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Fantasy: The Traders reveal their pre-JLT team

The Traders reveal Fantasy's best mids The boys name the elite scorers and the guns and rookies you must have

AS WE approach the JLT Community Series, all AFL Fantasy coaches are primed and ready to have their eyes glued to every game.

Although we only have four games on offer in the first weekend, there will still be many opportunities for players to consolidate a position in our Fantasy teams.

Down at Traders HQ, we have been making the necessary adjustments to our team as we enter this all-important phase of the pre-season.

The big move

The rumours coming out of the west in relation to Nic Naitanui (RUC, $417,000) are very concerning and not what we like to hear about a star player who is coming back from a serious injury. Is he on a restricted training program? Is his knee a ‘bone on bone’ problem? Will he feature in the JLT Community Series?

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Rumours are rumours, but even if one of these are slightly true, starting with Naitanui in your initial side is shaping up as a huge gamble. At this stage, we have zero rookie options on the bench which could spell disaster throughout the year.

With no options below Naitanui, we have elected to slot Sam Jacobs (RUC, $700,000) into our side. You'll need an extra $283,000, but you get what you pay for. Jacobs is a durable and solo ruckman for his club who is coming off his best ever Fantasy season.

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How we made $283,000

You can’t make $283,000 without making a few sacrifices. Sadly, Matt Crouch (MID, $752,000) and Dayne Beams (MID, $736,000) were our first to go and replaced by under-valued premiums in Lachie Neale (MID, $706,000) and Stephen Coniglio (MID, $663,000). Neale averaged 111 two years ago and will benefit from a fit and firing Nat Fyfe beside him. Coniglio ended the season on fire with scores of 134, 120 and 90 during the finals, scores that don’t contribute to his 2018 price. Both are worthy selections at this stage of the year.

Jack Crisp (DEF, $622,000) is replaced by Andrew McGrath (DEF, $496,000) who assured us in our recent podcast that he will definitely be getting more midfield time. He averaged 81 in his last four games and currently has 16 per cent of coaches on board hoping he can have a breakout season

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Brisbane's No.1 draft pick Cameron Rayner (FWD/MID, $270,000) slides his way into our forward line as Aaron Young (FWD, $387,000) was sent packing. This injected our bank account with a handy $117K. Offloading a mid-priced player for a rookie is an easy way to make money, especially when their scoring output could be similar.

Even after an impressive showing in AFLX, Allen Christensen (FWD, $331,000) was an unlucky omission from our team as he makes way for Collingwood’s Jaidyn Stephensen (FWD/MID, $160,000). With Jordan De Goey on the outer at the Magpies, Stephensen’s chances for an early debut have certainly improved.

Rookie shuffling

It's still a guessing game with which rookies to select. However, hopefully we will have more answers after the JLT Community Series to the most difficult question in AFL Fantasy: "Which rookies will play?"

Damien Hardwick recently stated that he’d be disappointed if Jack Higgins (FWD/MID, $238,000) hadn’t started to put his hand up midway through the year to debut, and with that, he was shown the door.

With so many injuries in the GWS camp, we hold strong hope for Will Setterfield (FWD/MID, $265,000) and second-year player Isaac Cumming (DEF, $170,000).

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Setterfield played two games last year in rounds 18 and 19 and although he’s a little expensive, if he is selected in round one he’ll be a highly sort after option for many coaches.

We also have our fingers crossed that Cumming gets the vacant role left in defence by Nathan Wilson and the injured Zac Williams. During the JLT Community Series, this will feature high on the list of priorities for dedicated Fantasy coaches.

Finally, we get to Nathan Freeman (MID, $170,000). He has been the main rookie to watch during pre-season for the past three years and tragically he has once again been struck down by another hamstring injury.

Our thoughts are with luckless Saint, but as we wish him a speedy recover, we introduce you to Hamish Brayshaw (MID, $170,000). He's the brother of Angus and Fremantle's No.2 draft pick Andrew. A mature-aged rookie who might just be what the Eagles need after the retirements of Matt Priddis and Sam Mitchell.