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Fry’s Cash Cows – 2024 AFL Fantasy Rookie Guide

With Round 1 just around the corner, Fry delivers the ultimate rookie/cash cow guide for 2024!

What an offseason! I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to stop overanalysing and making hourly changes to my AFL Fantasy side and for the season to get underway. Of course, the Round 0 curveball has led to multiple changes across multiple lines for fantasy coaches, but as the age old adage goes ‘rookies dictate our structure’. As we make the final tweaks and changes to our 30-player squad remember, there’s nothing wrong with paying up on the bench, trust your gut and invest in these cash cows if you want to be successful in season 2024.

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

Make sure to also cast your eyes over:
My DT Talk 2024 Preseason Watchlist
SBF article – The most important rookies/cash cows for 2024

You can find more AFL, NBA and NFL fantasy advice from Fry by joining the Fantasy SportsbyFry Patreon community!


1. Blake Howes, Demons

AFL Fantasy Price: $200,000
Round 0 Score: 74 from 74% TOG
Preseason Score:
26 from 69% TOG
2023 Average: 86.5 from 14 VFL League games

My hand has been forced. After scoring just 26 points in the preseason I considered Blake Howes as a D8 selection, at best. Since then, the Dees defender has seen his ownership rise by over 25% thanks to a strong score against Sydney and Melbourne’s ever-growing injury list. Couple that with a negative breakeven and Howes is bound to rise rapidly in value over the coming weeks, making him a prime rookie target to start the season. His 2023 VFL average suggests that Howes will be able to churn out some half-decent scores as long as he keeps his place in the Demons’ senior side.

2. Arie Schoenmaker, Saints

AFL Fantasy Price: $200,000
Preseason Score: 83 from 79% TOG
2023 Average: 104.2 from 8 Coates Talent League games; 78.5 from 2 U-18 champ games

From a scoring perspective, Schoenmaker is the only DEF rookie I’d feel safe playing on my field right now. A promising kick-handball ratio saw the Launceston product score at will during his final junior season and there’s optimism that he can maintain that scoring pace in the pros. 83 points from his 16 disposals (14 kicks) against the Roos a fortnight ago is a nice start, however, it’s no secret that the newest Saint is still a raw AFL prospect. That will likely lead to Schoenmaker spending the bulk of the season in the VFL, but if St Kilda selects him then he’s a near must-have for our backline given the lack of reliable scorers.

3. Zach Reid, Bombers

AFL Fantasy Price: $253,000
Preseason Score: 67 from 92% TOG
2023 Average: 35.5 from 2 VFL League games

Initially drafted by Essendon in 2020, Zach Reid has had injuries to blame for an inconsistent start to his AFL career. The Bombers backman turned 22 last week and both he and the football club are hopeful that this will be the season he can become a key contributor to their success. Even with the recruitment of Ben McKay, Essendon are lacking in capable tall defenders, which bodes well for Reid’s job security. While there are bound to be some scoring lulls throughout the season, it’s worth paying up for Reid to begin another fantasy campaign.

4. Daniel Curtin, Crows

AFL Fantasy Price: $279,000
Preseason Score: DNP
2023 Average: 59.5 from 6 WAFL League; 80 from 6 WAFL U-18 games; 101.8 from 4 U-18 champ games

If Daniel Curtin played for the Crows in either of the preseason hitouts then he’d likely appear higher in these DEF rankings. Adelaide has publicly stated they plan to take their time with Curtin and his approach to senior footy, having battled multiple minor injuries and niggles throughout his first summer at West Lakes. While he possesses the traits to be a difference-maker at stoppages, the No. 8 overall pick will start his career in defence which may hamper his scoring ceiling. It’s clear that Curtin is a massive part of the Crows’ future and there’s no doubt that he’ll get his chance to play senior footy at some point this year. Fantasy coaches should make sure they’re ready to pounce on him when that happens.

