Can Tom Doedee emerge as Jake Lever's replacement?
The Crows are bullish about Doedee's potential heading into his third season on their list. A first-round pick in the 2015 draft, Doedee was the leading intercept marker in the SANFL last year. He showed promising signs in the Adelaide AFLX tournament and looks to be the leading candidate to replace Lever. The Crows could also turn to experienced duo Kyle Cheney and Andy Otten.

What impact will Bryce Gibbs have in the Crows' midfield?
The former Carlton star should add plenty of class to the Crows engine room. He's looked in ripping nick during the pre-season and should feature in both JLT Community Series games. The Crows might also try Gibbs across half-back as they look to lock down a replacement for the injured Brodie Smith. But Gibbs will provide his biggest value to the team in the midfield.

Who pushes their case to replace the injured Brodie Smith at half-back?
Coach Don Pyke has several options at his disposal. The experienced David Mackay filled in during the finals last year, while Paul Seedsman can break the lines after missing most of last season. Curtly Hampton was tried in the midfield in 2017 before an ankle injury ended his season, but he's played across half-back previously. - Lee Gaskin

How much impact will Luke Hodge have?
The four-time premiership Hawk has thrown himself into pre-season training at his new club, including playing big minutes in match simulation hit-outs. Hodge and coach Chris Fagan have indicated the 33-year-old could play 15-16 premiership matches if his body holds up, so maybe just one JLT game will be enough to prepare him. How he looks against opposition and the influence he has on the Lions' back six will be intriguing. 

Will the contested ball numbers improve?
The Lions have been poor for many many years at contested ball, and losing Tom Rockliff to Port Adelaide won't make things any easier. Brisbane has relentless drilled this facet of its game during the pre-season and would expect to see some competitive numbers in that department during the JLT series.

Will Dan McStay play forward or back?
Over his four-year career, McStay has switched constantly between attack and defence, depending on the needs of his coach. He started the pre-season spending time forward, but as the season has drawn closer, has been positioned in the back 50 alongside Harris Andrews. The form of Josh Walker could have a big say in where McStay plays. - Michael Whiting

Has Carlton improved its ball movement and inside-50 efficiency?
This has been a major focus for the Blues over the pre-season as they work on methods to increase their scoring power. David Teague has returned to Ikon Park as forwards coach after helping pilot the Crows to the Grand Final last season and it will be interesting to see how the attack is structured.

Who will fill the role vacated by injured All Australian defender Sam Docherty?
Docherty's absence leaves a big hole and coach Brendon Bolton has signalled a collective effort will be needed to cover his significant influence as a playmaker. At the front of the queue would be ex-Kangaroo Aaron Mullett, who possesses a piercing left boot and has the ability to run and carry.

How are the Blues' recruits and second-year players progressing?
There were impressive signs in last Friday's AFLX from the club's top two draft picks, Paddy Dow and Lochie O'Brien, and former Giant Matthew Kennedy. The Blues are excited about a sleeker Jarrod Pickett and the speedy Zac Fisher, and hope Sam Petrevski-Seton and Harry McKay see some pre-season action. - Howard Kotton 

Who will play?
The Magpies have endured a torrid pre-season in regard to injuries and off-field dramas and have a number of players racing the clock ahead of round one. Jamie Elliott (ankle), Darcy Moore (Achilles), Alex Fasolo (shoulder), Levi Greenwood (knee) and Jeremy Howe (calf) are all aiming to play at least one pre-season game after interrupted summers, while Jordan De Goey is suspended indefinitely after being caught drink driving in February. 

What about Daniel Wells? 
The ultimate pre-season question Nathan Buckley will be sick of answering: how fit is the former North Melbourne midfielder? Wells was training well before his Achilles got sore earlier this month and has been since backed off training, which is sadly a familiar tale. So important when fit, Wells is still a chance to appear in the pre-season games after putting together a decent base but won't be risked given his history with injuries. 

