Jeppa’s Juniors – 2016 Midfielders

I’m not going to lie, picking the Top 10 rookie mids at this stage of the preseason was extremely difficult. As far as your team’s structure goes, I seriously wouldn’t have more than two rookie priced midfielders in your starting 22. There are numerous youngsters around the mark but not too many are ‘locked’ for Round 1. Nevertheless, I have given it a crack and considering role, job security and scoring ability, here are my best midfield rooks TO START WITH this season…


1. Callum Mills

AFL Fantasy Price: $227,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $215,800
Predicted Average: 72

Bob Skilton wore it, so did Paul Kelly and now Callum Mills. You don’t give a first year Swans player the No. 14 unless they’re a jet. Mills was a big ball winner at the U/18 Champs and the NEAFL last year and after an impressive NAB Challenge campaign to date, he’s a lock for Round 1. With Shaw retired and McVeigh unavailable early, Mills will start at half back and he’s even been entrusted with a few kick ins (kick it to yourself!). Find the extra cash to bring Mills in, he’s seriously worth every penny and easily the number one rookie mid choice this season.


2. Josh Dunkley

AFL Fantasy Price: $162,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $121,300
Predicted Average: 64

Son of a Sydney gun, Josh Dunkley found his way to the Dogs with pick 25 in last year’s draft after the Swans opted not to obtain him as a father/son. I think they’ll be ruing that decision. Blessed with clean hands and shear size for a midfielder/flanker, Dunkley reads the play exceptionally well and he’s a great tackler. In his first NAB Challenge match against the Dees, Dunkley was impressive amassing 8 kicks, 8 handballs, 3 marks, 6 tackles and 78 Fantasy points. Thankfully, coach Luke Beveridge plays the kids and if Dunkley keeps performing then expect him to feature early in the season.


3. Clayton Oliver

AFL Fantasy Price: $238,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $211,300
Predicted Average: 68

The Dees have found a ready made midfielder in Clayton Oliver. He’s strong and loves the contest, more importantly he knows where to go to win the footy and is a natural in front of goal. Everything Oliver touched in last weekend’s NAB Challenge match against the Dogs turned to gold! He only had 17 possessions and 48 Fantasy points but it was from just 71% game time. Oliver definitely has a Fantasy game and the senior opportunities will be there this season but like all good youngsters, they come at a cost. Watch him closely…I’m expecting big things!


4. Rhys Mathieson

AFL Fantasy Price: $158,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $121,300
Predicted Average: 65

Every year there’s a draft bargain and this time round it appears to be Rhys Mathieson. Brisbane were ecstatic to ‘pinch’ the Geelong Falcons product with pick 39 in last year’s draft and the signs are good for the contested ball winner. Mathieson was one of the Lions best players in their first NAB Challenge game against the Suns (13 touches, 2 marks, 1 goal & 55 Fantasy points) and he received praise from coach Justin Leppitch post game (source). There are a couple of spots available in the Lions 22 early this season and given his price, he’s value for your midfield bench.


5. Darcy Parish

AFL Fantasy Price: $260,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $206,800
Predicted Average: 64

Plenty of senior opportunities await Parish at Essendon this season. The young midfielder who went at Pick 5 in last year’s draft plays both as an inside and outside midfielder and his disposal, contested possessions and clearances are all rated as elite. In Parish’s first NAB Challenge hitout against the Blues, he finished with 18 possessions, 5 marks, 64 Fantasy points and his class clearly stood out. He was rested from last weekend’s game but will suit up against the Dockers on Sunday…perfect preparation for Round 1. Parish comes at a hefty price but his job security is up there with the best first year players this season.


6. Ryan Davis

jep_davisAFL Fantasy Price: $125,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $105,800
Predicted Average: 60

Here’s some value! Rookie listed Davis is a mature age player who is likely to feature early in the season given the Suns injury woes. Last year in the WAFL, he averaged 21 possessions, 5 marks, 6 tackles, 1 goal and 100 Fantasy points so there’s plenty of appeal not to mention his bargain basement price in both Fantasy and Dreamteam. In Gold Coast’s most recent NAB Challenge match, Davis only scored 39 Fantasy points from 46% time on ground but don’t panic, he’s building. If I’m right and Davis is elevated (ahead of Darcy MacPherson & Tom Keough) and named for Round 1 then pick him!


7. Brent Macaffer

jep_caffAFL Fantasy Price: $199,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $214,300
Predicted Average: 65

After a knee reconstruction in August 2014, Macaffer is finally in good touch and he comes cheap this season. Most will know that Macaffer was used as a tagger prior to his injury, a role he’ll likely regain this season. It’s no secret that he’s not the biggest Fantasy scorer going around but his job security is very sound given he’s always been one of Buckley’s favourites. He’s only played half a NAB Challenge game to date (55 Fantasy points!) but he should have a full run this weekend. Note that Macaffer is out of contract at seasons so he’ll want to perform!


