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The Milkmen – 2018 AFL Fantasy Rookie Guide

Your complete 2018 Rookie guide is here, featuring a must-listen podcast.

The gruelling pre-season is finally over. Months of hard work and research have come to an end… It’s decision time.

Unfortunately, it looks like this year is going to be very similar to 2017, where our rookies may have given us more questions than answers following the JLT series.

For the first time in years, it doesn’t look like we’ll be short on defender rookies, with Sam Murray leading the class of 2018 (more to come below). There are many midfield options to choose from, however if it’s job security you’re after then you’ll have to pay a premium. We are going to have to search far and wide for our ruck/forward cash cow options.

However, we don’t take our responsibility lightly and have discussed as many of the rookie options as we can in the podcast below. We were even lucky enough to get ahold of Matt de Boer, Alex Silvagni and most importantly the great man Jeppa himself to help us come up with the Top 5 options in each position (other than rucks) based on their price, scoring potential and job security. Be sure to have a listen to our podcast below.


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If you don’t have time to listen to the podcast, then the article will provide you with all the key information. We have provided a quick summary on not only what we talked about for way too long on the podcast, but also some other players for good measure.

Finally, in case you missed it earlier in the year, we put together a spreadsheet which contains all of the players from the rookie cash cow class of 2018 prior to any of the JLT games. Consider it another resource to use just in case you haven’t got your dose by the end of all of this. Available in there is how the respective players performed in the Under 18 Championship and at Reserve Level in 2017. The spreadsheet can be found here:

2018 Rookie Cash Cow Spreadsheet – Rev 3

For those new to the game, we’ve defined rookies/cash cows as any player under the price of Number 1 draft pick, Cameron Rayner, who has a price of $270,000. 

DEFENDERS

1. Sam Murray

AFL Fantasy Price: $170,000
JLT1 Score: Did Not Play
JLT2 Score: 93 from 78% TOG
U/18 Championship Avg: N/A
2017 Reserve Level Avg: 80

Role & Job Security: You would think Sam Murray has been recruited by Collingwood to play straight away. There is a spot vacant in Collingwood’s backline and by the looks of things, Murray will be filling that void. The 20-year-old was previously on Sydney’s list but couldn’t crack the senior team. Murray averaged 22 disposals and 6 score involvements for the Swan’s reserves team.

JLT Form: In Collingwood’s second JLT game, Murray picked up 24 disposals and took nine marks against the Dogs. He also had the most metres gained for the match. Murray is a dashing half back who makes great decisions with ball in hand. His role looks very fantasy friendly as Collingwood were regularly feeding him the ball to take it out of defence.

Final Thought: Priced at 170k, Murray looks to be the defender with the highest scoring potential. This makes him one of the few rookies this year that is an obvious pick up.

Predicted 2018 AFL Fantasy Average: 72

2. Nick Coffield

AFL Fantasy Price: $256,000
JLT1 Score: 70 from 71% TOG
JLT2 Score: 60 from 75% TOG
U/18 Championship Avg: 81
2017 Reserve Level Avg: 80

Role & Job Security: We have Nick Coffield just ahead of our next couple of selections purely based on scoring potential. Coffield will be playing across half back for StKilda, a position he earned All-Australian honours in last year’s under-18 championships. We like the fact that this is the position he is used to. He’s not a midfielder that will spend his first year across half back just to get him adjusted to AFL, he will slot straight into his preferred role.

JLT Form: Impressive form across both JLT matches. Hit the ground running and immediately looked up to AFL standard.

Final Thought: You have to pay a bit to get Nick Coffield, but we think it’s worth it. He is one of the few rookie defenders that we think could average close to 70.

Predicted 2018 AFL Fantasy Average: 67

3. Tom Doedee

AFL Fantasy Price: $170,000
JLT1 Score: 67 from 70% TOG
JLT2 Score: 33 from 81% TOG
U/18 Championship Avg: N/A
2017 Reserve Level Avg: 66

Role & Job Security: Jake Lever replacement? Tom Doedee averaged a bit over 17.2 possessions in the SANFL last year and led the league for intercept possessions. Having already had a couple of years in the system, surely Doedee is now ready to fill the spot that has been made available to him.

JLT Form: In JLT1, Tom Doedee looked great. Most coaches had locked him away and were confidently starting him on the ground. We would have loved to have seen that again in JLT-2 but unfortunately, he was much quieter. He didn’t look out of place, and he did spend a lot of time on the ground, but he failed to get his hands on the ball. Having said that, we know he can score, there is a position in Adelaide’s defence that he should get first crack at, and he’s only $170,000.

Final Thought: Most coaches had locked him in pre JLT and he hasn’t done anything to warrant us taking him out.

