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2017 Draft Summary – Rounds 3-7

Tom is back with an in-depth wrap up of rounds three to six of the 2017 National Draft.

This is a wrap up of the players taken from rounds three to seven in last Friday’s national draft. Whilst the draftees taken in the first two rounds will get more of the attention, often the guys selected later still make a splash in their first season.

Pick 39 – Collingwood – Nathan Murphy

Sandringham Dragons – General Forward / General Defender – 188cm – 80kg

“Medium forward/defender with an excellent natural leap for the ball, football smarts and a clean, strong mark out in front. Agile and versatile type with good goal sense being a prolific goal scorer at Brighton Grammar before playing for the Dragons. Outstanding cricketer having represented Victoria at underage level. Ran the 2km time trial in 6:21 at the Combine, which placed him among the best performers.”

Fantasy Perspective: Probably the steal of the draft in my eyes, considering he was touted as a likely first rounder. Two key aspects for draftees in their first seasons are size and endurance. Murphy has both covered. Since fixing his attention to football, Murphy rose up rankings and mock drafts, emerging as a probable first-rounder. Season average of 77 fantasy points stemmed from 19.7 touches, 5.3 marks, 2 tackles and 0.5 goals a game. Can play straight away if needed.

Pick 40 – Adelaide – Andrew McPherson

Woodville West-Torrens – South Australia – General Defender / Outside Midfielder – 186cm – 79kg

“Graduate of NAB AFL Academy who is a medium defender that missed the entire NAB AFL U18 Championships due to a persistent quad injury. Impressive performer early in the year at club level and also in the NAB AFL Academy 20th year celebration game at the MCG in April. Injury-riddled throughout this season but has impressed clubs with his professional approach and can be played off half-back or in an outside midfield position.”

Fantasy Perspective: McPherson could’ve gone much higher if it wasn’t for persistant injury issues. Because of these complaints, he wasn’t able to find his groove for Woodville West-Torrens. An outside player, Andrew provides plenty of run and carry from the wing or half-back and has a terrific attitude. Could manage only and average of 51 in his 4 games this year. Could potentially debut next year but the Crows traditionally ease their draftees in.

Pick 41 – Brisbane – Toby Wooller

Oakleigh Chargers – Victoria Metro – Key Forward / Inside Midfielder – 193cm – 90kg

“Tall forward or midfielder who is strong overhead and a dangerous player around goals. Played two games for Vic Metro in the NAB AFL U18 Championships and has been very impressive in the TAC Cup this year. Grandson of former Geelong premiership captain Fred Wooller. Showcased his endurance at the Draft Combine with his 6:32 for 2km outstanding for a player of his size.”

Fantasy Perspective: Wooller is more of your developed key forward. He isn’t quick or agile and his field kicking could be improved upon, but when the goals are in sight he rarely misses. I can see him succeeding at AFL level as his work rate is excellent and expect to see him feature at times next year, probably as a third-tall forward. Also showed he could play as a big-bodied midfielder with Oakleigh. Averaged 76 fantasy points from 13.8 disposals, 4.6 marks, 3.6 tackles and 1.6 goals per game. Will play games for Brisbane.

Pick 42 – Gold Coast – Charlie Ballard

Sturt – South Australia – Outside Midfielder / Key Forward – 196cm – 82kg

“Tall midfielder whose strength overhead and dash was eye-catching on the wing for South Australia in the NAB AFL U18 Championships. Won plenty of the ball at U18 level in the SANFL and managed to step up to reserves level.”

Fantasy Perspective: Having seen Charlie Ballard play often throughout the season, for Sturt (under-18 and reserves), SA and in-particular Sacred Heart College,  I rate him extremely highly. He is 196cm but has the cleanness of a small forward and the foot skills of an outside midfielder. Played at both ends at school level but seems best suited to a wing where his height gives him genuine x-factor. Needs some time to add some size, but could manage a couple of games in 2018. Averaged 18 disposals and 68 points.

Pick 43 – Academy Pick – Brisbane – Connor Ballenden

University Of Queensland – Brisbane Academy – Key Forward / Key Defender / Ruckman – 198cm – 96kg

“Graduate of the NAB AFL Academy who is a tall forward/defender who can also pinch-hit in the ruck. Strong overhead contested mark and excellent penetrating kick. Impressive for the Brisbane Lions academy up forward and very good down back for Allies in the NAB AFL U18 Championships.”

