2016 AFL Fantasy Rookie Guide

What a huge Fantasy preseason it has been! With lockout fast approaching the excitement is well and truly building and gee whiz there are some tough decisions for coaches to make this season.

Structure is always a great debate but in all honesty, gone are the days of a pure Guns and Rooks line up. Callum Mills, Daniel Wells and Sam Kerridge are the only rookie priced players that I can guarantee will average more than 70 Fantasy points per game this season and all three come at a cost. Midpricers such as Sheridan, Seedsman, Lonergan, M.Crouch, Steele, etc. need to be looked at to give you some value and on field stability.

Naturally, rookie priced players still play a huge role in any Fantasy team and the rooks we start with will determine our overall success. Unfortunately, quality rookies this season come at a price!

My ‘juniors’ covered in depth below are those that I believe to be worthy picks to start with this season. Plenty of options have been provided so the final decisions will be up to you.

As an added bonus, have a listen to my first ever rookie podcast with the oracle of AFL Fantasy, Warnie. Plenty of our Fantasy selections are discussed!

 

DEFENDERS

1. Ryan Harwood

harwoodAFL Fantasy Price: $198,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $262,800
Predicted Average: 68

Role & Job Security: Harwood’s role this season is in the Lions defensive 50. He‘s been around for a while now but unfortunately injuries have hampered his opportunities in recent seasons. With experience on his side amongst a pretty young Lions list, I can’t see too many of his teammates claiming his spot. Fingers crossed he can stay fit and healthy.

NAB Challenge Form: Harwood confirmed his Fantasy worth in NAB 3, scoring 78 Fantasy points from 8 kicks, 7 handballs, 2 marks and a whopping 9 tackles! He also played in NAB 1 for 66 Fantasy points. There’s nothing here to dislike.

Final Thought: Any strong bodied, rookie priced player that can lay 9 tackles in a game is a lock! Harwood has proven in the past that he can score at a reasonable rate so rest assured when selecting him. A great option to start on your field in Fantasy but given my structure, his price in Dreamteam is a little out of reach for me.

2. Matt Dea

jnr_deaAFL Fantasy Price: $170,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $163,500
Predicted Average: 64

Role & Job Security: Dea is your typical half back. He’s well balanced, has plenty of power and uses his skills to great effect. The former Tiger plays very similar to the suspended Michael Hibberd and that’s his role for the Bombers this year. As the season deepens, I expect Dea to get the odd stint on the ball.

NAB Challenge Form: Dea suited up in Essendon’s last two NAB Challenge games and was a notable contributor in both. He scored 52 Fantasy points against the Cats and a promising 81 Fantasy points (13 kicks, 7 handballs, 8 marks and 1 tackle) versus West Coast in NAB 3. Dea’s form has been very encouraging considering he only joined the Bombers at the end of January.

Final Thought: A good season from Dea could see his AFL career extend beyond this year and I reckon he’ll be hungry for success. He’s cheap enough in Fantasy and Dreamteam and good enough for a spot on your field. Lock and load.

3. Anthony McDonald-Tipuwuti

tippaAFL Fantasy Price: $162,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $105,800
Predicted Average: 62

Role & Job Security: ‘Walla’ or ‘Tippa’ is a natural back pocket player with the ability to go forward when needed. Blessed with plenty of power, speed and skill, he suits the modern game and his pressure in and around the contest is exceptional. Definitely, no job security concerns here!

NAB Challenge Form: When Tippa has the ball in his hands, something great usually eventuates. His growth over the Bombers three NAB Challenge games was clear and he scored a notable 76 Fantasy points against West Coast from 16 possessions, 8 marks and 2 tackles. There’s plenty to like and he’s done enough to be upgraded from the rookie list and named for Round 1.

Final Thought: Even when Essendon got thumped (a likely trend for the year), Walla still managed to score at a decent click. Dual position status and excellent job security make him a lock this season and if you’re like me, he’s sitting in your forward line giving you flexibility with Mitch Brown and/or Marcus Adams in defence. Get him in your team!

4. Mitch Brown

AFL Fantasy Price: $194,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $121,300
Predicted Average: 65

Role & Job Security: Brown will be a modern day ‘swingman’ for the Bombers playing both defensive and forward roles on match days. Personally, he’s a better defender than he is a forward but he can take a grab anywhere on the ground. Given his experience and Essendon’s situation, he’ll play every game this season barring injury.