Predicted 2018 AFL Fantasy Average: 58

4. Alex Pearce

AFL Fantasy Price: $197,000
JLT1 Score: 51 from 82% TOG
JLT2 Score: 36 from 71% TOG
U/18 Championship Avg: N/A
2017 Reserve Level Avg: N/A

Role & Job Security: If you are after a rookie with job security, Alex Pearce is your man. Pearce will play every game this year if he stays fit. Being a key position defender, he’s not going to get scores above 60 too often, but he will at least be out there each week.

JLT Form: JLT1 was Alex Pearce’s first game back from injury since early 2016. He was very impressive with Ross Lyon mentioning in his post-match interview how good it was to see him back out there and what a difference he makes.

Final Thought: Alex Pearce is a very safe option to have on your bench. Pearce is a vital part of Fremantle’s defence with the only issue being that there’s no points for spoils.

Predicted 2018 AFL Fantasy Average: 50

5. Aaron Naughton

AFL Fantasy Price: $254,000
JLT1 Score: 51 from 84% TOG
JLT2 Score: 59 from 88% TOG
U/18 Championship Avg: 61
2017 Reserve Level Avg: 83

Role & Job Security: Aaron Naughton is a key position defender with good job security but low scoring potential. Naughton is used to playing against bigger bodies as he played WAFL football last year. Naughton’s ceiling is higher than that of Alex Pearce (as he is more of an intercept player) but he does have worse job security. Having said that, he should definitely play round one and if he carries on his JLT form, should play a lot of games this season.

JLT Form: Speaking of JLT form, Naughton was very eye catching. He looked very clean and confident out there. He went for his marks and wasn’t getting pushed around. Unfortunately, these impressive games only amounted to scores in the 50’s.

Final Thought: Similar to Alex Pearce, if you are prioritizing job security, Naughton is a great option. However, you will be spending $254,000 for someone unlikely to average 60.

Predicted 2018 AFL Fantasy Average: 58

6. Jeremy Finlayson

AFL Fantasy Price: $170,000
JLT1 Score: 55 from 82% TOG
JLT2 Score: 43 from 83% TOG
U/18 Championship Avg: N/A
2017 Reserve Level Avg: 70

Role & Job Security: Entering his fourth year at GWS, Finlayson finally looks ready to come in and play a role. With the departure of Nathan Wilson and the injury to Zac Williams, there is a spot for him. Finlayson’s only senior game was in round 15 last season where he (coincidentally) came in to replace Williams who was injured. His debut didn’t go to plan, tearing his medial ligament early on. This effectively ruled him out for the season. Finlayson now has a chance to cement himself in the back 6.

JLT Form: Finlayson’s form was solid without setting the world on fire. His position also seemed to change a bit, often playing up the ground. We would have loved to have seen him get a very clear role in the backline and carry it out. Still, he is basement price and has a lot of upside.

Final Thought: Finlayson ticks a lot of boxes. He’s cheap, there is a role for him and he has the ability to score. Would have liked to have seen more from JLT.

Predicted 2018 AFL Fantasy Average: 56

7. Lachlan Murphy

AFL Fantasy Price: $170,000
JLT1 Score: 60 from 63% TOG
JLT2 Score: 49 from 59% TOG
U/18 Championship Avg: N/A
2017 Reserve Level Avg: 62

Role & Job Security: Before JLT, Lachlan Murphy was barely on our radar. He has since strung two very nice games together and looms as a potential round one starter. Despite him being listed as a defender, Murphy plays as a small forward. Overlooked in the 2016 National and Rookie draft, Murphy has worked hard to get onto a list and plays like every game could be his last.

JLT Form: Murphy was particularly impressive in JLT1, kicking 3 goals and applying lots of pressure. Reminds us a lot of Tom Papley and can hopefully have a similar, immediate impact.

Final Thought: Adelaide is a very tough team to crack into, and with a few candidates looking to sit next to Betts as a small forward, Murphy’s spot will never be safe. He was so impressive in the JLT series that we felt he justified being a legitimate option in defence.

Predicted 2018 AFL Fantasy Average: 54

8. David Mirra

AFL Fantasy Price: $170,000
JLT1 Score: 11 from 23% TOG
JLT2 Score: DNP
U/18 Championship Avg: N/A
2017 Reserve Level Avg: 93

Role & Job Security: Mirra was one of our first selected players when AFL Fantasy first opened up this year. Experienced defender for Box Hill, as honest as they come and has a very high ceiling. Unfortunately, we saw none of that in the JLT.

JLT Form: Barely got a look in.

Final Thought: Looks unlikely Mirra will be named round one. The potential is there though, if a defender goes down, he can’t be far away.