Is this the year for James Aish? 
Out of contract and determined to prove himself, the talented wingman has set himself the goal of showcasing his skill set in the pre-season games to push his case for round one selection. Aish has battled injuries and form issues since arriving at Collingwood in late 2015 with big expectations, but believes he's got a strong base behind him this year to prove himself and become a regular part of the Pies' midfield. - Jennifer Phelan 

Can Daniel Wells shake off his injury concerns? Picture: AFL Photos

How much of Jake Stringer will we see?
The Bombers have been very methodical with their star recruit's first pre-season at the club, settling him into an individual program before building up his running. With Stringer set for significant time in Essendon's midfield, the Bombers will be keen for him to jell as much as possible with a new-look group around the ball. Stringer has a point to prove this season and will be keen to get the ball rolling in the pre-season competition.  

Will NAB AFL Rising Star winner Andrew McGrath move into the midfield full-time?
Coach John Worsfold said last week McGrath won't be in there permanently this year, but expect to see the No.1 draft pick in there during the JLT Community Series. It seems that McGrath will mainly be moved back if a specific player awaits or role needs to be undertaken – perhaps as soon as round one against Adelaide after his excellent job on Eddie Betts last year.

Who takes on the No.1 ruck position?
When Matthew Leuenberger fell ill in the middle of last season and missed a week, Tom Bellchambers came into the side and held on to the role for the rest of the season. Leuenberger had shoulder surgery over the pre-season but has recovered and is ready to battle it out for the primary ruck role. Both players are out of contract at the end of this season so will be keen to impress from the start.

How will the Dockers boost their scoring power?
Fremantle has ranked 17th and 16th for points scored in the past two seasons and is still searching for a potent attacking combination. Nat Fyfe and David Mundy could spend more time inside 50 to take some pressure off Cam McCarthy and Shane Kersten, while Freo fans hope recruit Brandon Matera has an immediate impact with Michael Walters expected to be unleashed in midfield more often.

Can Brayshaw and co. help speed up the rebuild?
There is plenty of expectation on the shoulders of Andrew Brayshaw, with many tipping the No.2 draft pick to line up in round one. Brayshaw's composure and maturity is rare in someone so young and it will be a boost if he and No.5 pick Adam Cerra are able to show they are capable of playing regular senior football to build on the progress of an impressive 2016 NAB AFL Draft class. 

Can two ruck giants squeeze into the same side?
Ross Lyon needs to be convinced that Aaron Sandilands and protégé Sean Darcy can play together and, assuming Darcy returns from his calf issue in time, the imposing duo could get their opportunity during the JLT. Can the Dockers turn two rucks into an advantage at stoppages, or will it leave them vulnerable defensively? - Travis King 

How does Gary Ablett's arrival change Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood's roles?
The Cats brought Ablett in to play predominantly in the midfield so how he meshes with Dangerfield and Selwood will be fascinating. All three players have an attacking mindset, so it will be interesting to see what the Cats' contingencies are if they can't get the ball moving their way. Dangerfield could spend time as a permanent forward, while how Mitch Duncan and Sam Menegola are deployed is another factor for Geelong's coaching staff to think about. 

Following Tom Lonergan and Andrew Mackie's retirements, how will Geelong's defence function?
A further wrinkle has been added to that scenario with key defender Lachie Henderson almost certainly set to miss the opening round of the home and away season following knee surgery. Harry Taylor will shift to defence to provide experience and leadership. Cameron Guthrie has been training as a defender over the summer and looks set to assume a role down there, while Tom Stewart, Jed Bews, Jake Kolodjashnij and Zach Guthrie will also feature. There is a possibility the versatile Mark Blicavs may spend time down there as well, with the Cats conscious of not having Henderson available.

Who will partner Tom Hawkins up forward?
Former Bulldog Stewart Crameri is back in full training and moved well during match simulation at the weekend, but he has had an interrupted pre-season following hip surgery last year. Crameri could feature in the club's second JLT game, but he will be monitored carefully ahead of round one. Rhys Stanley will likely feature in attack, while Dangerfield could also spend time up there as a focal point alongside Hawkins. - Ben Guthrie 

Gary Ablett is back in the picture for the Cats. Picture: AFL Photos

Will the defence be better under Stuart Dew?
A problem that has dogged the Suns since they came into the competition has been their inability to stop teams from scoring. Since Dew came in for his first pre-season, a major focus has been defensive pressure and setups. It will take longer than one pre-season to get his message across, but just how much improvement the Suns can make defensively will be interesting. 

