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Fry’s Cash Cows – 2024 Rookie Watchlist

Fry is back for another season talking about ALL the relevant cash cows as the AAMI Community Series gets underway!

Footy is back! Well, sort of. We’ve already been treated to nine scrappy, match simulation hitouts and later today Collingwood vs. Richmond will kick off the ‘official’ preseason games. Of course, that means that the start of another AFL Fantasy season is just around the corner and coaches are eagerly searching for discounted players to fill out their last few on-field spots and take up residence on the bench in their squad of 30. Value picks are all the rave when picking your initial fantasy side and there are over 80 cash cows discussed in this piece that coaches can monitor throughout the 2024 season as potential money-making rookies.

Rookies/cash cows are typically defined as players priced at $300,000 or lower to commence the season

Catch more from Fry by visiting the SportsbyFry website for additional AFL, NBA, NFL and fantasy sports articles!

Recent debutants: 3 in 2023, 3 in 2022

As coaches try to find the right balance for their starting AFL Fantasy side, the newest Crows draftee Daniel Curtin (DEF/MID, $279K) is emerging as a lock-in defence. The big question surrounding the versatile WA talent comes regarding his scoring ability, with Adelaide expected to use Curtin predominately as an intercepting tall backman in 2024. Regardless of whether Curtin sits as your last on-field defender, or he resides at D7/D8 on the bench, he should firmly be in your calculations for Round 1. We don’t have the same confidence in cheap FWD Chris Burgess (FWD, $200K) who also joined Adelaide in the offseason after five seasons with Gold Coast.

He could prove me wrong and earn an early gig for the Crows, however, his career fantasy average of 45.3 points indicates that Burgess will only serve as a slow-burn bench option. I am more optimistic about the fantasy output we could see from Billy Dowling (MID/FWD, $200K) and Charlie Edwards (DEF/MID, $240K), even though they’re poised to begin the season at SANFL level. Edwards seems like a long-term prospect, so it’s unlikely we’ll see him at AFL level in his first season, although we might be treated to a Dowling debut. He impressed as a junior and after the Crows selected him in the 2022 draft, Dowling went on to average 18.4 disposals with 77.2 fantasy points in the 20 games he played for Adelaide’s SANFL side last season

Recent debutants: 2 in 2023, 1 in 2022

With the Brisbane Lions in full “premiership or bust” mode, there won’t be a plethora of cash cows running around for them this season. There isn’t a 2024 version of Darcy Wilmot who served as a loyal rookie last season, although some are interested in starting Deven Robertson (MID/FWD, $348K). His inflated price tag combined with a Round 2 bye rules him out for me, leaving the likes of Kai Lohman (FWD, $257K), Logan Morris (FWD, $210K) and James Tunstill (FWD, $286K) as the only other Lions cubs worth contemplating – no offence to Bruce Reville who has higher ownership than all of them primarily thanks to his impressive headshot on the AFL Fantasy platform. Lohman is generating some interest from the fantasy community in the hopes he can cement a weekly spot as a pressure FWD in Chris Fagan’s side, although I think we can steer clear of Brisbane’s rookies at least to commence the fantasy year.

Recent debutants: 3 in 2023, 3 in 2022

The Blues are the other club that owns a Round 2 bye and while there are value starting options that interest coaches, a lot of their rookies will purely be watchlist candidates. Billy Wilson (DEF/MID, $201K) and Jaxon Binns (MID, $200K) are the most popular Carlton cash cows, taking up residence on a lot of benches right now. There is some upside in the basement-priced pair should they break through as a member of Carlton’s best-22, but they face an uphill climb to crack that rotation. Binns posted some ridiculous stats in the VFL a year ago, averaging a shade under 30 touches and 8 marks a game while recording 116.6 fantasy points, while Wilson showed glimpses of future fantasy stardom running off the halfback line for Dandenong and averaging 80.2 points with 25+ disposals.

