IT is no secret that ready-made recruits are in vogue, favoured increasingly over each draft given the potential for them to slot straight into an AFL 22. With that in mind, and how important the right rookie choices will be for your fantasy sides, here are the draftees from each club to keep an eye on throughout the year who look most likely to crack into their respective starting lineups.
Chayce Jones, Midfielder
Jones has hit the ground running in pre-season, with the hard-working midfielder keen to break into Adelaide’s Round 1 calculations. Able to play on each line, Jones has the versatility to find a place anywhere in the line-up – skyrocketing his chances of early selection. The former Tassie Mariners skipper won All Australian honours last year, and could well have been in top five contention at the draft if he were a few centimetres taller. Expect Jones to be a consistent figure once picked, with a good ability to accumulate and use the ball effectively.
Others to consider: Ned McHenry
Noah Answerth, Defender/Midfielder
Oakleigh’s 2018 captain prospered in his over-age year, bouncing back from an injury-tarnished 2017 to bolt into Brisbane’s draft plans. The 55th pick of the draft became an adept rebounder off half-back on both sides, with the capabilities to move into the midfield upon further growth. Answerth could prove a handy pick as he is already named as a dual-position player, with his leadership and work ethic traits that should have him in the good graces of coach, Chris Fagan.
Others to consider: Ely Smith, Connor McFadyen
Sam Walsh, Midfielder
One of the more straight-forward choices at number one in recent years came in the form of Sam Walsh for the Blues. The Geelong Falcons product is a perfectly balanced midfielder – one who accumulates well on the outside with his run, and can prize clearances all day for his side. Walsh uses the ball well and showed he can hit the scoreboard too, and may well be the most obvious rookie choice in fantasy history given he is arguably the most decorated junior of the past decade. Lock him in for Round 1, bar any injuries, and expect him to hold his own in the young Blues midfield.
Others to consider: Liam Stocker
Isaac Quaynor, Defender
Anyone who has seen Quaynor’s pre-season figure will know he looks more than ready for the rigours of AFL football. The versatile defender has grown extensibly in both physically and talent-wise over the past year, making him a prospect who featured as high as pick 12 on some clubs draft boards. He went just one pick later to keep the ‘Pies accountable, and may be well worth it nonetheless with his athleticism and growing ability to find the ball. Defensive spots are hard to fill, but Quaynor may be a solid answer.
Irving Mosquito, Forward/Midfielder
The Bombers did not gain the biggest of draft hauls, but have a beauty in the form of Irving Mosquito. His value and upside may well translate into fantasy terms given his dual-position status, but expect the Gippsland product to feature most prominently up forward for the Bombers if anything. Good in the air and lethal around goal, Mosquito will be hard to miss once he is out there, and the Bombers certainly liked the look of him given he was selected with their first pick.
Others to consider: Brayden Ham
Brett Bewley, Midfielder
Former Seagull, Bewley has been knocking on the door of AFL selection for a few seasons now, and gets his chance alongside VFL teammate, Lachlan Schultz at the Dockers. The solidly built midfielder has added inside grunt to his already prominent outside run and booming left foot kick. Averaging 25 disposals per VFL game in 2018, Bewley could well be one to provide aid to the relatively young Freo midfield over time, should he not break in straight away. His age, frame, and versatility point towards an early debut, though.
Others to consider: Sam Sturt, Luke Valente, Lachlan Schultz
Jordan Clark, Defender
Impressive WA defender Jordan Clark was his state’s best during the National Championships, propelling him into first round contention. Clark looks a great fit for the Cats, who have been looking to add run to their side – and the Claremont product will hope to slot straight in across half back. An elite junior cricketer, Clark reads the play beautifully and is especially clean by both hand and foot, while also having already proven himself amongst senior bodies in the WAFL during his top-age year. Clark’s knack for kicking the ball more often than not also bodes well for fantasy points, given his efficiency and rebound prowess.
Others to consider: Darcy Fort
Sam Collins, Defender
No, your eyes do not deceive you. While he may not be the obvious choice out of Gold Coast’s draft haul which included four first-rounders, Sam Collins looks to be a sure choice for fantasy defences. In a similar mould to Adelaide’s Tom Doedee, Collins is an outstanding reader of the ball in flight, and became known for his intercept marking while suiting for VFL side, Werribee. Equal-third in 2018’s JJ Liston Trophy, Collins landed at the Suns via the state league access system and may well slot straight into a defensive post after Steven May’s departure alongside pick six, Ben King.
Others to consider: Jack Lukosius, Izak Rankine, Ben King, Jez McLennan
Xavier O’Halloran, Midfielder
Having taken three versatile midfielders with their first picks in the draft, GWS may face some selection headaches early on given the depth and talent they have acquired. Nonetheless, O’Halloran could be the pick of the bunch with his readymade frame, mix of speed and athleticism, and ability to play forward. A fearless leader for both Western Jets and Vic Metro in 2018, O’Halloran is a contested beast with strong hands overhead and a lovely set shot when required. He may not be a lock just yet, but a good number of the Giants’ haul look likely to get a go during their first year.