Predicted 2018 AFL Fantasy Average: 60

9. Cameron O’Shea

AFL Fantasy Price: $231,000
JLT1 Score: DNP
JLT2 Score: 49 from 24% TOG
U/18 Championship Avg: N/A
2017 Reserve Level Avg: 70

Role & Job Security: Has averaged 70.9 in a full season of football for Port Adeaide. Was locked into our teams pre JLT. Unfortunately, his lack of game time probably indicates that he is not in the best 22.

JLT Form: O’Shea showed his scoring ability in JLT 2, scoring 49 from 24% game time.

Final Thought: Legitimate option if named round one. If not, a great mid-season downgrade.

Predicted 2018 AFL Fantasy Average: 62

10. Mitchell Hibberd

AFL Fantasy Price: $235,000
JLT1 Score: 28 from 41% TOG
JLT2 Score: 38 from 48% TOG
U/18 Championship Avg: N/A
2017 Reserve Level Avg: 41

Role & Job Security: Our good friend Mitchell Hibberd. Feels like he’s on the bench for us every year. There seems to always be reasons as to why we should select him. At a club like North Melbourne, you would think he would get some game time this season.

JLT Form: Limited scoring from limited game time. Probably shows where he is at in regards to the pecking order at the club.

Final Thought: Mid-season downgrade.

Predicted 2018 AFL Fantasy Average: 58

There aren’t too many other key defender cash cow rookie options to keep an eye out for. The leader of the bunch would be Riley Stoddart. With McVeigh likely to miss and the approval of Josh Kennedy, Stoddart is looking good for an early game or two.

Other names to keep an eye out for include Brody Mihocek, Mark O’Connor, Jack Payne, Joel Smith, Hugh Goddard, Francis Watson, Bailey Rice, Isaac Cumming, Colin O’Riordan (personal favourite of ours), Harry Dear, Matt Buntine, Lochie O’Brien, Aaron Francis and Teia Miles.

MIDFIELDERS

There’s no denying that the best options we have out of the rookie cash cow class of 2018 will be coming from our midfield. So let’s get straight in to it.

1. Andrew Brayshaw

AFL Fantasy Price: $268,000
JLT1 Score: 66 from 66% TOG
JLT2 Score: 82 from 67% TOG
U/18 Championship Avg: 76
2017 Reserve Level Avg: 105

Role & Job Security: It’s hard not to be impressed with what Andrew Brayshaw has shown so far. The number 2 draft pick has hit the ground running and looks right at home out there. Brayshaw has a ready made body for AFL and has been playing as a pure inside midfielder. With the likes of Mundy and Fyfe to spend more time forward, more midfield time has opened up at Fremantle. Brayshaw gets a tick for job security, a tick for his role, and a tick for his ceiling.

JLT Form: Brayshaw’s big body, matched with his hunger around the contest has been on show early, laying 15 tackles across both JLT matches. Rookies that can tackle well are worth their weight in gold. Brayshaw’s work inside the contest was great. He showed how clean his hands were, regularly shooting the ball out from inside the pack.

Final Thought: Brayshaw is the second highest priced rookie, but it’s for a reason. Confident he will have a similar averaging season to that of Sam Powell-Pepper’s first year.

Predicted 2018 AFL Fantasy Average: 75

2. Bailey Banfield

AFL Fantasy Price: $170,000
JLT1 Score: 65 from 39% TOG
JLT2 Score: 81 from 78% TOG
U/18 Championship Avg: N/A
2017 Reserve Level Avg: 100

Role & Job Security: Bailey Banfield is a ready made AFL player. He spent last year playing WAFL so he is used to coming up against mature bodies. He averaged 24 disposals, six tackles and six clearances a game. He also went on to win Claremont’s best and fairest. Banfield’s role is likely to be that of a pressure forwards to start with, with only small injections into the midfield.

JLT Form: Banfield’s reserve level averages certainly had us interested pre-JLT, however we thought he would be unlikely to crack a senior game early on. That opinion has certainly changed after seeing how good he looked out there across both matches. Ross Lyon has already stated that we are likely to see him start round one, and if he continues to perform the way he has been, should remain in the side for a long time.

Final Thought: At $170,000, Banfield looks like great cash cow to start with. He’s ready to go.

Predicted 2018 AFL Fantasy Average: 70

3. Paddy Dow

AFL Fantasy Price: $266,000
JLT1 Score: 60 from 63% TOG
JLT2 Score: 34 from 68% TOG
U/18 Championship Avg: 70
2017 Reserve Level Avg: 96

Role & Job Security: Has received great wraps over the pre-season from inside the four walls at Carlton and looks all set for a pure midfield role at the Blues. The departure of Bryce Gibbs will only help that cause and from all reports is a lock for round 1. Carlton have traditionally been bleeding a lot of their youngsters over the last few years and it’s easy to see Paddy at the forefront of that in 2018. You’ll be paying a premium for the extra job security but we believe it is worth it.

