It's nearly here, the 2016 NAB AFL & Pre Seasons/Rookie Draft is upon us. Tomorrow will mark a day full of emotion for our new fantasy stars of the future. Some will become locks in our teams from round one, while others may take a little more time to mature - if ever. Never the less, it's imperative that fantasy coaches take notice of the fresh meat on offer to AFL clubs and where they land by tomorrow evening. Because let's face it, these guys are our money makers come the season proper!
Monday will be all about the second chance hopefuls in the Pre Season/Rookie Draft. Tossed aside by their previous clubs for different reasons (some more questionable than others), these desperadoes could represent some fantasy value given they take their opportunities at their new clubs. A different role, new team mates, more responsibility and just a change of scenery could be enough to spark new life into some of these guys.
So before the dust settles, I cast a fantasy tragic eye over some of the more interesting fantasy prospects that are in this year's draft for coach's to think about.
Hugh McCluggage | Midfielder | 185cm, 75kg
Touted by many as the number one pick at tomorrow's draft, McCluggage has the all rounder game in a similar mold to The Bont. Can kick a goal, break a game apart off his own boot and rack up the numbers as well as anyone in this year's crop. Will either go to Essendon or GWS if they decide on McGrath instead. Will be pricey in the fantasy form but could well be worth it - capable of playing round 1 and averaging 75+ for the season.
Andrew McGrath | Def/Mid | 179cm, 75kg
Ball magnet alert!! Racked up the most possessions in TAC cup playing predominantly through the midfield and looks likely to be fighting it out with McCluggage for the number one draft mantle spot. Can ply his trade down back as well in a similar role to a Luke Hodge and his famed quarterback position while still racking up numbers like he did throughout the championships. Will almost certainly play round one if the Bombers pick him up instead of McCluggage, however if GWS get him he may have to wait - let's hope he can slip through to Brisbane in an unlikely scenario to play regular games. Like Hugh, could go 75+ in his first fantasy year but will be pricey.
Tim Taranto | Midfielder | 186cm, 82kg
Super efficient midfielder hailing from the Sandringham Dragons den. Will be more of a Supercoach specialist, however will still be a handy fantasy player as he has a similar game style to Fyfe or Pendles. Loves the contested mark and will float across packs without a second thought to intercept on a regular basis. Looking likely to slip through to either the Lions or Carlton at pick five which could be handy for fantasy coaches as he should see game time early in the season one would think. Pencil him in for a 65-70 average.
Jack Bowes | Midfielder | 187cm, 78kg
Here is the bloke you want to keep an eye on. Mature body that has played against men in the NEAFL most recently, wins his own ball, uses it well and can hit the scoreboard. Could very well play a high half forward role in his first season and looks likely to head to the Gold Coast which is excellent news for coaches. If he goes to GC he will play straight up with the mass exodus of midfielders from the suns. Should be able to push out a solid 65+ average if he gets regular time on ground in 2017.
Sam Petrevski-Seton | Mid/Fwd | 181cm, 75kg
Tackle machine! The WA rep is like a Cyril Rioli 2.0 with his ferocious attack on the ball and man. Will run down anyone in the league with his blistering closing speed. We haven't seen a viable fantasy small forward debut since Cyril way back in 2008 when he went for a 66 average in his first year. Petrevski-Seton is more than capable of replicating a debut year of the same calibre if given the chance at possibly either the Suns or Blues as he should go top 10. Don't be surprised if he produces a 60+ average for the year.
THE SCRAP HEAP
Not much on the table in this year's rookie and pre season draft come Monday evening. Most of the talk will be around the state league recruits and who can take the step up to the big league. There are a few out of contract AFL free agents though worth keeping an eye on, even if it is only for value and a potential quick cash grab.
Clancee Pearce | Ex Fremantle Dockers
Has just recently been picked up by Swan Districts over in the WAFL. There have been rumours of Melbourne clubs showing interest in the 25 year old mid/defender. Personally I think he can play a role for a club willing to take on a determined, hard nosed player that will stick to any role a coach throws at him. Has a thumping boot on him and has shown in the past he can play a run with role if required. Averaged a very solid 84 across 24 games back in 2012 for Fremantle and has averaged in the 70's more than once also. Fell out of favour with Ross the boss and his new youth policy - even though Pearce is still only 25 and heading into the prime of his career. If he can find a new home in Melbourne, could go for an 80 average given the right role.
Will Minson | Ex Western Bulldogs
The big fella just never got his mojo back (or never got given the chance) after his sparkling 2013 all Australian form where he averaged 92 for fantasy coaches and was the premier ruck-man of the competition. He's 31 now and will turn 32 in April which could pose durability issues down the stretch of a long season. Would only be considered as a back up ruck for any club that is willing to pick him up. Was talks of West Coast taking him for that exact reason - along with Petrie, but those rumors seem to have subsided more recently. Only played 2 games for the Bulldogs last year when they opted to go with Roughead and to a lesser extent Tom Campbell for the year. He's stated he wants to go on if given the chance and he physically still looks fit enough to go around another year. Will be cheap in fantasy land and if a club gets an injury or two to their main rucks stocks big WIlly could fill the void - i'll be passing either way however.
Jack Grimes | Ex Melbourne Demons
Gee wizz...it's been such a huge fall from grace for poor Jack, I really feel he was a victim of the system that the Demons had going a few years back before Roosey took the reins. It was like someone flicked a switch after he was given the captaincy and everything went downhill from then on. This is a bloke that averaged 92 from 21 games back in 2012!! That's outstanding for a permanent defender who floated up the wings every now and then. Even in 2016 when he managed just the two games...he went berzerk versus Freo in round 16 with a 140! Only to then be dropped in round 18. Roosey had it in for him from the start and a new beginning was the only answer for the ex captain. Would love to see him in new colours, perhaps somewhere like St Kilda, Carlton or Collingwood where he can play that running half back role - the Pies would be a perfect fit with their shaky back six at the moment. At the age of 27 (28 in May) he could still easily pump out an 85+ average for the right club, plus he will attract a discount only playing two games in 2016. I'll cross my fingers, but won't be holding my breath.
So who's on your pre draft radar?