The Crows topped up their young talent in the off-season with first-round draft picks Chayce Jones and Ned McHenry, while also bringing in mature-age players Shane McAdam from Sturt, 20-year-old small forward Tyson Stengle from Richmond and 23-year-old ruck prospect Kieran Strachan from the VFL.
Chayce Jones: The 19-year-old Tasmanian – taken with the ninth overall pick in last year's draft – has showed glimpses of his immense potential in the first four games of the season. A concussion suffered in the round four loss to North Melbourne forced him to miss last weekend's win over Gold Coast. Jones' tackling pressure in the forward half of the ground has kept the forward/midfielder in the side.
Who else has played? Jones is the only newcomer who has debuted for the Crows this season. McHenry and Stengle have both impressed in the SANFL and won't be far away from forcing their way into the senior side, while Lachlan Sholl has been a revelation across half-back, finding plenty of the footy and using it well.
Yet to play: Jordon Butts, Will Hamill, Shane McAdam, Ned McHenry, Lachlan Sholl, Tyson Stengle, Kieran Strachan – Lee Gaskin
FULL FIXTURE Every round, every game
Still generally keeping an eye to the future, the Lions combined bringing in players in their mid-20s with keeping flexibility at the draft.
Lachie Neale: The former Fremantle star has delivered everything the Lions could have hoped for and more. Neale is playing at an All Australian level, leading the AFL in disposals (36 a match) and ranked second in contested possessions (18) and clearances (nine). He played a decisive role and was hugely responsible for wins over North Melbourne and Port Adelaide with dominant fourth-quarter performances.
Who else has played? Former Cat Lincoln McCarthy has put his injury-prone reputation behind him with an immediate impact. Has played all five games and is a big reason behind the club's first three wins. Jarryd Lyons fitted seamlessly into Brisbane's midfield after heading north from Gold Coast. The inside midfielder teamed well with Neale in the early rounds before going off the boil in recent weeks.
Yet to play: Marcus Adams, Noah Answerth, Tom Berry, Tom Joyce, James Madden, Connor McFadyen, Ely Smith - Michael Whiting
Lachie Neale's impact on Brisbane's midfield has been startling. Picture: AFL Photos
The Blues got creative in attempting to find some mature bodies through the trade period, while retaining a healthy selection of draft picks that included the first overall pick.
Sam Walsh: The No.1 draft pick has quickly become one of Carlton's best and most influential midfielders. He has averaged 26.2 disposals through the first five games of his career, with his gut running and composure with ball in hand reminiscent of someone who has played 200 AFL matches. The Blues have been mightily impressed with his impact so early in his career, though haven't necessarily been surprised given the body of work he amassed over the summer and the professionalism he brought with him to the club.
Who else has played? Nic Newman has been a consistent performer down back, while Mitch McGovern has shown promising signs as a forward. Will Setterfield continues to build his match fitness as he returns from an ACL injury, but has displayed his potential. Michael Gibbons is improving, though Alex Fasolo has struggled to find his feet.
Yet to play: Liam Stocker, Finbar O'Dwyer, Ben Silvagni, Hugh Goddard, Matt Cottrell, Matt Owies - Riley Beveridge
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The Magpies looked after both the now and the future by regaining gun midfielder Dayne Beams from Brisbane, adding to their defensive and ruck stocks by grabbing Western Bulldogs premiership player Jordan Roughead, while also snaring prized academy player Isaac Quaynor and father-son prospect Will Kelly in the NAB AFL Draft.
Dayne Beams: He's still learning the new Collingwood system and, by his lofty standards, has been serviceable rather than a matchwinner, but the 29-year-old has added another star to a high-quality running brigade. Like most of his teammates Beams started slowly in the round one loss to Geelong before bouncing back with a season-high 36 touches in the win over Richmond the next week. His 26 possessions and a goal in a big victory over the Lions was another positive step.
