Jordan Dawson celebrates a goal during the match between Adelaide and Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval in round 20, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

JORDAN Dawson (MID, $1,024,000) and Rory Laird (MID, $986,000) did the bulk of the Fantasy scoring for the Crows last year, averaging 113 and 109 respectively. This was huge, especially when you consider their third-highest averaging player was Reilly O'Brien (RUC, $798,000) on just 88.

Dawson had a phenomenal year, improving his average from 101 to 113. Let's not forget, Dawson only arrived at Adelaide two years ago after his time with Sydney … and now he's the club captain, the third highest averaging midfielder in the game and an outright Fantasy freak.

Mitch Hinge (DEF, $683,000) also had an amazing season where he improved his average by 15 points to 76. Hinge averaged 91 after his bye that included his career-best scores of 124 and 119.

Who will take their game to the next level in 2024, or will it be a two-man show once again?

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Lock them in

If you started with Laird (MID, $986,000) last season, you paid $1,066,000 for his services. However, after round four, Laird was averaging 92 and the million dollar investment was not paying off. 

Round five provided a turning point for Laird who went on to average 113 for the remainder of the season.

Laird finished with an overall average of 109, well below the 120 he averaged in 2022 and the 112 from 2021. We all know Laird is capable of averaging 115-plus and should be seriously considered as a starting option.

Track their pre-season

Is Matt Crouch (MID, $734,000) really back? Is he really in their plans moving forward?

Last season, Crouch played just seven games. He started in the vest in round eight and then spent time in the SANFL where he averaged 107 across 11-games. Crouch is a natural ball-winner and came back into the team in round 19 where he played out the rest of the season finishing with an overall average of 89.

Crouch did extend his contract until the end 2025 which indicates the Crows have plans for him moving forward in 2024. The question is … do you?

Matt Crouch in action during the match between Adelaide and Sydney at Adelaide Oval in round 23, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

Dual-position tempter

From the players to register a game last season, Chayce Jones (DEF/MID, $607,000) is the only Adelaide player with dual-position status. Jones averaged a career-high 67, improving his average 19 points from the previous year. In that, he wore the sub vest on two occasions where he scored 33 and 38.

Jones is now entering his sixth season with the Crows so expect him to improve once again.

Bargain basement

Many clubs were keen on Daniel Curtin (DEF/MID, $279,000) but it was the Crows who snapped up the young star with pick No.8 in the AFL Draft. He was a standout player in the U18 Championships playing all over the ground but excelled throughout the midfield before being named at centre half-back in the All-Australian team.

Curtin is a versatile weapon and at 195cm, expect the Crows to waste no time in debuting him.

Daniel Curtin with Mark Bickley after being selected at No.8 by Adelaide during the 2023 AFL Draft at Marvel Stadium on November 20, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Draft sleeper

It's a stretch, but keep an eye on Ben Keays (FWD, $698,000) this pre-season to see what his role might be. After averaging 97 and 108 leading into 2023, Keays' role changed significantly last season as he spent more time forward and ended the year with an average of 77. This ranks him as the 15th best forward available based on average.

If he is getting time in the middle then he is guaranteed to average 90-plus and could be a great pick on draft day in your forward line, an area that is so deprived.

Custom stat star

Being the No.1 ruck at a club certainly has its advantages. Last year, Reilly O'Brien (RUC, $798,000) ranked third in the league for hitouts, averaging 39 a game. This is a huge bonus for any ruckman.

He attended 1,792 ruck contests last year, where he had access to an easy one-point hitout every time. Compare this to Riley Thilthorpe, who attended the second most for the Crows with just 329.

Reilly O'Brien and Tom Hickey compete in the ruck during the match between Sydney and Adelaide at the SCG in round 19, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Buyer beware

I'll take my hat off to Taylor Walker (FWD, $726,000), but can he do it again? Since the Covid-hit season of 2020, Walker has improved his average every single year. From the forwards available to us, Walker ranks at No.12 based on his average of 80. However, surely he slows down soon. Walker turns 34 next season, but hey ... LeBron James just turned 39, so anything is possible.

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