The one, cheap Blue who has bounced in and out of my team this preseason is Orazio Fantasia (FWD, $269K), who is hardly a lock should he be picked in Round 1. Still, if Fantasia can get his body right and become a 60-ish point scorer, his ownership percentage will only shoot upwards. It’s also worth highlighting Carlton rook Ashton Moir (FWD, $216K) who had some bright moments while kicking two goals in the hitout with Geelong last week. With Harry McKay and Charlie Curnow as their main spearheads in front of goal, Moir may emerge as a 3rd tall that Michael Voss elects to play, however, we shouldn’t expect eye-popping fantasy scores from the teenager.

Recent debutants: 2 in 2023, 3 in 2022

You wouldn’t think that the reigning premiers are going to blood a lot of cash cow prospects in 2024 as they aim to defend their throne, but there is one young gun currently sitting in a quarter of all fantasy sides. The signs we’ve seen in intraclub hitouts and the praccy match vs. North Melbourne have led to Finlay Macrae (FWD, $310K) becoming a popular starter at F5-F7. The 21-year-old has been forced to patiently bide his time in the VFL, although there is hope that Macrae will get a consistent run this year and in turn, serve an important role for fantasy coaches. Another youngster waiting for his turn who could offer some fantasy assistance is Jakob Ryan (DEF, $200K) with the former 28th overall pick featuring just once last season in Round 23 for a score of 19.

He showed promise for Collingwood’s reserves last season though, recording 25.6 disposals and 72.4 fantasy points in 14 VFL appearances. He joins Ed Allen (MID, $200K) as a player who will likely start the year in the reserves outfit, but may be able to feature in a handful of games if an opportunity arises. Their top draftee from this summer Harry DeMattia (MID, $228K) is sidelined with a finger injury that will rule him out for a third or so of the fantasy campaign, although his name is another you should add to your watchlist as the year unfolds. It’s also worth monitoring recent SSP signing Lachie Sullivan (MID, $200K) and Reef McInnes (FWD, $285K) with the latter of this pair potentially in line to replace Dan McStay up forward to commence the year. One last thing, Nathan Kreuger (FWD/RUC, $261K) is not the R3 saviour a small portion of the community are investing in.

Recent debutants: 2 in 2023, 5 in 2022

Drafted 10th overall a few months ago, there are a lot of Essendon fans hoping that Nate Caddy (FWD, $273K) will become their primary target inside 50. From a fantasy standpoint, we don’t love to target key forwards especially those who aren’t priced at $200K. There is some appeal in picking Caddy for your starting side, although given the variety of FWD rookies we can select, the best plan of attack is to ignore the new Bomber. His draft peer Archie Roberts (DEF, $200K) faces a tall task to make his AFL debut this season, and yet, the Vic Metro talent showed glimpses in his draft year and remains a player to add to your watchlist as a possible downgrade choice. Another Dons backman Zach Reid (DEF, $253K) finds himself in nearly 4,500 teams right now as he looks to cement a regular spot in the side and leave his previous injury worries in the past. If he is selected for Essendon in Round 1 there are worse options to chase to fill out your DEF bench slots.

Recent debutants: 4 in 2023, 2 in 2022

Selected by 38% of the competition at the minute, Jeremy Sharp (MID, $284K) is shaping up as a handy money maker a few weeks out from season proper. Sharp missed Freo’s clash with West Coast over the weekend due to illness, although all signs point to him making a quick recovery and taking up residence for the Dockers on a wing to commence the year. If you were an avid fantasy player in 2021, you may remember the five-week stretch when the then Gold Coast Sun averaged 87.4 points and became a popular downgrade target. While we shouldn’t expect those lofty point totals, Sharp should still score well enough to warrant a place as one of your final on-field midfielders or at worst an M9-M10 target.

Another Dockers youngster that fantasy coaches are eager to see play is Cooper Simpson (MID/FWD, $200K) who has done his chances of an early debut no harm with his strong preseason. There is a justifiable concern that he’ll become a regular green/red vest candidate, although Simpson’s versatility could see him thrive on the half-forward line if Freo gives him a chance. I was also optimistic that Jack Delean (FWD, $200K) could claim a starting spot in the FWD line following Lachie Schultz’s departure, but he’s obviously further down the pecking order at the Dockers. He and Karl Worner (DEF, $278K) could see AFL action during the year if injuries strike and Fremantle is forced to call on their depth pieces to play a role.

Recent debutants: 5 in 2023, 2 in 2022

As Geelong prepares to usher in a new era following their premiership triumph in 2022, there are youngster putting up their hands for consistent minutes. Shaun Mannagah (MID/FWD, $200K) was one of the most popular players when the platform launched in December, following a stellar season in the VFL that saw the 26-year-old have his AFL dreams realised. He didn’t feature early in their recent hitout with Carlton, however the mature-ager is bound to see his ownership soar the moment the Cats hand him an AFL debut. Mannagh could be fighting Jhye Clark (MID, $237K) for a place in Geelong’s starting team, with the former No. 7 overall pick another mainstream selection for coaches filling out their midfield bench.

Clark is bound to see more game time in 2024 and hopefully, it will be without the sub vest on. He and Oisin Mullin (DEF, $245K) earned a debut last season and are out to establish a regular spot in the Cats’ side. Mullin entered last week’s scratch match later in the piece, although some have faith that he can feature regularly this season and become a cash cow option in defence. In the RUC line, we don’t love to choose a player north of $300K for our benches, but Toby Conway (RUC, $316K) is looming as the only R3 genuinely in the mix for Round 1. Conway did average 74 points in the VFL last year and while his scoring may be limited, he should still tick upwards in value if Chris Scott plays him.

Recent debutants: 4 in 2023, 4 in 2022

A quartet of academy picks from last year’s draft will fill Suns fans with optimism, although I’m not sure any of them are viable fantasy options this season. Their first pick and 3rd overall selection Jed Walter (FWD, $294K) is going to miss the first few rounds at a minimum with a collarbone injury and RUC prospect Ethan Read (RUC, $276K) has to battle his way past Jarrod Witts and Ned Moyle before he sniffs senior footy. He did have some decent moments against the Lions as a defensive tall, but I don’t think that justifies picking him to fill out your initial team. Jake Rogers (MID, $261K) and Will Graham (DEF/MID, $225K) are also expected to be downgrade options this season at best, though there are some Gold Coast rooks that coaches are eager to pick.

Bodhi Uwland (DEF, $219K) sits in almost 10% of sides as fantasy enthusiasts look to find a capable D7/D8 starter. He could find a consistent place in the Suns’ AFL team after making his professional debut last year, however rookie draftee Sam Clohesy (DEF, $200K) is the one I have my eye on. After a strong season with Werribee that saw him average 70.5 points from 21 VFL games we could see Clohesy earn a chance at AFL level if he performs well over the next fortnight. Mainstream rook James Tsitas (FWD, $200K) is also tabbed to play as a small forward under Damian Hardwick, which won’t likely translate to great scores. Still, the natural ball winner could become yet another FWD option for coaches if there are enough encouraging signs over the rest of the preseason.

Recent debutants: 5 in 2023, 4 in 2022

A team that some (me) tipped to be wooden spooners last season came one agonising point away from featuring in the second Grand Final in club history last year. As they aim to go one, or even two steps better in 2024 they are bound to give greater opportunity to former No. 1 pick Aaron Cadman (FWD, $221K) after he managed 12 games in his debut season. Cadman was subbed off in four of those 12 contests, which is a large reason for his cheaper price tag as the key forward aims to lock down a permanent spot in the Giants’ forward line. With another full preseason under his belt, we could see the GWS young gun become a decent bench pick capable of serving a role as a slow-burn cash cow in the upcoming season.

Fellow FWD players Darcy Jones (FWD, $200K) and Harvey Thomas (MID/FWD, $200K) could also see senior games early on in the piece with Thomas doing his Round 1 chances no harm with some impressive moments against Sydney last week. Jones might get his chance on Thursday against the Suns to impress and both youthful Giants could come into calculations for coaches in need of a cheap forward. Recent draftee James Leake (DEF, $252K) was another player we were keen to watch, although a quad strain has interrupted his chances of an early gig. It’s worth monitoring Leake in the early portion of the year, with last season’s debutants Josh Fahey (MID, $277K) and Harry Rowston (MID, $241K) still cheap enough to target if they earn a berth as well.