5. Ethan Phillips, Hawks

AFL Fantasy Price: $200,000
Preseason Score: 43 from 83% TOG
2023 Average: 73.7 from 18 VFL games

Desperate times call for desperate measures and as the injuries continued to mount this preseason at Hawthorn, they were forced to recruit reinforcements. Enter Ethan Phillips, a key back out of Port Melbourne who I was surprised hadn’t been snapped up by an AFL team yet. Phillips claimed the Fothergill-Round-Mitchell Medal in 2022 as the most promising young talent in the VFL – averaging 88.8 fantasy points and showcasing his intercepting prowess with 9.8 marks a game. While his fantasy average dipped in 2023, Phillips now gets a chance to showcase his talents at the top level and serve as a handy cash cow in the process. Temper your expectations from a scoring standpoint, although there’s nothing wrong with picking the Hawks defender for your bench to start the year.

Best of the rest – Defenders

Still sitting in over 22% of teams right now, a lot of the fantasy faithful are trusting Toby Pink (Kangaroos, $200K) to be a money-making option on their benches. While those ownership numbers are inflated by coaches who likely filled their team out in late Dec/early Jan, Pink could find a regular home in North’s backline but I don’t expect lofty scores to follow. Similar could be said for Josh Gibcus (Tigers, $256K) who appears to be back to full health after missing all of the 2023 season. Falling into the category of “better footballer than fantasy player”, Gibcus will be a key cog in the Tigers’ backline this year – that doesn’t mean he’s a great fantasy pick though. Round 0 performers Charlie Dean (Magpies, $200K) and Bodhi Uwland (Suns, $219K) are generating some interest, and yet, concerns around their job security and scoring ability suggest you should look elsewhere to fill out your starting team. One last defensive note, a newly broken collarbone for Jake Bowey could pave the way for Marty Hore (Demons, $307K) to feature regularly although there are no guarantees.

Deeeeep Dive

Not every cash cow can be in the mix for a Round 1 game, however, that doesn’t mean their names aren’t worth remembering. In no particular order, here are some of the other rookie-priced defenders to consider throughout the season.
James Leake (Giants, $252K)
Jakob Ryan (Magpies, $200K)
Oisin Mullin (Cats, $245K)
Billy Wilson (Blues, $201K)
Riley Hardeman (Kangaroos, $234K)
Sam Clohesy (Suns, $200K)
Karl Worner (Dockers, $278K)
Archie Roberts (Bombers, $200K)
Caleb Mitchell (Swans, $200K)
Jedd Busslinger (Bulldogs, $200K)
Charlie Edwards (Crows, $240K)
Caleb Graham (Suns, $239K)
Connor O’Sullivan (Cats, $270K)


1. Colby McKercher, Kangaroos

AFL Fantasy Price: $297,000
Preseason Score: 63 from 78% TOG
2023 Average: 111.7 from 9 Coates Talent League games; 117.3 from 4 U-18 champ games

The talented Roo has been an easy selection from the day the fantasy platform opened. After turning heads with the Allies during his U-18 campaign, North Melbourne was chuffed to land Colby McKercher in the draft and his remarkable blend of speed, skill and endurance will see him evolve into a stoppage specialist for the Roos. Having featured off the halfback line throughout the preseason so far, fantasy coaches won’t complain when McKercher adds DEF status to his name as the season progresses – only further adding to the appeal of picking the new Roo.

2. Ryley Sanders, Bulldogs

AFL Fantasy Price: $285,000
Preseason Score: 92 from 80% TOG
2023 Average: 106.8 from 9 Coates Talent League games; 125 from 4 U-18 champ games

We got a glimpse into the future during the Bulldogs’ preseason hitout with Hawthorn, as Ryley Sanders helped himself to an impressive score fuelled by a 38-point fourth quarter. Even before that performance, the majority of the fantasy community had locked Sanders into their midfield to start the season. The standout midfielder in his draft class in the eyes of many, Sanders is set to begin his AFL career with a fair dosage of midfield minutes which should lead to noteworthy fantasy numbers. He may be forced to spend time playing additional roles for Luke Beveridge in his rookie season, although Sanders should still score well enough to be a constant in our teams for most of the fantasy campaign.

