Rookie Radar: Post AAMI Series

When looking back on 2021, we were blessed with cash cows such as Gulden, Powell, Warner and Jordon who likely played an important role in the first-half of your campaign. We then had the likes of Bergman, Sharp and Bramble coming through later in the season.

It’s no secret that getting your rookie selections right goes a long way to enjoying a good season as a fantasy coach. With the limited salary cap, you will inevitably start with rookies on your field and bench. When selecting your rookies, it is important to consider both scoring potential and job security. You want rookies on your field you can trust to score decently and get a game week-in, week-out. There’s no point having rookies who score well in one or two games then get dropped! It’s also important to pay attention to your bench selections, as cash generation is the name of the game in the early rounds. With low breakevens to start the season, your rookies will be you main provider of cash generation and inevitably gives you more options when looking to upgrade or downgrade to another rookie (I’ll coin the term ‘Rookie Recycling’). With the inflated salary cap, my rookie threshold price is <$350K.

*Ownership (%) as of 10 March 2022

DEFENDERS

Josh Gibcus ($274K DEF | RICH | 8.61% ownership)

The young defender did not look out of place in the Tigers AAMi series outing vs Hawthorn. Won’t set the world on fire with his scoring and his job security may hinge on the fitness of both Grimes and Vlaustin, who are under injury clouds leading into round 1. Even if not selected for round 1, expect Gibcus to get a crack at AFL level at some point in the season.

Predicted Average: 45-55

Sam De Koning ($190K DEF/FWD | GEEL | 35.03% ownership)

The 204cm defender did his round 1 selection chances no harm with a solid 70 vs Gold Coast in the AAMI Series. Someone will need to make way for Tom Stewart but us coaches are crossing our fingers and toes it isn’t this man! Would be a viable bench option if selected in round one at basement rookie price.

Predicated Average: 55-65

Josh Sinn ($268K DEF/MID | PA | 17.87% ownership)

The fact that Sinn did not take to the field until the second half of Port’s AAMI Series clash with the Crows is a cause for concern. When he did come on, he looked good and used the footy well. Not sure if he has done enough to play round 1Port Adelaide is a difficult side to break in to at present!

Predicted Average: 50-60

In the Mix:

  • Caleb Marchbank ($294K DEF | CARL | 3.77% ownership)
  • Nathan O’Driscoll ($190K DEF/MID | FREO | 30.11% ownership)
  • Will Kelly ($191K DEF/FWD | COLL | 34.27% ownership)

Injured:

  • Keidean Coleman ($343K DEF/FWD | BL | 2.29% ownership)
  • Campbell Chesser ($264K DEF/MID | WCE | 3.52% ownership)
  • Charlie Dean ($190 DEF | COLL | 6.51% ownership)

MIDFIELDERS

Jason Horne-Francis ($290K MID | NM | 56.01% ownership)

The #1 draft pick lived up to the hype with a solid performance against the Swans in the AAMI Series. He looked dangerous up forward, kicking two goals on his way to 78 fantasy points. His job security should be great and I think he’s a lock to be selected for round 1.

Predicted Average: 65-75

Nick Daicos ($284K MID | COLL | 59.3% ownership)

Don’t overthink this one. Was the Pies best afield in their AAMI Series clash with the Giants, racking up 31 possessions and 99 fantasy points. Will ply his trade predominantly off half-back with stints on-ball. Over 59% of coaches have already locked him in at M6/M7 – I am no different.

Predicted Average: 70-80

Josh Ward ($278K MID | HAW | 32.23% ownership)

The pick #7 from the 2021 draft was ultra impressive in the Hawks AAMI Series clash with the Tigers, finishing the game with a team-high 29 possessions to go with 91 fantasy points. Ward made the most of a Mitchell and O’Meara-less Hawthorn midfield. These two will return to the side at some point and assume their midfield roles. With this in mind, I think we should temper our expectations when it comes to Ward’s scoring.

Predicted Average: 60-70

Connor McDonald ($240K MID | HAW | 3.72% ownership)

Another Hawks youngster who has thrown his hat in the ring for round 1 selection. Looked good playing as a high-half forward in the Hawks AAMI series clash with the Tigers. He finished with a classy goal to go with 57 fantasy points from 71% time on ground. Could be a viable bench option if selected for round 1.