Recent debutants: 7 in 2023, 4 in 2022

No club gave more players their first taste of AFL footy last year than Hawthorn. Coaches will fondly remember names like Seamus Mitchell, Josh Weddle and Cam Mackenzie, who served an important role in the early portion of the 2023 fantasy season. There aren’t as many cheap Hawks that jump off the page as ‘must-have rookies’ this season, although the recent wave of injuries that have struck the club could pave the way for Ethan Phillips (DEF, $200K) to play early. Personally, I was surprised that a club didn’t pounce on the Port Melbourne backman sooner and the intercepting tall could be called upon by Sam Mitchell to start the season. No. 5 overall pick Nick Watson (MID/FWD, $288K) is being targetted by over 17,000 coaches right now and the dynamic goalsneak is bound to provide some highlights in brown and gold in the upcoming campaign. Unfortunately, you don’t get extra fantasy points for impressive goals, which means Watson should probably be passed on when filling out your forward line.

Recent debutants: 4 in 2023, 1 in 2022

The popular name doing the rounds this summer out of Melbourne was Marty Hore (DEF, $307K), who earned a second chance at the Dees as an SSP signing after originally being drafted by the club in 2018. His debut season saw Hore play 14 games for the club and average 61.9 fantasy points – numbers that we could see replicated if Hore cracks the Demons starting 22. There’s no certainty he’ll play for the senior side to commence the season, even following Angus Brayshaw’s recent retirement so be sure to have a Plan B should Hore miss out at the selection table. A pair of promising MID/FWD’s are also putting their best foot forward in an effort to play early with Caleb Windsor (MID/FWD, $282K) and Kynan Brown (MID/FWD, $200K) impressing during their recent hitout with Richmond.

You would think at this stage that Windsor is ahead of Brown in the pecking order, but both teenagers should get a chance to stake their claim for a starting spot when they clash with Carlton on Wednesday. Melbourne’s top draft pick from last offseason in Windsor appears to be firmly in the selection frame and his efforts in a few days will go a long way to determining whether he is a trustworthy starter or not. Windsor and Brown aren’t the only young Dees hungry for a consistent run of senior footy with Bailey Laurie (FWD, $200K) and Taj Woewodin (FWD, $285K) keen to add to their AFL game tally after a few seasons in the system. Versatile talent Koltyn Tholstrup (FWD, $264K) could also be in the mix for a handful of AFL games in his first pro season, although I expect the Demons to let him develop in the two’s for the bulk of the year.

Recent debutants: 5 in 2023, 3 in 2022

Strap in, there are a lot of relevant Roos that need to be discussed. Let’s start with Colby McKercher (MID, $297K) – do NOT leave him out of your starting side. Selected just two picks behind Colby last November, the buzz around Zane Duursma (MID/FWD, $291K) is certainly cooling with valid concerns around his scoring ability as a key forward. Still, the MID/FWD resides in 36% of teams and if Alastair Clarkson picks him for Round 1 you can plug the North tall into your outfit with the hopes he features consistently to open the year.

Of course, McKercher and Duurs weren’t the only new Roos to arrive at Arden Street with ruck prospect Taylor Goad (RUC, $243K), versatile tall Wil Dawson (DEF/FWD, $237K) and rebounding DEF Riley Hardeman (DEF, $234K) all taken in the first round of the 2024 draft. We expect Goad, Dawson and Hardeman to serve an apprenticeship in the VFL before they see meaningful game time at AFL level and of this trio, Hardeman is the only one who fantasy coaches should remember. An additional handful of cheap, young Kangaroos are also staking their claim for a spot in the side after spending a few seasons on the list. The most intriguing of the bunch is Charlie Lazzaro (MID/FWD, $288K) who has turned heads throughout the summer and sits in 16% of teams as a result.