Who else has played? With the Magpies without knee victims Lynden Dunn and Matthew Scharenberg, Roughead has filled the breach admirably, playing all five games to date and forming a solid combination with brilliant young key defender Darcy Moore.
Yet to play: Isaac Quaynor, Will Kelly, Atu Bosenavulagi, Mark Keane, Anton Tohill - Ben Collins
The Bombers had one thing in mind last off-season: landing Dylan Shiel. It meant they gave up their first-round draft pick for last year and this year, clearly prioritising the near future and filling a gap on their list.
Dylan Shiel: He has been a terrific addition to Essendon's set up, giving the Bombers a genuinely high-quality midfielder with real pace for the first time in more than a decade. The former Giant has averaged 29 disposals a game, but his best showing came against North Melbourne last week, when he collected 36 disposals and 10 inside 50s as he sliced through the Roos' midfield.
Who else has played? Zac Clarke was added as a pre-season supplemental selection and the former Docker has played two games as a back-up ruckman. Midfielder Brayden Ham picked up 10 disposals and kicked a goal in a composed debut last week against the Roos.
Yet to play: Noah Gown, Tom Jok, Irving Mosquito - Callum Twomey
Dylan Shiel has given Essendon the breakaway midfielder it needed. Picture: AFL Photos
The Dockers went all-in during trade and free agency – bringing in Jesse Hogan, Rory Lobb, Travis Colyer and Reece Conca – but still added six draftees.
Rory Lobb: All four recruits have offered something, but Lobb has been the standout after taking on the primary ruck duties, despite his desire to play mainly as a forward. Lobb went toe-to-toe with former Giants teammate Shane Mumford in a massive upset in Canberra on Saturday, earning praise from Ross Lyon for his centre bounce work in the crucial last quarter. He has averaged 14 disposals, 15 hitouts and booted two goals in three games as the No.1 ruckman after Sean Darcy lost his spot through soreness.
Who else has played? Hogan took a while to get going after being unavailable to make his debut in round one but hit his straps with three goals and 14 marks against the Giants, while Conca is averaging 21 disposals and has been a cool head across half-back and midfield. Colyer has had his moments and kicked four goals in five games, and small forward Lachie Schultz hasn't looked out of place in three appearances.
Yet to play: Brett Bewley, Jason Carter, Sam Sturt, Luke Valente, Tobe Watson - Travis King
FULL INJURY LIST Who's ruled out and who's a test?
Pressure, pressure and more pressure. After seeing opposition clubs stream out of their forward 50 last year, the Cats chased players who could apply heat in the front half.
Luke Dahlhaus: He acknowledged he needed to regain his hunger, and Dahlhaus looks every bit the player from the 2016 Western Bulldogs premiership campaign. Career-high average of 6.2 tackles to start the season, including 11 against the Melbourne in a performance that had 21 disposals and two goals. While he was used as a bit-part midfielder in previous seasons at the Kennel, Dahlhaus is now a permanent forward and the leading force behind the new-look attack.
Who else has played? Gary Rohan has also sparkled in attack, kicking 11 goals from five games after seven from 11 games last year. That includes eight goals straight from set shots. First-year defender Jordan Clark has had the poise of a 100-game player with his decision-making. Rookie Tom Atkins has laid a team-high 10 tackles in the forward 50.
Yet to play: Ben Jarvis, Jacob Kennerley, Darcy Fort, Jake Tarca, Oscar Brownless, Nathan Kreuger - Mitch Cleary
The Suns locked in on a total rebuild by loading up with as much talent at the top end of the draft as possible, along with adding some mature bodies via trade and the AFL's special assistance arrangement.
Sam Collins: After being delisted by Fremantle at the end of 2017 and spending a year in the VFL, the strongly-built full-back has been a revelation for the Suns. Rory Thompson's ACL injury on the eve of the season looked a disaster for Stuart Dew, but Collins has been incredible. He leads the league for intercept marks through five rounds (18), taking a game-saving mark against the Dockers in round two and playing a big role in victories over the Western Bulldogs and Carlton in following weeks.