8. Lachlan Weller

AFL Fantasy Price: $175,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $231,900
Predicted Average: 62

Ross the Boss typically doesn’t play the kids but Weller seems to be a solution for some desperately needed speed at Freo. Last year in the WAFL, he averaged a healthy 20 possessions as an outside midfielder and it’s clear that he’s worked hard over the summer. In his two NAB Challenge matches to date he’s scored a reasonable 59 and 42 Fantasy points from 74% and 65% game time respectively. Assuming he continues to use the ball well in NAB 3 then he should get his opportunity ahead of teammates and housemates Langdon and Blakely but a lot can happen between now and Round 1. There’s value here for Fantasy.


9. Jade Gresham

AFL Fantasy Price: $187,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $148,300
Predicted Average: 60

In his short time at Moorabbin, Gresham has impressed the right people. Just last week, Saints assistant coach Adam Kingsley singled him out as one around the mark for senior footy early this season (Source, Fox Footy interview after washout). Gresham is a small inside, outside midfielder that averaged 29 possessions and 122 Fantasy points in the TAC Cup last year so there’s plenty to like from a Fantasy point of view. He played typically as a half forward in the Saints first NAB Challenge game but only scored 37 Fantasy points. Obviously we need another look at Gresham this weekend but he’s definitely watchlist material and affordable.


10. Jacob Hopper

AFL Fantasy Price: $255,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $197,800
Predicted Average: 66

Hard working, winner and future captain…these are some of the terms associated with Jacob Hopper. The rough and tough midfielder has been compared to Joel Selwood given his desire to win the contested ball and ability to break through tackles. He can also take a good grab overhead and was a noted goal kicker at junior level. After being used sparingly in the Giants first NAB Challenge game, Hopper was one of the better GWS players in their NEAFL trail match last Saturday (source). As a result, expect Hopper to play this weekend as a dress rehearsal for Round 1. I just hope the Giants don’t nurse him through his first season given his potential.


Other rookie priced midfielders that could come into Fantasy and Dreamteam contention this season include David Cuningham, Ben Keays, Dean Gore, Darcy MacPherson, Ryan Clarke, Jarrad JansenEd Langdon, Jack Trengove, Connor BlakelyMatthew KennedyBrayden Fiorini, Jake Barrett, James Polkinghorne, Anthony Morabito, Nathan Freeman, Sam Menegola, Josh Schoenfeld and um Ryan Crowley.


Look out for my post NAB Challenge analysis on the midfield rookies that performed well, those that struggled and maybe one or two that snuck under the radar! Remember rooks are classified as players under $250,000 in either Fantasy or Dreamteam.


FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER@JeppaDT for all for all things AFL Fantasy, AFL Dreamteam and more!


  • Thanks Jeppa. I think Caff is one of the better options. Should have good JS, most people dont realise he’s in there leadership for this year and that wouldnt have happened if they didnt want him to play. We know he can average atleast 60 with potential to get to 70-even75.

  • Thanks Jeppa I know it must of been hard Writing all this hungover!

    Cements Mills, Mathieson and Davis as my bench in RDT and Mills M8 in Fantasy.

  • Another great article, Jep. I think my midfield is just about set except I’m tossing up between Parish (who is in at present because of his excellent JS) and Mills. Which would you choose?

  • Surprised Petracca was omitted ($128,200 RDT) May not play round 1 but neither will some of those mentioned like Morabito. Adamson (WCE) Goodyear (Coll) and Hibberd (Nth) are all ones I would have added ahead of some of the other rookie priced mid fielders you mentioned

    • He has FWD status as well.

    • Adamson is a def-eligible category B rookie – junior footy champ, tried to crack the big show in baseball and now having a go at AFL. He plays half back, pushing up into the midfield. Since he would need to be elevated to the senior list to be selected for a game at AFL level and given WCE’s depth in back flankers (Hurn, Wellingham, Sheppard, Ellis, Butler, Nelson, Bennell, Yeo) it seems unlikely he’ll get a game early this season, if at all. If he does get a game, you’d be better off selecting him in your back line than your mid line.

      Hibberd cracked a mention in Jeppa’s defenders article.

    • Petracca covered in my Fwds article (Link at top).
      Morabito is listed as one to watch
      Adamson, Goodyear & Hibberd all dual position players mentioned in the lower discipline. I’d be surprised if Admanson and Goodyear play this year.

  • Good stuff, Jep. I know that Dave will be pleased to see Ryan Davis on your list.

  • Thanks Jeppa for all your articles – time consuming so very appreciated!!!
    Slim pickings this year but Mills is a lock (especially with Rohan out)
    Don’t fancy Dunkley JS as the Doggies had Stringer/Stevens/Hunter/MaCrae/Dahlhaus
    Bontempelli/Biggs all out
    What role did he play and where’s he going to fit in???
    Might just be the year of the Dog!!!!
    PS thought your writers elite side was the best at least on paper – Good luck in 2016

    • Cheers mate.
      I didnt consider Dunkley either untill his game on Saturday. He was super clean with hand and foot and tackles like a 10 year veteran. Dunkley can play fwd, back or mid which is an excellent trait to have as a youngster.

      Thanks mate, I was pretty happy with my Elite squad.

      • I think it could be a good idea to mention DPPs in both of your articles Jepp for people who have forgotten about both areas of eligibility.

  • Why no love for Crowley? Best job security of the bunch, averaged 60 the last 2 years playing a heavily defensive role?
    Prediction Avg 70 and play 18 games

    • Could be because he is over 300k in RDT and didn’t qualify within Jeppa’s parameters for a rookie.

      I think he’s more reasonably priced in AF.

    • He missed the Top 10 as I opted for value given I already had the expensive Mills, Oliver, Parish & Macaffer in there.

  • Thanks Jeppa, ripping review as per usual.

    Dunkley is promising. Host of Bulldog players to return NAB4, hopefully Dunkley gets good game time, likewise with Davis.

    Would appreciate your thoughts on why Gore is not in top 10.

  • noice jepp. Def a tough article. Should be clearer after this week. Having said that, its hard not to start with blokes named for round 1 in any case! time will tell!

  • Any chance of T.Dumont getting early games Jeppa?

  • No Nick Kommer?! Excellent js with Essendon and has impressed in patches

    • Jeppa’s Juniors – 2016 Midfielders

    • Ben

      You’re correct about Kommer’s job security but Jeppa’s article is about Midfielders not Forwards which Kommer is!!
      Good luck in 2016

  • Ben Keays will average more then Mathieson

  • Didn’t see Corey Ellis get a mention even though he has DPP and he didn’t get named for the final NAB hitouit.. put a line through his name?

    • Menadue and Lloyd are ahead of Ellis for small fwd spot. Not being named confirms it.
      Think Menadue is the one, highly skilled and can push up to wing. His light frame may prevent him from being a regular.

    • Ellis in my fwds article mate (Link at top)
      Menadue probably performing ahead of Ellis since i wrote that a few weeks ago.

  • No connor Menandue either?

  • Deserves a mention fo sho


  • Great work as always Jeppa!
    Sorry to ask this on the MID section, whats your thoughts on Corey Gault from Collingwood for the FWD line. Seems to be doing well in the NAB cup.

    • Dont disagree but I generally stay away from key fwds for Fantasy and DT…inconsistent scorers. You want a bloke to give u 60-70-80 Fantasy points each week.

      • Fair call, thanks for the advice. I think I will scrape some coin together and get D Menzel instead.

    • Is he even on the senior list?

  • Hey jeppa great arcticle! What are your thoughts on Blake Acres?

  • Great article Jeppa, thanks for the effort.

    Probably not my place but reading through the comments was annoying me with all the stupid people commenting about people who have Fwd or Def status when this is the MIDs article.

    People of DT talk this article is for pure mids only if they have another status they would be put under that article not this one. Its not that hard a concept to understand, please read everything properly before bitching on here about a player not being in

  • Mathieson on the bench?????

    Locked on my field!

  • nathan freeman couldn’t make the top 10?
    cheap cheap value…
    I have him locked since day1

  • Cheers Jeppa, always great articles mate – I wanted to get your opinion on structure for AF. I usually start with a mix of Premo’s (Pendles, Gaz etc), several mid-pricers (MCrouch, Libba etc.) and the rest rooks, it’s usually filled with players of high ownership and invariably I finish somewhere around 2000-4000 at the end of the year.
    Do you think this is the way to go and the only difference between this and a higher rank is just nailing the right players?
    I was thinking what it would look like if I had only set & forget premos who I never change and rest are rookies <$200k.

    ie. instead of Sheridan & M.Crouch (no way either are top 6, but both will increase value) i might pick Montagna & Mathieson (Montagna is nailed on top 6, but i'm buying him at his most expensive).

  • Thanks again Jeppa. You are DT Talk’s most important asset, even more than Warnies trucker hat.

  • Elite Draft league starting in 30mins – CCM7KC25 Dedicated and keen people please.

  • I am also curious on your thoughts of Blake Acres, he is marginally more expensive than Crowley and looked impressive in Nab 1

  • Great article Jeppa. The ‘juniors’ are always priceless articles and we all appreciate the effort that goes into them!

  • Draft! TONIGHT 11:00 pm 12/3/16 Get on

    Real Dream Team code = 309118

    and Jeppa, I owe you many, many beers.

  • i know these aren’t exactly cheap options, but they are potential moneymakers. what are your thoughts on Mitch Duncan and Levi Greenwood?

  • PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE any comments much appreciated! First time playing!
    Salary left: 29k

    Laird, Houli, Simpson, Mayes, Dea, Broad (Hartley, Newman)

    Hannebery, Armitage, Ellis, Boak, Greenwood, S. Edwards, M. Crouch, Mathieson (Davis, MacPherson)

    Naitanui, Lobbe (Currie, Nyuon)

    Martin, Barlow, Hall, Wells, Kerridge, Menadue (Kommer, Sumner)

    • Problems include S.Edwards, Mathieson, MacPherson, Sumner (these guys won’t play round 1), and Lobbe is a spud. The lack of Ablett/Rockliff and a super premo ruck may also hurt you. Otherwise, team looks pretty good. Just make sure rookies are named.