Fantasy Perspective: I expect to see Ballenden play AFL football next year. The Lions are sure to hand him opportunity in what will be another development year. There’s a lot of subjection around where he plays his best football. I think he’ll be trialled up forward first, pairing up with Eric Hipwood in what will be a very dangerous duo soon enough. Ballenden’s potential game time makes him watchlist-worthy, however don’t be expecting big scores, after he averaged 49 points in 2017. Has already had exposure with the Lions at NEAFL level.

Pick 44 – Fremantle – Hugh Dixon

Kingborough – Tasmania – Key Forward – 195cm – 90kg

“Tall forward who is mobile, agile and strong overhead. Impressive for Tasmania in the NAB AFL Academy series, winning its MVP award and then a consistent target up forward for the Allies.”

Fantasy Perspective: Dixon isn’t your super athletic key forward which seems to be more of the rage lately. Instead he is a true, honest footballer who presents all day long. He averaged 11 disposals, 3.5 marks and 2.3 goals a game for Tassie and the Allies throughout the year, resulting in a fantasy average of 69 points. His average of 3.8 tackles is a sign that the big man isn’t afraid to do the hard stuff.

Pick 45 – Hawthorn – James Worpel

Geelong Falcons – Victoria Country – Inside Midfielder- 185cm – 86kg

“A graduate of NAB AFL Academy who is a strong and powerful medium midfielder who wins contested balls and accelerates from stoppages. A strong, aggressive tackler, he led Vic Country as co-captain in the NAB AFL U18 Championships and won Vic Country’s Most Valuable Player award. Topped off his impressive year as a premiership player with the Geelong Falcons.”

Fantasy Perspective: Worpel should be on your rookie watchlist next year. He is a inside bull that can play round one next year. His leadership, stoppage nous and on-field ferocity will be well valued at the Hawks. Averaged 20 disposals, 3.1 marks, 7.5 tackles, 0.6 goals and 96 fantasy points. Foot skills and speed are his weaknesses, but Worpel’s size will allow for a Powell-Pepper-like first season. Hawthorn will find him a spot in the midfield.

Pick 46 – St.Kilda – Ben Paton

Murray Bushrangers – Victoria Country – General Defender – 186cm – 77kg

“Medium defender who provided great run from defence and used the ball well by both hand and foot in the NAB AFL U18 Championships for Vic Country, winning All Australian honours. Has an impressive natural leap, allowing him to play on a taller opponent when required.”

Fantasy Perspective: Paton has really benefited from spending another year in the TAC Cup after being overlooked last year. He managed to play a VFL game for Collingwood later in the year. From 16 2017 games, Paton averaged 21 disposals, 4.5 marks, 2.7 tackles and 79 Fantasy points. Paton is one of the best pure defenders taken and I could see him becoming a regular for the Saints soon enough. Can intercept well and also play lock-down roles.

Pick 47 – Port Adelaide – Sam Hayes

Eastern Ranges – Victoria Metro – Ruckman / Key Forward – 203cm – 93kg

“Graduate of the NAB AFL Academy who is a mobile ruckman or tall forward, strong overhead and effective with his ruck craft at stoppages. Now a back-to-back U18 All Australian after an impressive series for Vic Metro in the NAB AFL U18 Championships.”

Fantasy Perspective: Hayes is quite clearly the best ruck in the pool. But like Tim English last year, he will need a few years to develop in the reserves before making an impact at AFL level. Found enough of the ball for a big man this year, averaging 15.2 disposals to go with 4 marks, 1.1 goals and 81 fantasy points. Won’t do much this year and if he does, it’ll be as a tall forward. But when he develops, Hayes has all the tools to become a premier ruckman.

Pick 48 – Melbourne – Oskar Baker

Aspley – NEAFL – Outside Midfielder – 182cm – 76kg

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“Has thrived since being cut by the Brisbane Lions academy. Baker’s speed on a wing makes him a dangerous player. He is not afraid to take the game on, as shown when he booted the NEAFL goal of the year after taking four bounces from half-back, selling candy and nailing the goal from 50m against Gold Coast in round 14. Lovely kick, can mark overhead and has maturity.”

