on to average 117 GDS fantasy points which helped him achieve a ranking of 5th amongst all defenders league-wide. There's no reason to assume Sicily's profitable role is going to change in 2023, and against the Bombers it will be a good test to that theory. Start him with confidence as one of the safer options at the defender position.

Nick Daicos' silver GameDay Squad player card

Nick Daicos

Collingwood Magpies

Verses Geelong Cats at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne

Friday at 6:40pm AEST

Daicos looks like a player who came out of the womb ready to become a fantasy stud, when in his debut season, Daicos averaged 103 GDS fantasy points. With a full season and a uninterrupted preseason under his belt, it's a safe assumption to believe that Daicos will go to another level in 2023. The sky could potentially be the limit, Daicos seems poised to play off half-back again in 2023, with kick-in duties as well. Will we see some increased midfield rotation as the season progresses? And how will the look for his fantasy scores? Much like Sam Docherty's role, it shouldn't deter you from player Daicos, if anything it should add a few points! He meets a tough assignment first up in Geelong on Friday night, but I think we'll see him finish as a top-6 defender come the end of the round.

Midfielders (MID)

Rory Laird's silver GameDay Squad player card

Rory Laird

Adelaide Crows

Verses Greater Western Sydney at GIANTS Stadium, Sydney

Sunday at 12:10pm AEST

There are quiet little whispers that Greater Western Sydney's tagger Harry Perryman will spend some time hovering over Rory Laird in round one but unless Harry Perryman turn into Harry Potter, don't that deter you from starting this absolute beast of a man with the upmost confidence they'll he'll crack 120-130 GDS fantasy points! Rory Laird is one of the few matchup proof players in the game and has a history of torching GWS in the past. In Adelaides meeting with GWS in round 7 2022, Laird top scored for Adelaide posting a score of 130 GDS fantasy points off the back of a 35 disposals, 4 marks, 7 tackles day. Start Laird while oozing confidence if you have him!

Andrew Brayshaw's legend GameDay Squad player card

Andrew Brayshaw

Fremantle Dockers

Verses Melbourne Demons at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne

Sunday at 3:40pm AEST

Andy Brayshaw is another gun midfielders who could find some attention come his way. Reports are indicating the Marcus Windhager could tag Brayshaw early. Which if true, still doesn't phase me to be honest. Just like Rory Laird above, you have to know that if you own a Brayshaw, Laird, Miller level player, they are going to inevitably receive some level of attention most weeks. Brayshaw has proven that he can fall susceptible to the tag in certain matchups, but his ceiling is way too high to ignore and leave out! An example of his ceiling? How about his GameDay Squad Aussie Rules record of 212 GDS fantasy point in a single game. Andy Brayshaw is elite and you absolutely need to start him.

Jack Macrae's diamond GameDay Squad player card

Jack Macrae

Western Bulldogs

Verses Melbourne Demons at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne

Saturday at 6:25pm AEST

I'm quite high on Jack Macrae's prospects heading into round 1! I must admit, I almost scared myself away when Macrae spent a big chunk of the doggies intra-club and practice matches up in the forward line, but after their preseason game against North Melbourne where Macrae looked to be back in the guts and back to his ball winning best, i'm locked all the way back in. Macrae went on to score 144 GDS fantasy points off the back of a 33 disposal, 8 mark and 2 tackle day. It will be interesting to see where Macrae's centre bounce attendance percentage sits at the end of round 1 as well. Arguably the biggest news of the past off-season what Macrae's teammate Josh Dunkley has left for Queensland where he'll play for the Lions in 2023 and beyond, does this mean Macrae will leave the wing and play solely in the midfield rotation again? If I were a betting man, I would say yes, which makes Jack Macrae a must-start in what should be a fast-paced round 1 clash with the Dees.

