First-round draftees pose for a photo at Marvel Stadium on November 21, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

CASH COWS are arguably the most important members of your AFL Fantasy Classic squad … but in a Fantasy Draft keeper league, selecting the right ones on Draft Day can help set your squad up for future success.

Champion Data's Fantasy expert, Fantasy Freako, has crunched the numbers of the new kids on the block and their Fantasy game.

While Opening Round begins on Thursday night, Fantasy starts in round one, giving coaches an early look at some potential cash cows.

Freako has compiled some notes along with some juicy stats on 14 of the players selected in the 2023 AFL Draft.

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Harley Reid

CLUB: West Coast
PRICE: $300,000

  • A powerful midfielder that can do plenty of damage in the forward half.
  • He wasn't a huge ball-winner in the Coates Talent League – averaging just a touch under 20 disposals – but what he lacked there he made up for with scoreboard impact – booting multiple goals in four of six games.
  • Reid was industrious at stoppage and averaged 4.5 clearances and 3.3 tackles for Bendigo.
  • Based on the pre-season though, he looks set to share his time between half-back and the midfield – potentially alternating with Elliot Yeo and Liam Duggan. He could also take some of the kick-ins, as he did against the Crows with three.
  • Only Yeo and Tim Kelly attended more centre bounces against the Crows – finishing with 20 disposals and three tackles.
  • The Eagles are in development mode, and Reid will be front and centre of the new-look side in 2024.
Harley Reid during West Coast's match simulation against Fremantle on February 24, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Colby McKercher

CLUB: North Melbourne
PRICE: $297,000

  • The Tasmanian product joins the plethora of talented midfielders already at the Kangaroos.
  • An inside-outside midfielder, he possesses speed and breakaway run from stoppages and was the joint winner of the Morrish Medal in the Coates Talent League as the best player in the competition.
  • A left-footer, he averaged 111 points across the competition which was the most of any draftee.
  • He won 30+ disposals in seven of nine games and chipped in with a total of 12 goals and eight score assists.
  • Like Harry Sheezel last year, the Kangaroos have integrated McKercher into the side as a running defender – a role that has proven to be Fantasy friendly.
  • He had just one disposal to his name at quarter-time against the Saints but rallied to collect 18. The Kangaroos weren't afraid to give him the ball – finishing with 11 handball receives.
Colby McKercher in action during match simulation between Collingwood and North Melbourne at AIA Centre on February 21, 2024. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

Ryley Sanders

CLUB: Western Bulldogs
PRICE: $285,000

  • A great athlete, Sanders finished runner-up in the 2km time trial behind Bailey Smith in one of his first sessions at the club.
  • He led the Allies at the Championships and won the Larke Medal, racking up at least 34 disposals in all four games – also averaging close to two score assists.
  • Sanders also dominated for Sandringham in the Coates Talent League with 31 disposals, six clearances, and five tackles per game – averaging the second most points (106) behind McKercher.
  • He had seen plenty of centre bounce minutes at internal trials, but he attended just five against the Hawks in the AAMI Community Series.
  • That didn't stop him from finding the ball as he racked up 30 disposals – ranking fifth on the ground for disposals per minute.

Daniel Curtin

CLUB: Adelaide
PRICE: $279,000

  • A versatile player, Curtin has played as a key defender as well as a midfielder as a junior.
  • He won six and eight clearances respectively for Western Australia at the Championships in his most prominent displays – while averaging 24 disposals, seven marks and five tackles.
  • Curtin played six games at Colts level in the WAFL before earning promotion to the senior team where he averaged 17 disposals, four marks, two intercept marks and six intercept possessions.
  • Standing at an imposing 197cm, he looks set to begin his AFL career in defence where the Crows lack bodies after the departure of Tom Doedee and long-term injury to Nick Murray.
  • A DPP in Fantasy, he adds great flexibility between defence and midfield.
  • We're unlikely to see him in the early rounds considering he has played no part in the pre-season – but he'll definitely play a role at some point.
Daniel Curtin during the AFL Draft at Marvel Stadium on November 20, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

Zane Duursma

CLUB: North Melbourne
PRICE: $291,000

  • A dangerous player around goal, Duursma provides some much-needed X-factor to the Kangaroos' attack.
  • He booted a total of 33 goals for Gippsland Power in the Coates Talent League – scoring multiples in eight of 12 games – while averaging 19 disposals, three tackles and seven score involvements.
  • Duursma was also one of six draftees to average more than 100 points in that competition.
  • He also scored 10 goals from his final two appearances for Vic Country at the Championships which pricked the ears of recruiters.
  • Duursma looks set to debut in the season-opener – finishing with 14 disposals, six marks and two goals against the Saints in the AAMI Community Series.
North Melbourne's Zane Duursma poses for a photo on November 21, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Nick Watson

CLUB: Hawthorn
PRICE: $288,000

  • An elusive small forward, Watson is capable both at ground level and in the air despite his smaller stature.
  • He kicked an inaccurate 11.15 for Eastern Ranges in the Coates Talent League – but was more accurate (14.6) for Vic Metro at the Championships.
  • Watson is a versatile player and has also benefited from time at centre bounces, but he's unlikely to be afforded that luxury at the Hawks.
  • He was prolific at times and profited in that role – collecting 29 and 34 disposals respectively mid-year for the Ranges.
  • Watson has every chance to debut in round one after 10 disposals against the Bulldogs – but from a Fantasy perspective he is more of a future prospect.
Nick Watson in action during Hawthorn's match simulation against the Western Bulldogs on February 23, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Nate Caddy