Fantasy Perspective: Baker clearly has a bit of hunger in him to be drafted after the Lions Academy effectively delisted him. Whilst I don’t have any game statistics on him, Baker recorded a time of 2.98 seconds in the state combines 20m sprint as well as a standing vertical jump of 74cm. Having already played senior football, the 19-year-old joins the Demons at pick 48 and immediately provides them with outside mid/general defence depth.

Pick 49 – Essendon – Jordan Houlahan

Sturt – South Australia – General Forward – 185cm – 76kg

“Graduate of the NAB AFL Academy who is extremely strong overhead and a reliable set shot and snap for goal. Progressed to reserve level at Sturt having an impressive round 16 performance where he kicked five goals against Glenelg. Was one of several players to kick the perfect score in the goalkicking test at the Combine before finishing in the top five for the standing and running vertical jump tests.”

Fantasy Perspective: Only saw him once live (against the Allies at Adelaide Oval) but was very impressed. Houlahan reminds me of fellow South Australian Will Hayward who had plenty of success in his first year in Sydney. I think Jordan could do similarly next year. Averaged 69 for Sturt and SA. Could transition into a dynamic midfielder within a couple of years.

Pick 50 – Collingwood – Tyler Brown

Eastern Ranges – Balanced Midfielder – 187cm – 71kg

“Developing medium midfielder with elite agility and poise with the football in hand and has massive upside physicality. Mixed football between Marcellin College and Eastern Ranges. Brother to Callum Brown and son of former Collingwood star Gavin Brown and the Magpies have nominated Brown under the father-son rule.”

Fantasy Perspective: Tyler Brown is a very different player to Callum who went to the ‘Pies last year. Unlike Callum, who managed five games for the club last year, Tyler will likely need at-least a year to develop his frame, consistency and midfield craft. If this can be done, I reckon he can become an even better player than his brother. Averaged 12.3 disposals, 1.9 marks, 1.4 tackles, 0.4 goals and 42 fantasy points in 2017, so production will need to improve if he is to become fantasy relevant. Still a 17-year-old so potential is high.

Pick 51 – Port Adelaide – Kane Farrell

Bendigo Pioneers – Victoria Country – General Defender – 182cm – 74kg

“A graduate of the NAB AFL Academy who is a medium defender with rebounding ability with his left foot. Capable of setting up the play and strong overhead for his size, he can push up to play wing. Performed well for Vic Country in the NAB AFL U18 Championships. Outstanding performer athletically at Draft Combine with his 8.10 seconds in AFL agility run the top performance along with his 2.90 seconds in 20m also putting him in the elite group.”

Fantasy Perspective: This draft has quite a few defenders/wingers with speed and foot skills. Kane Farrell is another one of these types. Endurance may prevent him from playing much for the Power next year. Averaged 15 disposals, 4.5 marks, 2.7 tackles and 66 fantasy points for Bendigo and Victoria Country throughout the year. Appears to be behind a few at Alberton.

Pick 52 – Gold Coast – Brayden Crossley

Labrador – Gold Coast Academy – Ruckman – 198cm -101kg

“Graduate of the NAB AFL Academy who is an aggressive, competitive and persistent ruckman who plays with skill and passion. His physical presence and ruck craft impressed for the Allies in the NAB AFL U18 Championships. Won the Allies’ MVP award as well as winning All Australian honours, and also played some impressive games for the Suns’ NEAFL side. He can join Gold Coast as an academy player.”

Fantasy Perspective: Crossley is a massive unit. And he uses his physicality to good effect in the ruck. With Jarrod Witts and Tom Nicholls ahead of him in the ruck department, Crossley will likely have to bide his time in the NEAFL next year as he builds on his endurance. Produced some solid numbers in the U18 Champs and for the Suns NEAFL side, averaging 13.6 disposals, 2.9 marks, 3.4 tackles, 24 hit-outs, 1.1 goals and 88 points. Worth a spot on the bench if he gets a game.