3. Matt Roberts, Swans

AFL Fantasy Price: $245,000
Round 0 Score: 91 from 78% TOG
Preseason Score:
68 from 56% TOG
2023 Average: 30.8 from 6 AFL games; 89.8 from 5 VFL League games

A stellar performance in Opening Round has seen Matt Roberts vault to fantasy relevance a few days out from Round 1. Having found a home in defence for the Swans, the 20-year-old appears set for a consistent run in the senior side after spending his career to date battling for a place in the best-22. Originally drafted as a midfielder, Roberts was forced to don the green or red vest for most of his early career which led to the young Swan becoming a fantasy afterthought. After a pair of strong scores so far in 2024, there is a blueprint that suggests that Roberts has plenty of money to make this season.

4. Jhye Clark, Cats

AFL Fantasy Price: $237,000
Preseason Score: 68 from 69% TOG
2023 Average: 36 from 1 AFL game; 66.7 from 6 VFL games

Jhye Clark will look to put a troubled rookie season behind him after managing just seven games in his first year at the Cattery. Drafted with the 8th overall pick, Clark forged a reputation as a workhorse and talented ball-winner as a junior and as Geelong’s list continues to age, he’ll be given every chance to develop at AFL level. Fantasy coaches should be encouraged by his efforts in the preseason hitout against Essendon, where Clark gathered 17 touches and led the Cats midfielders in CBA’s. Mix that in with a healthy dose of tackles and the second-year MID should surpass 60 points more often than not in 2024.

5. Jeremy Sharp, Dockers

AFL Fantasy Price: $284,000
Preseason Score: 51 from 77% TOG
2023 Average: 91.3 from 19 VFL games

A fresh start in his home state should see Jeremy Sharp become a popular fantasy pick once again. A relevant cash cow back in 2021 while he was with the Suns, Sharp is now set to put his line-breaking ability to good use on a wing at Fremantle. Outside players aren’t usually the best source of fantasy production, but that hasn’t stopped nearly 30% of coaches from locking the new Docker into their sides. There’s hope that Sharp can buck that trend and become a regular member of the Freo’s best-22 following the departure of Liam Henry in the offseason and with Nathan O’Driscoll currently dealing with a blood clot in his knee.

6. Clay Hall, Eagles

AFL Fantasy Price: $200,000
Preseason Score: DNP
2023 Average: 67.7 from 9 WAFL games; 108 from 2 WAFL U-18 games; 96.8 from 4 U-18 champ games

Available at basement price, Clay Hall will surely be a contributor to our fantasy sides at some point this season. An ankle injury he suffered during an intraclub hitout in mid-February has halted momentum towards a Round 1 debut, and yet, the Peel Thunder talent could still push for an early berth with the Eagles. Having featured in nine WAFL league games last season while averaging a shade under 19 disposals, Hall is more than capable of thriving alongside bigger bodies in the AFL. West Coast are eager to unearth players who can shoulder a heavy workload in the midfield as they aim to enter phase two of their rebuild and the stars are aligning for Hall to be one such player.

7. Josh Fahey, Giants

AFL Fantasy Price: $277,000
Round 0 Score: DNP
Preseason Score: 69 from 79% TOG
2023 Average: 33.7 from 7 AFL games; 110.8 from 11 VFL games

It’s difficult to find a spot for Josh Fahey in GWS’ senior side right now, although he’s obviously too good to spend the year plying his craft in the VFL again. In his 11 games playing for the Giants’ reserves team in 2023, Fahey produced mouthwatering fantasy scores that included multiple matches with over 160 points and 40+ disposals! He missed Round 0 selection completely, failing to even earn a gig as an emergency – which doesn’t bode well for Fahey to start the season. However, he’s proven to be a more than capable scorer when Adam Kingsley selects him and as a result, it’s worth adding Fahey to your watchlist with the hopes he can squeeze his way into the team after the Giants’ Round 3 bye.

