So three down and one to go in the AFL JLT Community Series matches. Teams are beginning to put together a closer resemblance of what may be their round one teams, while more of the superstars are getting some match fitness and time on ground. The rookies are pushing hard to prove themselves and our watch lists are slowly, but surely, beginning to get cut down.
Clubs won't show their cards until JLT 4, though we're getting a pretty good idea of role changes - and if a player has played more than a couple of games in a new position, you can all but guarantee they'll be in that spot come round one. There have been some standouts this round, as well as some cash cows who may have moved off the fantasy radar for the moment after some poor performances. I'll take a closer look into who impressed me this round, and which players should still be in contention to make your round one teams come March 23.
Josh Dunkley: He's becoming a serious option if you can't afford Dahlhaus or Macrae. Was super consistent in the back half of 2016 and was just as impressive during finals. Plays the wing and pushes hard both ways, knows how to find his own ball and will never cop a tag. Had 94 fantasy points and was the highest disposal winner for the Dogs with 23 to go along with his 2 marks and 6 tackles.
Toby McLean: Quietly goes about his business most games and before you know it he's knocked out 80+ fantasy points. Ended the night on 84 this game and what was most impressive was his defensive game which was lacking last year as he notched up 5 tackles to go along with 3 marks.
Clay Smith: Didn't play the whole game as he comes off an interrupted pre season, though he was pivotal at times on his way to 56 fantasy points. Ran up the ground more than he did in 2016 - he's a natural ball winner if let off the leash. Had 15 touches, 2 marks and 2 tackles in a solid first up effort. May be a sneaky POD up forward for coaches.
Dayne Zorko: Has there been a better fantasy score in a pre season game? Someone look that up. Zorks was incredible for 160 fantasy points and had some fantasy coaches switching him in for Rocky in a knee jerk reaction. Had the ball on a string and dominated the midfield for 34 touches, 8 marks, 12 tackles plus a goal. Big time POD right here.
Tom Cutler: I didn't expect this kind of outing from Tom after a long stint off with shoulder surgery in the off season. But his first game back produced some pleasing numbers for the defender come midfielder as he finished the night with 88 fantasy points. Is due for a breakout season, though the shoulder interruption is a worry. Also had 23 touches and 8 marks - could go an 85 ave this year if fit.
Dayne Beams: Put a grin on the faces of fantasy coaches everywhere as the once bluechip mid moved around the park freely for his 87 fantasy points in limited game time. At 518k, if he can get anywhere near his best form, he's a bargain lock. Finished the night with 23 touches, 7 marks and 3 tackles which was more than what we could have asked for so early in his comeback.
Josh Kelly: Two from two now for the budding elite mid. Kelly spent a mere 41% time on ground for his 69 fantasy, which is uber impressive and could be enough to convince coaches he's worthy as a starting mid in their teams. Had 16 touches, 3 marks and 3 tackles, this time with some notable midfielders back in the team like Ward, Shiel, Griffen and Conigs.
Heath Shaw: A forgotten man this pre season with Adams, Docherty and Laird hogging most of the fantasy limelight down back. Heater again went about what heater does best in this game and barely moved out of 2nd gear for his 83 fantasy points. Doesn't look like slowing up anytime soon and will almost certainly push for top 6 defender status again by year's end. Ended the night with 24 touches, 5 marks and a tackle.
Tim Taranto: Showed everyone that his first game was no fluke and that he's a real shot for round one selection after his 66 fantasy point performance. Worked hard on the wings and across half forward, and the most pleasing aspect was his 7 tackles which shows Cameron he has a defensive game about him (which is already one up on Whitfield). Was welcomed to the AFL by Buddy Franklin with a huge hip and shoulder. Best of the bunch for midfielders yet to debut so far.
Jake Lloyd: First game back for the pre season and a few savvy fantasy coaches would have liked what they saw here. Was prominent for four quarters as he gathered an equal game high 87 fantasy points. Had a great kick to handball ratio of 19:8 for 27 touches to go along with 4 marks. Could potentially crack the 90 average this season and become a handy defender option - for someone that plays mostly in the midfield.
