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AFL SEASON PREVIEWS 2024

ADELAIDE CROWS

2023 WIN/LOSS LADDER POSITION

11 WINS
12 LOSSES
116.8%
10TH

LIST ADDITIONS

Chris Burgess (trade, Gold Coast), Daniel Curtin (No.8 draft pick), Charlie Edwards (No.21 draft pick), Karl Gallagher (Category B rookie), Oscar Ryan (No.27 draft pick).

LIST DEPARTURES

Tyler Brown (delisted), Tom Doedee (free agent, Brisbane), Jackson Hately (delisted), Shane McAdam (trade, Melbourne), Fischer McAsey (retired), Andrew McPherson (delisted), Tariek Newchurch (delisted), Paul Seedsman (retired).

WHO WILL HAVE A BREAKOUT YEAR?

We said it last year, and we’ll say it again…

Darcy Fogarty is set to continue his growth as a key forward for the Adelaide Crows in 2024. Fogarty joins the Leadership group for the first time, showing the team has faith he can lead as an example both on and off the field and that he can take that next step in his career. Continued mentorship up forward from 2023 Coleman medal runner up, Taylor Walker, means he’s in the best position to excel in 2024. We’re expecting him to improve on his 34 goal season in 2023 and be a top 10 contender for the Coleman.

BEST AND FAIREST SMOKEY

Izak Rankine had a stellar 2023 season, averaging 15.9 disposals with 156 out of 316 of those contested, showing he’s an in and under player getting his own ball, which coaches love to see, especially from a small forward. He kicked 36 goals in season 2023, finishing equal 16th in the Coleman, and was a walking highlight reel, especially at Adelaide oval!

We think if he continues to grow from last year and add a handful of goals to his 2023 season, we think he can be a big issue for opposition teams come finals (spoiler, we think crows will make finals) and be a great chance to take out his first Malcolm Blight medal.

SUMMARY

We have high expectations for the Crows this season. Their ability to never be out of the game was an impressive feat for the second youngest side in 2023.
In 23 games the crows lost 5 games by less than 7 points, all 5 of those games were to top-8 sides, and 2 of those were to reigning premiers Collingwood by 1 and 2 points respectively. This showed us that the Crows have the fight in them, just not the nerve to finish the job.

Some valuable experience gained from these shortcomings will keep them in good stead for the coming season, and we expect them to finish in the top-8 at the end of the regular season.

Betting Strategy

BACK: Adelaide to defeat Gold Coast in Round 1 @$2.16

The Crows have won 7/10 away games against the Gold Coast Suns since 2011. Although they don’t historically start seasons well, losing 4 of the last 5 opening round matches, we feel they’re a little overs here and are a value bet.

BRISBANE LIONS

2023 WIN/LOSS LADDER POSITION

17 WINS
6 LOSSES
123.1%
2ND

LIST ADDITIONS

Tom Doedee (free agent from Adelaide), Luke Lloyd (No.42 draft pick), Logan Morris (No.31 draft pick), Bruce Reville (Category B rookie, Academy), Brandon Ryan (traded from Hawthorn), Reece Torrent (No.64 draft pick), Zane Zakostelsky (No.51 draft pick)

LIST DEPARTURES

Marcus Adams (retired), Nakia Cockatoo (retired), Blake Coleman (delisted), Tom Fullarton (traded to Melbourne), Jack Gunston (traded to Hawthorn), Rhys Mathieson (delisted), Darryl McDowell-White jnr (delisted), Daniel Rich (retired)

WHO WILL HAVE A BREAKOUT YEAR?

Keidean Coleman looked fantastic as the season went on in 2023. Coleman was possibly his team’s best player throughout the finals, and he looks set to make that rebounding role his own.

Another player building nicely is Darcy Wilmot, who went from 3 games in his debut season to 26 last year. Wilmot ranked 6th at Brisbane for disposals, 3rd for rebounds and top 10 for marks and he made a late run in rising star calculations.

Worth mentioning father-son player Jaspa Fletcher as a promising youngster as well.

Finally, will this be the year Cam Rayner elevates from very good player to bona-fide star?

BEST AND FAIREST SMOKEY?

Brisbane’s star power is obvious, and the likes of Andrews, Neale and McCluggage will always be likely to figure prominently in Best and Fairest calculations.

Outside of that you’d expect Josh Dunkley to poll well and Joe Daniher is likely to be around the mark.

The Lions would love it if one of the above mentioned players in Coleman, Wilmot or Rayner step up into the top 3, and another they’d love to have go close is Oscar McInerney.

The big man had a career best season with 845 hit outs and a 9th placed B and F finish, and if he can elevate into the league’s top half a dozen ruckmen, it might be enough to get the Lions over the line.