Have the second-year players improved?
If Gold Coast is to turn around its fortunes, a big reason will be the development of its young talent. Ben Ainsworth showed enough in 2017 to indicate he could be a star of the competition, but the Suns need Will Brodie, Jack Bowes, Jack Scrimshaw and Brad Scheer to demand regular spots, and the pre-season competition is the time to put their names forward.

Is Pearce Hanley still an A-Grade talent?
Hanley's first season at the Suns was rocked by personal hardship and injury, making it difficult to fairly assess his impact. However, now 29 and a few years since playing his best footy, Hanley would like to show he is still the slick, exquisite ball-using midfielder that had the competition so excited about him in 2014-15. And Gold Coast needs his best footy. - Michael Whiting

How do they cover the loss of Zac Williams and Nathan Wilson?
After Wilson's trade, the Giants would have been shattered to lose Williams for much, if not all, of the season with a ruptured Achilles in January. Replacement options for the half-back spot include untried Academy prospect Isaac Cumming, eight-gamer Harry Perryman, although he lacks pace, or a complete reshuffle, which could even see Brett Deledio or Ryan Griffen shifted in. We're bound to see some experimenting in these games. 

Will we see Deledio and Griffen get their seasons started early? 
Seven games from Deledio at the tail end of last season and three from Griffen at the start were all the veteran pair managed in 2017. Deledio looks less likely to play JLT as he manages an Achilles/calf problem, but Griffen is eying competitive pre-season action after a modified summer program following his battle with two separate ankle issues last year. 

What happens in the ruck?
Shane Mumford is gone and Rory Lobb is on a restricted load this pre-season because of groin issues and is up against it for round one. That leaves Dawson Simpson to shoulder the big man work in the Giants' pre-season clashes with Collingwood and Sydney, while Lachie Keeffe appeared in AFLX and could play as a back-up. - Jennifer Phelan 

Which of the kids will play?
Based on what we saw in AFLX, expect draftees midfielder James Worpel and defender David Mirra to certainly feature at some stage, while second-year players Harry Morrison and Oliver Hanrahan would also shape to get a run either in Ballarat or Launceston. Irishman Conor Nash might also feature. But with the reduction to two JLT matches, the balancing act will be exposing the kids against getting important match fitness into the those likely to play in round one.

Will Cyril Rioli play?
Probably not. The champion small forward had a delayed start to the pre-season for family reasons and while he's training well, he won't be ready for the Ballarat game, and the 'don't play Cyril in Tassie unless absolutely essential' rule might be invoked the next week. The Hawks will save him for the season opener, mindful of the long season ahead and knowing, in racing parlance, that he goes well first up after a spell.

Who needs to impress?
Brendan Whitecross, Paul Puopolo, Daniel Howe, Taylor Duryea, Ryan Schoenmakers, Will Langford, Tim O'Brien
and Ricky Henderson would be among the group regarded as borderline selections for round one against the Pies. This is their opportunity to demand that they be picked. Port Adelaide recruit Jarman Impey will be keen to shine in the brown and gold for the first time, while Jaeger O'Meara might relish the opportunity to put a few more doubters to rest. - Ashley Browne 

How does Jake Lever's arrival change Melbourne's defence?
Lever's best attribute is his intercept marking and he does that well when he's allowed to jump unimpeded at the footy in a third-man up scenario. So whether the Demons can play Lever, Oscar McDonald and Sam Frost in the same side – which they are sure to trial in the JLT Series – will be interesting. The Demons also have Jayden Hunt, Neville Jetta, Michael Hibberd, Jordan Lewis and Bernie Vince to fit in across half-back. 

Can Jesse Hogan and Tom McDonald develop synergy in attack?
Hogan and McDonald have not had any real time to work out how their forward line partnership might work in pre-season, with the latter in rehab following ankle surgery, up until Christmas. Refining their leading patterns will be a point of emphasis, and how the pair co-exists will be front of mind for the Demons. Having Hogan back at full fitness after such a challenging year in 2017 will be a major fillip for Simon Goodwin's side.