Who else has played? Like Collins, Jack Hombsch has been a rock in defence after coming from Port Adelaide. Former Tiger Anthony Miles has been solid in the midfield, while Jordan Murdoch and George Horlin-Smith (both from Geelong) have also been consistent. No.2 draft pick Jack Lukosius has been rushed at times but has shown glimpses of his key forward talent, while versatile SANFL recruit Chris Burgess contributed well in the early weeks before a quiet past fortnight.
Yet to play: Josh Corbett, Corey Ellis, Sam Fletcher, Caleb Graham, Ben King, Jez McLennan, Izak Rankine - Michael Whiting
Sam Collins has returned to the AFL with aplomb after a season in the VFL. Picture: AFL Photos
The Giants used all of their draft selections on exciting young talent but topped up on some experience by adding Shane Mumford (retirement) and delisted free agent Tommy Sheridan (Fremantle).
Shane Mumford: The ruckman hasn't had a massive influence on his three games since he returned from suspension this year, but that was always going to be tough to do coming out of retirement. What Mumford has done is give the Giants the physical presence they lacked around the footy last year, and with more games under his belt, his impact will increase significantly.
Who else has played? Draftee Jackson Hateley would have made his debut in round one if not for a bout of tonsillitis, but he looked composed in his first game against Fremantle last week and finished the day with 22 possessions playing mostly on the wing. Sheridan lasted less than a quarter in his only game this year against Richmond in round three because of another calf injury.
Yet to play: Kieren Briggs, Callum Brown, Jye Caldwell, Ian Hill, Connor Idun, Xavier O'Halloran - Adam Curley
The Hawks, as has long been the norm, used the value others place in draft picks to bring in seasoned talent and didn't enter the NAB AFL Draft until pick 52.
Jack Scrimshaw: The unwanted Sun is proving a bargain addition to Hawthorn's defence, particularly with Ryan Burton's departure to Alberton. Scrimshaw boasts a composed left boot and an impressive knack for reading the play. His standout effort was against St Kilda, where he amassed a career-high 23 disposals (11 contested), eight marks (three contested and four intercepts) and six spoils. Scrimshaw was a bit down on Easter Monday, but he's already established himself as a long-term player in brown and gold.
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Who else has played? The high-profile duo of Tom Scully and Chad Wingard were delayed starters because of an ankle and calf injury, respectively. Scully's shown some glimpses without starring – racking up a combined 50 possessions across rounds three and four – but Wingard's generally struggled. Both can only get better from here.
Yet to play: Will Golds, Damon Greaves, Jacob Koschitzke, Tim Mohr, Ned Reeves, Mathew Walker - Marc McGowan
After a preliminary final berth last year, the Demons looked to top up with a couple of marquee stars and draftees ready to come in and play straight away.
Braydon Preuss: The former North Melbourne player started his Melbourne career in the VFL but has since made his presence felt in the last two matches for Melbourne. Brought in as a long-term replacement for Max Gawn, the Demons' struggles saw Preuss come into the side in round four to change the ruck/forward dynamic. The big man has held up his end of the bargain, kicking four goals in two games and averaging a touch over 14 hit-outs and three clearances a game as Gawn's back-up.
Who else has played? Corey Wagner has relished his second chance at AFL level and filled an important role up forward for the Demons in four matches. Marty Hore has gradually found his feet, gathering 20 disposals in his last two matches after a tough initiation in round one, while Jay Lockhart showed promise with his attack on the ball and man in his two games. Prized recruit Steven May played just one match before succumbing to a groin injury. Kade Kolodjashnij had a fleeting two-game stint in the AFL team before going out with concussion. Top draftee Tom Sparrow also played two matches and exhibited some of his talent.
