After the siren: Mind the gap behind the fearsome Hawks
AFL Fantasy form watch: round one

1. Taylor Walker could be the leader the Crows need
Rory Sloane and Patrick Dangerfield were the bookies' favourites to succeed Nathan van Berlo as Adelaide captain, so most people were taken by surprise in January when coach Phil Walsh handed the armband to 'Tex' Walker. In his six-goal haul against North Melbourne on Sunday, Walker showcased all the attributes that evidently impressed Walsh. On display was his aggression, his team-first mentality and his natural ability to lead. The big key forward commanded possession but also found teammates in better scoring positions when he could have added to his own tally. It was clear too that the Crows thrived on his hostility. - Harry Thring

2. The Hawks are ravenous for a three-peat
Any sense the Hawks would be satisfied with back-to-back flags was put to bed on Easter Monday. Geelong had been touted as a top-four contender again after snaring Mitch Clark in the off-season to partner Tom Hawkins in attack, but the Cats were mauled after quarter-time by Hawthorn. The reigning premier could not have started the season any more impressively and veterans Luke Hodge, Sam Mitchell, Shaun Burgoyne and Brian Lake do not appear to have lost anything over the break. There's a long way to go but when you consider Hawthorn won last year's flag after a succession of injuries that would have buried most other clubs, if the Hawks get a reasonable run of luck in 2015 they're going to be very hard to topple from their premiership perch. - Nick Bowen

3. The Demons aren't scared to attack
The new-look Melbourne was epitomised by one goal in the second quarter of their spirited win over Gold Coast. It started in defence with Colin Garland, who kicked to the wing, where Jay Kennedy-Harris barely hesitated before moving into the corridor. He looked up to see Dom Tyson streaming forward into space and placed the ball perfectly for him to run inside 50, where the midfielder baulked around Sam Day and converted on the run. It was a memorable team goal, made possible by instinct, skilled ball use and an attacking mentality. It was worth going to the footy to watch. – Nathan Schmook 

4. West Coast could get monstered by the League's big forwards
If losing star full-back Eric Mackenzie to a season-ending knee injury during the NAB Challenge wasn't bad enough, then Mitch Brown following suit in round one was the hammer blow to West Coast's season. Adam Simpson now has to "find a way" to replace his two best key defenders for the rest of 2015. Young gun Jeremy McGovern was superb on Tom Boyd, but even with 195cm Will Schofield set to come back the Eagles look desperately undersized, inexperienced and ill-equipped to handle the AFL's best big forwards. On Saturday night it was Boyd and Redpath – with a combined 14 games under their belts. Heaven help the Eagles when 197cm Geelong superstar Tom Hawkins and new sidekick 200cm Mitch Clark roll into Perth in round nine. – Travis King

5. New boy Ryan Griffen is a Giant decoy
Greater Western Sydney's biggest off-season recruit might not have had the best day on Sunday against St Kilda but he played an important role in dragging the Saints' best tagger away from the Giants' other prime ball winners. The supremely-fit Maverick Weller made life hell for Griffen as he followed him around all afternoon but it meant Adam Treloar, Dylan Shiel, Toby Greene and Callan Ward didn't attract an opponent more focused on stopping them getting the ball than winning it himself.

In the long run, Griffen's experience should see him cope better with being tagged than his younger teammates and allow their midfield to develop another layer. – Jennifer Phelan

6. The Tigers can win without their big guns firing
Nobody at Richmond was getting carried away with the club's 27-point win over Carlton on Thursday night, particularly after the Tigers' slow start to the game. But what was perhaps most promising was that the Tigers' top echelon - including captain Trent Cotchin, Brett Deledio and Dustin Martin - had quiet games and little influence. In their stead new recruit Taylor Hunt (28 disposals), first-gamer Kamdyn McIntosh (23 disposals, one goal) and emerging midfielder Brandon Ellis (26 touches) led the way, which was an important and encouraging sign. If the younger batch at Punt Rd can keep improving, and the club's stars play at a higher level, then the Tigers should start the year well. - Callum Twomey

7. There's still a lot of steel in Fremantle
The perception around the country is that Fremantle might now be looking backwards at its premiership window while Port Adelaide is the heir apparent to Hawthorn's crown. Round one was always going to provide a marker and in a Sunday night special the Dockers reminded everyone they remain genuine contenders. Their leaders stood tall in key moments. Matthew Pavlich kicked four goals while David Mundy and Nat Fyfe were superb.

The loss of Ryan Crowley had many Dockers fans concerned. Clancee Pearce stepped in and, though Travis Boak took control in the last quarter, he competed well throughout the night. - Alex Malcolm

8. Brodie Grundy can go it alone
After spending some time in the VFL last season, young Magpie Grundy was thrown a daunting first-up challenge by coach Nathan Buckley – and the Collingwood ruckman responded in sensational fashion. With Jarrod Witts rested from the round one match against the Brisbane Lions, Grundy was the Magpies' sole recognised ruck up against vaunted Lions duo Matthew Leuenberger and Stefan Martin. And the 20-year-old did more than simply compete in the oppressive conditions – he was a catalyst in the 12-point victory. Grundy finished with 13 disposals, 31 hitouts and five clearances to stamp himself as his team's No.1 ruck option. – Michael Whiting

9. Adam Cooney's still got it
A barrel from outside 50 silenced the Swans faithful and gave Essendon a 26-point lead after the quarter-time siren.

A Tim Cahill-esque effort to open the second term was even better.

Cooney might be past his Brownlow best but sometimes that doesn’t matter when you have the amount of class he does. The former Bulldog won’t be adding a second ‘Charlie’ to his collection, but he will have an enormous impact on a season which, for the Bombers, is looking immensely positive after Saturday's courageous defeat against the Swans. "Adam was amazing. These weren't ideal conditions for Adam and he was still great," said Essendon coach James Hird. – Adam Curley