JLT Form: JLT1 was definitely a better indication of Paddy’s talent compared to JLT2. Game 1 included a great couple of set shots on goal and some clearance work that would’ve had all the Blues recruiters feeling justified. During game 2, despite being given a decent amount of game time, Paddy struggled to keep up with the pace of the game but as said earlier, it should not deter his ability to get early games at the club.

Final Thought: With the amount of options in the midfield that we do have available it’s easy to be turned off by Paddy’s price but we expect him to find his feet early and be pumping out 60 to 70 scores quicker than most other midfield options.

Predicted 2018 AFL Fantasy Average: 68

4. Nicholas Holman

AFL Fantasy Price: $170,000
JLT1 Score: 80 from 73% TOG
JLT2 Score: 61 from 72% TOG
U/18 Championship Avg: N/A
2017 Reserve Level Avg: 108

Role & Job Security: Holman is an experienced big body midfielder who was previously on Carlton’s list and last year averaged 26 disposals in the SANFL. He is a fantasy friendly player who loves to tackle and can find the ball. Ticks every box with the exception of job security. He should play round one, however with Aaron Hall and Michael Barlow to come back in, his role is certainly not secure.

JLT Form: Holman showed off his ability to hunt the ball and tackle. Played as a pure midfielder and his experienced body should hold him in good stead for 2018.

Final Thought: Should earn you a lot of money early on. Can’t guarantee he will remain in the side but he is a lock to start in our fantasy team, most likely on the field.

Predicted 2018 AFL Fantasy Average: 73

5. Ben Jacobs

AFL Fantasy Price: $243,000
JLT1 Score: 35 from 59% TOG
JLT2 Score: 62 from 76% TOG
U/18 Championship Avg: N/A
2017 Reserve Level Avg: N/A

Role & Job Security: When North were at their prime and making finals, Jacobs was playing a key role as a stopper on some of the best midfielders in the competition. If the preseason is anything to go by then it looks like he will be back in this role for the Roos. Whilst this rings disaster for some of our premium options, what it means for Jacobs is he will constantly be where the ball is. He is one of the best in the AFL at this craft so his job security is up there with any of our cash cow priced options.

JLT Form: Against Melbourne it looked like Jacobs was going to Clayton Oliver at times which first brought the chance of the tagging role to our attention but it was the amount of time he spent next to Cotchin in JLT2 which confirmed it. Jacobs is a tough player who can still find the ball if required as shown by his score of 62 in JLT2.

Final Thought: If it’s a battle of Jacobs and LDU for a spot in your team than we have Jacobs ahead of the first year rookie at this point based on job security, a cheaper price, and an ability to still score similar to LDU.

Predicted 2018 AFL Fantasy Average: 60

6. Tim Kelly

AFL Fantasy Price: $224,000
JLT1 Score: 48 from 60% TOG
JLT2 Score: 54 from 85% TOG
U/18 Championship Avg: N/A
2017 Reserve Level Avg: 101

Role & Job Security: Tim Kelly was bought in as a mature aged recruit from South Fremantle ready to play. Despite making his name in WAFL ranks as an inside midfielder it looks like Geelong want to use his clean disposal on the outside and potentially help fill the role left vacant by Steve Motlop. With Geelong having an absolute A grade midfield he will probably spend more time up forward than Motlop did in that role.

JLT Form: During JLT1 it looked as if, at times, Kelly was almost showing off with his ability to hit targets and run and carry. The only reason he didn’t score higher was because he sat out the last quarter with a sore quad. In the second game Kelly wasn’t as prominent until after Danger went off the ground, which is worrying, but he still played a high half forward role at times, which is always fantasy relevant.

Final Thought: Kelly’s footy journey is a great story that looks like it will hit its climax at Geelong. Will play early, will be a popular pick and should not disappoint.

Predicted 2018 AFL Fantasy Average: 63

7. Luke Davies-Uniacke

AFL Fantasy Price: $264,000
JLT1 Score: 31 from 78% TOG
JLT2 Score: 44 from 74% TOG
U/18 Championship Avg: 91
2017 Reserve Level Avg: 92

Role & Job Security: Prior to JLT, Luke Davies-Uniacke, was easily a top 5 selection but the pre-season games have made him move down the list as the high scoring potential that he has, really hasn’t been on show. LDU has been playing a predominately forward role with stints on the ball. It’s safe to assume that’s what he will be doing in the early rounds as he builds game awareness. One thing that has not wavered though is LDU’s likelihood of a round one debut. He will be given a chance for the first few rounds but if he doesn’t start registering more kicks and tackles it’s hard to see him scoring above 60 each week.

