Heading into the AAMI Community Series, approximately one third of coaches across all fantasy formats were picking Zac Williams. With the confirmation of his suspension being upheld, these coaches now need to plan for how they’ll be replacing Zac Williams in there starting side. Here’s my take on some of the best available players and strategies.

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You Don’t Have To Replace Him

OK, this is purely a DreamTeam and SuperCoach strategy, so hear me out.

By opting to hold Zac Williams, you can play one of our playing defensive rookies on the field and, after the round concludes, slide him onto the ground. While you will likely take points hit in round one, it does enable you to hold a player you believed would be a premium defender in 2021.

Remember, he’s not injured, just suspended. And if anything, the AAMI Community Series taught us that players who have elite ball skills and speed would get plenty of handball receives opportunities. These are two skills that Zac has in spades!

The obvious limitation with this strategy is that with Carlton having the first game of the round, you cannot use him as a captaincy loophole. Making his position and cash allocation locked away from the moment the round starts.

Even though you are ‘locked’ out from using or moving his spot during the round, the positive of round one is we generally have the most cumulative available rookies. That means that should your on field cover option for him not be selected; another should be available.

Like anything, it’s a risk. But the core reason to make this play is that your convinced that the reward outweighs the risk. What’s the reward? That you get someone you believe is a top 6 defender with low ownership percentage.

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AFLFantasy | One Week Matchup

If your super bullish on Williams in AFLFantasy, you can still look to own him as early as round two against Collingwood. Rather, you can pick a player with the specific intent that you will own them for a one week match up and then pivot back to Williams.

It becomes more of a daily fantasy style strategy where you can play the matchup game and look for players with favourable history and scoring trends against the opposition. For example, opposition defenders against both Adelaide and Collingwood scoring well over their averages. As recently as the AAMI community series, we saw players like Dan Houston and Jayden Short dominate against these teams. That means Geelong and Western Bulldog players are potentially in line for an extra scoring bump.

At the same price point or lower, you could consider Bulldog Bailey Williams or Jason Johannisen. Both love to get into space and transition the footy. At the same time, Mark Blicavs and even Lachie Henderson will intercept everything against the Crows. Even Jordan Clark could be a great one week plug and play pick.

Another option is Port Adelaide defenders. They come up against the rebuilding Kangaroos and have a field day chopping off the forward 50 entries. Dary Byrne-Jones, Hamish Hartlett, Ryan Burton, and even Riley Bonner could see all pop a 90+ score.

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Go Up

Got some salary cap space? Then the decision could be pretty simple. Pick the premium defender that your most keen on that’s not currently on your side. It probably won’t make your side more unique, but by picking Williams, that clearly wasn’t in your thinking anyway.

Get the best available. Whether that’s Jake Lloyd, Rory Laird, Jack Crisp, Luke Ryan, Tom Stewart, Jordan Ridley or even a Caleb Daniel, pick the best defender you can and lock in those points.

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Go Down

It is not all the way down to a cash cow but rather drops down to a lower stepping stone or breakout candidate. The extra benefit in this is it allows you to free up some salary cap to now be able to bring in a preferred premium. Again, these are unlikely to be breakout candidates that pop to be premiums. Rather a stepping stone that gets you points and makes you money along the way.

Potential candidates could be Isaac Cumming, Lachie Ash, Lachie Sholl, Ben McEvoy, Andrew McPherson, Trent Rivers, Oleg Markov or Changkuoth Jiath.

Look Across

Here’s where you’re looking for another player to ‘breakout’ into the top tiers of defenders. Names like Liam Duggan, Jack Lukosious, Hunter Clark and Brodie Smith should all come into consideration. If you believe that either of them could be comparable scoring candidates, it could be a relatively easy move. Just make sure to factor in your bye structure.

Different Line

Don’t just think about replacing Williams in a liner line for line move. With a few cheaper defenders stepping up during the AAMI Community Series, you can suddenly use the cash from Zac on another line option.

Whether that’s getting a Jye Caldwell, Tom Phillips, Zak Butters or even Josh Dunkley up forward, let alone getting some more reinforcements in the midfield like Rory Sloane or Matt Rowell.

The key part of nailing this strategy is looking at the player combination replacements. For example, does Liam Duggan and Ned Cahill score more than Thomas Highmore and Tom Phillips? Your answer will ultimately determine which combination to go for.