Yet to play: James Jordon, Aaron Nietschke (knee, season), Toby Bedford, Kade Chandler, Austin Bradtke, Guy Walker - Ben Guthrie
Braydon Preuss has given Max Gawn ruck help and provided a target up forward. Picture: AFL Photos
The Roos recycled four players from rival clubs in the NAB AFL Trade Period, and grabbed another in the pre-season supplemental selection period. Among their draft crop were three players who were either father-son choices or from their Next Generation Academy.
Jared Polec: Polec's given North the line-breaking outside midfielder it dearly needed, even if his numbers are a bit down on last year, in part because of his specific role. He's been unfairly criticised because of the Kangaroos' poor start, but he's been one of the club's best performers. Failed to reach 20 disposals just once this season, when he had 19 against Hawthorn, and is averaging 23.4 possessions, 4.4 inside-50s and 478 metres gained, to go with kicking four goals.
Who else has played? Jasper Pittard was the supposed steak knives in the Jared Polec deal, but he's been a nifty addition to the Kangas' back half. Bailey Scott earned a NAB AFL Rising Star nomination in an otherwise gloomy round one loss for North, while fellow draftee Tarryn Thomas showed promise in his two appearances. Tom Campbell and Dom Tyson are back in the VFL, while Aaron Hall's form has been up and down.
Yet to play: Joel Crocker, Tom McKenzie, Curtis Taylor, Tom Wilkinson - Marc McGowan
The Power had a massive overhaul with 11 new faces, featuring a mix of experience and three first-round draft picks, who have all slotted into the side in the opening five rounds.
Scott Lycett: The former West Coast premiership ruckman has been a sensational addition to the Power having joined the club as a free agent on a five-year deal. Lycett has formed a potent combo with 2017 All Australian ruckman Paddy Ryder, allowing them to share the load while also going forward and providing a marking presence close to goal.
Who else has played? First-round draft picks Connor Rozee, Zak Butters and Xavier Duursma have played all five games this season. They've added plenty of pace to the side and fit in perfectly with the Power wanting to play a more attacking brand of football. Former Hawthorn defender Ryan Burton started slowly, but he's improved every week in his new surroundings.
Yet to play: Tobin Cox, Martin Frederick, Riley Grundy, Sam Mayes, Kai Pudney, Boyd Woodcock – Lee Gaskin
The Tigers were all in on Operation Tom Lynch and it was successful, acquiring the key forward from Gold Coast while adding four 18-year-olds in the draft and another two rookies in the Supplementary Selection Period (SSP).
Tom Lynch: After a long summer of speculation, Lynch took his place in the round one side despite having been restricted by a knee injury over pre-season. He has played all five games, kicking 16 goals and is second in the Coleman medal. The recruit has been a vital pick-up given fellow spearhead Jack Riewoldt's wrist injury, which has seen him miss three matches. Lynch's best performance was a six-goal haul from just 10 touches in the round four upset win over Port Adelaide.
Who else has played? Richmond has seen two impressive debuts already. SSP signing Sydney Stack finished with 17 disposals, eight marks and a goal playing at half-back in round three, while draftee onballer Jack Ross had 25 (including 10 contested possessions) in round four. Mav Weller played in rounds one and two before the return of the injured Josh Caddy.
Yet to play: Jake Aarts (rookie), Riley Collier-Dawkins, Luke English, Fraser Turner - Sarah Black
Tom Lynch's impact has been strong despite a limited pre-season. Picture: AFL Photos
Conscious of being too young last year, the Saints sought mature-age talent who could impact immediately. Forward pressure was identified as a weakness, so Dean Kent, Matthew Parker and Robbie Young were brought in. They sought star power and hoped Dan Hannebery could fill that void, although he hasn't been seen yet and there are doubts whether he can recapture the form that made him a triple All Australian. While St Kilda was confident Dylan Roberton would overcome his heart issue, it rookie-drafted Callum Wilkie as a replacement if the worst-case scenario eventuated (which it did).