SUMMARY

The Lions went 14-0 at the GABBA last year, and 5-7 elsewhere, including 0-3 at the MCG. They are close to unbeatable in Queensland, but the achilles heel has been the ability to win on the road, with losses also in Adelaide (twice) throughout 2023.

They have a stack of firepower with 241 goals coming from their top six scorers last season, and they also boast the competition’s best defender in Harris Andrews. They were ranked 6th defensively last year overall and whilst that isn’t bad, history says you do not win flags unless ranked inside the top 4 sides defensively.

With young talent coming through, and the veterans likely to be able to go again, it’s hard to see the Lions missing the top 4, and giving it another shake, despite the fact they’ve been up for a long time (2019-2024).

Betting Strategy

BACK: Brisbane Minor Premiership at $4.10+

Should win 10-11 home games, meaning if they go 6-5 or better on the road they are a chance to win the required 16-17.

BACK: Joe Daniher Coleman Medal at $22+

Should be about half that price. 65 goals with an outstanding second half of the season. 75-80 is likely the winning total so a strong start will help him.

CARLTON

2023 WIN/LOSS LADDER POSITION

13 WINS
9 LOSSES
113.3%
5TH

LIST ADDITIONS

Matt Carroll (Rookie Draft), Orazio Fantasia (delisted free agent), Elijah Hollands (trade, Gold Coast), Ashton Moir (No.29 draft pick), Rob Monahan (international rookie), Billy Wilson (No.34 draft pick)

LIST DEPARTURES

Ed Curnow (retired), Paddy Dow (trade, St Kilda), Zac Fisher (trade, North Melbourne), Josh Honey (delisted), Lochie O’Brien (delisted), Sam Philp (delisted), Lachie Plowman (retired)

WHO WILL HAVE A BREAKOUT YEAR?

In his debut season for Carlton in 2024, Oliver Hollands played 19 games, showcasing notable contributions such as crucial defensive plays and a pivotal role in securing a Preliminary Final berth. Despite modest stats, his relentless effort and commitment are undeniable. With a year in the system under his belt, expect Hollands to feature prominently this season, likely improving his averages across the board.

BEST AND FAIREST SMOKEY?

If this player were to win the Best and Fairest, Carlton’s chances of becoming Premiers would significantly increase. The Blues seem to still have a deficiency in the small forward department, despite talented players showing glimpses. Consistency in this area is crucial. Orazio Fantasia‘s talent is undeniable, and if he can maintain his fitness, he could be a valuable addition to Carlton. Despite playing only four games in the last two years due to injury, his impressive goal-scoring record in his first year at Port Adelaide demonstrates his potential impact. With reports indicating a solid pre-season, his performance will be closely watched.

SUMMARY

The Carlton Football Club heads into the 2024 season amidst significant hype, with some pundits tipping them as Premiership favourites. Currently, they rank third on the Betfair Exchange in the Premiership market. In 2023, Carlton averaged 11.8 goals per game, marking a notable improvement. However, consistency in scoring, especially against top teams, remains the key point as to whether they can improve on their Preliminary Final year in 2023.

While boasting Coleman Medalists Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay, Carlton needs stability in their small-forward positions, with players like Owies, Durdin, Fogarty, and Motlop competing for spots. The team’s challenge lies in increasing their goals per game average, not necessarily relying solely on Curnow. Surprisingly, Curnow had more behinds than McKay last season, emphasising the need for improvement in set shots. Additionally, the small forwards must improve their goal assists.

No issues in the other departments. Mids ranked fourth in average disposals per game and two for total tackles and their defense ranked 6th in the AFL for scores against.

Carlton must improve their forward line to contend for the Premiership in 2024.

Betting Strategy

BACK: Harry McKay Coleman Medal (Trading) at $30+

LAY: Anything below $10. A trading play in the Coleman Medal market. Carlton has another year of the Charlie and Harry experiment under their belt. McKay was a player who worked on his goal-kicking in an off-season and produced a Coleman-winning season. By all reports, he has done exactly that which makes his value at $30+ for the Coleman Medal. A great trading opportunity as one bag of 5 early in the season could see his odds drop to below $10 quickly.

BACK: Carlton for Minor Premiers at $12+

Carlton is currently $14 for the Minor Premiership and $9.40 for the Premiership. Think there is value in backing Carlton for Minor Premiership and lay if they shorten to below $5. Will all depend on how Carlton handles Brisbane and Fremantle away games in the first four rounds of the year. Lay at anything below $5. Something to keep an eye out for during the season.

COLLINGWOOD

2023 WIN/LOSS LADDER POSITION

18 WINS
5 LOSSES
127%
1st

LIST ADDITIONS

Harry DeMattia (No.25 draft pick), Lachie Schultz (trade, Fremantle), Tew Jiath (No.37 draft pick)

LIST DEPARTURES

Taylor Adams (trade, Sydney), Trent Bianco (delisted), Arlo Draper (delisted), Jack Ginnivan (trade, Hawthorn), Will Kelly (delisted), Cooper Murley (delisted), Trey Ruscoe (delisted), Tom Wilson (delisted)

WHO WILL HAVE A BREAKOUT YEAR?