JLT Form: In JLT2 he was able to find the ball 16 times but a handball happy performance made it difficult for him to score as much as we coaches would like to have seen. The common link between the two games was LDU’s ability to not shy away from the contested ball which will have the Roos staff happy.

Final Thought: As said before we do still have Jacobs slightly ahead of LDU due to the fact that LDU will likely score lower at first and is a few bad games away from being given some time in the VFL.

Predicted 2018 AFL Fantasy Average: 55

8. Dom Barry

AFL Fantasy Price: $170,000
JLT1 Score: 84 from 82% TOG
JLT2 Score: 51 from 67% TOG
U/18 Championship Avg: N/A
2017 Reserve Level Avg: 77

Role & Job Security: Another $170,000 midfielder with enormous upside. The issue with Barry is his job security. After JLT1, one of the first changes we made to our side was the inclusion of Barry. We even had him starting on the ground. Unfortunately, we have to remind ourselves that that was not Port’s best side out there and Barry may still struggle to get a game round one. Even if he does, Port’s depth means he will never be far away from losing his position.

JLT Form: Having said that, form is form. In JLT1, Barry collected the most possessions for Port (20) and was one of the best performers on the day. The 23 year old showed his fantasy ability and may just be one of the steals of this years draft.

Final Thought: If named round one, we may have to reconsider leaving him out of our starting team.

Predicted 2018 AFL Fantasy Average: 66

9. Lachlan Fogarty

AFL Fantasy Price: $228,000
JLT1 Score: 63 from 68% TOG
JLT2 Score: N/A
U/18 Championship Avg: 100
2017 Reserve Level Avg: 123

Role & Job Security: Lachlan Fogarty is a ball winning machine. If every draftee was guaranteed to play, we would have Fogarty locked away on our ground. Fogarty is small midfielder who accumulates, tackles and hits the scoreboard. The reason why he is at number 9 is due to him being drafted to a team which will be very hard to crack into the best 22.

JLT Form: In JLT1, Fogarty made an impressive debut, scoring 63 from 68% game time. He unfortunately missed JLT2 as he sustained a head knock.

Final Thought: If Fogarty is named round one, he has to be considered. He has the potential to earn you a lot of money quickly. Job security is a massive concern.

Predicted 2018 AFL Fantasy Average: 67

10. Hunter Clark

AFL Fantasy Price: $258,000
JLT1 Score: 53 from 61% TOG
JLT2 Score: 54 from 69% TOG
U/18 Championship Avg: 71
2017 Reserve Level Avg: 108

Role & Job Security: When trying to find the final position for the top 10 it was actually a lot harder than we thought it would be. We ended up going with Clark due to his glimpses of talent shown in the JLT, his proven high scoring ability in juniors and the chance of a round 1 berth. Despite playing as a midfielder in his final year prior to the AFL, Hunter Clark has spent most of his time at St Kilda up forward, which is the position he’ll try to find a spot in the team for early on. Job security in that role, especially at a team like St Kilda is not great which does not bode well for Clark.

JLT Form: Clark definitely struggled at the beginning of JLT1 where he made a couple of skill errors but by the end of the series looked a lot more comfortable.

Final Thought: May play round 1 but even that is no guarantee. Too expensive for the type of headaches he could bring being in and out of the team with limited midfield time. A pass from us.

Predicted 2018 AFL Fantasy Average: 58

Harrison Wigg is the best midfield option not to make the list due to his pre season injury ruling him out of the early rounds. Once fully fit he will push for selection pretty quickly and will be a great downgrade option for later in the year. Watch this space.

At this stage, other promising midfield rookie priced players include Adam Cerra, Jordan Foote, Dallas Willsmore, Tom North, Stefan Giro, Kobe Mutch, Nicholas Shipley, Nathan Freeman, James Worpel, Brayden Ainsworth, Charlie Constable and Zac Bailey.

Unfortunately Oliver Florent just misses the price cut off but anyone considering Dow or Brayshaw can bring him in to the mix as a third option.

FORWARDS AND RUCKS

1. Bayley Fritsch

AFL Fantasy Price: $210,000
JLT1 Score: 69 from 78% TOG
JLT2 Score: 52 from 64% TOG
U/18 Championship Avg: N/A
2017 Reserve Level Avg: 69

Role & Job Security: Fritsch made himself too hard to ignore to the Melbourne recruiting staff when he booted 42 goals from 19 games in the VFL last year playing for the Casey Demons. Despite playing as a small forward, his 188cm frame tells a different story, as does his ability to take contested grabs and kick long range goals. Despite the Demons being a difficult team to crack in to in 2018,Fritsch seems certain to line up in Round 1 as a possible replacement to the role that Jack Watts played up forward, just with a lot more X factor about him.

