One of the best parts of fantasy sports is identifying those young players who have the potential to impact the game from the moment they’re drafted. Usually this is done with a heck of a lot of research, plenty of theorising and hypothesising about how clubs will integrate new players into their system. It isn’t just about if they are good, it’s about if they have the opportunity at their club to leverage those skills in their first few years after being drafted.
Reflecting on the 2021 draft, there is a great example of this. Nick Daicos and Finn Callaghan were both exemplary talents at the junior level. Both have high potential to be extremely good fantasy assets - however only one had the opportunity to play in a fantasy friendly role in their team immediately after being drafted - Nick Daicos. Finn was too far down the pecking order at GWS to warrant investment in fantasy last year, while Nick ended up as one of the top 10 defenders in the competition, with a fantasy game to match.
As we’re past the first game of the round, we’ve already seen glimpses of potential from some of the high draftees from the 2022 class - and there are a few who have the right mix of talent, opportunity, and role that could make them relevant as soon as this year.
The Cheezle - Harry Sheezel
Most eyes were on Will Ashcroft leading into round one - a proven ball winner with senior experience, locked into a midfield spot at the Lions. Quietly plugging away at North was Harry Sheezel - taken with pick 3 in the AFL Draft - Harry spent the summer playing various roles up forward and down back in training, which had fantasy coaches questioning what output they could expect. Then, in round 1, he was deployed as a half back flanker - similar to how Daicos was deployed for the Pies in 2022 - and with a similar effect. He ended up with 34 disposals, the third highest disposals EVER on debut. He wont score as well as he did this week, every week, but he’s more than proven his worth.
Round 1 was a little underwhelming for Will, however you don't have to look to far to see it was underwhelming for the entire Lions squad. They underperformed, and surprisingly, were beaten around the contest by a much younger, but much hungrier Port midfield. The concerning part for Will is that over the last 3 or so years, the Lions have struggled to have multiple high scoring fantasy premiums. He’ll get all the opportunity in the world, but the gameplan and role may not give him the ceiling everyone wants him to have immediately. That said, it’s Will Ashcroft, if you have a GDS card, just hold it.
Let’s face it - the West Coast Eagles are likely to be in for another difficult season. They are at the start of what looks to be a complete re-build, which is the perfect time for a guy like Reuben to hit the club. He’s going to get every opportunity in the world to gain experience, because there’s no expectations on the team to perform - evidenced by the volume of Centre Bounce Attendances afforded to him (57%!). He plays a lot like Clayton Oliver, and could show a serious ceiling this year.
Like with Harry Sheezel and Reuben Ginbey, Cameron Mackenzie has joined a team in the second year of a rebuild. In the off season, the Hawks cleared out the senior players of their on ball division (Tom Mitchell, Jaeger O’Meara, Liam Shiels, Daniel Howe) which has created a wealth of opportunity for their young midfield talent - the likes of Josh Ward, James Worpel, and Jai Newcombe. Enter Cameron Mackenzie - a ready made senior talent taken at pick 7 in the 2022 draft. He slotted in seamlessly - and formed the third cog of the Hawks core midfield group.