Can the club's young stars deal with increased expectations?
Whichever way you slice it, Melbourne's young stars will have a major bearing on how the team performs in 2018. How players such as Christian Petracca, Clayton Oliver, Angus Brayshaw and Christian Salem cope with those expectations will be something to monitor throughout the season. The JLT Series gives that quartet and others a chance to build form and confidence leading into the home and away season. - Ben Guthrie

How will young players such as Clayton Oliver manage expectations? Picture: AFL Photos

Is Todd Goldstein still the Kangaroos' best ruckman?
Goldstein feels rejuvenated after recently putting a difficult chapter in his personal life behind him, but the 2015 All Australian will need to be at his best this year to ward off Braydon Preuss' challenge for North's No.1 ruck mantle. North struggled to fit both men into the same team last year, so the JLT series could determine who plays as the sole specialist ruckman in round one. 

Will Luke Davies-Uniacke debut in round one?
Davies-Uniacke looked a readymade senior player when North took him at pick No.4 in last year's NAB AFL Draft and the former Dandenong Stingray has bolstered his hopes of an early debut with an impressive pre-season. A minor back injury ruled the midfielder out of the AFLX competition and Roos coach Brad Scott is determined not to place unrealistic expectations on him. But a solid JLT campaign should be enough to earn Davies-Uniacke a spot in North's round one team.  

Can Majak Daw cut it as a defender?
Daw has failed to cement a regular spot as a forward or ruckman in eight seasons at Arden St, but North is hoping a move to defence can kick-start his career. The Kangaroos have been encouraged by Daw's development over the pre-season and believe his closing speed and intercept marking make him a good fit in the backline. But with Robbie Tarrant and Scott Thompson set to hold down the Roos' key defensive posts, Daw faces stiff competition for the third tall spot from youngsters Sam Durdin, Daniel Nielson and Ben McKay. - Nick Bowen

How will all the new faces fit into the Power's best 22?
We've already had a look at Jack Watts in AFLX, but this will be the first chance to see him in a proper game. Tom Rockliff and Steven Motlop – who should at least play one of the two games – will also add plenty to their side. Jack Trengove, Trent McKenzie and Lindsay Thomas could also be given an opportunity, at least in the first game with a 26-player squad.

Can Dougal Howard and Riley Bonner hold their spots in defence?
Howard's emergence as a key defender late last season was a welcome surprise for the Power. But with Tom Jonas and Jack Hombsch fit and available, it's going to cause a squeeze in the backline. The same goes for impressive young defender Bonner with several experienced faces putting their hand up.

What role will captain Travis Boak play in 2018?
The Power seem to have an endless supply of players capable of rolling through the midfield and also who can go forward. Boak spent a lot of time last year at half-forward and took time to get used to his new role. His best footy is still as a genuine midfielder, but getting time on the ball will be the biggest challenge for the skipper. - Lee Gaskin

Jack Watts captained the Power in the AFLX tournament. Picture: AFL Photos

Does Damien Hardwick want to play a second tall forward?
If the Tigers feel they need to change and play a second tall alongside Jack Riewoldt, they will audition youngsters Callum Moore and Mabior Chol through the pre-season games. More time forward for Josh Caddy as a marking target is another option. Either way, there will be hints about the structure Richmond is taking into round one, and it may well remain the small, high-pressure structure that took it to a premiership.

How will Cotchin and Martin forward impact the midfield?
Hardwick has suggested he wants to look at stationing his two midfield stars alongside each other as deep forwards. If he tries this in the pre-season games, Dion Prestia, Kane Lambert and Josh Caddy will need to shoulder more. We know what Martin and Cotchin can do anywhere on the ground, but what can those midfielders do when they're the main men?

Can Reece Conca force his way in for round one?
The Tigers have loved Conca's work off half-back this pre-season and Hardwick is expecting the 25-year-old to have a good year if he can stay injury free. If he gets off to the right start in the JLT Community Series, look for him as a replacement for suspended defender Nathan Broad in the early rounds. - Nathan Schmook 

Will we finally see Nathan Freeman in Saints colours?
Other than two pre-season games at Collingwood, the most recent of which was in 2015, the luckless midfielder has not been seen in the AFL. He was on restricted duties for part of the pre-season and suffered another hamstring setback that may require surgery just before the JLT Community Series kicked off.