Pick 53 – Sydney – Ryley Stoddart

Eastern Ranges – Victoria Metro – General Defender / Outside Midfielder – 183cm – 74kg

“A poised medium defender with good pace and step through traffic and a neat user of the ball on his preferred left foot. Played all four games for Vic Metro in the NAB AFL U18 Championships and has been impressive for the Ranges this year. His running vertical jump of 98cm at the Draft Combine was outstanding and ranked No.2 overall.”

Fantasy Perspective: For a rebounding defender, Stoddart’s number weren’t ground-breaking, averaging 14.2 disposals, 2.6 marks, 1.2 tackles and 50 points. Similar to Kade Simpson in the way he sets up the play. May break through for a couple of games but don’t think he’ll be a prolific scorer. The Swans aren’t general afraid of getting games into youth early on.

Pick 54 – Brisbane – Jack Payne

Noosa – Brisbane Academy – Key Defender – 197cm – 96kg

“Strong big-bodied tall defender who matches up well on the opposition’s tall forwards. Had an excellent NAB AFL Academy series for the Brisbane Lions and played two matches for the Allies in Division One of the NAB AFL U18 Championships.”

Fantasy Perspective: Payne is one of the better key defenders in the draft pool. He is a big, strong unit, making him difficult to beat in one-on-one situations. However he is able to match this strength with neat foot skills in the back half (scored 29/30 at combine kicking test). Will be behind Harris Andrews and Daniel McStay in the key defensive pecking order, however he could be exposed to AFL level at some point next year. Not a fantasy relevant player for next year though, averaging just 37 fantasy points.

Pick 55 – Academy Pick – Gold Coast – Connor Nutting

Broadbeach – Gold Coast Academy – General Utility – 185cm – 77kg

”Connor Nutting is a Gold Coast Suns Academy member who played two matches for the Allies, doing a fair job off half-back. He averaged 11 disposals and eight rebounds and was opposed to number one pick Cameron Rayner at one stage. He holds his own in one-on-ones, has fantastic agility – he scored 8.29 seconds on the agility test at the State Combine – and is a reliable user by foot.”

Fantasy Perspective: Nutting will add some versatility to the Suns young list. Will likely start as a defender where his shutdown ability will be well valued. Endurance and consistency will require some work. Averaged 46 fantasy points at the Under-18 Championships.

Pick 56 – GWS – Zac Langdon

Claremont – Victoria Country – General Forward / Inside Midfielder – 177cm – 81kg

A ready-made small forward who gets his chance on a senior list at the age of 22. Langdon has earned his spot after spending the past two years in the WAFL for Claremont. He won the Yo-Yo test at the WA State Combine, highlighting his enormous endurance. Possesses elite running and foot skills, and pushes hard to impact up the ground as well as in the forward 50.

Fantasy Perspective: The Giants are building a bit of a reputation for drafting mature-age or recycled players. Zac Langdon, a 22 year-old for Western Australia, joins that growing list. Langdon is skillful player who averaged 17.7 disposals, 3.8 marks, 4.2 tackles, 1.7 goals and 85 Fantasy points at league level for Claremont. Could be a good option if the Giants injury woes continue into next year.

Pick 57 – Geelong – Gryan Miers

Geelong Falcons – Victoria Country – General Forward / Inside Midfielder – 178cm – 77kg

“Livewire small forward with elite game sense and smarts around goals. A prolific ball-winner, he also provides strong defensive pressure inside 50. Some great performances for Vic Country in the NAB AFL U18 Championships. Kicked seven goals in the Falcons’ Grand Final win and finished the TAC Cup season with 50 goals overall, making him one of the most prolific small forwards available.”

Fantasy Perspective: As stated above, Miers was brilliant on the TAC Cup’s biggest stage. Unlike many other small forwards, his speed isn’t all that good. Instead, he uses his smarts to damaging effect inside 50. Posted strong numbers throughout the year, averaging 17.5 disposals, 4.4 marks, 3.8 tackles, 1.6 goals and 84 points per game. Capable of playing senior football next year, Miers is another small to watch out for.