Callum Wilkie: Already rewarded with a two-year contract, the defender's accurate left boot and hardness at the contest have been a crucial cog in what has at times been a makeshift backline, and he is averaging six intercepts per game. Was excellent in the round four win over Hawthorn, with his composure, a clutch spoil in the last quarter and a couple of important contests against Jarryd Roughead in the opening 90 seconds of the second half proving critical.
Who else has played? Up forward, Parker and Kent have added aggression. Kent is coming off his best game in Saints colours, running hard and being rewarded with three goals against his former side Melbourne, while Parker can produce the brilliant. The West Australian's outing against the Dees was his best in several weeks.
Yet to play: Sam Alabakis, Jack Bytel, Dan Hannebery, Nick Hind, Max King, Jonathon Marsh, Sam Rowe, Robbie Young. - Dinny Navaratnam
The Swans grabbed Daniel Menzel (Geelong), Ryan Clarke (North Melbourne) and Jackson Thurlow (Geelong) from other clubs last year to top up on experience, but used the NAB AFL drafts to concentrate on young talent.
Nick Blakey: The Sydney Academy product hasn't got his hands on a lot of footy and was dropped to the NEAFL last week to find some touch, but what he has done has been exciting. Blakey's launch at the footy in the air is spectacular and his speed across the ground makes him a tough player to match up on. A stint up the ground could get him into the action more often.
Who else has played? Clarke and Thurlow have been solid in their three games apiece but they wouldn't be happy with their impact so far and have both spent time in the reserves. Draftee James Rowbottom looked composed on debut last week, while Justin McInerney struggled in his first game against Melbourne in round four and was dropped last week.
Yet to play: Zac Foot, Hayden McLean, Daniel Menzel, Harry Reynolds, Durak Tucker, Sam Wicks - Adam Curley
The Eagles missed out on Tim Kelly, however they addressed the most pressing need for ruckmen by bringing in Tom Hickey from St Kilda and Keegan Brooskby (SANFL) before replenishing the list via the draft.
Tom Hickey: Hickey has given the West Coast hierarchy something to think about over the first five rounds as they prepare for Nic Naitanui's mid-season return. With premiership tall Nathan Vardy down on form, Hickey is putting his hand up to partner Naitanui and is averaging 3.8 clearances as well as 11 disposals and 17 hitouts. The former Saint is competing strongly and his running power might help offset Naitanui's limited minutes when he comes back.
Who else has played? Former Collingwood utility Josh Smith is the club's endurance king and played his part with 13 touches after coming in for his only appearance so far in round two. He was always going to be dropped with Andrew Gaff back the next week but is performing solidly in the WAFL and is a handy back-up.
Yet to play: Patrick Bines, Keegan Brooksby, Jarrod Cameron, Harry Edwards, Luke Foley, Xavier O'Neill, Brodie Riach, Bailey Williams - Travis King
Journeyman ruck Tom Hickey has given West Coast something to think about. Picture: AFL Photos
The Bulldogs didn't land a big fish but added premiership Hawks defender Taylor Duryea, crafty Tigers forward Sam Lloyd and went into the draft with three picks in the top 32.
Sam Lloyd: The 29-year-old was exchanged for pick No.64 and in the short term it has looked a savvy investment. Lloyd has played all five games, kicking multiple goals three times and has consistently been a contributor at half-forward. He had an instant impact in round one, kicking a vital fourth-quarter goal in a tight win against Sydney at Marvel Stadium and accumulated 22 disposals – the second-most in his 62-game career.
Who else has played? Duryea has been reliable in the back half before missing out through injury on the weekend. Prized draftee Bailey Smith has played every game and looks the part. Rookie selection Lachie Young and former VFL player Will Hayes both made their debuts against Carlton, the latter particularly impressive early in the game.
Yet to play: Ben Cavarra, Jordan Sweet, Rhylee West, Laitham Vandermeer - Paul Bastin