The preseason has barely just begun yet AFL Fantasy have us, but not our families, a favour. The release of the format for the 2024 season has thrown not just one but many cats amongst the pigeons, with early bye rounds, best 18’s, and potentially huge price changes all in consideration for the early part of the season. With that said, it is important to balance selections for players, particularly premiums, who don’t have the early bye.Embed from Getty Images
Tom Stewart comes in as the equal 7th most expensive defender yet presents more value than might meet the eye. He had an injury affected 2023 which is reflected in his price and might sting those who started him in the most recent season, but the early fixture might be too good to pass up. He faces notably friendly teams for defenders in St. Kilda and Western Bulldogs in the first four rounds and has a stake on being a top 6 defender for 2024.
Another two who have the ability to push into contention are Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera and Hayden Young. Both of these young guns have shown a reliably high floor and should benefit from role changes which increased their scoring in the back half of 2023.
Keidean Coleman is another who comes in underpriced based on his potential. His injured affected 2023 has in come in mid-priced, yet a potential 85+ season could be on the cards. He is also one you could look to trade into at round 3 given his bye in round 2.
Rounding out the back 6 are Heath Chapman and Zac Williams. These two both played minimal football in 2023 due to injuries, but I believe they both have a spot in their sides respective best 22. Chapman should have a spot either on the wing or half back flank available to him, while Williams only needs to be within 20 points of his 2019 season to present enormous value for coaches. Rounding out the bench is Arie Schoenmaker and Toby Pink, both players who should see time for their sides in 2024.
This is where the fun begins. The midfield is shaping up to be the line that presents the most variety for coaches to pick from. Andrew Brayshaw, Rory Laird, and Zak Butters were all amongst the top scorers in 2023 and should benefit massively from their fixtures. All three have a bye which coaches can benefit from and don’t miss early fixtures. Combined with them having VC/C potential most weeks, I feel that coaches might have to spend up for this season in order to ensure that they don’t fall behind early.
Next up we have Luke Davies-Uniacke and Sam Walsh. These two young guns have both shown they can match it with the best and have injury affected scores baked into their price. Should they have a fit and firing preseason, I would be hard pressed to not start them.
Lastly, we have the rookies. I have snuck Daniel Curtin into M8 using some DPP which should help provide some flexibility in the early rounds, whilst Colby McKercher and Ryley Sanders both possess enough junior pedigree that, should they be named round 1, they both should be on your field. Rounding out the bench is Jeremy Sharp, Jhye Clark, and Clay Hall. Much like most rookies at this stage of the season, we are picking based on names and the potential for a round 1 spot. I do like spending up on some rookies to allow for flexibility come round 1.
This is the line where I am the most settled despite how early in the preseason we are. Brodie Grundy moving from Collingwood to the Swans opens him up to the number one ruck spot once again. At his value, he feels to be the biggest “no-brainer” pick at this stage.
I have paired him with Tristan Xerri, another one that coaches who started with last season may feel some aggrievances towards. Todd Goldstein moving to Essendon means that he should have a lock on the ruck spot. I’ve chosen to handcuff him with Hamish Free at this stage, but should we have any cheap ruck named round 1 they will end up there.
Up until earlier this week, the F1 spot was one of the hardest to fill. With the news of an ACL for Bailey Smith, I have decided to put Jack Macrae into this position for now. He should be able to at least match his performance from 2023, with potential upside on the cards.
Next come a pair of cheaper forwards who present value due to a change in club in Taylor Adams and Zac Fisher. Both should be able to move into reasonable roles in their new sides and Fisher should, come round 7, pick up DPP and open up additional flexibility in our squads.
Elijah Tsatas worked his way into the Essendon team after injuries kept him away from an early debut and he didn’t disappoint. Another preseason under his belt should help stake him claim for a role with centre bounce rotations.
Finlay Macrae comes in at just over rookie priced with plenty of pedigree of scoring from junior numbers. Should he cement a B22 in the reigning premiers’ side, he will be sitting at F5 for most teams alongside the #1 draft pick from 2023, Harley Reid. I’m not massively interested in him as a pick at this stage, but his ownership should mitigate any risk in picking him. Lastly, Shaun Mannagh and Chris Burgess are more placeholders at this stage, much like the rookies selected in my defensive line.
So, what do you think? I feel like the overall structure of teams for the 2024 season will be significantly different to how most teams lined up for round 1 of 2023. I always strive to play each season on its’ merits and there is plenty to play out between now and the first bounce of round 1.