2015 AFL Fantasy Rookie Guide

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What a tough task this preseason. I can count this year’s crop of QUALITY rookies on just one hand but thankfully there are others ready to play a supporting role in our teams. Focusing on job security, value and scoring potential, I’ve looked closely at every rookie in every NAB Challenge game.

My ‘juniors’ covered in depth below are those that I believe to be worthy picks this season. Plenty of options have been provided so the final decisions will be up to you. Don’t worry I’ve dropped a few hints regarding my selections along the way. Enjoy.

 

DEFENDERS

 

Adam SaadAdam Saad

AFL Fantasy Price: $120,000

AFL Dreamteam Price: $102,900

Predicted Average: 62

Role & Job Security: Saad is a mature age rookie with plenty of power, pace and confidence. He is a natural half back but with Malceski, McKenzie, Kolodjashnij and Broughton all at the Suns he will be used as a utility between the back pocket, wing and half forward. His work rate has him in favour with coach Rodney Eade (source).

NAB Challenge Form: Saad was named in the bests for the Suns in their first NAB Challenge match against the Cats. He only had 13 touches and 43 Fantasy points but it was his intensity around the footy from start to finish that had many impressed. In his second match against the Giants, he improved with 10 kicks, 6 handballs, 4 marks and 57 Fantasy points from 72% field time. Against the Lions in the final round he finished with 15 touches, 1 mark, 3 tackles and 52 Fantasy points before copping a head high knock and concussion half way through the last quarter…he’ll be fine for Round 1.

Final Thought: Cheap defenders with decent job security are few and far between this year so he’s perfect bench cover for both Fantasy and Dreamteam. Being a dual position defender/mid is a big bonus.

 

Adam OxleyOxley

AFL Fantasy Price: $142,000

AFL Dreamteam Price: $124,600

Predicted Average: 64

Role & Job Security: Oxley plays between half back and wing. He reads the play exceptionally well, is good in the 50/50 contests and uses his skill to great effect. His traits make him an asset for the Pies and an injured Clinton Young helps his job security. Fingers crossed he can play well in the first few games of the season and cement his spot in the Pies 22.

NAB Challenge Form: Oxley displayed great skill and poise throughout the preseason competition. He played in all three NAB Challenge matches and was a notable contributor in the last round against the Dogs after a 21 possessions, 3 marks, 2 tackle game and 70 Fantasy points performance.

Final Thought: Oxley has been penciled in for a half back/wing role at Collingwood for a couple of years now but injury has prevented him from getting out on the field. With a clean bill of health and good preseason form, he should get senior opportunities early this season making him ideal bench cover.

 

Brett GoodesGoodes

AFL Fantasy Price: $192,000

AFL Dreamteam Price: $267,300

Predicted Average: 74

Role & Job Security: Goodes was upgraded to the Bulldogs senior list on Friday and with that, officially claimed a spot in the Dogs starting 18. He fell out of favour with Brendan McCartney last season but new coach Luke Beveridge has shown a lot of love for the skillful defender. We all know what Goodes is capable of, he’s just got to stay fit and injury free for coaches to reap the rewards.

NAB Cup Form: Goodes was named in the bests for the Bulldogs in his two NAB Challenge games this preseason. 99 Fantasy points (12k, 7h, 4m, 6t, 2g) from his last match against the Pies was the performance that locked him into all of our teams. Far too good to ignore.

Final Thought: Goodes has to be in your side and starting on your field. Don’t think about it…just do it.

 

Ciaran ByrneByrne

AFL Fantasy Price: $120,000

AFL Dreamteam Price: $124,600

Predicted Average: 58

Role & Job Security: This past 12 months has been a big learning year for Byrne. The Irish native spent last season in the VFL developing his game and his improvement has been out of sight. He boasts plenty of speed, can break the lines from half back and most importantly he’s in form. Fingers crossed he gets a gig in Round 1, plays his role and holds his spot. His job security should be perceived as a risk though.

NAB Challenge Form: Byrne had a quiet first NAB Challenge game against the Eagles but contributed well in Carlton’s final two hit-outs. Against the Pies he showed plenty of dash and finished with 14 possessions, 5 marks, 3 tackles and 63 Fantasy points. Byrne provided a similar output the next week against Geelong amassing 14 possessions, 5 marks, 2 tackles and 61 Fantasy points.

Final Thought: Byrne is another youngster who has done enough this preseason for a spot on your defender bench. Byrne fits Carlton’s run and gun game plan and as a dual position defender/forward owners have options.

 

Kamdyn McIntoshMcintosh

AFL Fantasy Price: $120,000

AFL Dreamteam Price: $124,600

Predicted Average: 60

Role & Job Security: At 192cm, McIntosh is a rangy wingman with plenty of speed and skill to boot. His impressive preseason has him in contention for a senior berth but the Tigers aren’t lacking in outside midfielders thus his job security will always be a concern.

NAB Challenge Form: McIntosh didn’t suit up in the Tiger’s first NAB Challenge game but he scored a very healthy 67 Fantasy points (9k, 6h, 3m & 4t) from 84% game time in their next match against the Power. A week later he had 17 disposals, 6 marks, 1 goal and 60 Fantasy points versus the Roos. McIntosh was named in the bests in that game and is firming as a likely Round 1 starter.