Best of the rest – Midfielders

With a huge number of fantasy-relevant rookies owning MID/FWD status, there isn’t a huge number of stand-alone MID’s that warrant our attention right now. Residing at the top of the pile is Josh Sinn (Power, $257K) who still appears to be on the outside looking in for the Power. The Port speedster has battled multiple injuries since arriving at the club, but he did manage to average 69.5 fantasy points from his 11 SANFL games last season. I don’t have a ton of confidence that Sinn will break into the senior side consistently this year, with Harry Rowston (Giants, $241K) falling into a similar basket with GWS. Dominant VFL players Lachie Sullivan (Magpies, $200K) and Jaxon Binns (Blues, $200K) are worth remembering in case a call-up occurs, with Sam Docherty’s season-ending injury potentially paving the way for Binns to earn an AFL debut.

Deeeeep Dive

Not every cash cow can be in the mix for a Round 1 game, however, that doesn’t mean their names aren’t worth remembering. In no particular order, here are some of the other rookie-priced midfielders to consider throughout the season.
Kane McAuliffe (Tigers, $200K)
Ed Allen (Magpies, $200K)
Jake Rogers (Suns, $261K)
Caiden Cleary (Swans, $231K)
Hugh Jackson (Power, $200K)
Harry DeMattia (Magpies, $228K)
Mitch Hardie (Cats, $200K)
George Stevens (Cats, $200K)
Jack Bytel (Magpies, $270K)


1. Harry Barnett, Eagles

AFL Fantasy Price: $200,000
Preseason Score: 11 from 33% TOG
2023 Average: 50.6 from 15 WAFL games

The clear-cut R3 choice in my opinion is Harry Barnett, with the developmental Eagle potentially in line for serious game time in 2024. Matt Flynn’s injury setback creates an opportunity for Barnett to ruck at AFL level for West Coast and any cash generation he has up his sleeve will be convenient at a position we often neglect. Some coaches will be hoping Barnett stays in the WAFL so they can utilise him for loophole purposes, although I’ll be shocked if Barnett doesn’t see some game time in the first portion of the fantasy season.

2. Toby Conway, Cats

AFL Fantasy Price: $316,000
Preseason Score: DNP
2023 Average: 74.3 from 3 VFL games

Early in the preseason, it seemed like this would be the year that Geelong started to hand over the RUC responsibilities to the budding Toby Conway. However, 33-year-old Rhys Stanley and 32-year-old Mark Blicavs are poised to start the season as the hitout specialists for the Cats, with Conway missing out on selection in their AAMI Community Series game against the Bombers. While he’s set to commence the season on the outside looking in, I’m still convinced that we’ll see Conway add to his career games tally at some point this year. When that happens, there’s certainly merit in paying up for the Geelong tall.

3. Ethan Read, Suns

AFL Fantasy Price: $276,000
Preseason Score: DNP
2023 Average: 96.8 from 4 Coates Talent League games; 99.8 from 4 U-18 champ games

Stuck behind Jarrod Witts and Ned Moyle on the ruck depth chart for the Suns, we shouldn’t expect to see Ethan Read feature heavily at AFL level in his rookie season. Still, Damian Hardwick utilised Read in defence at times during the second half of their match simulation game vs. Brisbane and the 9th overall pick didn’t look out of place. Touted as the best ruckman in his draft class thanks in part to his wide variety of skills, Gold Coast were stoked to keep their academy prospect in Suns colours. It’s worth at least monitoring his progress at state level to begin the season with Read a rare talent who may force the hand of Gold Coast’s coaching staff.