Callum Mills: The reigning rising star was again impressive as he backed up his first JLT game with another promising performance. Roamed around the midfield again for his 84 fantasy points, this time with practically all the Swan guns back in bar Heeney. Finished up with 20 disposals, 7 marks and a tackle. Liking him at D4.
Lance Franklin: Usually starts off his campaigns slowly, but was impressive from the start of this one in his first game back for the year. Pushed high up the ground at times for his kicks in a similar role it seems to what Roughy is doing over at the Hawks lately. Ended up with 16 touches, 3 marks, 3 tackles and 2 goals for his 77 fantasy points. Will once again be a solid option up forward for coaches with depleted stocks this season.
Jacob Weitering: Took him a big to get into the game, but came to life in the second half in what was a more forward role for the former number one pick. Has bulked up considerably over the off season, especially through the quads. Clunked a team high 9 marks to go along with his 18 possessions and 2 tackles for 77 fantasy points.
Rhys Palmer: Has his fair share of knockers, but his first game for the Blues was indeed promising. Had his stints through the guts as well as up froward to end up 20 touches, 6 marks and 2 tackles for 71 fantasy points. Was more prominent in the first half than the second as he was rested more often. Still value at his price and you could do worse - though Carlton are shaping up as bottom four contenders which will be the worry here.
Caleb Marchbank: Just the 59 fantasy points for Marchbank, but that's more than enough when you're only worth 205k in fantasy land. Enjoys an easy mark down back and even had a few moments forward of the centre square. Had 17 touches and 5 marks to finish the game. It's out of him, Hampton or McGrath for your D6 realistically.
Jack Steele: It was the game from Jack we had all been waiting for. The mid/fwd role was right, the aggression was right, the ability to fill the stat sheet was right - and the price is very right. Steele went for a game high 120 fantasy points in what was a really well rounded game. Checked in for 25 disposals, 6 marks, 8 tackles and 2 goals to press his claims for your fantasy forward lines come round one.
Jack Billings: Getting hard to ignore the signs now, if he strings together another one of these games in the final JLT game hes a real breakout contender POD for fantasy coaches. Spent more time in the guts than what he did up forward as he usually does - I can see Armitage being pushed out of this team sooner rather than later because of Billings. Ended the night with 30 touches, 5 marks, 3 tackles and 103 fantasy points.
Jack Newnes: Came on after half time and went berserk for 41 fantasy points in the third quarter alone. Ended the game with 55 fantasy points in his usual midfield role as he did in 2016. Just a mid option this year is off putting and would be a huge risk, though hes every chance to improve on last year's average, its just a matter of by how much. Had 14 touches, 2 marks and a goal in 35 minutes of footy.
Stephen Hill: Was the standout for Freo in this game as he accumulated 122 fantasy points in a best on ground performance. Ran hard both ways and linked up well through the guts while also winning his own contested ball in and under. Defensive game was just as impressive laying 6 tackles to go along with his 29 disposals and 5 marks.
Aaron Sandilands: Didn't expect him to have as much as an impact as he did in this game, nor play as many minutes - but he did. Got around the field without any signs of the pre season injury concerns that held him back as he notched up 15 touches, 20 hitouts, 4 marks and a goal. Seemingly spent more time deep forward than usual, so we could very well see more of big Griff in the team to start the year as well.
Lachie Neale: Just a half played for the reigning club champ and ball magnet in this game as he checked in for 40 fantasy points. Was very handball happy, even more so than usual with 15 to go along with just 3 kicks. Did enough to show he's going to be ready to fire for round one and will be a huge POD in your midfield if you are overlooking any of the cookie cutter players out there as it seems coaches are putting him on their upgrade option lists at the moment.
Jeremy Howe: Has really thrived since going down back for the Pies. Knows how to grab himself some easy marks and they love to kick it to him down there, similar to what Shaw used to do. Knocked up 24 touches, 9 marks and 92 fantasy points in this game. The concern with Howe is if the marks dry up - his lack of tackling pressure means the points dry up as well.
