Rookies Radar – FEB2018

Written by Schwarzwalder on February 13 2018

(Originally appeared in the Herald Sun on 12/2/18, written by Al Paton & Kate Salemme)

** SCT will put the Rookies under the microscope during the JLT Series.  Until then, this article is a good place to start – Schwarzwalder **


SELECTING the right cheapies is the key to SuperCoach success.

We love having Patrick Dangerfield, Dustin Martin and Lance Franklin in the same SuperCoach side, but you can’t afford all of the big guns.

To fit a squad within your $10 million salary cap you need 10-15 players priced at under $200,000 — “rookies” in SuperCoach language.

They will fill your bench and take the last one or two (or three, if you’re really bold) on-field spots in defence, the midfield and forward line.

Scroll down to the bottom of the player list in each position and you’ll see dozens of names in that price bracket you’ve probably never heard of. So who do you pick?

We’re here to help.

No. 1 draft pick Cameron Rayner in action during pre-season training.
New Tiger Jack Higgins posted big SuperCoach numbers in his junior career.

Player values are based on a three-week rolling average so to shoot up in price they need to score well (anything above 70 points a week is good for a rookie). Most importantly, they need to play regular games.

Here’s an early take on the kids expected to get games early in 2018 (check back tomorrow for the top mature-age recruits).



The Dogs’ backline was in disarray at the end of last season and part of the fix is the 195cm West Australian who was snapped up at pick nine in last year’s draft. An intercept mark specialist, he averaged 117 SuperCoach points at Colts (under-18) level and is ready to play right away after making seven senior appearances in the WAFL last year. “I had a big off-season in the gym last year and put on a bit of size … hopefully those senior games will put me in good stead to put my hand up for Round 1,” Naughton told the West Australian. Should be high on your watch list.


The next Kade Simpson? One of Carlton’s two top-10 picks at last year’s draft (pick 10), O’Brien is a former national 400m runner and Victorian 3km cross-country champion noted for his laser left boot. A good decision maker with a huge tank, he will run up and down the wing all day. But does he win enough of the footy to score well? One to watch in the pre-season competition.

The Bulldogs’ top two picks Aaron Naughton and Ed Richards after last year’s draft in Sydney.


A good rule to follow in SuperCoach is not to pick key-position rookies. They usually take longer to develop and don’t score as well as smaller players. All that applies to Brander, a 194cm swingman, despite talk of a possible Round 1 debut.


A classy half-back flanker from the Oakleigh Chargers who went at pick 16 in the draft. Not a huge ball winner and still has plenty of weight to put on. Dogs recruiter Simon Dalrymple’s comment after the draft is a word of caution about jumping on now: “We think with ample time in the system, he’s an exciting prospect.”


Crows fans and SuperCoach players hope Doedee will step straight into the spot in the Adelaide backline vacated by Jake Lever. A former No. 17 draft pick, Doedee plays just like Lever — he was the No. 1 intercept player in the SANFL last season (a stat rated highly in SuperCoach). He also finished second in the Crows’ state league best-and-fairest, behind veteran Scott Thompson. If he’s part of the back six (Alex Keath and Kyle Cheney are other contenders for the Lever vacancy), he’s a safe bench pick.


The departure of Nathan Wilson to Fremantle and a season-ending achilles injury to Zac Williams open the door for this 19-year-old Giants academy product. He developed nicely in the NEAFL last season, scoring above 100 SuperCoach points in six of his final 11 games and showing promising signs as an intercept defender.


Academy draft pick is finding his way into a few SuperCoach teams but he’s unlikely to appear at AFL level early in the season. The versatile 198cm big man can play key forward, back and in the ruck and could be a good pick down the track, but not this year.


The No. 39 draft pick scored 141 SuperCoach points in one TAC Cup game last year but he only gave up cricket for footy a year ago so its likely to be a long-term project — not what we’re looking for.

Andrew Brayshaw (second from left) and Adam Cerra (second from right) are players to watch. Pic: Getty Images



The Dockers love Brayshaw so much not only did they grab him with pick 2 in the draft, they have already signed him to a two-year contract extension before he makes a senior appearance. So expect him to play early. Brayshaw wins clearances and kicks goals, a good formula for SuperCoach scoring — as evidenced by his average of 131 in the TAC Cup. Could be worth the elevated price tag given to high draft picks.