If he can secure a greater role in the midfield while pinch-hitting around the ground, then expect to see Lazzaro’s ownership continue to trend upwards. Following the exit of Harry McKay, there is a spot in the backline up for grabs as well with Toby Pink (DEF, $200K) and Bigoa Nyoun (FWD, $200K) the relevant cash cows who could fill the void. Finally, there is hope that the oft-injured Brayden George (FWD, $200K) can get a crack at the senior level before too long as well. It’s worth keeping him on your watchlist, although I expect a year of development in the VFL from George in 2024.

Recent debutants: 2 in 2023, 4 in 2022

You won’t find a lengthy segment on Jordon Sweet (RUC, $387K) here, largely thanks to his excessive starting price. I did however write about Port’s new ruckman in the Deck of DT this preseason, so check that piece for a comprehensive look at the expensive R3. Instead, Port’s best cash cow hope remains Josh Sinn (MID, $257K) with the speedster able to feature a few times for the Power last season. Unfortunately, he couldn’t shake the sub vest in his three matches a season ago and I have a fear that Sinn faces a similar fate in 2024. Outside of the line-breaking MID, Port Adelaide doesn’t have a ton of promising rookies on offer for coaches this year, however I am a fan of budding young gun, Hugh Jackson (MID, $200K). Yet to play his first AFL game, Jackson was originally drafted in 2021 by Port and following an encouraging SANFL season with averages of 26.1 touches and 81.2 fantasy points a year ago, I’m hopeful that we see the MID talent breakthrough at some point this season. A hip complaint will sideline the Power youngster until the mid-season mark, but at worst, he’s a name worth remembering.

Recent debutants: 6 in 2023, 4 in 2022

After missing the entire 2023 season with a complex hamstring injury, Josh Gibcus (DEF, $256K) comes at a discounted price this year. That has led to the Tigers intercepting back becoming a popular DEF rookie selection – although, those who are picking him shouldn’t expect the greatest fantasy scores from Gibcus. He managed to play 18 games in his debut season but averaged a measly 40.5 points per outing. The scoring prowess of his new teammate Kane McAuliffe (MID, $200K) is much more promising, but it doesn’t appear like the new Tiger cub will be lining up for Richmond right away.

Adem Yze may give McAuliffe a run at some point this season and if he does, then the basement-priced MID looms as a convenient downgrade target. The big-bodied midfielder impressed in his final junior season, producing an average north of 110 in the U-18 SANFL competition and averaging 80+ fantasy points for both the SANFL reserves and South Australian side at the U-18 championships. Steely Greene (FWD, $200K) may also feature for Richmond at some point this season, however his VFL numbers from a year ago (46.9 AVG from 14 matches) suggest that he won’t be a massive fantasy factor if he is given a run at AFL level.

Recent debutants: 3 in 2023, 4 in 2022

When it comes to choosing a player for your R3 spot, a lot of fantasy coaches opt to punt the position and slot in a non-playing rookie. That has led to Max Heath (RUC/FWD, $200K) becoming the most selected Saint right now, with the RUC/FWD sitting in almost 27% of teams. There are St Kilda cash cows worth monitoring outside of Heath, including recent draftees Darcy Wilson (MID/FWD, $249K)Lance Collard (FWD, $219K) and Arie Schoenmaker (DEF, $200K). While Schoenmaker might have the greatest appeal, touted as the best user by foot in last year’s draft class, he isn’t anywhere near the top of the depth chart for the Saints. Their first-round picks in Wilson and Collard could establish themselves as decent cash cows if they’re given a chance to play early with the 18th overall pick in Wilson the Saint who interests me the most.

Recent debutants: 5 in 2023, 2 in 2022

The rookie options at Sydney aren’t very enticing this season, with Matt Roberts (MID, $245K) the main cash cow coaches are considering. Having struggled to find a regular gig in the Swans’ senior side through his young AFL career, a move to the halfback flank might finally help unlock his fantasy potential. Available as a pure MID, Roberts is someone I’m contemplating picking if John Longmire opts to give him an early game. There were five Swans who were rewarded with their first AFL game a season ago, and as a result, a lot of those players are out of contention with an inflated price tag.

