With the recent update to GameDay Squad packs, our attention has now shifted back to building our teams for 2024. Along with position updates and player transfers, the biggest change comes in the addition of the new draftees to the platform. Last season, Harry Sheezel proved that first-year players can be fantasy relevant, so I’ve crunched the numbers to see who you should be chasing.
A notable absence from this list will be Harley Reid, who has already received enough attention. He should be an obvious target for any serious coach on the dynasty-style fantasy platform.
Pick 2, North Melbourne, Talent League Average: 130.7, Midfielder
Colby McKercher seems like one of those great all-around fantasy talents who are able to score points in all aspects of the game. He’s best suited to an outside midfielder role, which will hopefully see him rack up possessions from the hard work of other players such as LDU. Despite playing only nine games in the Talent League last year, he made a significant fantasy impact, averaging 130.7 GDS points while he was fit. McKercher should be a player who is pushing for round 1 selection, and North Melbourne is a side that doesn’t mind giving roles to first-year talent. I predict he’ll have a higher GDS average than Harley Reid by the end of the season, although his midfield status will make him far less valuable in his first few seasons.
Pick 62, St Kilda, Talent League Average: 130.4, Forward
Don’t be fooled by Schoenmaker's late draftee status. He was tipped to go earlier in the draft but slid down the list, likely due to his off-field issues. Thankfully, St Kilda has a strong history of fostering problematic players, so he should fit in well. In all seriousness though, this kid might have the best kick in the 2023 draft. He was launching drop punts from the goal line to almost the center square, and in the eight state league games he played last year, he averaged 23.6 kicks. That’s almost 100 points right there, just from kicks! He’s listed as a key defender, but through his youth, he’s taken on more fantasy-friendly roles, so wait and see how he’s used. If he does get a run, I can see him going straight into kick-in duties, which could help his early AFL numbers compared to other first-year players.
Pick 36, Geelong, VFL Average: 132.5, Forward
Shaun Mannagh is a mature age rookie who deservedly made it into the draft this year on the back of some outstanding VFL numbers. In his 22 games, he averaged 25 touches and two goals a game. His fantasy potential is also bolstered by an impressive tackling ability, averaging 5.6 tackles per game, which is huge for a small forward. His potential was highlighted in the VFL grand final where he had a best-on-ground performance in a losing side with 6 goals and 28 disposals resulting in a GDS score of 162 GDS points. Mannagh has the potential to be a must-have fantasy player in a season where forward lines will be all over the place. He should be playing from round 1, and if his VFL numbers continue into the AFL, he could be one of the most valuable cards in the game!
Pick 4, North Melbourne, Talent League Average: 118.3, Forward
Zane Duursma is another first-year rookie with forward status who will likely get a game from round one. Unlike Mannagh, he’s unlikely to be a start-able card from the get-go. The beautiful thing about GameDay Squad is it’s a legacy competition, meaning the cards you get now can be very useful for years to come. Although he dominated the talent league, averaging almost 3 goals a game with an average of 19.3 disposals, he struggled in his opportunities to play against more senior players in the VFL with some underwhelming performances. This doesn’t bode well for his early games in the AFL, but as he develops over the years, he will likely become a very important fantasy player. If you can buy him off an unsuspecting fantasy player while he’s averaging 60 GDS points, you’ll be laughing for years to come.
Pick 18, St Kilda, Talent League Average: 122.6, Forward
Wilson was taken with St Kilda’s first pick in the national draft and looks to be a player who can slot straight into the void left behind by the departure of Jade Gresham. He’s the type of player who can run all day, which will hopefully lead to opportunities to spend time in the midfield down the track. His aerobic capacity helps him get into good positions to find the football, resulting in an average of 25.4 disposals per game through the talent league with a favourable kick-to-handball ratio. St Kilda has been a very fantasy-friendly side since Lyon took control, so if Wilson can start getting some senior games under his belt, he could be useful in a chaotic year for fantasy forwards.