Kids can take time, so avoid rookie mistakes

WHEN it comes to your draft league, it's always an interesting decision as to when you start looking at the inexperienced kids. You need to balance solid and steady veterans in the middle of your draft with the potential upside of a rookie.

But it's important not to jump on rookies too early if you're in a standard league.

Rookie history

Most fantasy coaches might have the misconception, based on salary cap games, that rookies have a far greater value than they actually do.

There are recent examples of first-year players having top 100 draft value - Toby Greene and Dayne Zorko are two - but they're pretty few and far between. Generally, only one rookie a year puts up really strong numbers. To put it into context, in 2012, David Armitage had 20.3 disposals, 4.8 marks, 4.7 tackles and kicked 17.8.110 and he's someone you imagine would get drafted in the 75-125 range.

Your absolute top-flight rookie will have likely been worth around pick 100, but there's a huge risk in taking an unproven player.

"Plug and play" guys

There are a few options who are capable of putting up good numbers in their first year - capable and actually doing it are two different things though.

Jaeger O'Meara, Gold Coast, MID

O'Meara is an elite talent, who boasts tremendous pace, endurance and skill. He spent 2012 training with the team and playing occasionally with the reserves (he could not play AFL because of his age).

He spent a lot of time in the gym and has a significantly more AFL ready body than most entering the system.

Jack Viney, Melbourne, MID

Viney had a similar story to O'Meara in 2012, in that he had already moved on from junior footy and being a father/son prospect at the Dees, he played a handful of VFL games with Casey. He's a tough as nails midfielder, who is ready to have an impact at AFL level.

Oliver Wines, Port Adelaide, MID

Wines is one tough unit. You can see how he slots into the Port Adelaide midfield. One thing with first possession players is that their tackle numbers can suffer, but this isn't the case with Wines, who wins the hard ball but gets more than his share of tackles.

Brad Crouch, Adelaide, MID

Crouch was a mini-draft selection, so has spent the year in Adelaide getting his body AFL ready, playing 17 senior games for West Adelaide, including a grand final. Has a mature body and relishes the contest.

Lachie Whitfield, GWS, MID

He's not the quickest, but has an enormous tank and he knows where to run to get the ball. He has the poise and class to take to the AFL like a duck to water.


An average 20 touches, 5 marks, 4 tackles and maybe 10 goals for the year is what you're aiming for. Make sure you have this in mind, so you can compare them to experienced players with a more accurate form line.

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This story Kids can take time, so avoid rookie mistakes first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.