JLT Form: JLT 1 was a much better game for Fritsch compared to the second JLT game which could be a reflection of the opposition. In the first JLT game he kicked 3 goals against North Melbourne before backing it up with a single major against St Kilda the following round. His ability to get to the right areas and find himself in space was a standout in what we saw of him in both games.

Final Thought: When you’ve got your coach immediately claiming after a game you are almost certain to play round 1 it’s always a good sign. Not the best option we’ve had in our forward line over the years by any means but a smart footballer who will be playing forward in a very good side. Too hard to ignore at this stage, so lock him in as a forward rookie in your side.

Predicted AFL Fantasy Average: 65

2. Cameron Rayner

AFL Fantasy Price: $270,000
JLT1 Score: 18 from 61% TOG
JLT2 Score: 84 from 79% TOG
U/18 Championship Avg: 83
2017 Reserve Level Avg: 88

Role & Job Security: Perhaps the most recognisable name out of this years forward crop is the No.1 Pick, Cameron Rayner. After dominating at junior level playing a half-forward/midfield role, Rayner carried that form in to the Under 18 championship in a similar role. At Brisbane it looks like he will be starting deeper in the forward line as he builds match fitness but should see his role move further up the ground as the year progresses. There has been plenty of hype about Rayner within the Brisbane camp and all signs point to great job security. You’ll just need to pay a premium for it.

JLT Form: After the first JLT game people were crossing off Rayner as an option due to his low score and high price. The saying that a week is a long time in footy really applied to Rayner, as after a tackle friendly game in JLT2 we started to see what Rayner is capable of. Be wary though that his score in JLT2 came from stints in the midfield which are likely to be fewer once some of the normal midfield troop return at Brisbane.

Final Thought: Rayner is going to be a fantasy star, there’s just so many strings to his bow to allow him to score points. I don’t think we will get to see all those strings this year, but what we will see is a rookie option that plays for us most weeks. Something that is like gold this year. We say he will average 60 but that comes from expecting to see scores of 40 early in the year before they start becoming 80s by the end of the year. Pick him knowing you’ll have to be patient.

Predicted 2018 AFL Fantasy Average: 60

3. Liam Ryan

AFL Fantasy Price: $220,000
JLT1 Score: 43 from 80% TOG
JLT2 Score: 55 from 73% TOG
U/18 Championship Avg: N/A
2017 Reserve Level Avg: 78

Role & Job Security: The Eagles have been screaming out for a crumbing small forward since Mark LeCras started hitting a run of injury and poor form a few years back. Unfortunately Josh Hill wasn’t the answer, so the team has gone about recruiting a few suitable candidates over the past few drafts. The most exciting of those bunch in our opinion is Liam Ryan. Don’t expect him to creep up the ground too much so his scoring will be directly proportional to how well West Coast play in each game, but you can be sure of an exciting highlight reel by the end of the year none the less. Like Rayner, you are paying a premium for job security. Even if Willie Rioli was fit we believe that Liam would be ahead of Willie for a round 1 berth.

JLT Form: What we saw from Liam Ryan in the JLT is a good representation of what we can expect in the proper season. In JLT2 he actually had 5 shots on goal although he only converted that in to one major. Ryan floated up to the middle of the ground at times which is a promising sign for his fitness level. This is another reason we believe he has the edge over Willie Rioli.

Final Thought: A safe bench option at this stage and only play Liam during the weeks Eagles play the weaker opposition. He is only a couple of bad games away from losing his spot early so let’s hope we see the high flying Ryan at his best before then.

Predicted 2018 AFL Fantasy Average: 55

 4. Zac Giles-Langdon

AFL Fantasy Price: $170,000
JLT1 Score: 37 from 65% TOG
JLT2 Score: 49 from 75% TOG
U/18 Championship Avg: N/A
2017 Reserve Level Avg: 74

Role & Job Security: It’s no secret that small forward spots became available at GWS following the departure of Devon Smith and Stevie J. What has not been so obvious leading in to the preseason was who exactly was going to take those spots on offer. Following the JLT, Zac has done little wrong and is a high chance to be named for round 1 in the small forward position a long with Daniel Lloyd. The other potential small forward options, Brent Daniels and Lachlan Tiziani, are both recovering from injuries which only assists with Langdons job security at this stage. Assistant coach, Mark McVeigh, is a huge fan of Langdons work rate and elite skills so you can be assured at least one coach will be pushing his name forward each week.

JLT Form: Langdon’s elite skills weren’t on show in either week of the JLT when he was able to find the ball. What was on show was his ability to win the contested ball. In JLT1, 80% of his possessions were won in a contested situation. With a maximum score of only 49 from 75% TOG you can see that the duty of GWS’s small forward this year is not going to lead to a fantasy friendly role. Langdon got his chances on goal although he was unable to register a major from four shots.

