Rookie Radar: Post Practice Matches

When looking back on 2022, we were blessed with cash cows such as Daicos, Martin, O’Driscoll and Rachele who likely played an important role in the first-half of your campaign. We then had the likes of Hobbs, Soligo and Wehr coming through in the mid-late part of 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 (a term I’ve previously coined: ‘Rookie Recycling’). With the inflated salary cap, our rookie threshold price is $300K with the top pick in 2022’s draft A-a-ron Cadman setting us back $300K flat.

*Ownership (%) as of 11 March 2023*


Reuben Ginbey ($284K DEF/MID | WCE | 53.18% ownership)

Ginbey’s high ownership really shouldn’t come as a surprise given how impressive he has been since arriving at the Weagles. He looks set to slot straight into the best 22 and there’s every chance he sees midfield minutes after attending 12 centre bounces vs Crom in their most recent hit out. For the record, Ginbey scored 68 from 56% game time so the scoring potential is there!

Predicted Average: 65-75

Alex Cincotta ($200K DEF/MID | CARL | 35.67% ownership)

A round 1 bolter who not many serious coaches would have had in their side over the preseason… The 26 year old looks ready made to have an impact as a mature-aged supplemental selection after plying his trade in the lower tiers for years. He had 73 from 80% game time in Carlton’s praccy match vs Collingwood playing a solid role down back.

Predicted Average: 60-70

Lachie Cowan ($242K DEF | CARL | 6.22% ownership)

Now here’s a guy I am bullish on! Not many coaches seem to be on the Cowan train, however, he showed plenty in Carlton’s practice games and his tenacity and composure would have impressed Michael Voss. He played much better in Carlton’s most recent hit out then what his fantasy numbers suggested (47 in 72% time on ground). In my opinion, he is right in the mix for a round 1 debut and could be the man to fill the hole left by Zac Williams.

Predicted Average: 55-65

Campbell Chesser ($200K DEF/MID | WCE | 48.99% ownership)

After a 2022 cruelled by injury, Chesser looks set to take his spot in a struggling Weagles outfit. He seemed to be rotating on a wing in the Weagles practice matches so the role is a tick! Couple that with the fact he is bargain basement and you can see why nearly half the competition are on board.

Predicted Average: 55-65

In the Mix:

  • Darcy Wilmot ($200K DEF | BL | 42.93% ownership)
  • Corey Wagner ($285K MID/DEF | FREO | 3.26% ownership)
  • Josh Weddle ($266K DEF | HAW | 6.54% ownership)


Will Ashcroft ($298K MID | BL | 62.88% ownership)

I can’t say I have seen a lot of the wonderkid, but by all reports he is a walk up starter in Brisbane’s midfield. He clocked up an elite 97 in 83% game time with 13 CBA’s in the Lions most recent practice match which bodes well for the young gun to have an immediate impact at AFL level. The most popular selection in the game and I’ll be locking him in at M6!

Predicted Average: 75-85

Cam Mackenzie ($288K MID | HAW | 43.15% ownership)

Hawthorn looked to have picked up a beauty in Cam Mackenzie. He was everywhere in Hawthorn’s praccy match with Collingwood, racking up 24 touches on his was to 92 fantasy points from 73% time on ground! He also attended 19/31 centre bounces so the role looks outstanding. Job security is also a big tick given where the Hawks list is at.

Predicted Average: 65-75

Will Phillips ($270K MID | NM | 41.54% ownership)

Having been in the system a few years, Phillips finally looks ready to make his mark on the big stage. He deserves a bit of luck after copping glandular fever twice in 2022! They must rate him internally after he inherited the #29 from Boomer! He showed plenty in Norf’s practice match vs the Dogs, and looks set for a midfield role after attending 19 centre bounces in this game. From my perspective, he passed the eye test with ease – matching it with his physicality against a more fancied Doggies midfield.

Predicted Average: 65-75

Ollie Hollands ($280K MID | CARL | 8.94% ownership)

The highly touted youngster, whilst very raw, has shown plenty of promise over the preseason and had 68 from 84% game time on Carlton’s most recent praccy match vs Sydney. Hollands was plying his trade off a wing in this game. The only question mark I have here is the recruitment of Blake Acres may affect his job securty early in the season… Regardless, I think we can expect Hollands to get some exposure at the top level at some point this season.

Predicted Average: 55-65

Matty Roberts ($200K MID | SYD | 14.85% ownership)

After a forgetful 6 fantasy points on debut vs Collingwood in 2022, Roberts has looked solid this preseason. I’m still not sold on his job security, though his 67 from 69% game time against Carlton won’t do his chances any harm. Make sure you keep an eye on team selections.

Predicted Average: 50-60

In the Mix:

  • Bailey Humphrey ($290K MID/FWD | GCS | 9.36% ownership)
  • Josh Sinn ($233k MID/FWD | PA | 10.42% ownership)
  • Henry Husthwaite ($228K MID | HAW | 0.58% ownership)


Samson Ryan ($200K RUC/FWD | RICH | 22.49% ownership)

Mmmm… It looks as if it is going to be slim pickings in the ruck department early in season 2023. He is still behind Nank the Tank in the Tigers pecking order, though his 42 in 24% game time vs Melbourne and Grawndy will give Tigers fan confidence if he is selected.

Predicted Average: 40-50

In the Mix:

  • Lachlan McAndrew ($200K RUC/FWD | SYD | 17.19% ownership)
  • Max Heath ($200K RUC/FWD | STK | 8.84% ownership)


Harry Sheezel ($296K FWD | NM | 48.05% ownership)

The pick #3 looks to be the most popular forward rookie selection going around and coaches would have been buoyed by his 75 from 87% game time against the Dogs. A little flag worth mentioning is that Sheezel started off a half-forward flank for the first three quarters then went to half back for Q4, where he basically doubled his score! I think a half-forward role is more likely which means we may need to temper our expectations on his scoring output.

Predicted Average: 55-65

Mattaes Phillipou ($282K MID/FWD | STK | 44.78% ownership)

Plenty of buzz around the young man who has already become a fan favourite among the Sainters faithful. Phillipou has shown glimpses of what he is capable of over the preseason playing as a forward. Given this is the likely role, I can’t see him setting the world on fire with his scoring. However, I see him as a guy Ross will want to get games in to so the job security should be fine.

Predicted Average: 50-60

Luke Pedlar ($213K FWD | CROM | 20.13% ownership)

After managing just the five games in two seasons, Pedlar will be keen to add to his games tally in 2023. He looked okay in Crom’s hit out vs the Weagles, getting to 42 from 55% game time… The lack of game time is a bit of a concern which may affect his job security early! Make sure you keep an eye on team selections.

Predicted Average: 50-60

Fergus Greene ($200K FWD | HAW | 33.1% ownership)

After being given the ass by the Dogs last season, Greene looks set to settle into a young Hawks forward line for 2023 and beyond. 67 from 81% game time was a great result for Greene vs Collingwood though he needed 3.2 to get there! I can’t see him setting the world on fire with his scoring but should provide a heartbeat for our forward benches.

Predicted Average: 40-50

In the Mix:

  • Sam Sturt ($200K FWD | FREO | 15.17% ownership)
  • Noah Long ($200K MID/FWD | WCE | 4.31% ownership)

Final Thoughts

As you’ve probably already figured out, it seems to be slightly slimmer pickings with our forward rookies. This may force our hand in changing team structure to select less rookies in our forward lines and more elsewhere (i.e., midfield and defence) 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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