Final Thought: After countless injuries in his first two seasons, McIntosh is now ready to make his mark. If he’s named for Round 1, I’d be nervous to pick him given how McDonough and Lloyd were used sparingly last season. With that said, McIntosh could turn out to be a very handy pick up given that he’s listed as a defender but playing in the midfield.

 

Jackson RamsayRamsay

AFL Fantasy Price: $204,000

AFL Dreamteam Price: $214,500

Predicted Average: 57

Role & Job Security: Ramsay’s role this season is in the back pocket. He is extremely good at blanketing his opponent and provides great rebound from defensive 50 when needed. Buckley seems to love his toughness and I’m expecting him to be named for Round 1. With the Pies depth he’ll need to play his role well to hold his spot.

NAB Challenge Form: Ramsay featured and was a solid contributor in all three NAB Challenge games this preseason. He registered Fantasy scores of 50, 44 and 62, which is typical from a lock down defender. I wouldn’t expect scores higher than 65 during the home and away season.

Final Thought: Ramsay isn’t going to get a whole heap of the ball but you can bet your bottom dollar that he’ll compete hard. He’s expensive as far as rookies go and that will put plenty off him. An option when there are few!

 

Billie SmedtsSmedts

AFL Fantasy Price: $177,000

AFL Dreamteam Price: $200,400

Predicted Average: 63

Role & Job Security: It’s a make or break season for Smedts and I’m backing him in to have a big year. This running defender has great skills and is versatile enough to play in the midfield and up forward. With no Varcoe or Christensen, Smedts’ speed is an asset to the Cats thus if his body holds, he’ll play plenty of games this season.

NAB Challenge Form: Fantasy scores of 34 and 53 from his two NAB Challenge games are a worry but he did have limited playing time. History suggests that Smedts will only average in the low 60’s this season.

Final Thought: Haters gonna hate but I like Billie Smedts this year. Fewer options this season is forcing us to spend a little more on our defender rooks especially if a couple of cheapies miss Round 1 selection. Sure he’s not going to score big each week but it’s all about job security in this instance.

 

Kristian JakschJaksch

AFL Fantasy Price: $186,000

AFL Dreamteam Price: $217,900

Predicted Average: 59

Role & Job Security: Jaksch is a key defender that Carlton were extremely happy to nab during last year’s trade period. He’ll play every game when fit, boasting arguably the best job security of any rookie priced defender this year.

NAB Challenge Form: Jaksch finished with Fantasy scores of 44, 69 and 31 in his three NAB Challenge games and was named in the bests for Carlton in one of them too. Like many other last line defenders, most of his points come from uncontested marks and kicks deep in defensive 50.

Final Thought: If Jaksch was more consistent over the NAB Challenge then I would have talked him up a bit more. Improvement will come but he’s a little too expensive for a bench spot given that he’ll likely average in the high 50’s. His wonderful job security shouldn’t be disregarded though.

 

Michael TaliaTalia

AFL Fantasy Price: $161,000

AFL Dreamteam Price: $203,200

Predicted Average: 64

Role & Job Security: Talia is a tall defender that competes hard and he has excellent skills for a big man. Jordan Roughead and Dale Morris are first choice key defenders at the Dogs however there is one more key post up for grabs. At this stage it appears Talia is ahead of fellow ‘junior’ Joel Hamling for that spot but nothing is set in stone.

NAB Challenge Form: When the Dogs have the footy, Talia gets on his bike. He gets a lot of easy +6’s but doesn’t tackle as often as he probably should. Talia did have a shocker in one NAB Challenge game this preseason scoring just 18 Fantasy points from 100% game time but thankfully the week later he did a 180 and finished with 20 possessions and a respectable 67 Fantasy points.

Final Thought: Back in 2013 Talia actually cracked the ton, scoring 106 Fantasy points against the Pies in Round 12. He also scored a 98 in the same season. That potential alone deserves consideration and I am seriously considering bringing him in as a D7 for Fantasy.

 

Lauchlan DalgleishDalgleish

AFL Fantasy Price: $219,000

AFL Dreamteam Price: $156,200

Predicted Average: 58

Role & Job Security: Circumstances at the Bombers means Dalgleish is a chance for some early games this season. He wouldn’t be in the best 22 if all Essendon players were available for selection and thankfully we will know the outcome of the whole shemozzle this Tuesday. Dalgleish plays as a running half back.

NAB Challenge Form: Dalgleish got my attention after his best afield performance for the Bombers versus GWS where he finished with 22 possession and 75 Fantasy points. He scored 50 and 51 in his other two games which isn’t a train smash. Dalgleish’s work rate is impressive!

Final Thought: Dalgleish’s selection will depend on the Essendon Anti-Doping verdict. I doubt that the 34 past and present Bombers will miss more than five home and away games but if they do then we should consider this young speedster.

 

Just a quick note on Hugh Goddard. In his only NAB Challenge game, Goddard was used as a third tall and that’s where he is best suited at the Saints. Unfortunately, it appears that he has been squeezed out of the Saints current best 22 with Fisher, Delaney and Bruce all ahead of him. Goddard will play senior footy at some point though so be patient.

Zak Jones did not play in the NAB Challenge with the Swans deciding to hold him back as he was still recovering from an achilles injury. In a late bid for some match fitness, Jones suited up for the Swans reserves last weekend in the midfield and was good for the run. Jones wont play senior footy come Round 1 meaning he’ll be an excellent trade down target during the season. Brendan Whitecross and Matt Scharenberg are two more in the same boat as Jones. Mark ‘em down.

