Dylan Stephens in action during North Melbourne training on November 13, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

NORTH Melbourne cleaned up on draft night, claiming five selections inside the top 23 and two in the top four.

The Kangaroos' young list will be strong in years to come as they work alongside the likes of Bailey Scott (MID, $773,000) and Harry Sheezel (DEF, $878,000), who both had standout seasons. Scott improved his average of 69 to 86, and finished the year averaging 100 in his last 13 games. Sheezel didn't put a foot wrong all year and averaged 97 in his debut season. He started the year on fire with scores of 118, 127, 109 and 119.

Over the off-season, the Kangaroos have worked their magic, acquiring Zac Fisher (FWD, $623,000) and Sydney's Dylan Stephens (MID, $496,000). Fisher is listed as a forward and could be handy if he finds himself in a role across half-back but it's former No.5 pick Stephens who is the one who could surprise us all.

For the Swans in round one, he scored 104 from 27 disposals, but he then found himself subbed on or off three times across his 13 games for the year. Stephens played the rest of his games in the VFL and averaged an impressive 111.

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Lock them in

When it comes to Fantasy, we don't want a ruck who is sharing the role with others. This was the case for Tristan Xerri (RUC, $580,000) last season, but with Todd Goldstein moving to Essendon, Xerri finally has his opportunity. In 2022, he started the first six games as the No.1 ruckman and during this time he averaged 74, before North Melbourne handed the reins back to Goldstein.

Last season in rounds 17 and 18 with Goldstein on the sidelines, Xerri dominated with a season-high 110 and 74 respectively. This is what we can expect. When you consider that Xerri played nine games this year, mostly alongside Goldstein and averaged 66, there is plenty of upside from the 24-year-old big man.

Track their pre-season

Luke Davies-Uniacke (MID, $879,000) has the ability to be one of the best players in the game and he proved this by averaging 112 in his last six games of the season. The problem is, LDU has never completed a full season and only managed 14 games in 2023 with an average of 97. Fingers crossed he can get through a full pre-season unscathed.

Dual-position tempter

In the Coates Talent League, Zane Duursma (MID/FWD, $291,000) averaged 101 and has drawn comparisons to the Giants' captain, Toby Greene. Duursma could be in line for games early at the Kangaroos and the fact we can select him as a forward only adds value to the No.4 pick.

North Melbourne's Zane Duursma poses for a photo on November 21, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Bargain basement

Selected with pick No.2 in the AFL Draft was Tassie sensation Colby McKercher (MID, $297,000). McKercher had the highest Fantasy average in the Coates Talent League with 111 and found the ball on average 29 times a game, ranking him second behind fellow Tasmanian, Ryley Sanders. McKercher is lightning quick and was built for Fantasy. He is a 'Fantasy Pig' in the making and will have an instant impact at the Kangaroos.

Draft sleeper

Based on last year's average, Jy Simpkin (MID, $684,000) ranks outside the top 80 midfielders with an average of 76.

Leading into 2023, Simpkin was coming off two years of averaging 95. Injuries hampered his season and Simpkin only managed 18 games. He is 20 points under-priced if he can stay healthy and complete a full pre-season. Bump him up your draft rankings.

Jy Simpkin in action during North Melbourne training on November 13, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Custom stat star

We all love a goal and last year Nick Larkey (FWD, $542,000) kicked 71 of them, ranking him third in the Coleman Medal. If you and your mates love a goal too, then consider increasing the points value of these in your league settings, rewarding those players like Nick who love slotting them straight through the middle.

Buyer beware

In his first season at North Melbourne, Jaidyn Stephenson (FWD, $484,000) dominated and averaged 85. However, since then things haven't gone to plan as Stephenson averaged 71 and 54 in the last two seasons. You could argue that he is priced at 31 points under his best season… but you could also move on and pick someone else.

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