Pick 58 – Port Adelaide – Jake Patmore

Claremont – Western Australia – General Defender / Outside Midfielder – 181cm – 72kg

“A graduate of NAB AFL Academy who is a medium defender who reads the play exceptionally well to win the ball and distributes it neatly by hand and foot. Excellent performer for WA in the NAB AFL U18 Championships and has been in excellent form since at colts level in the WAFL, progressing to play well at reserves level. Improved his fitness dramatically across the season to give himself the best shot at being drafted.”

Fantasy Perspective: Jared Polec is probably the best comparison to be made with Jake Patmore. The Western Australian is speedy, good by foot and productive but his inside game is a weakness. Averaged 23 touches, 4.1 marks, 3.6 tackles and 82 fantasy points for Claremont and WA. Patmore is one I would put on the watchlist as he can certainly find the ball.

Pick 59 – Fremantle – Mitch Crowden

Sturt – South Australia – Inside Midfielder – 174cm – 87kg

“A solidly built midfielder with a knack of finding plenty of the footy. Was South Australia’s highest possession-getter with 23 disposals in their opening game of the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships against Western Australia. Didn’t look out of place going up against bigger bodies, playing nine senior games for SANFL premiers Sturt this year. Has a penetrating left-foot kick, is highly competitive and has a strong work ethic. Had the highest standing vertical jump (81cm) and was equal-first in the 20m sprint (2.92 seconds) at the SA Draft Combine.”

Fantasy Perspective: Although small in stature, Mitch Crowden is a really powerful unit. He is strong in the hips, very athletic and I think he represents good value at pick 59, despite not being rated highly by many draft watchers. Was prolific for SA, averaging 22 disposals, 3.3 marks, 5 tackles, 0.5 goals and 81 points. He is ready made and can play next year. Another smaller-type player to jot down.

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Pick 60 – Port Adelaide – Joel Garner

Eastern Ranges – Victoria Metro – Balanced Midfielder / General Defender – 184cm – 83kg

“Graduate of NAB AFL Academy who is composed with the ball in hand and distributes it well on his preferred left foot. Indigenous player who captained Vic Metro to win the NAB AFL U18 Championships. Consistent performer winning U18 All Australian honours.”

Fantasy Perspective: I wouldn’t at all be surprised if Joel Garner featured heavily next year. Not only is his frame ready, his attitude is impeccable. Not a big-time ball winner throughout the year, resulting in an average of 67 points from 15.9 disposals, 3.2 marks and 3.7 tackles. His speed, foot skills and football smarts could see him used as a ‘kicker’ off half-back for the Power.

Pick 61 – Port Adelaide – Dom Barry

Glenelg – SANFL – Balanced Midfielder – 183cm – 78kg

“The 23-year-old played five games for Melbourne in 2014 before quitting to return to the APY Lands, along with spending time in Darwin and Alice Springs, to devote more time to his indigenous culture. After winning a NEAFL premiership with NT Thunder in 2015, Barry relocated to Adelaide last year to try to revive his AFL dream, with SANFL club Glenelg winning the race for his services. The mature-age midfielder averaged 20 disposals this season, regularly showed a turn of speed and booted 16 majors from 18 league games.”

Fantasy Perspective: Of the Power’s five national draftees, Dom Barry looks the best fantasy option. Having already been exposed to AFL action, his endurance and frame are well developed, allowing him to potentially slot straight into the Power lineup and score relatively well. I think he’ll get games, but it’ll be interesting to where Barry fits in.

Pick 62 – North Melbourne – Kyron Hayden

Subiaco – Western Australia – Balanced Midfielder – 186cm – 87kg

“Strongly built medium midfielder with good balance between contested and uncontested football. Very good stoppage player who performed well for Western Australia in the NAB AFL U18 Championships.”

Fantasy Perspective: Hayden is a big unit which would have appealed to numerous clubs. His endurance needs to be worked on during the pre-season and could limit Hayden’s AFL exposure next year. Averaged 16.8 disposals, 2.7 marks, 4 tackles and 65 points for WA and Subiaco last year. With North in rebuild mode, Kyron Hayden looks likely to debut next year.

Pick 63 – Richmond – Ben Miller

Subiaco – Western Australia – Ruckman / Key Forward – 196cm – 93kg

“Developing ruckman or tall forward with good agility and clean hands. Played consistently well for Western Australia in the NAB AFL U18 Championships, dominating the hit-outs. His Draft Combine time of 2.91 seconds for 20m was extremely impressive for a tall.”