Note that Joel Tippett, Joel Hamling and Nathan Brown are stay at home defenders that don’t get a whole heap of the ball. No matter how desperate you are, I wouldn’t pick these players because I doubt they’ll average more than 50 Fantasy points per game.

Keep an eye on Matthew Dick, Shaun Edwards, Brayden Maynard, Jason AshbyHarrison Wigg, Jake Kelly, Daniel McKenzie, Jake Lever, Josh McGuinness, Ariel Steinberg, Brodie Murdoch, Seb Tape and Tom Clurey throughout the year as they are all a long shot for consistent senior footy in the first half of the season.

 

MIDFIELDERS

 

Ben NewtonNewton

AFL Fantasy Price: $192,000

AFL Dreamteam Price: $232,800

Predicted Average: 75

Role & Job Security: Newton is a certainty for a midfield role at the Dees this season. More playing opportunities was a big lure for him moving to Melbourne and Fantasy coaches are about to reap the rewards. During the NAB Challenge, Newton was used predominately on the ball and had moments at half forward. Happy days!

NAB Challenge Form: 13 possessions and 51 Fantasy points from half a game! That was the output from Newton in the first round of the NAB Challenge. In the weeks after he had 19 touches and 59 Fantasy points (70% time on ground) against the Dogs and 17 possessions, 5 marks and 72 Fantasy points (68% game time) versus the Bombers. You can’t fault these numbers.

Final Thought: Newton comes at a cost but given his job security, he is worth every cent. I say lock him in, as he’ll have one of the highest averages for a rookie priced player this season.

 

Jed AndersonAnderson

AFL Fantasy Price: $172,000

AFL Dreamteam Price: $151,000

Predicted Average: 69

Role & Job Security: Anderson has hardly put a foot wrong this summer and he should see plenty of senior action as a result. Trust me when I say that no other fringe players at the Hawks can match his explosiveness, toughness and goal sense. Anderson will be used at half forward with stints on the ball but he’s not immune to the green vest so expect some pain along the way.

NAB Challenge Form:
Anderson has played in all of Hawthorn’s preseason matches. He was one of the best players on the ground in NAB Challenge Round 1 after amassing 26 possessions, kicking a goal and scoring 97 Fantasy points. In Rounds 2 and 3 he was a little down scoring just 49 (82% TOG) and 61 (80% TOG) Fantasy points respectively. You’ve got to consider any cheapie with a high ceiling!

Final Thought: Anderson is another must have for both Fantasy and Dreamteam in my opinion. Clarkson will give him plenty of opportunities on the field and he’ll score at a reasonable click. One of my favourites this year.

 

Patrick CrippsCripps

AFL Fantasy Price: $163,000

AFL Dreamteam Price: $205,100

Predicted Average: 80

Role & Job Security: Cripps is a tall, powerful, in and under midfielder who has made an impression this preseason. He does his best work at stoppages and that’s where Malthouse will play him, in the guts alongside Murphy, Judd, Gibbs and Carrazzo.

NAB Challenge Form: Cripps is another to play in every NAB Challenge game this summer. He had 14 possessions, 6 tackles and 61 Fantasy points (61% TOG) against West Coast, 19 touches, 7 tackles and 75 Fantasy points versus the Pies and a whopping 32 possessions and 119 Fantasy points against the Cats in the last round of the preseason. Boom!

Final Thought: Cripps’ job security is fantastic and he’ll get plenty of the ball to score well. He’s not cheap but you’ve still got to have him in Fantasy and Dreamteam. We can all sleep easier at night with Cripps on our field. Lock and load.

 

Aaron VandenbergVandenberg

AFL Fantasy Price: $120,000

AFL Dreamteam Price: $136,900

Predicted Average: 71

Role & Job Security: Vandenberg is a ball magnet but was used mainly at half forward during the NAB Challenge. There were moments where he had a run on the ball and I expect plenty of midfield time for him as the season progresses. All in all, one of the Dees better performers this preseason and looks likely to be named for Round 1.

NAB Challenge Form: Vandenberg got tails wagging in Round 1 of the NAB Challenge with 9 possessions, 4 marks, 3 tackles, a goal and 52 Fantasy points in just less than half a game! Unfortunately, Round 2 was a fizzle after he was subbed out after 5 minutes in the first quarter after suffering a head knock. Against the Bombers in Round 3, Vandenberg was one of the best afield after 14 possessions, 6 tackles, 2 goals and 71 Fantasy points from 73% game time.

Final Thought:

Proven ball winner, physically ready for the AFL that has done all the right things this preseason. He can’t be ignored at his price. Get him in!

 

Nakia CockatooCockatoo

AFL Fantasy Price: $271,000

AFL Dreamteam Price: $177,900

Predicted Average: 62

Role & Job Security: It looks like Cockatoo will be named for Round 1. Chris Scott stated after the Cats last NAB Challenge match that the young excitement machine would add to his midfield group from day one (source). Cockatoo will play a high half forward role with short stints on the ball.

NAB Challenge Form: Cockatoo doesn’t get a lot of the footy but what he does touch usually turns to gold. 10 possessions, 6 tackles and 54 Fantasy points from 57% game time got my attention in the first week of the NAB Challenge and he backed it up with a solid 68 (8k, 7h, 7m, 2t, 2g) in Round 2 against the Crows. He scored just 35 Fantasy points from 77% game time in Round 3 though!

