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  • Mark Jones

GameDay Squad Aussie Rules - 2024 Sleepers!

With the offseason shuffle of GameDay Squad positions, we're all faced with the exciting challenge of scouting out new talent. With the departures of stalwarts like Dawson and Docherty from the defender ranks, it's apparent that many of us will need to find fresh faces to bolster our defensive lineups. And let's not even dive into the complexities of the forward line.

I've compiled a list of five players whom I believe have the potential to make a significant impact this season. Targeting them now could save you both heartache and money when the season kicks off.

GameDay Squad

1.     Taylor Adams

Position: Forward Team: Sydney Swans

Taylor Adams has benefited from a favourable position change in the offseason, garnering significant attention in the fantasy world. He experienced a disappointing 2023 due to less midfield time, but that should hopefully change with his trade to Sydney. He has openly expressed his preference for a midfield position, and this move should hopefully facilitate that. With Mills sidelined at the start of the season, Adams should see his CBAs increase from the disappointing 39% in 2023 back closer to the 77% he enjoyed in 2021. If he can return to the form of that season, where he averaged 118 GDS points per game, he could easily finish the season as the highest-scoring forward. Regardless, given the current options available, Adams seems like a relatively low-risk pick with significant upside potential. 


2.     Keidean Coleman

Position: Defender Team: Brisbane Lions

Keidean Coleman is a player who has always seemed tailor-made for our fantasy football teams. He's a kicking half-back who should play a high-possession role, but it's never quite come together for him. He started off slowly in the 2023 season, averaging just 70 GDS points in the first 13 rounds before finding form and finishing the season with an average of 106 GDS points for the remaining games, including an impressive finals series. The catalyst for this improvement was likely the retirement of Daniel Rich, leading to the ball finding its way into Coleman's hands more often. He went from an average of just 14 touches per game to almost 20 after Rich’s last appearance. With a full preseason in this new role, I believe Coleman will continue his finals form and elevate to an even higher level in 2024.


3.     Josh Rachele

Position: Forward Team: Adelaide Crows

Based on everything I’ve seen, Josh Rachele is poised for a breakout year. Heading into his third AFL season in 2024, he has progressively been receiving increasing minutes in the midfield, going from 6% CBAs in his first season to 23% in his second. If we compare him Errol Gulden, who had a breakout season last year, he only increased from 6% to 10% in his first two seasons before exploding in his third season. While there are many factors influencing fantasy scoring beyond CBAs, they can act as a safety net as we know he will at least be around the ball. The question remains: who in the Adelaide midfield will relinquish their spot to free up space for Rachele? The obvious answer is Sloane, but even last season, even he wasn't in there much more than Rachele. Regardless of what role he plays, Josh Rachele has a promising future, and the sooner you acquire his card, the better.


4.     Tristan Xerri

Position: Ruck Team: North Melbourne Kangaroos

Tristan Xerri enters 2024 as the sole ruckman for North Melbourne, which excites me. We all understand the importance of a fantasy ruckman being around the ball as much as possible, and shared duties can significantly impact this. Consider the failed Gawn/Grundy project; two fantasy greats saw a dip in performance due to playing outside of their preferred roles. In the two games Goldstein missed last season, Xerri posted some decent scores, and the veteran's departure means he can hopefully maintain this throughout the season. While his past scores haven't justified picking him over the likes of English or Marshall, Xerri is about to reach that sweet spot for rucks who generally take longer to fully develop. I believe the Marshall/English "set and forget" strategy might be a thing of the past, and Xerri will be very relevant in 2024.


5.     Trent Rivers

Position: Defender Team: Melbourne Demons

With Clayton Oliver's return still uncertain and the departure of James Jordan and James Harmes in the offseason, it seems there will be some midfield minutes available at the Demons. What's even more encouraging is that Rivers appears to be already playing through the midfield in match simulations and reportedly performing well. Rivers posted some decent scores last season, including a highest score of 132 GDS points in round 23, but he struggled to consistently deliver acceptable. Notably, Rivers had barely any CBAs last season, so I predict that increased midfield time will not only raise his ceiling but also raise his floor by reducing those quiet games. We lost a couple of top GameDay Squad defenders to the midfield in the offseason, so there are a couple of holes for us to fill. If he can secure a spot in the midfield, Rivers could definitely be that player with his defender status.



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