Fantasy Perspective: The Tigers needed some key position talent, despite winning the premiership with just one tall up forward. After already securing Coleman-Jones and Balta, Richmond went with another ultra-athletic type in Ben Miller. Miller is super fast and can play either end. The Western Australian will take a few years to develop his craft but I rate him as a prospect.

Pick 64 – Academy Pick – GWS – Nicholas Shipley

St. George – GWS Academy – Inside Midfielder – 188cm – 93kg

“Tall and strong midfielder for the Giants’ academy who is a contested ball-winner, excelling at stoppages. Has good vision and clean hands with terrific work-rate. Excellent performer for the Allies in the NAB AFL U18 Championships and was a consistent performer for GWS in the NEAFL.”

Fantasy Perspective: Shipley joins the Giants via their academy. It won’t be easy for him to break into the side, especially given their midfield depth. His kick:handball ratio isn’t ideal (average of 4.8 kicks and 11.5 handballs), however he does play that in-and-under contested role. Speed and defensive pressure is excellent. Averaged 61 points for the Allies.

Pick 65 – Fremantle – Thomas North

Eastern Ranges – Victoria Metro – Inside Midfielder – 184cm – 84kg

“Prolific ball-winning midfielder who wins his own ball and excels at stoppages. His contested ball was a feature of his play for the Eastern Ranges and he represented Vic Metro in the NAB AFL U18 Championships. A foot injury ended North’s season early.”

Fantasy Perspective: Thomas North is one of the better stoppage players in the pool. He finds plenty of the ball, is strongly built and definitely capable of fronting for the Dockers next season. He averaged 20 disposals, 3.2 marks, 4.4 tackles and 78 fantasy points for Eastern and Metro. North is a solid, well-rounded midfielder worth keeping an eye on ahead of 2018.

Pick 66 – Essendon – Brandon Zerk-Thatcher

Sturt – South Australia – Key Defender – 195cm – 77kg

“A late bloomer who established himself in Sturt’s reserves team this year and earned himself a spot as an over-ager in South Australia’s NAB AFL Under-18 Championships team. Stood out at the state Draft Combine with his athleticism, leading the way with a 95cm running vertical jump. Started as a ruckman, but was recast as a defender. Models his game on former Crow and Melbourne recruit Jake Lever. Has a reliable kick and great speed for his height.”

Fantasy Perspective: Zerk-Thatcher was a speculative pick by the Bombers but he has some traits which could hold him in good stead. He is one who will take time to develop in the VFL. Only averaged 37 fantasy points for SA – not fantasy relevant.

Pick 67 – Hawthorn – Dylan Moore

Eastern Ranges – Victoria Metro – Inside Midfielder / General Forward – 176cm – 66kg

Prolific ball-winning small forward or midfielder with football smarts in reading the play. Positions himself well as a crumbing forward and uses the ball well. Had a great NAB AFL U18 Championships for Vic Metro winning U18 All Australian honours. Top performer in the 2km test at Draft Combine with his time of 6:09 the best recorded.

Fantasy Perspective: Yet another small who had the ball on a string in 2017. Moore averaged 24.3 touches, 3 marks, 4.5 tackles, 0.9 goals and 92 fantasy points per season. He’s obviously small in stature and needs to bulk up before making the jump. If he gets games, he’ll play as a small forward where he has still managed to be productive. A steal at pick 67, Moore is very fantasy relevant.

Pick 68 – West Coast – Hamish Brayshaw

Sandringham Dragons – Balanced Midfielder – 187cm – 88kg

“Does his best work in the guts, striving to win the contested ball. The younger brother of Melbourne midfielder Angus, Hamish Brayshaw is tough and hard. Split his time between the Sandringham Dragons in the TAC Cup as an over-age player and the Sandringham Zebras in the VFL, where he played 12 matches. Developed his outside game at the Zebras.”

Fantasy Perspective: Hamish Brayshaw was a needs-based selection for the Eagles. He is ready to go in terms of physical development and averaged 114 fantasy points throughout the TAC Cup season. His averages of 24 disposals, 5.5 marks, 6.5 tackles and 1.5 goals suggests he is a very well-rounded player. Hamish is high on my players to watch next year, given the Eagles lack of inside midfielders with the departures of Priddis and Mitchell.