Final Thought: Another mature age rookie from amongst this years draft crop that has primed himself to surprise a few and get games earlier than anticipated. Will play more of a defensive forward role than your Liam Ryan type and doesn’t come with such great job security but his elite endurance and big body makes him a great bench option IF named round 1 (and a big IF at this stage).

Predicted 2018 AFL Fantasy Average: 65

5. Daniel Venables 

AFL Fantasy Price: $170,000
JLT1 Score: 13 from 74% TOG
JLT2 Score: 
43 from 66% TOG
U/18 Championship Avg: 
N/A
2017 Reserve Level Avg: 
64

Role & Job Security: There is no denying Venables is highly rated at West Coast and is touted for more midfield time at some point in the future. Out of all the Eagles rookies we are considering take, those who are leaning towards Venables can take faith that he is the most likely to play higher up the ground with even some stints on the ball. If it wasn’t for an unfortunate timed injury last year then Venables would’ve already made his debut so we believe he needs one good game and then will get plenty of chances in the side this year.

JLT Form: Despite playing a promising role and getting significant game time in both games, Venables didn’t score well in either game and only had a maximum of 10 disposals.  This is what has scared a lot of potential suitors off him and has us even a little confused about where he sits as a rookie forward option.

Final Thought: If you do decide to pick Venables over the other West Coast rookie options then you are picking him based on a higher job security rating then some of the other options. There’s really been nothing to suggest that he will score well for the club. It will also be a frustrating ride with him in your side as you celebrate every time Shuey gets the ball and then realise it wasn’t actually Venables. Seriously those two are dead ringers!

Predicted 2018 AFL Fantasy Average: 57

Image result for venables shuey

6. Jaidyn Stephenson

Image result for jaidyn stephenson

AFL Fantasy Price: $260,000
JLT1 Score: 38 from 80% TOG
JLT2 Score: 
54 from 76% TOG
U/18 Championship Avg: 
67
2017 Reserve Level Avg: 
101

Role & Job Security: Out of all the forward options we have this year, none has received more praise and buzz words about his ability than Stephenson. The most recent praise has come from Scott Pendlebury who had this to say about his teammate. The best news for both Stephenson’s role and job security is the current injury list at Collingwood. Aish, Elliot, Fasolo and Wells all look like they won’t get a run for the first couple of games this year. This opens up more of position in the forward line for Stephenson who is capable of playing all over the ground. You can be assured he will get games early but from Round 3 onwards his position becomes very suspect.

JLT Form: Stephenson was given plenty of game time in both games. In the JLT it seemed like he was always just a tad off the pace and was only a few inches away from an extra 10-15 points each game. He had great disposal efficiency though which the coaches will love (average of 77%). It is worth noting that Stephenson was ultra impressive in the AFLX although that is not captured above.

Final Thought: Despite being a dual position player, for such a premium price, one is better off going with the other options available in this post who have similar job security and scoring potential. Too many question marks over Stephenson once the list is up and running for our liking.

Predicted 2018 AFL Fantasy Average: 60

7. Jake Waterman

Image result for jake waterman

AFL Fantasy Price: $170,000
JLT1 Score: 
36 from 72% TOG
JLT2 Score: 
54 from 77% TOG
U/18 Championship Avg: 
N/A
2017 Reserve Level Avg: 
72

Role & Job Security: We know, we know! Stop with the Eagles players already! We would love to but unfortunately there’s just a whole bunch of them up forward that are relevant this year. We will leave out Willie Rioli from an extended look as we rate him the least likely to make the round 1 team out of the four candidates at the Eagles. This is actually Waterman’s second year on the Eagles list. After a foot stress fracture and illness ruined his first year, he is practically a fresh draftee at the club. The reason that Jake has made the list, virtually out of nowhere, is due to the recent admission by Adam Simpson that Josh Kennedy may not play until Round 3 or 4. This has opened the door for Waterman to at least get our teams two or three price rises in AFL Fantasy before the return of Kennedy. With this being worst case scenario at this point, for those coaches that are optimistic, then it could even be longer that Waterman is in the side playing the second or third tall forward role for the Eagles before Kennedy comes back.

JLT Form: With the limited amount of games this year in JLT you feel that Waterman was one more game away from really making his mark. Despite the ball having significant less amount of time in the Eagle’s forward half in JLT2, Waterman really made his presence felt. He was only able to kick one goal in each game but it’s worth noting that Nathan Vardy was the only Eagles forward to kick more than one goal in either game.

Final Thought: You would only get Waterman on the basis that you think he will score well in games against Sydney, Bulldogs and Geelong, as there’s a chance he won’t see much senior action from that point unless he really impresses or Eagles suffer more injury blows. For now he’s on our bench as we think he can average 60-70 in that time and make us some handy cash.

