Nic Martin, George Wardlaw and Connor Macdonald. Pictures: AFL Photos

SELECTING a breakout player can make or break your AFL Fantasy season.

Whether you are picking them as a starting player in your Classic team or bumping them up your draft rankings, it is a move that can set you up for premiership glory, or even win you a car!

The model for picking a breakout player is looking at players who might have been high draft picks, obtained a new role within their team, their time has come to go to the next level or they may have just lost sub responsibilities.

Here is a list of breakout contenders to consider and keep an eye on over the AAMI Community Series.

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Nic Martin (MID, $769,000)

Club: Essendon
2023 avg: 85.2
Debut: 2022
Projected average: 100

After building on his eye-catching debut year, the young Bomber continued to impress with his hard running and impressive disposal efficiency last season which now has him earmarked for the best role in footy, 'The Daicos Role'. Martin's game is built to strive in the role which saw Harry Sheezel pump out extraordinary numbers for the Roos and we got a glimpse of what he can do in the match sim where his teammates found him at every opportunity as he provided plenty of drive from half-back.


Jordan Clark (DEF, $691,000)

Club: Fremantle
2023 avg: 76.5
Debut: 2019
Projected average: 90

Similar to Martin, Clark will be playing the quarterback role for the Dockers which will give his numbers a huge boost as they look to add some creative drive out of the backline. We got a preview of the role towards the end of last season when Hayden Young moved into the midfield and the signs were good, especially in the last three games where he averaged 101. The former Cat looked great in match sim against the Eagles, largely roaming free and collecting disposals at will.

Jordan Clark in action during Fremantle's clash against Hawthorn in round 24, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

Tristan Xerri (RUC, $580,000)

Club: North Melbourne
2023 avg: 66
Debut: 2020
Projected average: 88

His breakout was on the cards last season when he started as solo ruck and was ticking along at a lazy 1.36 PPM until injury struck after playing just 15 per cent of the game in round one. We saw him return in round 17 to get another run as solo ruck on the back of a monster performance in the VFL, where he finished on 149, and he didn't disappoint, collecting 19 disposals, taking four marks, laying four tackles and knocking up 45 hitouts for 110. It's his work around the stoppage following the ball up that impresses me most and ensures the score keeps ticking over.

Tristan Xerri in acton during the match between St Kilda and North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium in round 19, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

George Wardlaw (MID, $552,000)

Club: North Melbourne
2023 avg: 65
Debut: 2023
Projected average: 78

The highly talented Roo is sitting in over 10,000 teams due to his undeniable ability and the belief he will take his game to another level. His points per minutes last season suggest he has the tools to do so, recording over 1 PPM in four of his eight games but it is his time on ground that remains a concern with the Roos taking a seemingly careful approach with their future star, who only reached 70 per cent TOG on two occasions last year. The fact he only played two quarters of match sim doesn't give the impression he will be unleashed. Keep an eye on him on the weekend.

George Wardlaw in action during North Melbourne's match simulation against Collingwood on February 21, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

Angus Sheldrick (MID, $513,000)

Club: Sydney
2023 avg: 62.4
Debut: 2022
Projected average: 73

This guy is a points-per-minute beast, as we saw between rounds 13 and 16 where he averaged an impressive 91 while going at over 1.1 while playing just 64 per cent TOG. His issue consolidating a position in the best 22 remains, especially following an off-season which included the recruitment of James Jordon and Taylor Adams. Crisis creates opportunity and he may receive a chance early in the season following the injury to Luke Parker.

Angus Sheldrick in action during the Sydney and Geelong round 16 clash at the SCG, June 30, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Massimo D'Ambrosio (DEF, $467,000)

Club: Hawthorn
2023 avg: 41.8
Debut: 2022
Projected average: 68

After moving to the Hawks in the hope of receiving more opportunity, the speedy defender's wish appears to be granted on the back of an injury crisis on the last line. He certainly made the most of it in the match sim and he drew praise from assistant coach Kade Simpson following the game. He averaged 68 in the three games he played last year without a vest which coincidently aligns with my projection for his output.

Massimo D'Ambrosio kicks the ball during Hawthorn's match simulation against the Western Bulldogs on February 23, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

James Jordon (MID/FWD, $454,000)

Club: Sydney
2023 avg: 50.3
Debut: 2021
Projected average: 77

Every now and then, the vest doesn't suck and this is one of those times. The former Demon has known how to score since his debut, averaging 69 and 72 across his first two seasons while donning the vest on three occasions in that time. Last year, however, he wore it seven times which unsurprisingly dropped his average by 20 points on what should have been his breakout year. Providing he loses the vest, there is huge upside on top of the improvement expected from an increased responsibility at the Swans where he looks to have made the wing role his own, not to mention the boost he may receive following the injury to Parker which may provide an increase in CBAs.

James Jordon in action at Sydney training on February 7, 2024. Picture: Phil Hillyard

Connor Macdonald (FWD, $668,000)

Club: Hawthorn
2023 avg: 70.7
Debut: 2022
Projected average: 82

The third-year breakout prospect has been a big player of interest this pre-season following an impressive end to the year where he averaged an impressive 90 across the last four games. He was solid in the match sim, but will need to do more this week to consolidate a spot in Classic teams.

Connor Macdonald celebrates a goal during Hawthorn's clash against Carlton in round 16, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Matthew Johnson (MID, $512,000)

Club: Fremantle
2023 avg: 56.7
Debut: 2023
Projected average: 77

The midfielder had an impressive debut year, averaging 72 when he avoided the vest. That average of 72 is a far better reflection of his ability than his price suggests given it was his six games in a vest that are responsible for his low price and season average of just 57. There is an automatic 20-point improvement available if he can lose the vest, the only question is whether that can happen given the depth of the midfield.

Matthew Johnson handballs during the match between Hawthorn and Fremantle at the MCG in round 24, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

Keidean Coleman (DEF, $628,000)

Club: Brisbane
2023 avg: 69.6
Debut: 2020
Projected average: 90

The talented Lion is now the man down back and it appears they want the ball in his hands at every opportunity which is obviously good for Fantasy and a potential breakout. He turned it up a notch at the end of the year to average 94 in the last four weeks before being super impressive in the last two finals games, averaging 117 which included 100+ in the first half of the GF. He looks on track to continue with the fine form of last year after an impressive performance in the match sim. The only flag on Coleman is his round two bye… the breakout is happening.

Keidean Coleman during the Grand Final between Collingwood and Brisbane at the MCG, September 30, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Others to consider: Tanner Bruhn, Jacob Wehr, Jai Newcombe, Jason Horne-Francis, Liam Baker, Connor Budarick, Alex Sexton, Tom Powell and Cam Mackenzie to name a few.

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