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Pick 69 – Fremantle – Lloyd Meek

Greater Western Victoria Rebels – Victoria Country – Ruckman – 202cm – 106kg

“Developing ruckman who continues to hone his craft as a 19-year-old at the Greater Western Victoria Rebels at TAC Cup level but has pushed up to play VFL this year with the North Ballarat Roosters. Impressed in his only game for Vic Country in the NAB AFL U18 Championships.”

Fantasy Perspective: Meek joins the Dockers who are assembling a nice ruck unit. Meek and fellow draftee Scott Jones join Sean Darcy in learning under the guidance of the ageing Aaron Sandilands. All four stand over 200cm and weigh in excess of 100kg’s. Lloyd will be behind Darcy and Sandilands but is physically mature and could play a role up forward. Averaged 58 points for Greater Western Victoria.

Pick 70 – Carlton – Angus Schumacher

Bendigo Pioneers – Victoria Country – Balanced Midfielder / General Defender – 188cm – 73kg

“Medium midfielder/defender who represented Vic Country in the NAB AFL U18 Championships. Was a prolific ball-winner all year for the Bendigo Pioneers. Tested extremely well for speed and agility at Victorian testing earlier in the year, showcasing his impressive athleticism.”

Fantasy Perspective: Schumacher is another athletic midfielder/defender drafted by the Blues. Averaged 13 disposals, 4.5 marks, 1 tackle and 52 fantasy points throughout the year. Doesn’t appear to be a big scorer but the Blues will give him every chance of debuting next year.

Pick 71 – Hawthorn – Jackson Ross

Eastern Ranges – Outside Midfielder / General Forward – 193cm – 74kg

“Versatile forward/midfielder with elite endurance and an innate ability around the goals. Very good in the air, below his knees and is a difficult match-up. Former elite junior tennis player, he mixed his footy between school and the Eastern Ranges this year.”

Fantasy Perspective: Ross is another high-potential outside midfielder or third-tall forward. Still lanky, I suspect 2018 will be a development year for him despite his strong endurance base. Averaged 17 disposals, 3.6 marks, 2.7 tackles and 1.6 goals per game for an overall average of 80 fantasy points.

Pick 72 – North Melbourne – Tristan Xerri

Western Jets – Victoria Metro – Ruckman – 201cm – 93kg

“Has rapidly improved in the past three years to become an extremely promising big man who can go forward. Strong overhead, Xerri put in a couple of strong performances at the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships for Vic Metro. Prides himself on working hard around the ground in ruck contests and is rarely out-muscled by his direct opponent. Struggled a bit this year with an ankle injury, but is seen as a quality long-term prospect.”

Fantasy Perspective: Xerri is definitely a long-term ruck prospect, but his numbers this year suggest he has some potential. Averaged 9.5 disposals, 13.1 hit-outs and 3.5 marks for Western and Vic Metro. However it’s his average of 4.5 tackles which stands out most for me.  Managed to play three VFL games for Werribee where the Kangaroos coaching staff got to work with him. Despite North being in rebuild phase, Goldstein and Preuss are well ahead of Xerri at the moment.

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Pick 73 – Fremantle – Sam Switkowski

Box Hill Hawks – VFL – General Forward – 178cm – 68kg

“A mature-age recruit who gets a chance on an AFL list at the age of 21 after three seasons with the Box Hill Hawks in the VFL. What the 178cm small forward lacks in size, he more than makes up for with desire and competiveness. Applies plenty of pressure in the forward half and uses his speed to close on opponents. His tackling is a strength of his game. Will be eager to the make the most of his opportunity after being overlooked several times.”

Fantasy Perspective: Switkowski has finally got his chance on an AFL list. He is still a skinny type, but his time playing senior football in the VFL will allow him to play AFL in 2018. The Dockers have little choice but to blood youth, so I suggest Switkowski could become a regular. One to keep an eye on.