Their most recent mid-season draftee Jack Buller (FWD, $200K) only featured in one game last season and following Buddy’s retirement he may be called upon to help bolster their attacking game. Academy prospect Caiden Cleary (MID, $231K) gives me LDU vibes with his highlight reel from a season ago, although I can’t see him breaking through in 2024 for a lot of senior footy. The same could be said for Corey Warner (FWD, $200K) and Jacob Kostanksy (FWD, $200K) who are set to bide their time in the VFL and wait for a callup that may not come this season.

Recent debutants: 6 in 2023, 10 in 2022

All eyes were fixed on Harley Reid (MID/FWD, $300K) last weekend when he clashed with Fremantle and it’s fair to say the “Prince of Perth” was underwhelming. Of course, fantasy coaches are now freaking out and flicking the No. 1 pick off the field, with some even axing him from their starting team. We shouldn’t read too much into one showing against what appeared to be a strong Dockers outfit, although there will be more concern if he falters again vs. the Crows on Saturday. If Adam Simpson continues to deploy Reid at halfback and the Eagles struggle mightily then we may have to adjust our expectations from the excitement machine – but that doesn’t mean he should be ignored completely. The Eagles rook I was most excited about this preseason won’t line up in Round 1 following an ankle injury, but Clay Hall (MID, $200K) should see regular game time when he’s back to full health.

Hailing from my club of origin in the South West, Hall had impressive performances for Peel Thunder’s league side last year that suggests he’ll be able to battle with bigger bodies in the AFL. Harvey Johnston (MID/FWD, $200K) and Archer Reid (RUC/FWD $213K) also joined the club this offseason via the draft, however they both appear poised to develop in the WAFL at the beginning of the year. The latest injury setback to Matt Flynn will have ripple effects through West Coast’s ruck division as well – potentially paving the way for Harry Barnett (RUC/FWD, $200K) or Coen Livingstone (RUC/FWD, $200K) to have their development fast-forwarded. Don’t expect lofty scores from either of the duo, but they could become the R3 heartbeat coaches are chasing if they are picked for the Eagles.

Recent debutants: 2 in 2023, 2 in 2022

The match simulation showing from Ryley Sanders (MID, $285K) has only given fantasy coaches more confidence about his potential output in 2024. There are a few mouths to feed in the Bulldogs’ midfield, and yet, I still have high hopes for Sanders as an on-field MID pick who will be able to grow a healthy amount before it’s time to part ways with him. One of just four players who boast an ownership percentage over 50, Sanders is a viable candidate to pick up DPP in Round 7 as well, which only enhances his fantasy appeal. Basement-priced Dogs Harvey Gallagher (FWD, $200K), Joel Frejah (MID/FWD, $200K) and Jedd Busslinger (DEF, $200K) may get a crack at senior footy in the upcoming season as well, with Gallagher in particular one to monitor. His per-game averages (53.4 points from nine VFL games) last season aren’t stellar, however the versatile Bulldog could become a half-decent rookie pick should he break into the senior team.

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER@SportsbyFry for all things AFL Fantasy (and more)! Feel free to hit me up with any questions you have throughout the season. Got something to say about the Deck or AFL Fantasy in general? Join the conversation and use the hashtag #AFLFantasy.

An Australian coffee/burrito enthusiast who is the frustrated owner of 16 fantasy teams. Writer for SportsbyFry and DT Talk ?

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1 month ago

Love your work Fry, I always look forward to reading Cash Cows.

ari atkin
1 month ago

good advice with the upcomers

1 month ago

cheers Fry!!

1 month ago

Great start to the season from you Fry – quality & quantity.

1 month ago

Cheers for the read!

The Chosen Won™®©
1 month ago

2024 RDT Leagues:

Real DT Talk (636682)..2 spots remaining.
RDT (866096)..4 spots remaining.
RealDreamTeam (224540)..2 spots remaining.

Last 8 spots for 2024.

Good Luck

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