ROUND one of the NAB Cup is done and dusted, and from a NAB AFL Fantasy standpoint, it was a crucial fortnight to pull out the binoculars and, in racing parlance, study the form.
Here are some players who caught the eye:
Brent Macaffer – Collingwood (FWD, $132,600)
Nathan Buckley has been mightily impressed with Macaffer this pre-season, and at his price, so should AFL Fantasy coaches. In his return from a serious knee injury he finished with 28 and 30 Fantasy points in his two games, as well as providing a forward line spark for the Pies. If Macaffer can recapture his 2010 premiership form, he could prove to be a bargain buy.
Travis Varcoe – Geelong (MID/FWD, $234,400)
Varcoe was sidelined for all but one game last season with stress fractures in his foot, so his NAB Cup return was much anticipated. He did not disappoint, displaying his trademark zip and class in his 28 Fantasy points against the Eagles. The Cats desperately missed Varcoe's electrifying pace last season, so he's a pretty safe bet to feature in their best 22.
Daniel Currie (RUC, $102,700) and Majak Daw (RUC, $108,500) – North Melbourne
Daw grabbed much of the limelight for his towering mark against the Demons and his sensational 'don't argue' and goal against the Tigers. But Currie was just as impressive, with 11 hit-outs and 30 Fantasy points in his game against Richmond. A back-up spot to Todd Goldstein is, potentially, on offer and it may come down to how the two perform throughout the NAB Cup. Watch this space.
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Jackson Sheringham – Geelong (MID, $243,200)
With Cats ruckman Dawson Simpson being moved on to the long-term injury list, Sheringham appears one of the most likely to be elevated on to the senior list. He did his chances little harm against the Eagles, picking up six touches and 31 Fantasy points. The 24-year-old showed in his five games last season that he wins loads of the ball and makes good decisions under pressure.
Ricky Petterd – Richmond (FWD, $243,300)
The former Melbourne high-flyer was a key performer in his new side's victory over his old team on Friday night. But it was in a new role as a loose man in defence. He finished with eight touches and 35 Fantasy points. He has loads of talent and if he can translate that into consistent performance, he may command a spot in Damien Hardwick's side.
Kyle Martin – Collingwood (MID, $103,300)
The mature-age recruit was an impressive performer for the Pies in pre-season training. Martin continued on with his strong form in his first official AFL hit-out, finishing with seven disposals and 36 Fantasy points against the Bulldogs last Friday night. For Frankston in the VFL last year, the ball-magnet averaged 26 possessions and showed an ability to push forward and take a strong grab as well. While senior opportunities are likely to be limited, you can count on Martin to take his opportunity if he gets it.
Jonathon Patton – Greater Western Sydney (FWD, $183,300)
The young behemoth was slowed by injury in his debut year in 2012, but on Sunday night he lived up to his No. 1 pick status. The key forward booted two goals against Carlton, including a superb snap, and then followed up with another pair of majors against the Swans. But it was his ability to compete that really caught the eye. Very much underpriced when thinking about his enormous ability.
Luke Parker – Sydney Swans (MID, $343,600)
Highly regarded Sydney Swans midfielder Luke Parker has shown he has plenty of talent, but on Sunday night he indicated signs of raising the bar. He chalked up 27 Fantasy points, in a one-sided result against the Giants, but it was his vision and balance in traffic and polished ball use. Still only 20, Parker is one expected to fly up the fantasy board.
George Horlin-Smith – Geelong (MID, $171,900)
The young Cat had a game-high 11 touches against West Coast, spending the majority of his time in the midfield for his 32 Fantasy points. He played just three AFL games in 2012, but finished fifth in the VFL's Liston Trophy award and was adjudged best-on-ground in Geelong's VFL triumph. The 20-year-old is highly rated at the Cattery and he appears likely to play more games in 2013.
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Andrew Swallow – North Melbourne (MID, $528,800)
The Kangaroos skipper turned in his regular captain's performance against the Demons and Tigers on Friday night. Not only did he lead his side to back-to-back wins, he was among the best in both games, gathering 24 disposals across the two matches. His strong tackling, he laid six on Friday, adds another element to his consistent Fantasy production.
Joel Selwood – Geelong (MID, $530,900)
It's hard to scroll past Joel Selwood when selecting your AFL Fantasy team, and his performances in the west did little to dent his reputation. He kicked the winning goal with just seconds to go against the Eagles, and then backed that up with 48 Fantasy points against Freo. A star.
Matt Priddis – West Coast (MID, $482,500)
Coaches can often forget the scoring ability of the Eagles midfielder. But it's time for coaches to sit up and take notice. Priddis jagged the 51 Fantasy points against Freo, validating his 93-point average from last year.
Brendon Goddard – Essendon (DEF/MID, $501,300)
New team, no matter. The former Saint has always had an ability to rack up huge numbers, and against the Dogs and the Pies he showed that's not likely to change. His scores of 46 and 55 in limited game time were positive signs. Adding to that, he spent the majority of his time in the middle. Ka-ching.
Brent Moloney – Brisbane Lions (MID, $309,800)
Former Demon Brent Moloney is exactly the hard-bodied midfielder the Lions need. So it's little surprise that the two seem to be meshing nicely. After falling out of favour with Melbourne last year, Moloney moved to the Lions in last year's free agency period. He gathered a team-high 11 disposals against the Hawks, and if he can capture his 2011 best-and-fairest winning form he could be astute Fantasy choice.
Nick Lower – Western Bulldogs (MID, $352,400)
In football terms, Lower is a journeyman after stints at three clubs. But at just 25, he still has the ability and fitness level to be a very solid AFL player. The former Freo midfielder's 15 possessions and 57 Fantasy points were one of the most encouraging signs of the first round. His experience and football intellect will be crucial in a young Bulldogs team this year.
Oliver Wines – Port Adelaide (MID, $156,700)
Even in his under-18 days, Wines was being talked about as a potential Fantasy beast. Wines' 27 Fantasy points in his first NAB Cup game was justification of that reputation. He seemed unfazed by the pressure around him in gathering eight possessions. He is extremely likely to be a big part of the Power's side this year.
Dean Kent – Melbourne (MID, $102,700)
While Jack Viney and Jimmy Toumpas are obvious Fantasy candidates, an emerging smoky is 18-year-old Dean Kent. The youngster, who turns 19 on Sunday, impressed with his attack on the ball and the way he spread hard from the contest. His 39 Fantasy points were just shy of Jeremy Howe's team-high 45. May get his opportunity at some point this season.
Nick Vlastuin – Richmond (DEF/MID, $147,700)
Vlastuin was a top-10 draft pick for good reason, after a consistent year for the Northern Knights in the TAC Cup and for Vic Metro in the Under-18 championships. In his new yellow and black threads, the young Tiger showed his undoubted class. He used the ball well in tight, with seven handballs making up the bulk of his nine disposals. Likely to feature prominently in Damien Hardwick's 2013 side.
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Follow AFL Media reporter Ben Guthrie on Twitter at @AFL_BenGuthrie