Brodie Grundy: Did nothing to deter me from making him my number one ruck this year - I really think he's got the goods to take it up to Gawn as the Pies only real ruck option. Moved around the ground like a 4th mid for his 16 disposals up against Sandilands and Griffin. Also had 5 marks, 2 tackles and 16 hitouts for his 77 fantasy points.
Taylor Adams: Was named captain for this game even with Pendles out there for some weird reason... Read into that what you will (maybe he's just a real good tosser - coin tosser that is). In his first game back for the year he was at it again in his usual in and under midfield role - god knows how he was named as a DEF, but we'll take it. In limited game time, still had 21 touches and 62 fantasy points. The only thing holding him back from being a top 3 defender this year is injury. Lock and load.
Matt Crouch: Probably didn't do enough to warrant selection in your team in his first outing, but came good this time around. Was the driving force all game in the midfield for the Crows as he racked up a game high 28 disposals. Finished the game on 94 fantasy points with his 5 marks and 4 tackles.
Andy Otten: Backed it up this game from his first JLT game with 71 fantasy points. Probably the pick of the bunch from the 150k defender options at the moment if named for round one. Was great rebounding out of defense and delivering forward for his 17 touches, 5 marks and 3 tackles.
Rory Laird: Again provided fantasy coaches with nothing but confidence as he plodded away down back for his 78 fantasy points. There is little doubt that you're going to get a 95 minimum average from this bloke again in 2017. Finished the game with 23 disposals, 5 marks and 2 tackles.
George Horlin-Smith: Impressed through the midfield on his way to 98 fantasy points for the game. Won plenty of contested ball as well as finding space out wide while gun mid Dangerfield rested forward before hitting the showers at half time. Ended the match with 23 touches, 6 marks and 3 tackles - could be a smokey M5/6 at 240k if named for round one.
Zach Tuohy: Was prolific across the Cat's back line in this game once again for this 97 fantasy points. He intercepted and mopped up everything while delivering some precise kicking to team mates up forward. Finished up with 27 disposals and 7 marks - an 85-90 average this season is looking likely.
Sam Menegola: Rarely has quiet patches throughout his games and this one was no different as he ran hard both way on the wing while spending some time in the centre also. Was on fire in the first half and ended the night with 21 disposals, 7 marks and 3 tackles for his 82 fantasy points. Last year was no fluke it seems.
Ollie Wines: Is going to need broad shoulders this year it seems as he carries the load of the Power midfield. Had 71 fantasy points and toiled away all game in the congestion. Finished up with 24 touches, 3 marks and 2 tackles - really needs to find some uncontested footy to be worth consideration.
Dan Houston: A real smokey for round one it seems now that Jasper has gone down and is in doubt for the start of the year. Played across half back and the pocket, and delivered the ball well with 96% efficiency which the Power coaches will like. Ended the match on 15 disposals, 3 marks and 1 tackle for his 46 fantasy points. At 150k as a forward, he comes into consideration for your bench now.
Hamish Hartlett: Coaches looking to snap up the under priced defender would have been pleased with this game in comparison to his last. Seemed more at home with his new role across half back and collected 17 disposals this time around. Power will look to give him the ball at every opportunity out of defense. Finished up with 67 fantasy points.
Toby Nankervis: Had fantasy coaches talking Sunday afternoon after another dominant display in the ruck for the Tigers. Had all but sewn up the number one ruck role in front of Hampson and Maric. Finished his night on 15 touches, 5 marks, 22 hitouts and 5 tackles for 94 fantasy points. Question is - are you game enough to have him as your second ruck?
Dan Butler: Didn't get a heap of it playing the lively forward role, though his defensive pressure would have pleased the Richmond coaches on his way to 5 tackles for the game. Ended his night with 53 fantasy points and is touch and go for a round one berth - though Richmond is in need of someone like him up forward to work in tandem with Sam Lloyd. At 150k, he looms as a solid bench option.
Brandon Ellis: Looked like the Brandon Ellis of 2015 out there in this game as he seemed to have his signature outside game working for him. Ran the wings and linked up down back for some easy touches and ended the night with 26 disposals, 6 marks and 2 tackles for his 91 fantasy points. Need to see a lot more inside time from this guy to justify selection, though he should improve on his down 2016 season.