Final Thought: Even with his decent job security, I’ll be staying clear of Nakia. He won’t have the big possession numbers compared to other cheaper rookie mids available.

 

Cameron Ellis-YolmenEllis-Yolman

AFL Fantasy Price: $120,000

AFL Dreamteam Price: $124,600

Predicted Average: 68

Role & Job Security: Ellis-Yolmen knows how to find the footy! He loves the tough stuff as an inside mid but is skilled enough to play outside and up forward. A few Adelaide on-ballers have been struck by injury this preseason so expect Ellis-Yolmen to play plenty of games early.

NAB Challenge Form: Ellis-Yolmen was arguably the Crows most consistent performer throughout the whole NAB Challenge. He averaged 22 disposals, 2 marks, 3 tackles and 70 Fantasy points from 75% time on ground. His performances saw him named in the bests for the Crows in two of his three NAB Challenge games.

Final Thought: After a few development years, Ellis looks ready to take the next step and new coach Phil Walsh seems to like him. The way I see it, he’s too cheap to ignore.

 

Isaac HeeneyHeeney

AFL Fantasy Price: $246,000

AFL Dreamteam Price: $137,900

Predicted Average: 67

Role & Job Security: Heeney is from the top shelf. This future champion of our game proved that he can mix it with the big boys at just 18 years of age. He did not look out of place one bit! Heeney was used at half forward, behind the ball and on the wing during the NAB Challenge making his role a little unclear this season. Should play 12+ games regardless.

NAB Challenge Form: Heeney registered a 55 (8k, 6h, 3m, 2t, 78% TOG) against the Lions and 56 (7k, 6h, 2m, 2, 1g, 74% TOG) versus the Dockers where he was named in the best players. In the Swans dress rehearsal for Round 1, Heeney made his mark on Fantasy scoring a 78 from 12 possessions, 5 marks, 5 tackles and 2 goals.

Final Thought: Size, speed and skill… Heeney has got it all. He lived up to his hype during the NAB Challenge but the Swans have a reputation of managing their first year players with plenty of scheduled rests and green vests. Not for me but he may suit a few Dreamteam coaches given his price.

 

Blaine BoekhorstBoekhorst

AFL Fantasy Price: $243,000

AFL Dreamteam Price: $132,900

Predicted Average: 60

Role & Job Security: Boekhorst is your typical half forward. Get the footy, run the lines and deliver it lace out to the forwards…that’s his job. Carlton need some more class in the forward half and Boekhorst will complement the likes of Menzel and Everitt very well. Should feature regularly.

NAB Challenge Form: I’m sure Boekhorst learned plenty over the NAB Challenge. He wasn’t a stand out by any means but he is a very good user of the footy. He scored of 44, 69 and 31 Fantasy points from his three games and appeared to struggle with the pace of AFL footy. When he puts four quarters together he’ll be a decent contributor.

Final Thought: As a mature age rookie, Boekhorst was recruited by the Blues to fill a desperate need. I’m confident that he’s done enough over the preseason to line up in Round 1 but his form will dictate whether or not he stays in the senior side. Consider.

 

Nathan Van BerloVan Berlo

AFL Fantasy Price: $272,000

AFL Dreamteam Price: $231,200

Predicted Average: 73

Role & Job Security: As a former captain and one of the top midfielders at the Crows, there are no job security issues for Van Berlo. He’ll play as an outside midfielder this season and be freed from any tagging duties (source). Big tick.

NAB Challenge Form: Two Fantasy scores in the 60’s and a 34. It’s been pretty average from Van Berlo this NAB Challenge but don’t read too much into it. As a senior midfielder he should be good for a 70+ average. That’s approximately 20 possessions, a couple of marks and a few tackles per game.

Final Thought: The big lure with Van Berlo is his job security and he’s proven that he can get the runs on the board with averages of 94 and 83 in previous seasons. Don’t ignore him!

 

Touk MillerMiller

AFL Fantasy Price: $211,000

AFL Dreamteam Price: $117,900

Predicted Average: 56

Role & Job Security: Miller looks to be used at half forward this season with a licence to push well up the ground. After such a successful NAB Challenge campaign, coach Rodney Eade confirmed that Miller would line up in Round 1 (source). I’m tipping he’ll need to play at a high level to keep his spot given the Suns depth.

NAB Challenge Form: Playing in all three NAB Challenge games, Miller averaged 6 kicks, 6 handballs, an impressive 4 tackles, 1 goal and 59 Fantasy points per game from 70% time on ground. His work rate and defensive pressure saw him named in the bests for the Suns on one occasion.

Final Thought: His competitive nature and hunger for the contest will see his confidence grow as the season goes on and I expect him to be a handy little cashcow this year.

 

Blake AcresAcres

AFL Fantasy Price: $166,000

AFL Dreamteam Price: $208,800

Predicted Average: 59

Role & Job Security: Acres is a true wingman. His skill on the outside is a pleasure to watch and a great asset to the St Kilda football club. In a developing year for the Saints, Acres will play every game assuming he’s fit especially with Farren Ray out injured for 3 months.

NAB Challenge Form: Acres improved with every game he played this preseason. He scored 27 in the Saints first match against the Lions, then 48 versus the Bombers and even though they got pumped by the Hawks, Acres still managed to score a healthy 63 Fantasy points in the last week of the NAB Challenge. Solid.

