The 2016 AFL Draft is a distant memory for most AFL fans, and with preseason rolling toward another league campaign, it’s time for fantasy coaches to dust off the cobwebs and too, prepare for the season ahead. Those in dynasty and keeper Ultimate Footy leagues have already kept tabs on a handful of players throughout the season, and with their new homes now known, a clearer picture has been painted. Below are the latest rookie rankings for the 2016 draft class.
|Rank||Player||Position||Team||TAC Avg||U18* Avg||State Avg|
*U18 National Championship averages are per 120 minutes.
1Andrew McGrath tops the list for many reasons, most of them obvious. It should be expected that he goes number one in keeper leagues and within the first 18 rounds of a standard seasonal draft. The number one pick tag will carry some emphasis throughout the season, but if anything, that’ll mean McGrath will play early.
Perhaps the most appealing thing about McGrath is his position. Defenders, especially in dynasty leagues, are invaluable, and considering Callum Mills averaged just 60 at NEAFL level before he was drafted, McGrath already has a leg up having fared much better as a junior.
Scott Clayton expects all of Gold Coast’s draft class to push for selection in Round One, hence 2Jack Bowes’ inclusion so high up the list. Having been brought through their academy system, the Suns have already been able to mould Bowes to fit the system.
The concern with Bowes is that he may feature as a specialist forward, similar to Ben Keays at Brisbane this year – who also had mammoth numbers as a junior. He’ll be available as both a forward and midfielder this season, and despite playing mostly as a midfielder in the NEAFL, Bowes did play as a forward at some stages, returning a score of 51 against the Giants which was also inflated with three goals.
Like McGrath and Bowes, 3Hugh McCluggage is likely to see game time frequently in 2017, with Brisbane desperate for outside pace and goal kicking midfielders. Despite having minimal preseason under his belt heading into 2016, McCluggage still averaged around 115 across the TAC Cup and U18 Championships, where he was named among the best in all 12 of his TAC Cup games.
4Tim Taranto and 5Will Setterfield produced mammoth numbers as juniors but at GWS, they will likely have to bide their time in the NEAFL with the generous number of talented midfielders, still vying for positions, around them. Both are safe, top five picks in keeper league drafts, however, it may be safe to wait on them in seasonal leagues.
The obvious dark horse early on the list is 6Joe Atley, who landed at Port Adelaide in November’s draft. With an average close to 100 across his 13 top tier U18 games in 2016, Atley has shown a capacity to score albeit with perhaps a low ceiling. He is the prototypical fantasy midfielder – hard inside, ball-winning midfielder, who averaged 6.5 tackles in the TAC Cup.
7Sam Petrevski-Seton is definitely one to watch given he’s a strong chance to dress up for Carlton early in the season. While not a renowned ball winner, Petreski-Seton has shown a knack for putting up decent scores, including an average of 90.5 for Claremont’s Colts side after returning from U18 Championship duties. He hasn’t played a senior WAFL game since 2015, as an underage player, where he averaged 57.66 from three games.
While it’s unlikely 8Brad Scheer will go inside the top ten of keeper league drafts, he’ll prove to be a steal for those who take him later on. His numbers across his few TAC Cup and U18 Championship games are impressive (note: Championship games include average for Queensland and not Allies), yet his most telling stat is his NEAFL average. Across six games, Scheer averaged 82.29 and dipped below 70 just once.
With a lack of established small goal kickers in their forward line, 9Ben Ainsworth’s arrival at the Gold Coast could prove a masterstroke in the fantasy footy spectrum. While he’s smaller than most others on this list, he’s one of the few who will likely remain a forward for future seasons, boosting his value above others.
The top ten is rounded out by Essendon’s 10Kobe Mutch who as a junior, was an elite ball-winner. He averaged the most points of any draftee in the TAC Cup this season and the most points of any player from Victoria in the U18 Championships. In keeper league’s Mutch will slide late having been taken with pick 42 in the AFL draft.
11Oliver Florent averaged 90.7 in the TAC Cup for Sandringham in 2016, but still never fully tapped into his potential. He was best afield in the U18 All Stars game, finishing with 28 disposals, highlighted by an impressive seven clearances and seven inside 50s. At Sydney, he may have to develop in the NEAFL for a while, but the Swans often hand out debuts to small forwards throughout the season.
Richmond’s 12Jack Graham didn’t play any senior level games in the SANFL but could force his way into a Richmond midfield regardless. Entering the AFL with a ready-made body will do wonders for Graham, given the success we’ve seen by other similar players in years past. He was the Most Valuable Player at the U18 Championships, where he averaged 119 across his four games.
Despite some eye-catching numbers as a junior, 13Harry Perryman finds himself further down the list than he rightly should be, simply due to his position in the GWS depth chart. His numbers – averages of 111 and 106 across the two junior leagues, speaks for itself. He’ll be a staple in the NEAFL for the Giants, meaning he should retain a relatively high stock in keeper leagues.
14Will Brodie is the big slider in this group after going top ten in the AFL draft. It’s inevitable he’ll go much higher than his ranked 14th position in keeper league drafts, but a low ceiling and low disposal count could hinder him from becoming the true fantasy workhorse many have him pencilled in to be.
Geelong’s 15Brandon Parfitt may well be the biggest steal on this list. Injuries hampered his final season as a junior before entering the AFL, but he certainly has all of the tools to make an impact at the top level. Parfitt averaged 120 at the U18 Championships this year and was an All-Australian junior in 2015 as an underage talent. In 2015, Parfitt also averaged 25 disposals and four tackles per game player for North Adelaide’s Colts.
Like new teammates Mutch, 16Dylan Clarke was a proven ball winner as a junior, earning All-Australian honours at the Championships. Across both leagues he played in throughout 2016, Clarke averaged above 115 in both. While it may be a while until we see Clarke at AFL level, he’s certainly one to keep an eye on in the future.
While he’s never going to be one of the top five fantasy talents to arise from the 2016 draft class, 17Jack Scrimshaw posted healthy numbers as a tall defender at Sandringham. He still managed to average 23 disposals and 4.6 marks a game in the TAC Cup, while averaging 84 across both U18 leagues. He could be one of the few to play extensively throughout 2017 and provides added value given his defender status.
Despite a broken leg which kept him out of action for most of the year, 18Jy Simpkin has tremendous talent in keeper league formats. His injury holds him lower on this list, having played just a handful of TAC Cup games in 2016. In 2015, he held his own as an underage talent, averaging 17 disposals as a small forward at the U18 Championships. More importantly, Simpkin, when fully fit, provides North Melbourne with the pace and run they so desperately need.
19Zac Fisher found his way to Carlton in the draft and is a versatile midfielder the Blues desperately needed heading into 2017. While a light frame may keep him in the VFL for most of the season, Fisher’s stats suggest he could make an immediate impact when given the opportunity. Unlike Petrevski-Seton, Fisher played top level WAFL in 2016, and whilst he averaged 69.3 points, he still managed to post five scores above 80 from his ten games.
The only father-son selection to make this list, 20Callum Brown joined Collingwood with high expectations. Across both the TAC Cup and U18 Championship he produced an average in the 90s and as a long-term forward talent, has high value in keeper leagues as a result.