Zach Merrett's bronze GameDay Squad player card

Zach Merrett

Essendon Bombers

Verses Hawthorn Hawks at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne

Sunday at 2:20pm AEST

Zach Merrett is another one of these elite midfielders that could cop a tag in round one. The newly named Bombers captain could potentially attract some attention from Hawthorns gun tagger Finn Maginness in this matchup but luckily for Merrett, Darcy Parish is in the same amount of danger as him! It will be interesting to see who Maginness goes to but unless you own a crystal ball, no one will know until the first bounce, so until then, stick Merrett in your team. Merrett's coming off a 2022 season where he averaged 125 GDS fantasy points which included some scores such as 204 GDS points in round 20, 154 GDS points in round 16 and 149 GDS fantasy points in round 23. Quite the way to end the season! I think he starts from where he left of and if he avoids any attention from Maginness, he could go huge!

Jack Steele's gold GameDay Squad player card

Jack Steele

St Kilda Saints

Verses Fremantle Dockers at Marvel Stadium, Melbourne

Sunday at 3:40pm AEST

I'm making this selection more on trust, I see an avenue for Jack Steele to go big in round 1. Steele hasn't really shown us much this off-season, scoring only 86 GDS fantasy point's in St Kilda's preseason game against Essendon, and also not setting the world alight in intra-cub matches. All that being said, the guy is Jack Steele and he knows how to scare fantasy points. He's been one of the best fantasy assets league wide for a few seasons now. His 2022 average of 126 GDS fantasy points ranked him 7th amongst all players in the game all whilst battling various injuries. I think this matchup against Freo is good for him, he shouldn't see any tags and should be free to do what Jack Steele does which is score big! So don't leave him out.

Ruckman (RUCK)

Tim English's platinum GameDay Squad player card

Tim English

Western Bulldogs

Verses Fremantle Dockers at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne

Saturday at 6:25pm AEST

Yes... after Ross Lyons' press conference yesterday where he stated that Tom Campbell will likely share ruck duties with Rowan Marshall, I am indeed throwing the toys fully out of the cot and i'm sticking Tim English in! Which I wasn't initially going to do, only because English has had some injury trouble this preseason however, I still think he's the next best option to Rowan Marshall. English broke out in a big way in 2022 averaging 116 GDS fantasy points per game. He had career-highs in all relevant statistical categories including disposals (18.1), marks (5.4) and hit-outs (23.7) in what was an injury interrupted season for him. English is still only 25 years old and looks to be building into being one of the leagues best ruckman, he's certainly already in the conversation from a fantasy perspective.

Forwards (FWD)

Jack Dunkley's gold GameDay Squad player card

Josh Dunkley

Brisbane Lions

Verses Port Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval, Adelaide

Saturday at 3:35pm AEST

Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Legend... no matter what tier of card you own of Josh Dunkley's he needs to be in your team at all costs! He might just be the biggest set and forget fantasy asset league-wide in 2023! Dunkley finds himself donning Lions colours in 2023, after playing for the Western Bulldogs since he was drafted in 2016. In this Lions team, we should expect to see Dunkley used as a predominant midfielder, something that wasn't so guaranteed when he played for the he Bulldogs. The Bulldogs have had a heavily saturated midfield depth chart for some time now, Dunkley escapes that set up and will like create a superstar dynamic 1-2 punch in the midfield with former Brownlow medalist Lachie Neale. Dunkley should be viewed in the same tier as Sam Docherty and Rory Laird in my opinion. Chuck him in your squads and do not take him out all season long.

Connor Rozee's silver GameDay Squad player card

Connor Rozee

Port Adelaide

Verses Brisbane Lions at the Adelaide Oval, Adelaide

Saturday at 3:35pm AEST

After earning his first All-Australian jacket in 2022, Rozee looks poised to go to even greater heights in 2023. Rozee succeeded in his transition from high forward-flanker to almost exclusively a midfielder last year when he averaged a career-high 102 GDS fantasy points per game. Port seem to be just as excited by the prospects of what Rozee can achieve for them this year as Port fans and fantasy fans are! Rozee looks to have secured a full-time role in the midfield, becoming the vocal point in the guts for Port with former Brownlow medalist Ollie Wines and new young-gun recruit Jason Horne-Francis in their preseason game against the dockers where Rozee put up a score of 117 GDS fantasy points. I truly think there's a world where Rozee only falls to Josh Dunkley in forward rankings come the end of the year and I think we see a glimpse of that as soon as round 1!