A year older than most rookies after his first season was curtailed by an ankle injury. Broke through for two senior games late in the year and didn’t set the world on fire but he recorded outstanding numbers at NEAFL level playing across half-forward, where the Giants need a boost. A tackling machine who could be a smart selection.


Carlton’s top pick in last year’s draft (pick 3) is a clearance specialist in the mould of Marcus Bontempelli who averaged 119 SuperCoach points in the TAC Cup. Kicked seven goals in a game for Geelong Grammar before his year was cut short by a shoulder injury. The Blues say he’s on track for a Round 1 debut — we want to see him in action in the pre-season before committing.


If you’re going to spend extra on a first-year player, “LDU” might be the man. The No. 4 draft pick is ready to play right away and there are spots available in the North Melbourne midfield. Everyone who saw him lead the Dandenong Stringrays to victory after their trailed by 50 points at halftime in week one of the TAC Cup finals has definitely got him — that day he had 33 disposals, 21 contested possessions, a goal and 184 SuperCoach points.

North Melbourne recruit Luke Davies-Uniacke has drawn comparisons to Marcus Bontempelli. Picture: Michael Klein


A top-10 draft pick in 2016, Brodie played only three games last year for modest SuperCoach returns. But he should get a lot more opportunities this year in a new-look Suns midfield and the benefits of an extra pre-season shouldn’t be underestimated.


Dominated when he played at TAC Cup level but injuries restricted him to just four games in each of the past two years. Based on that he is probably behind the other guys listed above.


The Saints’ top draft selection (pick 7) was a ball magnet at junior level, noted for his clearance and tackling work. He averaged 126 SuperCoach points in the TAC Cup but might find it hard to break into the Saints midfield early in the season.


The pre-season standout of the latest crop of Saints recruits can play anywhere but has been training with the midfield group. Averaged an even 100 points a game in the TAC Cup. You’re paying a lot so you’d need to be very confident he’ll play most of the first eight rounds.


Hawthorn was rapt to grab the Geelong Falcons and Vic Country co-captain at pick 45 on draft night. An inside ball-winner with the body to play straight away. Found plenty of the ball and kicked two goals in the Hawks’ intraclub game last Friday night to boost his SuperCoach stocks.


His junior coach in the WA Colts described him as “an animal around the contest” which makes us take notice. The nephew of Craig Starcevich transformed from a forward to an inside midfielder in his final under-18 season and looks like he’s been playing senior footy for years (think Jack Graham). Contested bull is every chance to be blooded early.

Can Kobe Mutch break into Essendon’s best 22?
Carlton’s top draft pick Paddy Dow should get plenty of senior opportunities.


Put up some big SuperCoach numbers in the TAC Cup in 2016, averaging 132 points a game — and 142 in the under-18 championships. But he spent his first year at the Bombers in the VFL, playing 18 matches. A chance to break through this year — monitor his pre-season form.

** Undergone knee surgery last week, expected to miss the next 4-6 weeks of training – Schwarzwalder**


One of the fairytale stories of draft night, the brother of Melbourne’s Angus and Fremantle’s Andrew landed at the Eagles with pick 68 after being passed over in last year’s draft. Averaged 131 SuperCoach points in the TAC Cup last year and will start the season aged 20 so he should be a bit ahead of other newbies.


Geelong identified the need for a pressure forward and got one in the Western Jets tackling machine. That’s become a cliche but his average of 9.7 tackles a game was nearly two more than anyone else in the competition. Also averaged 145 SuperCoach points and he was nominated by skipper Joel Selwood as an early season bolter. Ticks a lot of boxes.



Now in his second season after breaking into the senior line-up for two games in his debut year — scoring 37 and 33 with two hit-outs to advantage from 68 attempts. Beanpole will probably spend this year developing in the VFL so you’re better off picking someone cheaper.


A mature age recruit (tick) two years ago, Cameron sat on a lot of benches all last year without getting a chance at senior level. He could be worth a punt again now Sydney’s ruck stocks are down one after Kurt Tippett’s retirement, leaving him and Callum Sinclair as the only backups to Sam Naismith.

Western Bulldogs big man Tim English. Picture: Mark Wilson


Has dual-position eligibility and could be a chance to play if both Rory Lobb and Dawson Simpson go down. So probably not likely.


The highest ranked ruckman in the TAC Cup (116 average) slid to pick 47 on draft night. His dual-position status makes him a good candidate for a bench spot, but don’t expect to see him at senior level this year — unless Paddy Ryder gets injured.