NAB Challenge Form: After scoring a healthy 83 in NAB one, Brown had just 36 Fantasy points in each of his last two preseason hitouts, games where the Bombers got absolutely slaughtered. Without quality support around him, Brown’s scores will be a bit of a roller coaster ride this season and he’ll need to work hard for his possessions.

Final Thought: Should be in your team given his job security and dual position status as a defender / forward. Whether he starts on your field is up to you. I’ve gone with him in Dreamteam only.

5. Nathan Broad

AFL Fantasy Price: $125,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $121,300
Predicted Average: 61

Role & Job Security: A mature age draftee, Broad has the ability to lock down an opponent and win possessions on the spread. As a medium defender, it appears he’s competing for a spot against Jake Batchelor and to be named in NAB 3 ahead of Batch suggests Broad is currently in favour. Hardwick won’t tolerate poor performances though, so it’s up to him to play his role and play it well.

NAB Challenge Form: I’m sure Broad learned plenty over the NAB Challenge. He wasn’t a stand out by any means but he was workmanlike scoring 60 and 66 in his two NAB Challenge games. The lessons learnt and the opportunity to adjust to the speed of AFL football puts Broad in good stead for senior footy above some of his teammates.

Final Thought: I’m nervous about picking Broad with Hardwick calling the shots. He’s still a great option and I’ll very likely start with him but I’ll be sending Richmond some hate mail if he’s dropped after just a couple of games. If Broad is named to play Carlton in Round 1, start him on your field.

6. Marcus Adams

AFL Fantasy Price: $155,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $121,300
Predicted Average: 57

Role & Job Security: Another mature age recruit from the West, Adams was brought to Whitten Oval to give the Dogs some brute strength in their back six. He’s a hard working key defender with plenty of courage and he’ll hit you like a steam train! Slightly more experienced talls in Roberts and Hamling threaten Adams job security as does fellow junior Kieran Collins however, coach Luke Beveridge seems to be a fan.

NAB Cup Form: Adams had a quiet first NAB Challenge game against the Giants but was serviceable in the Bulldogs’ final two hit-outs. His best game against the Dees saw him finish with 13 possessions, 8 marks, 2 tackles and 67 Fantasy points. He was warrior like against the Pies last weekend keeping Cloke to just 6 possessions and 2 goals but that lock down role saw him score just 51 Fantasy points himself.

Final Thought: Adams is cheap and bench back up only. Fingers crossed he can play well in the first few games of the season and cement his spot in the Dogs 22. His dual position status as a defender / forward is a bonus.

7. Brendon Whitecross

whitecrossAFL Fantasy Price: $232,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $260,900
Predicted Average: 68

Role & Job Security: Whitecross can play a variety of roles for Hawthorn this season. Whether it is at half back, on a wing or at half forward, I think there is a spot for him and his versatility will go along way. At 26 years of age, he should be hitting his footy prime!

NAB Challenge Form: Typically, Whitecross is a link up player. He gets a lot of easy +6’s and is a hardnosed tackler. He played in two of the Hawks NAB Challenge games this preseason scoring 51 and 63 Fantasy points in each. When the proper stuff starts, I suspect he’ll consistently be pushing scores just under 70.

Final Thought: An expensive option but with Hawthorn’s high possession game style, his scores are likely to be worth it. The Hawks ageing list suggests to me that he plays a fair chunk of the season too. If Whitecross is named for Round 1, I’m picking him. He averaged 88 Fantasy points per game back in 2012.

8. Eric Mackenzie

jnr_mackenzieAFL Fantasy Price: $205,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $237,000
Predicted Average: 62

Role & Job Security: As one of the best key defenders in the AFL, Mackenzie obviously has no job security issues. Expect him to flourish within the Eagles web defence.

NAB Challenge Form: Kenz finished with Fantasy scores of 37 and 61 in his two NAB Challenge games but don’t panic, he’s warming into senior footy after a long time out of the game. Like many other last line defenders, most of his points come from uncontested marks and kicks deep in defensive 50.

Final Thought: There’s will be games this season where Mackenzie scores 70 plus. He did it 10 times from 22 games in 2014! Unfortunately, his quieter performances are what will hurt and I guarantee his scores will be yoyo like. A risky pick but I’m still very much considering him.