Tim Taranto's legend GameDay Squad player card

Tim Taranto

Richmond Tigers

Verses Carlton at the at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne

Thursday at 6:20pm AEST

If there was any doubting Tim Taranto's scoring ability in a Richmond side that has notoriously proven that their system doesn't support high scoring midfielders, just have a look at his preseason game. I know it's not wise to allocate so much stock into these games but when you pair his numbers and the eye test it's hard to not get excited! Richmond faced a tough assignment in this game, facing up against the Demons, it didn't phase Taranto though. He had 33 disposals, 8 marks, 2 tackles 13 score involvements and even scored a goal himself on the way to 138 GDS fantasy points. Richmonds system aside, we only need to check out Taranto's historical averages to know the man is a fantasy jet. Taranto average an incredible 124 GDS fantasy points in 2021, and followed it up with an injury-riddled 112 GDS fantasy points last season. Taranto is a bonafied set and forget for 2023.

Stephen Coniglio's bronze GameDay Squad player card

Stephen Coniglio

Greater Western Sydney Giants

Verses Adelaide Crows at GIANTS Stadium, Sydney

Sunday at 12:10pm AEST

You only need to look at how well Stephen Coniglio finished the 2022 season to get excited about how he might fare in 2023. Scores of 154, 142, 134, 154 (again), 138, all littered throughout his last 10 games of the season. You multiply those numbers with the fact that two of the better GWS midfielders from 2022 have departed in Jacob Hopper and the man we just spoke about Tim Taranto to Richmond. And you have an elite player at the forward line position that is a must-start for round 1. Even with the like of Josh Dunkley and Stephen Coniglio gaining forward status in 2023, the forward line position is still fairly desolate, so obtaining these high quality and safe forward will be imperative to any success with your squads in 2023.

Dylan Moore's diamond GameDay Squad player card

Dylan Moore

Hawthorn Hawks Verses Essendon Bombers at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne Sunday at 2:20pm AEST

Dylan Moore is another forward who you only need to look at the way he finished the 2022 season to gain enough confidence to deem him a must start over some players like Isaac Heeney or Zak Butters. Moore finished 2022 with a last 5 game average of 110 GDS fantasy points per game and over the entire season had an average of 108 GDS fantasy points a game which was good enough for forwards rank of 4th overall on the season! He meets the Bombers in round 1 which should prove to be a fairly steady entry point into the season and I expect him to score well against a side he should theoretically feast on.

Errol Gulden's platinum GameDay Squad player card

Errol Gulden

Sydney Swans Verses Gold Coast Suns at the Heritage Bank Stadium, Gold Coast Saturday at 7:00pm AEST

In the midst of questions surrounding Ben Cunnington's role, uncertainty around Zak Butters' fitness and a general unease when fielding Isaac Heeney, a prince stood up to the plate in the preseason fixtures and forced his way into 100% of the countries wish-lists! Gulden lit up Blacktown ISP in a 45 disposal, 3 goal, 216 GDS fantasy point performance that had everybody scrambling to find a Gulden player card on the transfer market or in player card packs. It's not like Gulden is a stranger to fantasy relevance however! With a GDS fantasy average of 100 points per game last season, Gulden finished 9th in forward rankings league-wide! If not for his insane scoring ceiling or win now capabilities, try and find a Gulden card at some point this season. He's going to be incredible for a long time!

Fringe players that just missed out on the starting 18.

Tom Stewart (DEF) - Geelong Cats

Bailey Dale (DEF) - Western Bulldogs

Isaac Cumming (DEF) - Greater Western Sydney Giants

Clayton Oliver (MID) - Melbourne Demons

Touk Miller (MID) - Gold Coast Suns

Lachie Neale (MID) - Brisbane Lions

Josh Kelly (MID) - Greater Western Sydney Giants Rowan Marshall (Ruck) - St Kilda Saints Zak Butters (FWD) - Port Adelaide Power

Isaac Heeney (FWD) - Sydney Swans

Ben Cunnington (FWD) - North Melbourne Kangaroos



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