Predicted Average: 45-55

Robbie McComb ($190K MID | WB | 1.27% ownership)

The 2021 Bulldogs VFL best & Fairest scored nicely in the Dogs AAMI series clash with the Lions, albeit 34 fantasy points from 39% time on ground. Job security looks shaky at best and even if he does get a game, don’t expect McComb to set the world on fire from a scoring perspective. A forward role is probably more realistic given the quantity of mouths to feed in that rampaging Dogs midfield!

Predicted Average: 45-55

In the Mix:

  • Jackson Mead (190K MID | PA | 11.97% ownership)
  • Jake Soligo ($220K MID | ADEL | 1.52% ownership)
  • James Tsitas ($190K MID | GCS | 4.94% ownership)

Injured:

  • Greg Clark ($190K MID | WCE | 16.8% ownership)

RUCKS

Sam Hayes ($190K RUC | PA | 34.73% ownership)

Plenty of coaches have big Sam locked in at R3 praying that he’ll get a game early in the piece! The fact that Hayes did not enter the game until the second half of Port’s AAMI series clash against the Crows is concerning. He did manage 50 fantasy points from 45% time on ground as the solo ruck once Lycett went off. Based on what I saw, I think the Power will go with Lycett as the solo ruck with Finalyson and Dixon pinch hitting. Hopefully for our sake, Hayes will get a run at some point in 2022!

Predicted Average: 50-60

In the Mix:

  • Jack Hayes ($190K FWD/RUC | STK | 10.24% ownership)

FORWARDS

Joshua Rachele ($280K MID/FWD | ADEL | 42.09% ownership)

Huge wraps on the young, solidly built kid who is primed for a round 1 debut. Looked dangerous as a forward in the Crows AAMI Series clash with Port, finishing the game with 12 disposals, 9 tackles and 3 goals for 90 fantasy points. No surprise that he finds himself in over 40% of teams as the scoring potential and job security seems to be there. I wouldn’t be expecting 90’s every week playing a a mid-sized forward, however.

Predicted Average: 60-70

Hugo Ralphsmith ($258K MID/FWD | RICH | 19.63% ownership)

Many were keeping a close eye on Ralphsmith’s role in the Tigers AAMI Series clash with the Hawks, with many pundits tipping him to fill the void left by retiring veteran Bachar Houli off half-back. Sure enough, Ralphsmith lined up across half-back and worked in to the game nicely to finish the day with 86 fantasy points. Looks to have bulked up and improved his running capacity in the pre-season, which should hold him in good stead to fill the empty half-back position. Keep in mind that team mate Dan Rioli is also vying for a spot at half-back. It’s anyone’s guess as to whether both will get this role come round 1.

Predicted Average: 60-70

Tanner Bruhn ($316K FWD | GWS | 0.52% ownership)

Bruhn was lively for the Giants in their AAMI series game, playing a midfield/forward role and finishing with 60 fantasy points. He was a real presence around the footy and showed his class in front of goal. Plenty of mouths to feed in the Giants stacked midfield and I suspect Bruhn is still a fair way down the pecking order. I would expect him to continue playing predominantly as a small forward and pinch hitting on-ball.

Predicted Average: 50-60

Corey Durdin ($190K FWD | CARL | 9.16% ownership)

Showed a bit as a small forward in Carlton’s AAMI Series game vs Melbourne, however, could not see out the game, coming off in Q3 with a calf complaint. By all reports, should be fit for round 1 and could be another viable bench option. Don’t expect Durdin to set the world on fire scoring wise – if selected, he will play as a small forward.

Predicted Average: 40-50

In the Mix:

  • Tristan Xerri ($281K FWD | NM | 7.88% ownership)
  • Charlie Curnow ($346K FWD | CARL | 5.28% ownership)
  • Tyson Stengle ($298K FWD | GEEL | 5.16% ownership)
  • Willie Rioli ($293k FWD | WCE | 4.63% ownership)

Final Thoughts

As you’ve probably already figured out, it seems to be slim pickings with our rookies in defence. This may force our hand in changing team structure to select less rookies in our defensive lines and more elsewhere (i.e., midfield and forward) that have better scoring potential and/or job security. Of course selecting any rookie presented in this article (or not) hinges on whether they actually play in round 1! Don’t fall into the trap of just picking random basement priced rookies that aren’t playing – this will only set you up for failure through lack of cash generation. Make sure you stay up to date with all the ins and outs each week via the AFL website.

So there you have it folks! Let me know your thoughts in the comments! Have I missed anyone? Are there any rookies you are particularly bullish (or bearish) on?

Cheers legends and happy rookie selecting,

Fantasy Fanatic #70

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