Final Thought: He’s not going to be the biggest scorer going around but Acres will get plenty of senior opportunities this year. Plenty of game time means that he’s perfect back up but he’s a little expensive.

 

Dom SheedSheed

AFL Fantasy Price: $237,000

AFL Dreamteam Price: $235,900

Predicted Average: 70

Role & Job Security: Hard work in the gym and on the track over the summer sees Sheed as a breakout contender this season. Adam Simpson has already confirmed that Sheed will play Round 1 (source) and I expect heavy minutes in the midfield for him this season. His long, lethal left foot will do plenty of damage but he’ll need to play his role well to hold his spot.

NAB Challenge Form: The first week of the preseason competition, I saw Sheed play with hunger and he was a great contributor scoring 65 Fantasy points from 67% game time. He backed it up with a 50 from 70% time on ground versus the Power and against the Dockers, further improvement was evident after he had 13 kicks, 10 handballs, 8 marks and 82 Fantasy points making him one of the best Eagles players on the day.

Final Thought: Another expensive option but he impressed me that much during the NAB Challenge that I’m considering him ahead of Van Berlo as a point of difference. Definitely not for the faint hearted but as a left field pick it would be a great reward for those that take the plunge.

 

Jordan De Goey misses out on a top 12 spot due to price versus likely returns. He’ll play senior footy but paying $285,000 in AFL Fantasy (starting average of 60) is out of the question. $202,900 for Dreamteam is not unreasonable but still a risk in my opinion. You’re much better off picking Newton and/or Van Berlo.

Newsflash! Angus Brayshaw had 26 possessions and kicked 2 goals in a VFL practice match last weekend and he appears ready for the big time. Unfortunately, he missed the NAB Challenge this season after suffering a head knock in the Dees practice match back in February. He’s a massive ball magnet and will score very well. I’m a big fan but he comes at a hefty price so it appears to be a case of high risk, high reward. Dreamteam coaches could take the plunge and start with him for Round 1 but that’s a big call. He’s too expensive for Fantasy!

Unfortunately, Nathan Freeman and Trent Dumont weren’t given enough playing opportunities in the NAB Challenge to be considered for Round 1. They are exciting prospects but we will need to wait a little while before trading them in. Keep a close eye on these two because both will be first choice downgrade targets during the season.

If you like a punt then you could pick one of either Cory Gregson, Jack SinclairTom Sheridan, Jackson Nelson, Liam Duggan, Jarrod Gartlett, Karl Amon, Jack Sinclair, Billy Stretch, Elliott Kavanagh, Jonathon O’Rourke, Billy Hartung, Darcy Lang, Liam Dawson, Connor Blakely, Clem SmithAlex Woodward or Daniel Robinson. All of these players have shown good preseason form and if they are named for Round 1, you could do worse than picking these blokes. At the end of the day, I don’t think these players are good enough to be consistent performers this season.

 

RUCKS

 

Sam NaismithNaismith

AFL Fantasy Price: $165,000

AFL Dreamteam Price: $180,600

Predicted Average: 58

Role & Job Security: Sam Naismith has done a mountain of work this preseason and as a result has moved ahead of Tom Derickx at the Swans. Unfortunately, Sydney typically plays just one ruckman with Tippett part time in the middle. With Tippett unlikely for Round 1, enter Naismith. Sure when Tippett is fit, Naismith will be dropped but Derickx managed to play 12 games last season!

NAB Challenge Form: Naismith played in all three of the Swans NAB Challenge games and made an impression against the Giants a couple of weeks back. He scored 68 Fantasy points (2k, 9h, 3m, 17ho, 5t) from 76% time on ground. Naismith was disappointing in his other two games though, scoring 12 and 21 Fantasy points.

Final Thought: I’m optimistic Naismith will play 10+ games this season given Pyke and Tippett’s injury history. Spending that little bit extra on Naismith could go a long way when you’ve got an R3 playing and making money. Consider carefully.

 

Andrew PhillipsPhillips

AFL Fantasy Price: $149,000

AFL Dreamteam Price: $182,900

Predicted Average: 48

Role & Job Security: From what I’m reading, GWS’s ideal ruck set up will be Mumford as their obvious number one with the athletic Adam Tomlinson to pinch-hit when required. Even after a stellar preseason, Phillips just misses out. If injuries hit Mummy or Tomlinson, Phillips should be an instant replacement.

NAB Challenge Form: Phillips played as the number one ruckman in the Giants first NAB Challenge game and finished with 3 kicks, 6 handballs, 2 marks, 18 hitouts, 1 tackle and 50 Fantasy points. He teamed up with Mummy in his second match and provided a similar output scoring 49. Nothing to get excited about.

Final Thought: Like most young ruck bench options this season, Phillips isn’t in the best 22 at his club but he will first in if injury strikes…Mumford only played 17 games last season. I’d be comfortable picking him at R4.

 

Jonathon GriffinGriffin

AFL Fantasy Price: $142,000

AFL Dreamteam Price: $248,200

Predicted Average: 55

Role & Job Security: We all know Griffin is Sandilands’ backup but when was the last time a 32 year old, 211cm, 120 kilo player suited up in all 22 games? Griffin will play, how often is anyone’s guess.