9. Jacob Weitering

weiteringAFL Fantasy Price: $232,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $224,800
Predicted Average: 62

Role & Job Security: There’s plenty of hype surrounding Weitering and it’s justified. Last year’s No. 1 draft pick has not put a foot wrong in his short time at Carlton and his qualities as a footballer and a leader are evident. He’s clearly in the Blues best 22 and he’ll play as a third tall defender.

NAB Challenge Form: Being able to read the play like a veteran, Weitering got a lot of +6’s from intercept possession but interestingly he did not register a single tackle in either of his two NAB Challenge games! Fantasy scores of 78 (v Essendon) and 56 (v Sydney) are promising and a good foundation. All in all, Weitering showed us that he can definitely match it with the big boys.

Final Thought: Given his price, you’re picking Weitering for his job security. There are cheaper options out there, however the potential Weitering possesses is immense and he could be anything this season.

10. Michael Hartley

AFL Fantasy Price: $125,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $121,300
Predicted Average: 54

Role & Job Security: Circumstances at the Bombers means Hartley is almost a first picked key defender. At 23 years of age, he’ll be able to compete against the likes of Franklin, Kennedy, Walker, Cloke, etc but it is a big ask. He should easily play 15+ games this season.

NAB Challenge Form: Hartley featured and was a solid contributor in all three NAB Challenge games this preseason. He registered Fantasy scores of 66, 34 and 37, which is not surprising from a lock down defender. I honestly would not expect scores higher than 60 during the home and away season.

Final Thought: Hartley is never going to be a big possession winner. Given his low ceiling and high job security, Hartley is suited to your defender bench only. A cheap option nonetheless.

 

Just a quick note on Andy Otten. Otten did not play in the NAB Challenge as he was recovering from a slight knee injury sustained back in December. It’s been reported however, that he’s done a mini preseason over the past couple of months and is on track to play Round 1 (source). I’d seriously consider him for Dreamteam if was named.

Keep an eye on Aaron Mullett, Ciaran Byrne, Josh Cowan, Curtly Hampton, Tom Ruggles, Darcy TuckerRiley Bonner, Kieran Collins, Kurt Heatherley, Sam Collins, Nic Newman, Alex Neal-Bullen, Josh Wagner, Eric HipwoodClem Smith, Mitch Brown (WCE)Bailey Rice, Josh McGuinnessHarrison Wigg, Jeremy Finlayson, Zaine Cordy, Tom Lee, Sam Durdin, Harry Marsh, Mitchell Hibberd, Alex Morgan, Jack Fitzpatrick, Tyrone Leonardis and Tim Mohr throughout the year as they all should get some senior opportunities this season.

Click here for previously published Defender guide.

 

MIDFIELDERS

1. Callum Mills

AFL Fantasy Price: $227,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $215,800
Predicted Average: 75

Role & Job Security: Mills is a certainty for a half back role at the Swans this season. The youngster has been welcomed by his teammates and endorsed numerous times by the coach John Longmire. Watching him compete is like watching a 10-year veteran. He’ll play more than enough games this season.

NAB Challenge Form: In his three NAB Challenge games, Mills scored an impressive 81, 63 and 78 Fantasy points. A lot of his points come from kicks and I should note that his teammates continually give it to him because he’s such a clean user of the ball. You seriously can’t fault this cashcow.

Final Thought: Mills comes at a price but given his job security and scoring potential, he’s worth every cent. I say lock him in, as he’ll have the highest average for any first year player this season.

2. Clayton Oliver

AFL Fantasy Price: $238,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $211,300
Predicted Average: 72

Role & Job Security: Early signs are that this fiery red head is a future AFL star. It’s evident that Oliver is already a class above many of his Melbourne teammates and he’ll be used as a traditional inside and outside midfielder with stints up forward. Awesome kid to watch.

NAB Challenge Form: Oliver played in all of Melbourne’s preseason matches with the highlight coming last weekend. Against the Saints, he was one of the best players on the ground after collecting 18 possessions, 4 marks, 6 tackles, 2 goals and scoring 94 Fantasy points. In Rounds 1 and 2 he was a little down scoring just 41 (57% TOG) and 48 (71% TOG) Fantasy points respectively. You’ve got to consider him though with his high ceiling.