Predicted 2018 AFL Fantasy Average: 65

8. Darcy Fogarty 

AFL Fantasy Price: $248,000
JLT1 Score: 10 from 37% TOG
JLT2 Score: 
86 from 72% TOG
U/18 Championship Avg: 
56
2017 Reserve Level Avg: 
36

Role & Job Security: Fogarty has rocketed in to calculations for Round 1 following a great game in JLT2 and the serious doubt around Tex Walker’s ability to get up for the game against the Bombers. He is a ready made footballer that the Crows got for a steal at Pick 12. Eventually, as shown by his dual position status, the plan is for Fogarty to become a tall midfielder in the Crows outfit but any games he gets this year will be up forward. The only problem is that at 192cm he sits a long Walker, Lynch and Jenkins as tall forward options for the club. Really it doesn’t look promising for Fogarty but he was worth putting on this list for his scoring potential alone.

JLT Form: After JLT1 you wouldn’t have been ridiculed for locking up any hope for Fogarty and chucking away the key. It took him all but five minutes in JLT2 to change everyone’s mind though. Fogarty pressured, ran up the ground and most importantly kicked straight on his way to 82 points from 3 goals.

Final Thought: Darcy has good scoring potential as he is playing for an impressive outfit but that’s about the only positive for Darcy this year.

Predicted 2018 AFL Fantasy Average: 65

9. Darcy Cameron

AFL Fantasy Price: $170,000
JLT1 Score:
29 from 54% TOG
JLT2 Score:
28 from 63% TOG
U/18 Championship Avg: 
N/A
2017 Reserve Level Avg: 
90

Role & Job Security: To help close out the top 10 Forward and Rucks section we have listed the top 2 ruck options for those fantasy benches. Finding rookie rucks that will play makes the rest of the lines look like a piece of cake. Leading the charge though and perhaps the most selected player in fantasy will be Darcy Cameron. Darcy Cameron’s game style represents the ruckmen of old. Cameron will be almost a shoe in to win you a hitout in the NEAFL but hasn’t got the most amazing agility for a big man. He did score over 150 in a singular game in the NEAFL last year and averaged over 90 for the season, so is still capable of finding the ball around the ground. Cameron has come in to contention for the ruck bench after a lot of injuries to Sydney’s big men. Although he could play Round 1 if Sinclair is not passed fit, it will only be until Sinclair is declared fit, that he will be in the side. Any further setback to Sinclair’s ankle would’ve almost made Cameron a lock to play on your field.

JLT Form: Cameron only really was given time in the ruck during JLT following an ankle injury to Callum Sinclair. When given his chance he didn’t exactly take it with two open hands. In JLT2, Cameron actually lost the hitout count 33 to 6 when playing as the main ruck against Simpson. Just to summarise, all signs from JLT were not great.

Final Thought: It’s really a case of lack of options that has Cameron as the number 1 selected rookie bench option but he is still a chance for early games. Let’s hope that turns in to late games also and he continues to make our teams some more cash.

Predicted 2018 AFL Fantasy Average: 70

10. Tim English

AFL Fantasy Price: $187,000
JLT1 Score:
N/A
JLT2 Score:
N/A
U/18 Championship Avg: 
N/A
2017 Reserve Level Avg: 73

Role & Job Security: After offseason hip surgery English will be looking to add to his two AFL games from last year. If he even matches it then he’ll more than likely play two more games than any other ruck rookie options available. English does have the benefit of being a dual position forward if required.

JLT Form: Despite being named for the JLT game against Collingwood he never made the field.

Final Thought: We are so sorry it has come to this where we’ve recommended such a player not ready for fantasy yet to be on your bench. More likely to get games than Frampton who also has the dual position if required.

Predicted 2018 AFL Fantasy Average: 40

The biggest forward rookie who would be a clear threat for the number 1 spot if fully fit (and in the good books) was Harley Bennell. He’s a name that will be in the the news as soon as there is any update so it will be easy to keep an ear to the ground. If it looks like during the year he is going to get a good run at it then is almost a must have for our forward lines at $249,000.

Other potential forward rooks include Shai Bolton, Lachlan Keeffe, Jack Higgins, Harry McKay, Cameron Zurhaar,  Gryan Miers, Paul Ahern, Teia Miles, Lachlan Tiziani (Once returned from injury)Aiden Bonar, Harry Dear and Mitch Crowden. All of these players could feature at some point this season.

That does conclude our research leading in to Round 1 so be sure to keep a close eye on all team lists as they come through as we are sure there will be some last minute chopping and changing once they do. Until then, good luck with picking all your rookies and let us know what your thoughts are in the comments below.

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER:@TheMilkmenDT specialising in cash cow selections but still here to talk all things AFL fantasy.

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