Welcome to the midseason AFL futures/outrights review. All teams have now played 14 of 22 games at the completion of the bye rounds, which gives us the perfect opportunity to look at the possibilities come seasons end. We’ll have a closer look at the Premiership, Brownlow, Coleman and Rising Star markets and attempt to narrow down the potential winners of each category.
PREMIERSHIP & FINAL LADDER POSITIONS
The premiership race is as open as it potentially ever has been, with six clubs priced at $10.00 or under for the flag. Despite some serious hiccups, Geelong currently hold favouritism at $4.25, but the Cats have beaten 6 of the 7 top 8 sides. Current ladder leader Hawthorn sit on the second line at $5.25, while the two Sydney based teams are both at $6.00. Adelaide and the Western Bulldogs are the two real challengers to the first four at $7.00 and $10.00 respectively, while North Melbourne and West Coast continue to drift.
The top four battle is extremely tight. I have based the below predicted ladder purely on giving points to the club that is likely to be favourite at the time of each game, which has produced some interesting results. Should every favourite win as predicted, the top six teams will all be on either 18 or 17 wins. Obviously there will be some surprise results, but the current top eight clubs have lost only five games collectively against the bottom ten strugglers. Amazingly, three of those five games have involved the premiership favourite Geelong. The tight top end means that percentage is going to be vital come the end of Round 23. GWS and Adelaide in particular have very good runs home, which not only will see them earn plenty of points, but just as importantly inflate percentages.
While there are usually positional changes within the top eight, historically there aren’t many club entrances and exits in the run home to the finals. 2016 looks even more locked up than past seasons with an 8 point gap separating eighth and ninth. Port Adelaide looks the most likely, but it will need to win every game and hope a club from above capitulates. Based on my predicted ladder, a four game gap opens up between eighth and ninth by the end of Round 23. It would be a massive surprise if either West Coast or North Melbourne fall outside the top eight.
The honour of finishing with the least wins is likely to be decided in Round 18 when Essendon host Brisbane at Etihad Stadium. This game is likely to be cringingly named the Will Brodie, Sam Petrevski-Seton or Hugh McCluggage Cup by the media, the three most likely No.1 draft picks come November. It is difficult to imagine either club thieving wins from any other round, so expect this to determine the market.
PREDICTED LADDER AFTER ROUND 23
Patrick Dangerfield is having an amazing season and is a short priced favourite at $2.25, but is he as guaranteed to win the medal as most think? He certainly isn’t the runaway leader Nathan Fyfe was in 2015, not to mention the fact that his skipper Joel Selwood is claiming quite a few of his own votes. Below is our latest leader board, which shows the Geelong pair creating a small gap to the rest of the field. The top of the list is filled with names you’d expect, but there is still some value in the top ten with Bontempelli ($34.00), Neale ($67.00) and Shuey ($101.00) all possessing juicy odds. We’ll individually go through each favourite, assess their chances for the medal and what the remaining rounds have to offer. As always, I have included the total number of Extra Potential Poll Games (EPPG) of each player.
Patrick Dangerfield 19 Votes, 3 x EPPG
Joel Selwood 18 Votes, 0 x EPPG
Rory Sloane 16 Votes, 0 x EPPG
Dustin Martin 14 Votes, 3 x EPPG
Luke Parker 14 Votes, 2 x EPPG
Luke Shuey 14 Votes, 2 x EPPG
Marcus Bontempelli 14 Votes, 2 x EPPG
Dan Hannebery 13 Votes, 4 x EPPG
Lachie Neale 13 Votes, 3 x EPPG
Jordan Lewis 12 Votes, 1 x EPPG
Bryce Gibbs 12 Votes, 0 x EPPG
Jack Steven 12 Votes, 0 x EPPG
Lachie Hunter 11 Votes, 3 x EPPG
Lance Franklin 11 Votes, 2 x EPPG
Robbie Gray 11 Votes, 2 x EPPG
Scott Pendlebury 11 Votes, 1 x EPPG
Tom Mitchell 11 Votes, 0 x EPPG
Josh Kennedy (WCE) 11 Votes, 0 x EPPG
Stephen Conliglio 10 Votes, 4 x EPPG
Sam Mitchell 10 Votes, 3 x EPPG
Dylan Shiel 10 Votes, 3 x EPPG
Jarrad Waite 10 Votes, 1 x EPPG
Max Gawn 10 Votes, 0 x EPPG
Patrick Dangerfield (Geelong) – $2.25
Dangerfield is the player on everyone’s lips in 2016 after his high profile move from Adelaide last year. Danger is having a career best season in his first year with Geelong, averaging 31 disposals, 16 contested possessions and 7 clearances a game in 2016. His inside and outside football has been explosive, while he has lifted his output in the air in averaging 2 contested marks a game. He deserves favouritism & has a higher range than the 19 votes we have currently, as suggested by his 3 EPPGs.
Joel Selwood (Geelong) – $8.00
The Geelong skipper has thrived with the inclusion of Dangerfield, as he enjoys the freedom of less defensive pressure from the opposition. He is averaging the most disposals per game in his career with 28, while his stoppage work has arguably been the most dynamic in the competition. The current 18 votes we have him on is probably his highest possible range, especially with no extra potential polling games. He shares votes in seven games with Dangerfield as well, so his higher polling games are dare I say it “in Danger” of being taken away on Brownlow night.
Daniel Hannebery (Sydney) – $8.00
Hannebery is another midfielder who is producing career best numbers, averaging 31 disposals and 5 clearances a game. While he likes to handball more than kick, he is a noticeable figure in the Sydney midfield as a proven vote getter, having polled 21 votes in 2013 and 24 in 2015. His biggest issue is that there are so many prominent Sydney players capable of voting, as Parker, Mitchell, Kennedy and Franklin are all having very good seasons as well. Can the votes be successfully shared?
Rory Sloane (Adelaide) – $10.00
When Patrick Dangerfield left Adelaide, there was an expectation that Rory Sloane would be a victim of greater attention. Impressively Sloane has upped the ante further, not only by winning the ball a career high 25 times a match, but averaging an enormous 8 tackles per game. He hits the packs hard and his disposal efficiency is surprisingly elite at 70% considering over 50% of his possessions are contested. Sloane isn’t competing with any teammates who are playing at a similar level, while he catches the eye when on the field. He is a genuine contender, despite the 16 votes we have given being close to his maximum.
Dustin Martin (Richmond) – $13.00
Despite a preseason of somewhat controversy, Dustin Martin has successfully lifted his game to a new level in a struggling Richmond outfit. Martin is averaging 29 disposals a game and having a far greater influence through the middle of the ground. While he isn’t having the scoreboard impact of previous seasons, he is starting a high percentage of scoring chains that wouldn’t occur without his presence. He will poll votes, but with Richmond battling to win games, his scope won’t be as high as those from the top teams.
Luke Parker (Sydney) – $13.00
Luke Parker started the year in red hot form with three performances that gave him an early lead in the Brownlow stakes, but went through a flat patch. He returned to top form against the Western Bulldogs, collecting 34 disposals and kicking 3 clutch goals. It sees him well and truly back in Brownlow discussion, despite the performance coming in a loss. Parker is averaging 27 disposals and has been strong in the air as usual. Like Hannebery, he has many mates to compete with. He needs to be more consistent in the final eight games of the season to contend.
If Dangerfield can continue his current form, he should be able to top up on some weaker opposition. His skipper looks the biggest threat at this point in time, with no other Geelong player polling consistently. Rory Sloane is lurking though.
With only 8 games remaining, the Coleman Medal looks down to a two horse race between Lance Franklin and Josh Kennedy, who have been the dominant tall forwards of 2016. Franklin leads by 3 goals with 52, but we all know the Kennedy is capable of big bags that could bring in that deficit quickly. It is going to be an interesting couple of months.
Josh Kennedy (West Coast) – 49 Goals – $2.00
Josh Kennedy has continued on from his Coleman Medal winning 2015 season with 49 goals from 14 games this year. He is on track to match his total of 80 goals last year, despite playing in a side that hasn’t been as strong. While Kennedy has kicked bags of 8 and 7 respectively against Brisbane and Port Adelaide, he isn’t racking up as many consistent 3-4 totals. West Coast only play two more bottom ten sides at Domain Stadium to finish the year, which counts against him.
Lance Franklin (Sydney) – 52 Goals – $2.00
After having to take time away from footy with mental illness late in 2015, Buddy is back to his best in 2016 with 52 goals from 14 games. The best thing about Franklin’s season is his consistency, as he has kicked 4 or more goals on nine different occasions. He looks to be loving his footy and is having an enormous impact on games when it counts. He is arguably in career best form when it comes to his set shot kicking, which is making him an even more dangerous prospect. Playing five bottom ten clubs in the last six rounds certainly works in his favour.
Buddy Franklin is currently in a great frame of mind and looks unstoppable at times. With Sydney drawn to play plenty of lower ranked clubs late, it is difficult to go against the big No.23. $2.00 looks decent value considering.
As we are usually accustomed to with the Rising Star award at this time of the year, there is a gap beginning to emerge. Excluding Danyle Pearce in 2006, Daniel Talia in 2012 and Lewis Taylor last year, there has generally been a clear favourite or two at this point of the season that have gone on to win the trophy. This year it looks like being Christian Petracca and Jacob Weitering. Like Hogan and Cripps last year, Petracca and Weitering play completely different roles, so you can’t judge them on winning the football alone. The likes of Daniels, Parish, Mills and Sicily are still in contention, but need a big finish to catch the top two.
The biggest winner for us again in the Rising Star market has been the cash back option. The likes of Tom Papley, Callum Mills, George Hewett and Jacob Hopper have all made nice profits, with Jayden Short the only real failure. If you know or are in to your junior footy, it is as good as printing money.
Christian Petracca (Melbourne) – $3.00
Christian Petracca had to wait over 12 months to make his debut for Melbourne after injuring his ACL, but he’s been worth the wait and has now shortened to be the Rising Star favourite. He is an imposing figure at 186cm and 96kg for a 20 year old, matching it for strength with even the most seasoned midfielder or defender. Petracca has averaged 18 disposals spending time up forward and rotating through the midfield. He has only played nine games, but is growing confidence with every showing.
Jacob Weitering (Carlton) – $3.25
Jacob Weitering has brought his outstanding junior form for Dandenong and Vic Country straight to the top level and hasn’t looked out of place. He has only averaged 15 disposals per game, but he has been given a massive job of holding down a defensive post in Carlton’s D50. He is averaging 6 marks and 3 rebounds per game, but it is his composure and ball use that is a highlight. He is operating at 81% with ball in hand, efficiency rarely seen by a KPD, let alone one 18 years of age. He would have played all games if not injured, but 12 is still an outstanding return.
You wouldn’t be disappointed if either of Petracca and Weitering won the award. I’m firmly in the Weitering camp though, as I feel he is far more vital to Carlton’s structures than Petracca is to Melbourne. The fact that Weitering has played three extra games also helps, while talls are getting greater recognition in this award. Mills, Sicily and Daniels are the next best on offer.