Final Thought: Proven ball winner that is physically ready for the long AFL season. He’s done more than enough to be named for Round 1 and beyond. If you’ve got the cash then get him in!

3. Ryan Davis

jep_davisAFL Fantasy Price: $125,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $105,800
Predicted Average: 61

Role & Job Security: Davis is a midfielder but he’s being used at half forward for the Suns. He won his fair share of possessions in the NAB Challenge as a lead up medium forward and setting up plenty of goals in the process. Rodney Eade’s very happy with him (source) and he’s going to play senior footy early in the season.

NAB Challenge Form: Davis’ best effort was 9 kicks, 4 handballs, 3 marks, 3 tackles, 1 goal and 65 Fantasy points in just 68% time on ground. He’s not going to be a big scorer but I’m happy where his form sits at this stage.

Final Thought: Davis was recruited as back up in case of injuries and that’s exactly what has occurred at the Suns. He’s playing Round 1 and too cheap to ignore. Get him in at M9.

4. Brent Macaffer

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

Role & Job Security: Newly appointed to the leadership group, Macaffer has no job security issues at Collingwood. One of Buckley’s favourites will play a negating role in the midfield this season and being in the thick of the action helps in Fantasy.

NAB Challenge Form: Macaffer suited up twice in the NAB Challenge scoring 55 (47% TOG) and 58 (75% TOG). Remember he’s coming back from a knee reconstruction so it’s a slow build. Kicks and tackles are where Macaffer is going to score but note in past seasons he hasn’t averaged more than 76 Fantasy points per game.

Final Thought: The big lure with Macaffer is his job security. Cheap midfield options are limited so spend the extra and retain piece of mind.

5. Ryan Crowley

crowleyAFL Fantasy Price: $226,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $312,100
Predicted Average: 65

Role & Job Security: Who would have thought I’d be mentioning Ryan Crowley as a cashcow this season! That’s how scarce our options are. Top up player Crowley comes to Essendon to add some grit around the packs. We all know he does his best work as a tagger but Worsfold is likely to release him of such duties this season, or so he says (source).

NAB Challenge Form: Crowley played just the one NAB Challenge game against Carlton and his stat line read 11 kicks, 6 handballs, 6 marks, 1 tackle, 1 goal and 77 Fantasy points. Note that he wasn’t used as a tagger in the match.

Final Thought: Fantasy relevant only given his price but I’m still not picking him. May suit a few.

6. Lachie Weller

AFL Fantasy Price: $175,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $231,900
Predicted Average: 56

Role & Job Security: It appears Weller will be named for Round 1. The Dockers need more outside run and the young stud fits the bill. At the recent AFL season launch, Fremantle Captain David Mundy named Weller as one to come into the senior side and have an impact (source). Play the kids Ross, play the kids!

NAB Challenge Form: Weller doesn’t get a lot of the footy but what he does touch usually turns to gold. Scores of 59 (74% TOG), 42 (65% TOG) and 16 (19% TOG) Fantasy points aren’t as good as they could be but he definitely looked like he belonged in the big show.

Final Thought: Weller’s shaky job security makes him a risky pick this season. He’s no football slouch but scores in the high 50’s is the likely output. Consider him for one of your bench spots only.

7. George Hewett

hewittAFL Fantasy Price: $125,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $128,200
Predicted Average: 64

Role & Job Security: This inside midfielder averaged 26 possessions and 6 tackles in the NEAFL last season and made the competitions’ team of the season. He’s done his two-year Swans Reserves ‘apprenticeship’ and now it’s his time to shine at AFL level. Unfortunately, it’s hard to see where Hewett fits amongst the Swans star studded midfield but he could work off a half forward flank with stints on the ball. All in all, job security is a concern.

NAB Challenge Form: Hewett managed to score an impressive 0.97 Fantasy points per minute across his two NAB Challenge games (Credits to Fantasy Freako / Champion Data). His total Fantasy scores were 71 and 67, which is a great return for someone at a bargain basement price. Above all, I really liked the way Hewett used the football and created for his team.

Final Thought: Hewett doesn’t look out of place at AFL level but his job security is still a concern. If he’s named for Round 1 then I’m picking him at M10 for the potential value. I just hope he takes his opportunities!