Deeeeep Dive

Not every cash cow can be in the mix for a Round 1 game, however, that doesn’t mean their names aren’t worth remembering. In no particular order, here are some of the other rookie-priced ruckmen to consider throughout the season.
Henry Smith (Lions, $200K)
Coen Livingstone (Eagles, $200K)
Max Heath (Saints, $200K)
Nathan Kreuger (Magpies, $261K)
Archer Reid (Eagles, $213K)
Will Verrall (Demons, $200K)
Dante Visentini (Power, $283K)
Taylor Goad (Kangaroos, $243K)
Mitch Edwards (Cats, $207K)


1. Harley Reid, Eagles

AFL Fantasy Price: $300,000
Preseason Score: 73 from 73% TOG
2022 Average: 84.5 from 6 Coates Talent League games; 80.8 from 4 U-18 champ games

Residing in 92,000+ fantasy teams at the time of typing, Harley Reid is the standout choice as the most popular player in the game. A few coaches thought about pivoting and ignoring the talented Eagle after he struggled to score in a preseason hitout vs. the Dockers, however, that doubt was quickly put to bed the following week against Adelaide. Using his trademark explosiveness to burst away from stoppages, Reid racked up 20 touches while giving Eagles fans a sneak peek of what they can expect over the next decade. There will be some scoring inconsistencies during year one as West Coast battles to remove themselves from the bottom of the ladder, but don’t overthink this one – Harley Reid needs to be locked into our starting teams.

2. Charlie Lazzaro, Kangaroos

AFL Fantasy Price: $288,000
Preseason Score: 80 from 84% TOG
2023 Average: 33.3 from 6 AFL games; 99.8 from 13 VFL games

With an excessive number of cash cows to choose from in the forward line, ranking the top performers is a difficult task. In saying that, it’s fair to assume players who have already been exposed to AFL footy are likelier to perform over the new draftees. That’s one reason for Charlie Lazzaro featuring so high on the FWD rankings, coupled with a near 100-point scoring clip he produced in the VFL last year. Having failed to cement his place in North Melbourne’s team through three pro seasons to date, Lazzaro is finally in line for a consistent run at the top level, with his Round 24 efforts late last season (26 disposals and 88 points) an indication of what the budding Roo is capable of when given the chance.

3. Darcy Wilson, Saints

AFL Fantasy Price: $249,000
Preseason Score: 97 from 79% TOG
2023 Average: 102.5 from 11 Coates Talent League games; 70.8 from 4 U-18 champ games

No rookie turned more heads with his preseason performance than Darcy Wilson. Sure, the 97 points he scored did come against the Kangaroos, but don’t let that deter you from selecting the first-round draftee and possibly playing him on your field to commence the season. Wilson boasts strong fantasy numbers from his junior days and racking up 24 possessions against North while also hauling in 10 marks was encouraging to say the least. St Kilda has confirmed he’ll debut against Geelong this weekend and while we should temper scoring expectations, every switched-on fantasy coach will have Wilson somewhere in their initial squad of 30.

4. Zane Duursma, Kangaroos

AFL Fantasy Price: $291,000
Preseason Score: 64 from 84% TOG
2023 Average: 101.4 from 12 Coates Talent League games; 76.3 from 4 U-18 champ games

Scoring comes and goes with rookies but job security is key. If I were to tell you that Zane Duursma will play 17+ games in year one as an AFL footballer while bumping his price tag close to, if not over the $500K threshold then I guarantee you’d all pick him before Thursday’s lockout strikes. Set to spend most of his time inside-50 there won’t be massive 100-point outings from the young Roo, however, he’ll have ample opportunity to average 55 – which is more than enough to make Duursma a worthwhile starting pick. He is hardly a must-have starter given the wide variety of FWD cash cows on offer, so don’t go changing your team structure to find room for him. If you’ve got the cash up your sleeve though, Duursma is a fine choice.

5. Caleb Windsor, Demons

AFL Fantasy Price: $282,000
Round 0 Score: 45 from 81% TOG
Preseason Score: 46 from 66% TOG
2023 Average: 83.7 from 16 Coates Talent League games; 66 from 4 U-18 champ games

Two near-identical scores from Caleb Windsor in Round 0 and the AAMI Community Series haven’t exactly ‘wowed’ the fantasy community. Still, the talented Demon looms as a fine selection, taking up residence on a wing for Melbourne as Lachie Hunter continues to deal with a calf injury. Windsor has impressed both internally and externally during his first summer as an AFL footballer, suggesting that he’ll remain a part of the AFL side even when Hunter returns to full health. Over 29% of coaches have paid up to slot Windsor into their starting team and while he’s best suited at F7-F8, or even as a utility, there’s enough upside to suggest the Dees rook will be a serviceable cash cow in 2024.

Best of the rest – Forwards

A 61-point effort from Seth Campbell (Tigers, $200K) in Round 0 has seen the Richmond forward become a popular bench pick for fantasy coaches a few days out from the start of the season proper. I’m opting to steer clear at this stage given Campbell’s low possession-winning rate and uncertainty around his residence in the Tigers’ best-22. Similar could be said for Kai Lohmann (Lions, $257K) and Harvey Thomas (Giants, $200K) who, at times, were being picked throughout the preseason to fill out our forward lines. I’m still optimistic about Aaron Cadman’s (Giants, $221K) fantasy potential in 2024 with him and GWS starting sub Toby McMullin (Giants, $200K) seeing their ownership climb after their opening round efforts.

Orazio Fantasia (Blues, $269K) and Bailey Laurie (Demons, $200K) are another pair of cheap FWD’s who failed to fire last weekend and coupled with an early bye, the wise tactic is to ignore them for your starting side. Outside of the Round 0 performers, rookies such as Cooper Simpson (Dockers, $200K)Ollie Dempsey (Cats, $252K) and Shaun Mannagh (Cats, $200K) are amongst the next best and could be targetted as bench options. Mannagh offers the greatest fantasy upside from this trio, however, there are no assurances he’ll feature for the Cats right off the bat. One of the most popular rookies talked about this preseason in Finlay Macrae (Magpies, $310K) could also start the year in the VFL, or worse, in a sub vest. That rules him out of contention and unless we see him become a part of Collingwood’s best-22, you should spend up elsewhere.

Deeeeep Dive

Not every cash cow can be in the mix for a Round 1 game, however, that doesn’t mean their names aren’t worth remembering. In no particular order, here are some of the other rookie-priced forwards to consider throughout the season.
Harvey Gallagher (Bulldogs, $200K)
Nick Watson (Hawks, $288K)
Chris Burgess (Crows, $200K)
Tyrell Dewar (Eagles, $200K)
Kynan Brown (Demons, $200K)
Nate Caddy (Bombers, $273K)
James Tsitas (Suns, $200K)
Ashton Moir (Blues, $216K)
Lachlan McNeil (Bulldogs, $248K)
Steely Green (Tigers, $200K)
Darcy Jones (Giants, $200K)
James Tunstill (Lions, $286K)
Bigoa Nyoun (Kangaroos, $200K)
Lance Collard (Saints, $219K)
Reef McInnes (Magpies, $285K)
Billy Dowling (Crows, $200K)
Koltyn Tholstrup (Demons, $264K)
Taj Woewodin (Demons, $285K)
Brayden George (Kangaroos, $200K)
Logan Morris (Lions, $210K)

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. Good luck! ✌️

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

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johnny v
johnny v
4 months ago

Good round up Fry!

If anyone is hoping to put this into practice, I have an 8 team fantasy league with 2 places left. We are good but not hardcore ;)


4 months ago

Created a league if anyone wants to join: MYR9ZSFK

Brother ewwww
Brother ewwww
4 months ago

Surely seth campbell is worth a spot at F8 he will have good cash generation after a good score in round zero, he has a -38 break even

4 months ago

Hey Fry, not a rookie question but who would you take Whitfield or Newcombe?

4 months ago

In everyones humble opinion – last premo MID spot should go to who, Parish or Dawson?
I could honestly flip a coin atm….

4 months ago
Reply to  Jmad

Posted this in the wrong page – sorry 😕

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