Former cricketer is miles away from an AFL debut but if you’re third ruck is never going to play anyway, you may as well go for the cheapest option available.


See above but a more strategic choice given the Eagles play a lot of Sunday games so he offers more “floating doughnut” opportunities if you want to try the vice-captain or emergency loopholes.



The Lions’ No. 1 draft pick was compared to Dustin Martin at junior level for his explosive power and scoreboard impact. Likely to start his career as a forward where points will be harder to accumulate which makes it hard to justify spending more than $200k.


The Magpies are confident a heart problem won’t stop Stephenson picking up from where he left off in the second half of last year, when he averaged 132 SuperCoach points in the TAC Cup. Highlighted his talent with 22 disposals and five goals in the under-18 all-star game on Grand Final day. High price tag but could be worth it.


A real project player who was rated the best 15-year-old in the country two years ago but has barely played since due to two serious knee injuries. Suspect the Giants will give him plenty of time to develop at lower levels.

Demon Charlie Spargo at pre-season training.
Richmond recruit Patrick Naish will be spending a lot of time in the gym during his first season.


Higgins’ junior numbers make for salivating reading. He broke Tom Rockliff’s record by averaging 145 SuperCoach points in 33 games covered by Champion Data, dominated in the midfield and up forward, is known for his professionalism and already has bigger quads than many AFL players. The only issue is forcing his way into the Tigers’ small forward set up, but Daniel Rioli’s foot injury creates an opening. He’s also DPP. Jump on!


Injuries have curtailed last year’s No. 29 draft pick for a couple of years but at under-16 level he averaged 29 disposals, 2.5 goals and 219 SuperCoach points a game. So we’ll be keeping a very close eye on him!


Posted huge numbers in the NEAFL last year, breaking the 40-disposal mark twice and finishing sixth on the league goalkicking table. John Longmire hasn’t been afraid to throw kids into the deep end, hopefully Dawson is next in the queue.


The Eagles’ top pick in the 2016 draft never got a clear run at it last year due to foot injuries. Showed a bit across half-forward in the WAFL — West Coast obviously like him a lot, offering him a two-year contract extension. Has never been a big possession-winner but can have an impact close to goal. Monitor his pre-season.


A tall forward who could help fill the void left by Nick Riewoldt in the future but that could be a while away. Played one game last year and scored eight SuperCoach points, which is really all you need to know.


The Suns produced the biggest shock of the draft when they called out Power’s name at pick 19. Played 18 at WA Colts (under-18) level and never had more than 20 disposals. It’s a no from us.


The son of former Tiger goalkicker Chris Naish is appearing on many benches early but might not survive until the Round 1 lockout. The long-kicking wingman weighs in at just 71kg and is likely to spend most of this year developing in the VFL.


A category B rookie who is extremely unlikely to play senior footy this year which could make him a “floating doughnut” option if you’re prepared to carry a zero in your midfield or forward line all season.


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16 thoughts on “Rookies Radar – FEB2018”

  1. *Will Powell
    As as awesome a name as Will Power is, it’s not his name. Other than that it’s a pretty good article!!


  2. Everyone has had LDU locked in but I now feel I need to pay up and lock Andrew Brayshaw in. All the tape I have seen and all the stats indicate he will be a very capable scorer (elite efficiency, contested ball winner, tackles like crazy). Originally I thought that he wouldn’t get a crack in Freo’s deep midfield but having read the prospectus he has what all their mids except Walters don’t, elite kicking. For that reason they may look to utilise him. The word out is that they are already impressed by him, he looked great in the small snippet of the intraclub match and he seems ready to go through the midfield from round 1. Seriously worth considering even with a hefty price depending on the JLT.


    1. Midfield will be from centre to wings: Fyfe, Neale, Mundy, S. Hill, Walters. Brayshaw will most likely pick up a bench spot, obviously will be selected ahead of Cerra who’s had 2 injury prone years.


      1. There’s the chance they might throw him in there over Mundy or give him decent spells on the wing. Blakely is more likely to play around the square than Mundy in my opinion, especially with Mundy getting older he’ll play a fair chunk forward. Blakely could easily return to his role as rebounding defender mind you.


    2. As much as I hate FURL, I’ve had Brayshaw in my team since before he was drafted. I’ve rated him the beat player from the draft.



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