8. Jade Gresham

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

Role & Job Security: He’s small in stature but don’t let that sway you. Gresham was one of the best performing midfielders in the TAC Cup last season and he’s doing a lot right at St Kilda. In his first season of AFL, Gresham will rotate between half forward and the midfield. Unfortunately, with most of the Saints healthy, he’s likely to just miss Round 1 selection. You never know though.

NAB Challenge Form: In the first week of the preseason competition, Gresham was in the thick of the action, starting in the centre square and working well within the midfield zone. He finished with 11 possessions, 1 mark, 3 tackles and 37 Fantasy points. He was far livelier in NAB 3 scoring 52 Fantasy points from just 38% time on ground!

Final Thought: Gresham’s competitive nature and hunger to succeed with see him play a fair chunk of senior footy this year. Hopefully, it’s from Round 1.

9. Ben Keays

keaysAFL Fantasy Price: $176,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $121,300
Predicted Average: 63

Role & Job Security: Keays is a big ball winner and with his rookie teammate Rhys Mathieson injured and a few others under a cloud, a spot may have opened up. There’s no question he’s ready to step into the AFL with his physique and elite kick.

NAB Challenge Form: He played just the one NAB Challenge against the Suns scoring 59 Fantasy points from 15 possessions, 4 marks and 3 tackles. That’s decent considering it was his first ever AFL hitout.

Final Thought: As a highly rated youngster from the Queensland academy, Keays will have a big future at Brisbane and his development should hopefully start now. With a 3-player bench in Dreamteam, pick Keays if he’s named.

10. Darcy Parish

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

Role & Job Security: Fast tracking Parish’s development will be a positive for Essendon this season. He’ll be protected a bt playing predominately as an outside mid but at least the Fantasy fraternity will get to see what all the hype is about.

NAB Challenge Form: Parish played just the one NAB Challenge game scoring an impressive 62 Fantasy points from 58% time on ground. His clearance work and ability to spread from the contest were pretty notable attributes.

Final Thought: A minor hamstring injury will likely delay Parish’s debut. You could hope for Round 2 action and still pick him in Dreamteam!? $260,000 is too much to pay for him in Fantasy though! A definite future star worth mentioning.

 

At this stage, other promising midfield rooks in Rhys Mathieson, Josh Dunkley, Jacob Hopper, David Cuningham, Dean Gore, Darcy MacPherson, Ryan Clarke, Jarrad Jansen, Jack Trengove, Connor BlakelyMatthew KennedyBrayden Fiorini, Jake Barrett, James Polkinghorne, Anthony Morabito, Nathan Freeman, Sam Menegola and Josh Schoenfeld won’t play regular senior football early on but all should get a look in later in the year.

Click here for previously published Midfielder guide.

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RUCKS

1. Sam Frost

jep2016_froshAFL Fantasy Price: $156,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $206,800
Predicted Average: 45

Role & Job Security: Frost is a gifted athlete and he’s set for a forward role with the Dees this season. When required, he can also do a job down back. Playing multiple positions goes a long way in today’s game and his job security is pretty decent at Melbourne as a result, he just needs to get his hands on the ball a little more.

NAB Challenge Form: Frost suited up in all of Melbourne’s NAB Challenge games but his scores were pretty average. 22, 30 and 32 are far from ideal but it’s not going to be this bad all season….surely.

Final Thought: He’s a cheap bench option that will actually play some games early. Scores around 45 Fantasy points per game wont make Frost the fastest earning cashcow around but he’s a cashcow nonetheless. Note his dual position ruck / forward status!

2. Sam Grimley

grimleyAFL Fantasy Price: $226,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $128,200
Predicted Average: 46

Role & Job Security: Essendon top up player Sam Grimley can definitely take a grab. He had numerous contested marks throughout the NAB Challenge but his goal kicking needs a bit of work. Alongside Joe Daniher, Grimley will play a key post in the Bombers forward 50 this season and he may provide a chop out in the ruck on the odd occasion.

NAB Challenge Form: Grimley played in all three of Essendon’s preseason matches and was named in the best players against the Eagles in NAB 3. His highest score in the NAB Challenge was only 39 Fantasy points but I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt considering he didn’t know he was playing AFL footy till early February.

Final Thought: I wouldn’t pick him in Fantasy given his hefty price tag but he provides a bit of value in Dreamteam. Being a dual position ruck / forward gives owners more options as the season deepens.