NAB Challenge Form: The big man had a good hitout in the Dockers first two NAB Challenge games but he was dropped for their Round 1 dress rehearsal against the Eagles. Griffin’s highest score in the NAB Challenge was just 56 (7k, 6h, 18ho, 2t) which isn’t the worst but I’m pretty sure that he’ll average less than 60 this season.

Final Thought: Given his price, Griffin will be a popular R3 in Fantasy but he’s too expensive for Dreamteam. It’s a bit of a guessing game when it comes to the rucks but the odds are in Griffin’s favour to play the most games out of Naismith and Phillips.

 

Mason Cox won’t play a senior game this season but he’s the cheapest dual position ruck/forward available. Coaches are opting for Cox at R3/R4 in conjunction with Bellchambers at R2 with the vision to switch Bellchambers into the forward line as the season progresses. This is good planning but you still might be forced to burn a trade early if you haven’t moved Bellchambers or any other playing dual position ruck/forward to your forward line. Pick durable starting ruckmen!

 

FORWARDS

 

Mitch ClarkClark

AFL Fantasy Price: $156,000

AFL Dreamteam Price: $162,600

Predicted Average: 69

Role & Job Security: Clark’s sensational preseason has made him a lock in the Geelong forward line this season. His marking ability alongside Hawkins will make the Cats a real force and give the opposition a lot of headaches. Only injury will stop Clark playing.

NAB Challenge Form: In his first NAB Challenge game, Clark was quite rusty scoring just 48 Fantasy points (4k, 5h, 2m, 2t, 2g). His next hit-out against the Crows was remarkable. Clark had a massive 17 possessions, 6 marks, 5 hitouts, 6 goals and 108 Fantasy points. At this point I think anyone that didn’t have Clark traded him into his or her teams immediately. Clark backed up this superb effort with 74 Fantasy points against the Blues (5k, 6h, 3m, 9ho, 4t, 3g).

Final Thought: You’ve got to have him in Fantasy and Dreamteam. Plain and simple!

 

Jack LonieLonie

AFL Fantasy Price: $173,000

AFL Dreamteam Price: $117,900

Predicted Average: 55

Role & Job Security: Lonie is one of very few first year players to make an impression this preseason. He’s your typical half forward that gets busy up the ground and delivers it lace out to the big forwards. Lonie can kick a goal or two of his own too. With the Saints growing injury list, he should feature in the early rounds of the season.

NAB Challenge Form: Lonie played in all three NAB Challenge games, which will go a long way for him being named in Round 1. He started in the green vest in his first match against the Lions and finished a mere 24 Fantasy points from 59% time on ground. In his second game, Lonie was one of the Saints best with 17 possessions, 3 marks, 2 tackles, 1 goal and a 67 Fantasy point game. Unfortunately, he registered just 33 Fantasy points in his last match against the dominant Hawks.

Final Thought: Note that young Lonie is a perfect candidate for the green vest so approach with caution. It’s another building year for the Saints though so he should play in plenty of senior games. As a F8 you could do a lot worse.

 

Christian SalemSalem

AFL Fantasy Price: $193,000

AFL Dreamteam Price: $192,800

Predicted Average: 73

Role & Job Security: In a big move for AFL Fantasy ranks, Salem has returned to his natural half back position. Paul Roos wants the ball in his hands, setting up play behind the ball with his lethal left foot. No job security concerns for this young up and comer.

NAB Challenge Form: Salem had a very quiet first NAB Challenge game against the Dockers scoring just 32 Fantasy points but he made his mark there after. He was named in the bests for Dees in the next two preseason matches and registered a whopping 118 (18k, 6h, 9m, 6t) and 91 (14k, 6h, 5m, 5t) Fantasy points. Get excited.

Final Thought: The Dees play possession footy in their back half so expect some healthy returns from Salem. Problem for me is his price but I’m finding a way to bring him in.

 

Mitch HoneychurchHoneychurch

AFL Fantasy Price: $179,000

AFL Dreamteam Price: $225,800

Predicted Average: 63

Role & Job Security: Another summer under his belt has seen Honeychurch improve significantly. The dynamic forward/midfielder is playing with plenty of guts and determination and it seems that he’s made an impression on new coach Luke Beveridge. In a building year at the Dogs, he’ll play plenty of senior footy this year.

NAB Challenge Form: Honeychurch played in all three of the Bulldogs NAB Challenge games this preseason. Scores of 54 (61% TOG), 75 (84% TOG) and 76 (82% TOG) have all caught my eye and it’s the kind of output you should be looking for from a cheap forward. He was the best for the Bulldogs in one of these games too.

Final Thought: With limited quality rookie forwards available this year, Honeychurch comes into calculations. He’s not immune to the green vest but he has shown enough this preseason to warrant selection. More appealing in Fantasy due to price.

 

Jesse HoganHogan

AFL Fantasy Price: $194,000

AFL Dreamteam Price: $138,900

Predicted Average: 62

Role & Job Security: Big boy Hogan is a certainty to play full forward for the Dees all year assuming he stays injury free. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’d know the hype surrounding Hogan and he needs to develop by playing as much senior footy as he can.

NAB Challenge Form: Hogan’s highest score in the NAB Challenge was just 56. He struggled to take marks and in turn kick goals but he should improve as the year wears on.

Final Thought: With Hogan it is all about job security. He’s not going to be a big scorer but at least you can sleep easy at night knowing that he’ll be named at selection on Thursdays. Better suited for Dreamteam than Fantasy due to price.