Pick 74 – Western Bulldogs – Callum Porter

Gippsland Power – Balanced Midfielder – 180cm – 71kg

“The 18-year-old is a versatile midfielder with an ability to also play as a half-back or forward, and is renowned for his leadership skills. Porter took out Gippsland’s best and fairest and finished seventh in the 2017 Morrish Medal, which recognises the best players in the TAC Cup competition. He was one of the Power’s vice-captains for the 2017 season and impressed in testing at the Victorian Draft Combine.”

Fantasy Perspective: Callum Porter had an excellent season and put up some great numbers. He averaged 21 disposals, 3.9 marks, 7.7 tackles and 102 fantasy points for Gippsland. Callum Porter feels like a Bulldogs pick and is a good fantasy scorer, but opportunity will likely be the biggest hurdle.

Pick 75 – Fremantle – Scott Jones

East Perth – WAFL – Ruckman – 205cm – 109kg

“The East Perth ruckman has been through plenty in his young career. Jones broke his leg in 2013 to end his draft chances that year and has also overcome shoulder surgery and a fractured foot. Now 22, once given his WAFL debut this season, Jones claimed it with both hands. Despite his enormous physique, he is quick and has good endurance. Jones was not only good at stoppages for the Royals, but was also able to go forward and kick goals.”

Fantasy Perspective: Freo’s second ruck selection of the night was Scott Jones from the WAFL. Whilst Sean Darcy will be the Dockers future number one ruck, Scott Jones will provide decent backup. Doubt Sandilands will play all 22 games and Darcy’s tank still requires work, so Jones may get a look in at some stage. Is ready to go when required.

Pick 76 – Essendon – Matt Guelfi

Claremont – WAFL – General Utility – 183cm – 75kg

“A ‘Mr Fix It’ of sorts, the 20-year-old has missed out in two previous drafts, but is coming off an excellent season for Claremont in the WAFL. Best known as a midfielder, Guelfi can play almost anywhere with his skill, toughness and ability to win his own ball. He’s lightning quick, running a sub three second 20m sprint, is a strong contested mark for his size and kicked 20 goals in 19 games for the Tigers.”

Fantasy Perspective: The Bombers biggest list need was an inside midfielder and in Guelfi, they get just that. He is very versatile but I like him in the middle. Given the departures of Stanton, Watson, Bird, Hocking, Howlett and Kelly, Essendon are very light on in the midfield department. Given his WAFL experience, expect Guelfi to get games. Wasn’t a huge scorer, averaging 69 but was played in a variety of different roles.

Pick 77 – North Melbourne – Billy Hartung

Hawthorn – AFL – Outside Midfielder – 177cm – 75kg

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“With speed and the ability to run all day, Hartung played 63 games for Hawthorn between 2014-17, playing 20 games in 2015 before heartbreakingly being dropped for the Grand Final. He is the all-time beep test record holder at the NAB AFL Draft Combine, and has the ability to provide run and carry on the outside. He needs to improve his disposal by foot and decision making, but has the ability to be a consistent player at the top level if he can do that.”

Fantasy Perspective: This selection makes plenty of sense from the Kangaroos perspective. Hartung can come in and immediately add speed and run to a very slow engine room. Will play every game barring injury, however he has never really been a big scorer.

Pick 78 – Carlton – Jarrod Garlett

South Fremantle – WAFL – General Forward – 181cm – 71kg

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“Originally hailing from WA, Garlett was drafted by Gold Coast with pick No.15 in 2014 and played 17 games for the Suns before being released from his contract to return to his home state to be with his terminally ill brother. His brother has since made a miraculous recovery, and Garlett is set on pursuing his AFL dream once again. Skilful and tough, he has been playing in the WAFL with South Fremantle, emerging as a star once more to earn another AFL chance.”

Fantasy Perspective: No one saw this coming. The Blues have got a very talented player on their hands who, by all reports, seems committed to making it in the AFL after his career stalled due to family reasons. Clearly Garlett has potential, given he was a first round draftee back in 2014. Garlett will play games next year for the Blues. Averaged 75 points in the WAFL this season so is one to track in pre-season.


*Each players statistics have been compiled from different leagues around the country and combined to produce the players overall average stats. Average fantasy points do not take into account free kicks or behinds.

Big Crows fan, AFL fantasy try-hard and writer of the Draft wraps and Versus articles.

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