3. Daniel Currie

jep2016_currieAFL Fantasy Price: $125,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $128,200
Predicted Average: 57

Role & Job Security: Like most ruck bench options this season, Currie isn’t in the best 22 at the Suns but he will be first in if injury strikes. He’s improved at an exponential rate since his time at North Melbourne and I believe that there will be the odd game where Eade will play Nicholls and Currie in tandem.

NAB Challenge Form: 70 Fantasy points in NAB 1 got my attention! The big fella was awesome again in NAB 2 (versus Nic Nat) finishing with 5 possessions, 1 mark, 21 hitouts, 7 tackles and 68 Fantasy points. For whatever reason, he couldn’t get a look in for NAB 3.

Final Thought: Given his price, Currie will be a popular R3 in Fantasy and Dreamteam. If Nicholls gets injured then everyone will own him. I have been super impressed with his performances this summer and he’s my R3/R4 all the way.

4. Andrew Phillips

phillipsAFL Fantasy Price: $225,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $258,200
Predicted Average: 45

Role & Job Security: It appears the Blues are set on playing Kreuzer as their obvious number one ruckman with Phillips in equal support. There are plenty of talls at Carlton that will be pressing for Phillips’ spot and in the second half of the season we might see him get bumped for the highly rated Harry McKay.

NAB Challenge Form: Phillips’ NAB Challenge scores were pretty poor until last weekend. In tandem with Kreuz, he had 5 possessions, 2 marks, 16 hitouts, 3 tackles and 45 Fantasy points against a pretty good team in the Swans. Scores of 22 and 30 in NAB 1 and 2 respectively aren’t ideal but they should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Final Thought: Phillips is too expensive for me as a back up ruckman but he’s an option for some given his likely playing time early in the season. Note he’s a dual position ruck / forward.

5. Dawson Simpson

jep2016_simpsonAFL Fantasy Price: $195,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $249,300
Predicted Average: 50

Role & Job Security: Simpson was brought to GWS as cover for the injury prone Shane Mumford. Anticipating when the bash and crash ruckman gets a senior game is difficult but it will happen at some point this season. If Mummy is out for an extended period, jump all over Simpson for some side earnings.

NAB Challenge Form: Simpson only got a run in NAB 1 and it wasn’t anything to get excited about. We’ll call 21 Fantasy points from 72% time on ground a training run. Note that he averaged 70 Fantasy points per game back in 2013.

Final Thought: Probably one not to necessarily start with but monitor throughout the year. Hashtag watchlist.

 

With former Cat, Josh Walker arriving at Brisbane in the offseason it appears Trent West will now be squeezed out of the Lions 22 unless heaven forbid, Stefan Martin sustained an injury. Walker was used as a key forward and pinch-hitting ruckman in the NAB Challenge and he competed very well. Those spending a little more on West at R3…you may want to reconsider.

Keep an eye on Daniel Gorringe, Luke Lowden, Archie Smith, Mason Cox, Sam Naismith, Sam Michael and Harry McKay throughout the year as they all should get some senior opportunities this season.

Click here for previously published Ruck guide.

 

FORWARDS

1. Daniel Wells

jep2016_wellsAFL Fantasy Price: $293,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $178,500
Predicted Average: 85

Role & Job Security: Gun, gun, gun! Wells is no stranger to the AFL but injury has dogged him of regular football for the past couple of seasons hence why he’s so cheap. The two-time Kangaroos Best and Fairest winner does his best work in the midfield and like most skillful players, he can kick a goal or two when resting forward.

NAB Challenge Form: It’s always satisfying when a cashcow hits a ton in the preseason competition. Against the reigning premiers last weekend, Wells was simply awesome amassing 24 possessions, 5 marks, 5 tackles, 1 goal and 104 Fantasy points. Need I say more.

Final Thought: A must have for both Dreamteam and Fantasy. It’s a no brainer. Start him on your field!

2. Sam Kerridge

jep2016_kerridgeAFL Fantasy Price: $299,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $177,100
Predicted Average: 79

Role & Job Security: Kerridge’s sensational preseason has made him a lock in the Blues 22 this season. His ball wining capabilities, goal sense and pressure acts make him a real asset for Carlton in their resurgence. Not much is going to stop Kerridge this season.