 

Kane LambertLambert

AFL Fantasy Price: $120,000

AFL Dreamteam Price: $102,900

Predicted Average: 71

Role & Job Security: Lambert was recruited to the Tigers after an excellent year for Williamstown in the VFL last year. He’s a strong bodied midfielder that can play up forward and he’s impressed everyone in his short time at Tigerland. Lambert was upgraded from the rookie list last week but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’ll be a regular in Richmond’s 22.

NAB Challenge Form: He started with a bang amassing 15 possessions, 4 marks, 5 tackles and 69 Fantasy points from his first NAB Challenge game and was named as one of Richmond’s best players. In his next two games he was very quiet scoring just 39 (60% TOG) and 43 (71% TOG) Fantasy points and playing a lot of minutes forward.

Final Thought: Very tempting due to price and many will pick him as a result. Personally, I’m very nervous about his job security especially with the short fused Hardwick making the call. It will be up to Lambert to make his own destiny. Risky.

 

Cameron McCarthyMccarthy

AFL Fantasy Price: $136,000

AFL Dreamteam Price: $167,600

Predicted Average: 57

Role & Job Security: With Patton still recovering from a knee reconstruction and Boyd taking a big deal at the Bulldogs in the offseason, my boy McCarthy aka ‘Sunshine’ is set for a starting forward role this year alongside Jeremy Cameron. There’s not much competition behind McCarthy at GWS!

NAB Challenge Form: Scores of 45, 81 (versus Essendon) and 53 aren’t worthy of a starting forward position but they’re reasonable as a F7/F8. He kicked 7 goals from 3 games, which would please the GWS hierarchy.

Final Thought: McCarthy has shown plenty this preseason and deserves a go at full forward with Patton out with injury. Most key forwards are inconsistent scorers but he’s firming for my Fantasy bench.

 

Caleb Danieldaniel

AFL Fantasy Price: $157,000

AFL Dreamteam Price: $117,900

Predicted Average: 54

Role & Job Security: The Dogs have an abundance of small forward/midfielders at their club so competition for spots is hot. He has featured well during the NAB Challenge but started in the green vest in his last match.

NAB Challenge Form: Daniel stood out for me in his game against the Dees. He had 16 possessions 2 marks, 2 tackles and 48 Fantasy points from 75% game time. Unfortunately he had limited playing time against the Pies a week later but still managed 42 Fantasy points from 42% time on ground.

Final Thought: I can’t see why Daniel won’t play 10+ games this season. The Dogs are developing and getting games into their young pups like Daniel is important. The youngster wears his heart on his sleeve, knows how to find the footy and he’s cheap. A big green vest risk though.

 

Ahmed SaadAhmed Saad

AFL Fantasy Price: $180,000

AFL Dreamteam Price: $153,700

Predicted Average: 58

Role & Job Security: Saad has returned to AFL ranks and he’ll play a key role for the Saints in their forward line this season. Coach Alan Richardson has had plenty of praise for him throughout the summer and with a few long-term injuries at St Kilda, Saad should be promoted to the senior list sometime this week.

NAB Challenge Form: Unfortunately, most small forwards aren’t renowned for big Fantasy scores. Saad had just 30 (74% TOG), 52 (80% TOG) and 51 (75% TOG) Fantasy points in his three games. Scores in the 50’s is what I’d expect each week.

Final Thought: Saad is another that isn’t going to set new Fantasy scoring records but he will play each week. He’s probably best suited to your F7 spot in Dreamteam. I’ll let you decide if he’s worth it.

 

Orazio FantasiaFantasia

AFL Fantasy Price: $142,000

AFL Dreamteam Price: $156,200

Predicted Average: 60

Role & Job Security: A role change for Fantasia over the summer looks to play in his favour. The former small forward has moved to the backline and his skills off half back are impressing many at Essendon. Looking at the Bombers list, I reckon he’s in their best 25 players.

NAB Challenge Form: Fantasia only played the one NAB Challenge game and scored a very impressive 81 Fantasy points from just 69% game time. Hopefully, his only appearance is enough match fitness to be named in the Bombers season opener against the Swans.

Final Thought: I’m claiming this young Italian as my own. If he’s named in Round 1, I’m picking him in both Fantasy and Dreamteam…he’s pretty much got Fantasy in his name.

 

Unfortunately, Ben Reid is still working on fitness and form and seems unlikely to play Round 1. Hopefully Collingwood give him a couple of weeks in the VFL so we have a decent downgrade option. I’m tipping a big year for Reid’s teammate Ben Kennedy. Kennedy just misses a top 10 spot in my forward options this season only because of price. Look out for him if you’re willing to spend that little bit extra.

Other promising forward rooks include Tom Lamb, Jack RedpathPatrick Karnezis, Dean Towers, Tory Dickson, Jack Steele, Ben Lennon, Robbie Tarrant, Corey Gault, Mason Wood, Eli Templeton, Aaron Young, Patrick McCartin, Kyle LangfordLuke McGuane, Murray Newman, Brent Staker, Jayden Laverde, James Sicily, Nathan Krakouer, and Tom Boyd. All of these players should feature at some point this season.

 

Well there you have it. I hope my analysis assists you with your last minute rookie choices. Look out for my weekly articles throughout the season where I’ll look at the performances of my ‘juniors’ getting a gig at AFL level. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @JeppaDT for all rookie relevant topics and more. Good luck and happy coaching!

60 Comments

  • Hooray for Jeppa. Go Australia. It’s a good night so far

    • Couple of spots going in an Ultimate Footy Draft League drafting tomorrow evening

      DT Talk Div 1
      League 694788
      password swallow

      Need a sense of humour and a clue. No ghostships please

  • Christian Salem is the lock of all locks.

  • isn’t naimsmith on the rookie list?

  • Any thought on Jin Long from the doggies Jeppa? Expensive but has me interested.

    • Not for me mate. Doesn’t look like a consistent performer to warrant the extra coin.

  • Legendary as always mate. Love your work! Will be some very tough decisions to make in all my lines

  • One of the best articles of the year, and probably the most valuable.

    Maximum respect Jeppa!

  • fucking great article Jeppa. The one article i wait all pre-season for to confirm my rookie selections. I am sure to change my team 100’s of times between now and full lock out on Saturday.

  • Thoughts on Kavanagh if Essendon get banned? He’s looked good and I was surprised you didn’t have him in your top rookies.

  • another great article Jep. Btw think this would suggest Tarrant will play Rnd 1. Definitely got him on my bench. http://www.nmfc.com.au/news/2015-03-16/tarrant-a-lock

    • Yeah Tarrant misses out due to his scoring potential v price. I doubt he’ll average over 50 as a stay at home defender.

  • You have me interested in Fantasia now

  • Great article as always, Jep. A fantastic resource for the next few days. All my rooks are covered.

    Vandenberg still has a big question mark over him for Round 1 (rookie list, and talk of not being at training). If he doesn’t get named I might be scrambling for a replacement or two.

    • Yep. He can still be upgraded for Petracca who is on long term injury list. May not eventuate for a while but if he’s named R1 then you have to pick him.

  • Great article! Now also considering Fantasia…

    Question: After the Richmond-Carlton game, do we still have unlimited trades up until the Melbourne GCS game?

    And also, will we get the weekend teams before the Carlton Richmond game starts?

    • Fantasy – Partial Lockout after Thurs night game with Carlton & Rich players locked in. FULL LOCKOUT is prior Melb v Gold Coast on the Saturday!

      Dreamteam – Rolling lockout the whole way through to the end of Round 1. Once a game has started those respective players and positions are locked in!

      Be careful. My advice is sort your final team out Friday night when we get all teams other than sundays final 22.

  • Great article Jeppa. I’m currently reshuffling my team to try and get in some better rookies. Brett Goodes might have to go to make room, but picking the right rookies is key.

    • So why are you getting rid of Goodes if picking the right rookies is key?

      • Because Goodes is a mid pricer, not a rookie by any stretch of the imagination?

        • So why is he in Jeppas 2015 rookie guide?

          • Goodes is worth 267 RDT and just too expensive

            But it was a fantastic article as usual

            Decided to bring in the Irsish for Hamling and Salem for Honeychurch

        • Mid pricer? He’s less than 200k. Are you confusing with old mate Adam from the Swans?

    • But it says Jeppas “Fantasy” “Rookies”. Not Jeppas ” Real Dream Team” ” Midpricers”.

    • Mate you need to have Brett Goodes in your team. Look at other options.

  • Is Vandenberg still rookie listed?

  • another quality piece of work here jep!
    im still keen on kavanagh, will see how tuesday pans out before making any choices tho. But i rekn his role will be very interesting! honeychurch teashing me also.

  • Is Anderson worth having on my bench at his price or get someone cheaper? Won’t start on my field due to other better options with less vest-risk at the moment

    • Pretty much my dilemma right now – for what its worth I’m leaning towards not starting with him and seeing how he fits in

    • You really want the cheapies on your bench if you can, if you can’t then work your way up.

  • As always excellent work Jep. #1 article on DT talk and this year is still no exception.

    Could go either way with Anderson. Without the vest he’s a lock but something tells me he’ll be seeing a bit of it. Frustrating that there is no real way to know for sure!

    Also interesting you made there was no mention of Holmes @120k as a ruck bench option? I heard he’s been strongly considered for R1

    • Gambler i don’t know where you heard this from. Holmes is a long shot for R1. Peirce is going to get that spot before him, Peirce is not on the rookie list and holmes is.

    • i have no doubt anderson will cop a vest but I’m hoping it won’t be in the first 6.7 rounds.

      holmes…no

  • Hey Lads, Live Draft tonight at 4pm WST (7pm EST). Please only join if you’re available for the draft, nobody likes an auto selector :-). Code is EPYX2Z4C

  • SC league 595292 9 spots left.

  • Thoughts on Callum Sinclair Jeppa had resonable output in the first match 40 form 50% game time, fractured his thumb however. Can you see him getting picked and playing regularly when fit??

    • lycett ahead of him as R2.
      Sinclair may come in though to FF depending on how long Darling is out. Too risky for Fantasy

  • Any more pie rookies going to play after this afternoons news.

  • Appreciate the effort Jeppa
    Thoughts on J Steele (GWS)

  • Totally ot… Nicnat- predicted average?

  • Thank you Jeppa! Appreciation for all your work on all these $$$ cows for this up coming season :)

    Would just like to ask your opinion on D Rich,, and as to who out of him, VB and D Sheed would be the best pick? Cheers…

  • Nice article Jeppa, do you think Honeychurch is capable to play on my field?

  • or should i play mitch clark, thanks.

  • Parker + Bont OR Griffen + Bennell??