Is Paddy McCartin ready to cement a spot in the senior side?
Yes, and the club needs him to do so. The 21-year-old is fitter than he has been in past seasons and if he has a decent run with injury, McCartin should be ready to take over the role retired champion Nick Riewoldt long held as the focal point in attack.

Are the top draftees ready?
Exciting pair Hunter Clark and Nick Coffield have impressed St Kilda officials since they were drafted with the No.7 and No.8 selections respectively at the end of last year. Coffield is slightly ahead in the pecking order but both could debut in the first half of the home and away season, particularly if they thrive in the upcoming games. - Dinny Navaratnam

How will Sydney's ruck combination look leading into round one?
With Kurt TIppett having retired, Sam Naismith and Callum Sinclair look set to carry the bulk of the duties. However, don't discount Aliir Aliir. Coach John Longmire flagged the possibility of the defender spending time as a back-up ruckman after he played just three games in 2017, in a move that would make the Swans more mobile.

Can Sydney find more support for Lance Franklin?
Franklin booted 73 goals last year as he won a fourth Coleman Medal but the gap to second was huge, with Sam Reid and Tom Papley each booting 30. No other finalist had as large a difference between its first and second-ranked goalkickers. Reid looked promising early in his career before missing all of 2016 with injuries, and he should improve in his second season back at full fitness.

Is this the year Callum Mills permanently moves into the midfield?
It's unlikely. He will spend some time running through the middle but he has proven excellent in defence in his first two years, so Longmire will be reluctant to move Mills. The 2016 NAB AFL Rising Star will eventually become an onballer and he has all the traits to succeed in that position, but Sydney has so many options in that department it can afford to keep the 20-year-old in the backline. - Dinny Navaratnam 

Defender Aliir Aliir may be a ruck option for the Swans. Picture: AFL Photos

Will we see Nic Naitanui?
Last month, the Eagles were targeting their final JLT clash against Freo on March 11 for Naitanui's long-awaited comeback from his knee reconstruction but it remains to be seen if the star ruckman takes the field in pre-season. Naitanui reportedly didn't join in an intraclub hit-out at Optus Stadium on Saturday, raising fresh questions about his timeline to return. 

Who will step up in midfield?
The Eagles were smashed in contested ball and clearances too often last year, and the time has come for Dom Sheed, Jack Redden and Liam Duggan to assume more responsibility now that Matt Priddis and Sam Mitchell have departed. Recruit Brendon Ah Chee will also get his opportunity to bring some grunt, while Elliot Yeo and Luke Shuey-clone Daniel Venables could add some much-needed explosiveness.   

Which youngsters will stamp their claims for round one?
There will be opportunities galore for the next generation to impress. Fans are looking forward to seeing livewires Willie Rioli and Liam Ryan working in tandem inside 50, while mobile tall Jake Waterman and dynamic midfielder Venables will also be pushing to debut in the season-opener. Keep an eye on competitive onballer Brayden Ainsworth and running half-back Francis Watson. - Travis King

Will the Dogs trial key forwards Jack Redpath, Tom Boyd and recruit Josh Schache in the same side? 
The trio have spent time together forming an understanding during match simulation over the pre-season, and forward coach Ash Hansen told back in January he was optimistic they could form a cohesive combination. With all three able to play in the ruck, the Dogs will at least have strong competition for spots in attack.

Has Tom Liberatore regained the hunger to once again be a dominant midfielder in the AFL?
After a 2017 campaign that saw coach Luke Beveridge question the 25-year-old's preparation and drop him to the VFL following the club's 2016 premiership success, all eyes will be on how the star playmaker starts 2018. If the off-season is anything to go by, the coaching staff are happy with how Liberatore acquitted himself over the summer.

Will the JLT series give us a taste of how the Bulldogs will evolve?
Whether it was a premiership hangover or the rest of the competition worked out the Dogs, Beveridge needs to revitalise the competition's fifth-youngest list. The 47-year-old has a history of sustained success at amateur level, so the Bulldog faithful should be hopeful of the talented pups returning to premiership calculations. - Ryan Davidson