Others to consider: Jye Caldwell, Jackson Hately, Kieren Briggs
Damon Greaves, Defender/Midfielder
One who slipped through the national draft, Greaves was a clever pick from the Hawks as a rookie selection. A rebounding defender with good endurance, the West Australian uses the ball with good efficiency and penetration by foot. With the loss of Ryan Burton and injuries hampering Grant Birchall, the door may open for a youngster like Greaves to slot in across half back throughout the year – but he may face competition from fellow recruit, Jack Scrimshaw early on.
Marty Hore, Defender
2018 Collingwood VFL best and fairest Marty Hore may prove to be the best of the Victorian state league recruits – despite being the third picked. While Kade Kolodjashnij will undoubtedly occupy one of the Dee’s back flanks, Hore looks ready to burst onto the scene as an elite intercept marker and dangerous left-foot kick. The former Bendigo Pioneer found his level and excelled after being overlooked in his draft year, featuring in the last two VFL teams of the year having outshone AFL-listed talent throughout the competition. Set to be a bargain pick, the 22-year old could be one of the better defensive cash cows.
Others to consider: Tom Sparrow
Tarryn Thomas, Midfielder
Listed as purely a midfielder, North’s Next Generation Academy star has a definite ability to drift forward with ease and become a damaging figure inside 50. With clean hands and a knack for winning games off his own boot, Thomas was a no-brainer for the Roos to match within the top 10 of the draft after an exceptional year which saw him lead Tasmania to an Academy Series victory and the Allies to a win over Vic Country. Expect him to make an early appearance in the starting 22 alongside fellow draftee, Bailey Scott – adding pace and X-factor to North Melbourne’s engine room or forward half.
Others to consider: Bailey Scott, Tom McKenzie
Connor Rozee, Defender/Forward
Rozee seems a safe choice as Port’s first pick off the board, with the versatile South Australian also able to roll through the midfield despite his defender/forward status. Highly touted since his Division One Under 16 National Championships MVP in 2016, Rozee bolted into the top five after starring in South Australia’s Under 18 championship win, and North Adelaide’s senior premiership. While he still has room to grow, Rozee may well hone his craft in the big-time up forward, where he is able to find the goals well, cover ground quickly, and mark strongly overhead. Expect him to feature almost instantly as Port’s premier South Australian pick.
Others to consider: Zak Butters, Xavier Duursma
Riley Collier-Dawkins, Midfielder
While Richmond’s midfield will be a hard one to crack, Collier-Dawkins could well find his place in the Tigers lineup as part of the forward six. With coach Damien Hardwick favouring a third tall amongst his mosquito fleet and established big-men, the Oakleigh product could snatch selection in the place of someone like Jacob Townsend, while Josh Caddy moves further up the filed. One who is touted as more of a prodigy than a readymade star, Collier-Dawkins may take some time to excel, but has the frame and natural talent to win contested ball or cause trouble in the air up forward – having played deep forward for both Oakleigh and Vic Metro at times in 2018.
Others to consider: Jack Ross, Fraser Turner, Jake Aarts
Jack Bytel, Midfielder
While a back injury looks likely to curtail the start of his AFL career, Jack Bytel is one to keep an eye on throughout 2019. The Calder Cannons product is a proven ball-winner (22 possessions per TAC Cup game) who loves to get his hands dirty at stoppages (4.5 clearances). While he did not quite live up to the expectation that an U16 Vic Metro MVP and AFL Academy selection usually entails, Bytel is a consistent performer who could be a damaging midfielder once he fills out his 188cm frame and gets back on the park.
Others to consider: Nick Hind, Callum Wilkie
Nick Blakey, Forward
Poised to take over from where Lance Franklin leaves off, Blakey has the key tools of all prodigious key forwards to go with the athleticism of a midfielder. While he can play further up the field, Blakey’s overhead marking ability and booming left-foot kick make him a perfect fit for Sydney looking towards the future. With the promising Tom McCartin one of the few contenders for his position, Blakey should find his way into the first 22 at some point during the season – purely on the back of the talent he showed this year for the Swans Academy and Allies side.
Others to consider: James Rowbottom
Luke Foley, Midfielder
After not even nominating for the national draft in his top age year, Foley returned with an absolute bang to become one of WA’s best talents. A year more developed than the class of 2018, Foley could be favoured over the more raw draftees the Eagles picked up and looks to be a sure pick to slot into either their midfield of forward line – despite premiership sides being notoriously hard to crack. His strong hands and penetrating kick will be assets at the next level, with his pure talent worth a shot for the Eagles after taking him in the second round. Being a local boy helps, and Foley should have no issue in adapting to the rigours of AFL out west given his work ethic.
Others to consider: Jarrod Cameron
Will Hayes, Midfielder
Another VFL success story, Hayes gets the nod here over fellow state league recruit Ben Cavarra and first round gun, Bailey Smith. Averaging 26 disposals for Footscray’s VFL outfit, Hayes enjoyed a career-best season having steadily improved over his five years in the system. At 23 years of age, Hayes looks ready to make a splash in the stacked Doggies midfield, and has the workrate that coach Luke Beveridge seems to favour, having taken Hayes with the last pick in the national draft. It will be a toss-up for selection early on between Hayes and the recruits mentioned, but all three could well sneak into the 22 across each line given the versatility of the other two.
Others to consider: Bailey Smith, Ben Cavarra