NAB Challenge Form: Three figure Fantasy scores anytime of year are pleasing, especially before R1 lockout! Against the Swans in NAB 3, he had 15 kicks, 11 handballs, 6 marks, 1 tackle, 3 goals and 105 Fantasy points. Kerridge is seriously a new man at Carlton and you can tell he’s loving his footy.

Final Thought: Kerridge is too good to ignore even at an inflated Fantasy price. Pick him and sleep easy.

3. Jonathan Simpkin

jep2016_simpkinAFL Fantasy Price: $226,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $275,200
Predicted Average: 70

Role & Job Security: Experience in the engine room is imperative for Essendon and that’s why Simpkin will be a regular in the Bombers 22. Missing the likes of Watson, Stanton, Heppell, Myers leaves a bloody big hole and a former premiership player that’s able to use the footy cleanly will go a long way.

NAB Challenge Form: Simpkin didn’t look fit to me in the NAB Challenge but what do you expect after a late call up. He scored 55 in the Bombers first match against Carlton, 51 versus the Cats in NAB 2 then a notable 78 when they got pumped by the Eagles. An average of 70 Fantasy points per game this season is realistic in my opinion.

Final Thought: In time, an improved fitness base should equate to better Fantasy scores from Simpkin. Personally, I don’t think he’ll be a consistent scorer but with a lack of quality rookie mids available, he might end up in my Fantasy midfield to give me some DPP action.

4. Connor Menadue

menadueAFL Fantasy Price: $138,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $170,400
Predicted Average: 63

Role & Job Security: Menadue has come on in leaps and bounds this preseason. After the Tigers NAB 3 game versus Port, Hardwick endorsed the youngster saying that he rarely wasted the footy (source). As a premium ball user, he’ll be held in high regard and injuries at Tigerland help his case for senior action dramatically. He’s playing Round 1.

NAB Challenge Form: Throughout the NAB Challenge, Menadue’s stat line read quite well and he definitely showed his potential to the Richmond faithful. His best performance came against the Hawks where he had 12 possessions (100% disposal efficiency!), 6 marks, 2 tackles, 2 goals and 67 Fantasy points from 77% time on ground.

Final Thought: Menadue should be a lock in every team. The question is…do we start him on the field? If you’re content with scores in the low 60’s then start him. I’m still deciding but having Menadue in your starting 22 does free up a bit of cash.

5. Corey Gault

gualtAFL Fantasy Price: $171,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $226,100
Predicted Average: 63

Role & Job Security: For years Collingwood have screamed out for a forward target that can pinch-hit in the ruck. They tried the Q-Stick then Jesse White now Gault will have a go. The big fella has come of age this summer but a couple of poor games in the season proper will probably see him out of the senior side. Note Gault has already been upgraded from the rookie list.

NAB Challenge Form: Gault stood out for me against the Kangaroos in NAB 2. He had 9 possessions, 6 marks, 3 tackles, 3 goals and 74 Fantasy points from 75% game time and was one of the Pies best on the day. Gault backed it up last weekend too with 10 possessions, 2 goals and 65 Fantasy points.

Final Thought: After the preseason he’s had, I can’t see why Gault won’t be a regular for the Pies early on. Witts and White are his direct competition but Gault provides better versatility in my opinion. I like what I see and he’s my F7 in Fantasy as a result.

6. Ben Kennedy

jep2016_kennedyAFL Fantasy Price: $221,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $250,400
Predicted Average: 64

Role & Job Security: The Dees were pretty happy to land Kennedy in the offseason and in recent weeks they’ve highlighted the positive impact he’s had at the club (source). Kennedy will play half forward this year and there will be an abundance of midfield time for him also. Last season at Collingwood, he averaged 61 in non-vested games but a greater role is evident for him at Melbourne.

NAB Challenge Form: Kennedy played in all three of the Demons NAB Challenge games this preseason. Scores of 62 (69% TOG), 56 (71% TOG) and 80 (69% TOG) are respectable and I’m certain they’ll improve come the season proper.

Final Thought: With Wells and Kerridge the first two rookie forwards picked, it’s hard finding more cash to fit in Kennedy. I’m not picking him but it’s only because I’d rather Simpkin for just that little bit more cash and likely better output. He’s still a solid option.

