Will your team rise or fall in 2017?
With the AFL pre-season underway, this is the time of year where teams and players aim for the summit of sporting fitness. Not every team relies on pure fitness for success in the AFL, and much of the expectation one side brings into a new year stems from their selections at the trade table.
2017 is looking like one of the most difficult AFL seasons to predict in recent times, with plenty of teams vying for a spot in the top eight.
Based on your club’s performance during the off-season and the quality of their lists, here is where we think your team will finish on the ladder next season:
2016 finalists –
- Sydney (8th – 1st)
- Geelong (10th – 3rd)
- Hawthorn (12th – 5th)
- GWS (4th – 1st)
- Adelaide (10th – 4th)
- West Coast (12th – 5th)
- Western Bulldogs (10th – 2nd)
- North Melbourne (14th – 7th)
2016 non-finalists –
- St Kilda (13th – 5th)
- Port Adelaide (15th – 10th)
- Melbourne (14th – 7th)
- Collingwood (14th – 5th)
- Richmond (15th – 10th)
- Carlton (18th – 11th)
- Gold Coast (18th – 10th)
- Fremantle (14th – 6th)
- Brisbane (18th – 16th)
- Essendon (14th – 5th)
Teams 1-6 (alphabetical order)
The Adelaide Crows are expected to finish in the top eight once again next season, but so are 12 other teams, which is their, and the other 2016 finalist’s problem.
They proved their doubters wrong last season with a strong performance all-year-round, finishing on 16 wins without Brownlow Medallist Patrick Dangerfield at the helm.
Charlie Cameron should hold down a permanent spot on the wing to inject more speed through the midfield, while Cam Ellis-Yolmen could gain more opportunity with Jarryd Lyons off to the Gold Coast.
The team looks all too similar for next season as it was in 2016, and so their only worry is the improvement of the teams below them which could see the Crows potentially slide down the ladder.
Even if this did happen, they should find themselves a spot in the eight, but top four is unlikely next year.
Potentially the only team realistically out of finals contention next season. Will they improve? Of course, but the Lions will be hoping for the Dockers, Bombers and Suns to just take baby steps in their improvement so as it does not look so bad on them.
Due to knee tendinitis, on-baller Dayne Beams managed just the two games in 2016 and will make the Lions an instantly better team if he can play consistently. Jack Frost should come in as a key defensive option and should add to their depth, however they lose pace in the contrary with Pearce Hanley moving across town. Probably the wooden-spooners at this point.
The Blues bring in several different elements to their side in 2017, with three ex-Giants expected to hold their spot in the best 22. Former promising injury-cursed Geelong player Billie Smedts will be an inclusion but not until injuries.
Carlton will have the same issue as last season in struggling to find an avenue for goal. Expect to see Kreuzer in the forward line more often as a key marking target, with Phillips taking the bulk of the ruck duties.
The potential in the list is there, but it won’t be until a couple more years before we see these young Blues blossom and really gel together. They are currently lacking quality that the teams above them already have.
In a make or break season for coach Nathan Buckley, Collingwood were the hardest team to predict for next season.
The addition of free agents Daniel Wells and Chris Mayne, along with the added class of Will Hoskin-Elliot should see them more dangerous up forward and in the middle, but the defense is their biggest concern.
Lachlan Keefe arrives back at the Holden Centre after a two-year ban, while ex-Demon Lynden Dunn should hold a spot in defense with key position counterparts Jack Frost and Nathan Brown leaving the club.
There is enough quality in this side to really contend next season, but just like last season, the gap between their best and their worst is the biggest in the competition.
The Bombers were another difficult prediction as there is no 2016 to go by, given the majority of their 2017 side will be playing for the first time since 2015.
We have them as low as 14th and as high as fifth, but Essendon should really finish in the top 12.
No doubt the ability is there to make the finals but with all the other teams who finished ninth to 12th expecting a finals berth, it is not a given.
Jobe Watson and Dyson Heppell will have an immediate impact on the young midfield brigade from 2016 and Michael Hurley should hold them steady down back. If one thing is for sure, fitness will not be a problem for them next season.
We’ll be getting a better gauge of the Bombers after their Round one clash with the Hawks.
The Dockers’ best side for next year will be very intriguing, given there are so many aspects of the team which have question marks. How do they go from being one of the top sides in 2015 to struggling to win a game in 2016? We get it, every team has injuries, so there is more to the story than what is being told.
McCarthy will slot straight into the hole left by Matthew Pavlich, while Shane Kersten adds another dimension up forward, though don’t expect him to play frequently next season.
Bradley Hill crosses from Hawthorn and goes straight onto the opposite wing of his brother, Stephen. Nat Fyfe returning is an obvious classy addition.
The question for the Dockers is do they build for the longer term, or do they go hard next season? With the list they have gathered together, they can do both.
Finals is looking quite possible, but due to the number of improving teams it’s hard to just say yep, they’re playing finals. Top 13 a safe bet.
Stay tuned as we go over the next 12 teams in the Competition shortly.