PICK: 10
CLUB: Essendon
PRICE: $273,000

  • Caddy isn't your traditional key forward at 193cm. He is excellent at ground level and his marking is a strength.
  • He produced excellent numbers for Northern Knights in the Coates Talent League – averaging 16 disposals, three contested marks, six marks, three goals and eight score involvements.
  • His highlight for the year was a six-goal haul against Bendigo from a season-high 25 disposals.
  • Caddy averaged two goals for Vic Metro at the Championships where his defensive play shone – averaging five tackles.
  • We haven't seen him this pre-season, but he'll be in that Essendon side sooner rather than later.
Nate Caddy and Brad Scott chat during Essendon training on January 22, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Connor O'Sullivan

PICK: 11
CLUB: Geelong
PRICE: $270,000

  • The Cats didn't hesitate in drafting O'Sullivan with their first pick at the draft.
  • An intercepting defender, he was the centre half-back for the Allies at the Championships and won All-Australian honours.
  • His intercepting is the nucleus of his game – posting double figures for intercept possessions in four of 10 games in the Coates Talent League.
  • He also averaged 18 disposals, eight marks, seven intercept possessions and 88 points at the Championships.
  • O'Sullivan is more of a future Fantasy prospect, but he is every chance to debut this year.
Connor O'Sullivan poses for a photo after being drafted by Geelong in the AFL Draft on November 20, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

Shaun Mannagh

PICK: 36
CLUB: Geelong
PRICE: $200,000

  • Mannagh, a MID/FWD, will be hoping to make an immediate impact at Geelong after a brilliant VFL season.
  • With 73 games under his belt at VFL level, last year was his best by far – averaging 25 disposals, seven inside 50s, five clearances, six tackles, two goals and 110 points.
  • The highlight of his year was the Grand Final – finishing with 27 disposals, six goals and 10 score involvements.
  • Mannagh was in every first draft, but we may have to take him out now as a round one debut is not assured. At best, he could be the tactical sub.
  • He had an instant impact against the Bombers after coming onto the ground late in the third term – scoring 35 points – ranked second on the ground.

Clay Hall

PICK: 38
CLUB: West Coast
PRICE: $200,000

  • Hall, a local talent, was snapped up by the Eagles after an impressive 2023 campaign.
  • He dominated for Western Australia at the Championships in the midfield – averaging 27 disposals, 11 contested possessions, six clearances, five tackles and 96 points.
  • He also played two games at Colts level but more importantly he made nine appearances at senior level and did not look out of place.
  • He averaged 19 disposals, three clearances, three tackles and 67 points in the seniors.
  • Hall starred on the track in the summer and was front and centre of match simulation, but an ankle injury has sidelined him for a few weeks.
Clay Hall in action during West Coast training. Picture: West Coast FC Twitter

Darcy Wilson

PICK: 18
CLUB: St Kilda
PRICE: $249,000

  • Wilson brings dash and class to the St Kilda midfield.
  • A midfielder, he regularly hit the scoreboard for Murray Bushrangers in the Coates Talent League – kicking 16.9 from 11 games – booting multiple goals four times and finishing goalless just twice.
  • He also averaged 25 disposals, five clearances, four inside 50s and 102 points.
  • His final match at the Championships was his most prominent – collecting 25 disposals and eight score involvements.
  • As we saw with Mattaes Phillipou last season, Ross Lyon is more than happy to give games to top-end talent which can only bode well for Wilson.
  • A debut in round one is on the horizon after he dominated against the Kangaroos with 24 disposals and 10 marks – ranking seventh on the ground for disposals per minute.
Darcy Wilson during the AAMI Community Series match between North Melbourne and St Kilda. Picture: AFL Photos

Koltyn Tholstrup

PICK: 13
CLUB: Melbourne
PRICE: $264,000

  • Tholstrup, an explosive forward, will add plenty of X-factor to the Demons forward line.
  • He only kicked one goal from three games for Western Australia at the Championships – but he held his own at senior level for Subiaco in 10 WAFL games.
  • He booted multiple goals once in the WAFL and averaged 11 disposals, four marks, one contested mark and four score involvements.
  • Tholstrup is more of an impact player – averaging just 13 disposals across the 42 games that Champion Data has covered of him.
  • Tholstrup will cut his teeth in the VFL and will hopefully push for senior selection at some stage in the year.
Christian Petracca (right) gives some instruction to Koltyn Tholstrup. Picture: Melbourne FC

Caleb Windsor

CLUB: Melbourne
PRICE: $282,000

  • The Demons used their first pick in the draft to select the dashing winger.
  • An elite runner who adds depth to the wing position, he is also quick off the mark and is more than capable of impacting the scoreboard.
  • He kicked 11.8 from 16 games for Eastern Ranges in the Coates League – averaging 19 disposals, four marks, four inside 50s and four tackles.
  • He played four games for Vic Metro at the Championships and collected a season-high 22 disposals against Western Australia.
  • Windsor booted two goals in the AAMI Community Series and will debut against Sydney.

Kane McAuliffe

PICK: 40
CLUB: Richmond
PRICE: $200,000

  • McAuliffe, a powerful athlete, adds grunt to Richmond's midfield.
  • He represented South Australia at the Championships – averaging 18 disposals, four clearances and an elite nine tackles. He laid seven more tackles than any other player.
  • He played six games at SANFL under-18 level and thrived – averaging 27 disposals, 14 contested possessions, six clearances, six tackles, one goal and 110 points.
  • He also broke through for seven games at reserves level for North Adelaide – collecting 20+ disposals in three matches in a row.
  • McAuliffe looms as a trade down target only at this stage once he plays.
Kane McAuliffe pictured during the Draft Combine on October 6, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos