FORGET about all that preseason stuff.
The chips are down and Round One of a new AFL season is almost upon us.
And isn’t it exciting?
Here is our comprehensive look at every club, with our best tips to help guide you through your preseason punting.
We’ve put them in order of the bookies’ favourites, so scroll down to see where your team is in the pecking order and find out which bets we like for 2017.
Greater Western Sydney Giants
Last year: Fourth
Coach: Leon Cameron
Premiership odds: +350 with Sportsbet.com.au
Our tip: Greater Western Sydney Giants to make the Top 4 ($1.55 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Count your money now. Something horrifically wrong would have to happen for the Giants to miss the top four this season. They finished fourth on the ladder last year and, with another year in their uber talented kids, coupled with another batch of supreme draft selections, this team is the deserved premiership favourite and should walk into the top four. $1.55 feels like highway robbery, but that is the nature of early season punting.
Last year: Seventh, Premiers
Coach: Luke Beveridge
Premiership odds: $6 with Ladbrokes.com.au
Our tip: Marcus Bontempelli to win the Brownlow Medal ($9 with WilliamHill.com.au)
The Western Bulldogs certainly lived a charmed existence on their way to the 2016 AFL Premiership, but it was a win that will be remembered by footy fans for a long, long time. The Bont, at just 23, is a superstar of the game and one of its most respected players. Snared 20 votes in the Brownlow last season and, if the Bulldogs keep winning, as is expected, he should easily top that. The main pursuant of Dangerfield in our book, with question marks over Fyfe’s ability to stay healthy.
Last year: Top, lost grand final
Coach: John Longmire
Premiership odds: $7.50 with CrownBet.com.au
Our tip: Lance Franklin to win the Coleman Medal ($4.50 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Could we see our first all Sydney grand final this year? The writing is on the wall. And, despite the loss of midfield star Tom Mitchell, the Swans just keep unearthing young talent. While Isaac Heaney has been struck down with glandular fever, there are no name kids like ready to make a name for themselves. But there is one bloke who basically holds the keys to the city and that is Lance Franklin. The club is talking about playing him up the ground more, but they tend to do that every year. We reckon he is in the absolute prime of his career and he could just tear the competition apart this season.
West Coast Eagles
Last year: Sixth
Coach: Adam Simpson
Premiership odds: $10 with WilliamHill.com.au
Our tip: Sam Mitchell to finish in the top three in the Brownlow Medal ($8 with CrownBet.com.au)
When the Eagles first face the Hawks, put your house on Sam Mitchell to have the most disposals. Shipped out of Hawthorn at the end of last year, the veteran superstar has shown in the preseason that he still is among the best players in the game and that means more freedom for the likes of Luke Shuey and Andrew Gaff in the midfield. Mitchell won best and fairest awards for fun at Hawthorn and we would not be surprised if he did it at West Coast – and even snuck in a second Brownlow as his career winds down.
Last year: Second
Coach: Chris Scott
Premiership odds: $12 with CrownBet.com.au
Our tip: Geelong to win over 13.5 games in 2017 ($1.95 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Are we missing something here? The Cats are a year removed from winning 17 games and finishing second on the ladder. We get that they are super reliant on Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood to get the job done and they have some issues with their forward stocks with the departures of Nathan Vardy and Shane Kersten, but Dangerwood will probably win 12 games off their own boot, and then give a couple to Tom Hawkins and there’s you’re 14. They are not three games worse than last season.
Last year: Fifth
Coach: Don Pyke
Premiership odds: $13 with Ladbrokes.com.au
Our tip: Rory Sloane to finish top three in the Brownlow Medal ($5 with CrownBet.com.au)
Sloane has had a season as the top dog at Adelaide and he flourished without his main man Dangerfield. But he still wasn’t completely dominant regularly and we expect him to take that step this season. We’re tipping him to step up his game and lead the Crows to what could and should be a top four finish this season, given the depth of talent at both ends of the ground.
Last year: Third
Coach: Alastair Clarkson
Premiership odds: $13 with Sportsbet.com.au
Our tip: Liam Shiels to have the most tackles in 2017 ($7 with Sportsbet.com.au)
The winds of change swept through Hawthorn like no other club, apart from maybe North Melbourne, in the off season. Club legend Sam Mitchell, as well as veteran hard man Sam Mitchell were stunningly given their marching orders at the end of 2016. But the Hawks have reloaded with Sydney star Tom Mitchell and the undeniably skilled, but oft injured Jaeger O’Meara from the Gold Coast. A much-maligned big guy from Richmond has also joined the Hawks, who would be hoping Tyrone Vickery and be a difference maker in the forward line and relieving in the ruck.
Last year: 11th
Coach: Simon Goodwin
Premiership odds: $23 with CrownBet.com.au
Our tip: Melbourne Demons to make the top eight ($2.20 with Ladbrokes.com.au)
What to make of the Demons? Are they the hardest team to predict this year? They might just have enough talent to give the top four a shake. And then again, they could just as easily finish 16th. Simon Goodwin appears to have this group wrapped around his little finger and the improvement has been obvious over the past couple of years. A top eight berth would be natural progression.
St Kilda Saints
Last year: Ninth
Coach: Alan Richardson
Premiership odds: $26 with WilliamHill.com.au
Speaking of teams who are hard to pick – and natural progression – how about the Saints? We know it is tough to dislodge clubs from the eight, but if Melbourne are not the biggest improver this season, then surely it’s Nick Riewoldt and his band of merry men.
Last year: 16th
Coach: Ross Lyon
Premiership odds: $26 with Ladbrokes.com.au
Our tip: Fremantle Dockers to miss the top eight ($1.48 with WilliamHill.com.au)
Big Aaron Sandilands is back, Nat Fyfe is apparently fit and firing after missing the best part of the past two seasons and Harley Bennell is closing in on his debut for the club. But there’s just something about Fremantle that feels off. Maybe it’s the dour bloke in the coach’s box. Ross Lyon has never been part of a rebuild and never been a fan of playing the kids, the jury is out on just how this will go after he was awarded a long term contract last year. They might be building with plenty of young talent coming through the ranks, but for us, it won’t be this year.
Last year: 12th
Coach: Nathan Buckley
Premiership odds: $41 with WilliamHill.com.au
Our tip: Tom Phillips to win the Rising Star Award ($15 with WilliamHill.com.au)
Pies fans, calm your farm, you’re still no good and neither is your coach. While gun forward Darcy Moore is intriguingly talented, the Maggies have a fatal flaw: they still can’t kick and it’s not like ageing Docker Chris Mayne is the saviour. Another year of pain for the Pies, but we will concede that they are building and could be right on the edge of the eight. One of their exciting kids is Tom Phillips, who is also one of the few who uses it well. Like him for the pick of the young bucks at solid long odds.
Last year: Bottom
Coach: John Worsfold
Premiership odds: $41 with WilliamHill.com.au
Our tip: Zach Merrett to claim the most Brownlow votes ($2.75 with CrownBet.com.au)
Yes, we know the big guns are back for the Bombers, but this kid is something special. Even with the likes of Dyson Heppell, Jobe Watson and Michael Hurley back in the fray, we reckon he may be the main beneficiary, taking his game to even higher levels as clubs key in on the returning stars.
Last year: 13th
Coach: Damien Hardwick
Premiership odds: $67 with CrownBet.com.au
It’s been oddly quiet out of Tigerland. Usually their fans are telling everyone who will listen that they are going to win the flag at the beginning of every year, before ripping up their memberships as the reality of being Richmond supporters kicks in. Alex Rance is about the only decent defender on this team and, while they are projected to improve, they are still going to be under the pump down back, more often than not.
North Melbourne Kangaroos
Last year: Eighth
Coach: Brad Scott
Premiership odds: $81 with CrownBet.com.au
Our tip: North Melbourne to have the most losses in 2017 ($7 with Ladbrokes.com.au)
Forget the JLT form. Remember when Carlton won the preseason competition and then claimed the wooden spoon. Unless you are a part of North’s supporter base – which is always among the most deluded in the AFL – you will know the Kangaroos are no good. Retired games record holder Brent Harvey would probably still be the club’s best player if he wasn’t axed by coach Brad Scott and they have continued their tradition of awarding good ordinary footballers the captaincy, with Andrew Swallow handing over the reins to Jack Ziebell. They have a tough draw to start the season. Use this bet as a cash out possibility.
Gold Coast Suns
Last year: 15th
Coach: Rodney Eade
Premiership odds: $81 with CrownBet.com.au
Our tip: Gold Coast Suns to make the top 8 ($4.20 with CrownBet.com.au)
Outside of the big guns, the Gold Coast Suns represent the biggest value to be a big mover in the off season. Yes, they lost the Meatball Prestia and O’Meara – who hadn’t played anyway. But, with the expected return of David Swallow, the superstar influence of bookends Steven May and Tom Lynch and a healthy Gary Ablett Jr, there is reason for optimism up north.
Last year: 14th
Coach: Brendon Bolton
Premiership odds: $201 with WilliamHill.com.au
Our tip: Carlton to win less than 6.5 games in 2017 ($1.87 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Lots of young, rising talent in Carlton, but we’re tipping the second year Blues. Patrick Cripps is an out and out star, but the loss of Tuohy and a gap between the youth and experience could make for another painful year out at Ikon Park.
Last year: 17th
Coach: Chris Fagan
Premiership odds: $501 with Sportsbet.com.au
Our tip: Tom Rockliff to lead the competition in disposals ($7 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Freed from the rigours of captaincy, Tom Rockliff appears a relieved man. And that could spell trouble for the entire competition. With all reports out of Brisbane positive about his health, after two injury marred seasons, Rockliff appears good value at $7 to lead the competition in touches in 2017. He finished seventh last season and only played 17 games. The Lions will still be no good, but Rocky at least gives the fans a reason to come and watch. A bit like Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA.
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