7. Daniel Menzel

menzelAFL Fantasy Price: $266,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $231,300
Predicted Average: 67

Role & Job Security: Menzel is a Geelong favourite. He does his best work forward of centre and that’s his role again this season. With Dangerfield, Selwood, Duncan, Bartel, etc. feeding him the ball, the results shall be glorious.

NAB Challenge Form: Menzel played just the one NAB Challenge game against the Pies finishing with 11 kicks, 8 handballs, 1 mark, 4 tackles, 2 goals and 81 Fantasy points. He’s been put in cotton wool since just as a bit of risk management given his history.

Final Thought: Plenty of Fantasy and Dreamteam coaches are in love with Menzel and I get it but he’s expensive and playing two games in four years doesn’t sit well with me. Not picking him could hurt though because he has the ability to ton up. High risk, high reward.

8. Dean Kent

jep2016_kentAFL Fantasy Price: $171,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $218,800
Predicted Average: 58

Role & Job Security: It appears Kent has left behind a bad injury run after a scintillating preseason. The half forward’s speed and delivery inside forward 50 are important to the Dees and there are no job security concerns as a result. Unfortunately, his role doesn’t usually allow him to rack up big numbers.

NAB Challenge Form: Kent finished the NAB Challenge campaign strong. 9 kicks, 5 handballs, 5 marks, 5 tackles, 2 goals and 78 Fantasy points against the Saints last weekend is a performance we’d all like to see regularly this season.

Final Thought: With Kent 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 Fantasy than Dreamteam due to price.

9. Nick Kommer

jep2016_kommerAFL Fantasy Price: $125,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $128,200
Predicted Average: 57

Role & Job Security: As a small forward Kommer is more renowned for his pressure acts and tackling than his goal kicking. He’s in favour with the Essendon coaching staff so don’t worry about his job security.

NAB Challenge Form: Two Fantasy scores in the 20’s and a 64. It’s been pretty average from Kommer this NAB Challenge but I’m remaining positive. As a more seasoned forward he should be good for a 55-60 average. That’s just 12 or so possessions, a few of marks and a few tackles per game.

Final Thought: Kommer will be a pretty average scorer this season however his price and job security are what’s appealing. I’m picking him because there are limited options at that price but remember he’s bench cover only.

10. Lincoln McCarthy

mccarthyAFL Fantasy Price: $125,000
AFL Dreamteam Price: $134,300
Predicted Average: 54

Role & Job Security: A late surge in form should see McCarthy start as Geelong’s small forward come Round 1. Alongside Menzel and Motlop, McCarthy will work well crumbing front and square of the packs and applying countless pressure acts on the opposition. Cockatoo and Gregson are there to snatch his spot so he can’t afford to drop his game.

NAB Challenge Form: Unfortunately, most small forwards aren’t renowned for big Fantasy scores. McCarthy had just 57 (81% TOG), 30 (81% TOG) and 59 (84% TOG) Fantasy points in his three games. Scores in the low to mid 50’s are what to expect each week.

Final Thought: McCarthy isn’t going to set any new Fantasy scoring records but he’s super cheap and best suited to your bench as back up. I’ll let you decide if he’s worth it.

 

Jed Anderson gets bumped from my top 10 for scoring just 49 (82% TOG) and 50 (75% TOG) Fantasy points in the NAB Challenge. Wells, Kerridge, Simpkin, Kennedy and Menzel are all better options at a similar price.

Unfortunately, Christian Petracca is still working on fitness and form and he won’t play Round 1. Hopefully the Dees give him a couple of weeks in the VFL so we have a viable downgrade option after earning a bit of cash.

Other potential forward rooks include Corey Ellis, Dougal Howard, Ed Langdon, Tom Papley, Callum Ah CheeJayden HuntWayne MileraLiam SumnerJed Lamb, Peter WrightJarrod PickettNakia Cockatoo, Mitch McGovernWill Hams, James PolkinghorneJaden McGrath, Jonathan BeechAaron Black, James SicilyJosh SchacheCharlie CurnowTom Keough, Jordan DawsonShane Yarran and Andrew Gallucci. All of these players should feature at some point this season.

Click here for previously published Forward guide.

 

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.

For the newbies out there rooks are classified as players under $250,000 in Fantasy and/or Dreamteam.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @JeppaDT for all rookie relevant topics and more. Good luck and happy coaching!

jeppteam2016

jeppardt

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