Collingwood made a great acquisition in Lachie Shultz. Despite losing Jack Ginnivan, fans should feel confident with Shultz’s arrival. He’s a player on the rise, consistently improving each year in the AFL. With a career-high in goals and increased involvement in stoppages and tackling, Shultz will further strengthen Collingwood’s forward line. His style of play is perfect for the Pies, making him a great fit for their setup. I think at Collingwood, Shultz can cement himself as a genuine star of the AFL.

BEST AND FAIREST SMOKEY?

Brody Mihocek stands out as possibly one of the most underrated players in the AFL. With Daniel McStay injured and Mason Cox recent forward line form struggling, Mihocek is crucial for Collingwood’s best 22. Arguably, his absence if injured would likely have a more significant impact than if Nick Daicos was injured, highlighting his importance to the team. With a career-high 47 goals in 2023 and consistent improvement each year, if Mihocek was to kick 50+ goals this year it would make him a strong contender for the Copeland Trophy.

SUMMARY

While Collingwood remains one of the teams to beat, the competition has significantly strengthened over the past year. Their record at the MCG and coupled with their team statistics (top 5 in all major team stats metrics) highlight their ability, not to mention they are reigning Premiers. However, with potential improvements from clubs like Port Adelaide, Brisbane, Carlton, and Melbourne, the season promises to be ultra competitive. Despite being a frontrunner, the Top 4 odds on the Betfair Exchange appear too short, making them a more valuable lay bet at this stage. While not discounting their chances, the probability suggests a lay for the Top 4 at $1.75. That being said, there’s plenty to be excited about as the Pies push for back-to-back Premierships. Lachie Shultz is an incredible acquisition, Bobby Hill could be the best small forward in the competition and Nick Daicos will likely sit atop of the Brownlow Medal market for years to come. It will be interesting to see how the Pies handle being the target of every club in the AFL this year. Looking forward to it!

Betting Strategy

LAY: Collingwood Top 4 for $1.50+ up to $1.80.

With potential improvements coming from a host of teams, Collingwood’s short odds look a dangerous proposition for anyone to back with a full season in front of us. Look to back them if/when their odds drift.

ESSENDON

2023 WIN/LOSS LADDER POSITION

11 WINS
12 LOSSES
89.7%
11TH

LIST ADDITIONS

Nate Caddy (Pick 10), Xavier Duursma (traded from Port Adelaide), Todd Goldstein (free agent from North Melbourne), Jade Gresham (free agent from St Kilda), Luamon Lual (Pick 39), Ben McKay (free agent from North Melbourne), Archie Roberts (Pick 54), Vigo Visentini (rookie draft)

LIST DEPARTURES

Massimo D’Ambrosio (traded to Hawthorn), Alastair Lord (delisted), Cian McBride (delisted), Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti (retired), Rhett Montgomerie (delisted), Anthony Munkara (delisted), Andrew Phillips (retired), Will Snelling (delisted), James Stewart (delisted), Patrick Voss (delisted), Brandon Zerk-Thatcher (traded to Port Adelaide)

WHO WILL HAVE A BREAKOUT YEAR?

The Bombers have a number of intriguing young prospects including Elijah Tsatas, Ben Hobbs, Nik Cox and Archie Perkins but I’ve settled on an underrated player here in Sam Durham. The 22 year old was taken with the club’s first pick in the 2021 mid-season rookie draft, and has flourished in his first two years in the system. Durham has now played 49 senior games, including 22 out of a possible 23 last season. He averaged a career high 16.5 disposals per game in 2023 plus ranking ‘elite’ for marks, taking on average five per game. Durham is an outstanding endurance runner, winning both Essendon’s 2km time trials this pre-season. With a wing spot all but secured in the clubs round one team, he also has the flexibility to spend more time inside in 2024. Durham has spent time training with the midfield group this pre-season and entering his fourth year in the system is tipped by teammates to have a big year.

BEST AND FAIREST SMOKEY?

Captain Zach Merrett is bidding for a remarkable fifth Chrichton Medal in 2024 and in all likelihood will do so, but for the sake of a ‘smokey’ I’ve gone with Jordan Ridley here. The defender won the award in just his third season in 2020 and has backed it up with three consecutive top five finishes in ’21, ’22 and ’23, highlighting how highly rated he is internally. Ridley will be buoyed by the recent addition of 200cm key back Ben McKay, as it will allow him to revert to his more suited intercept role in 2024. In 2020 and 2021 he was top 15 in the league for intercepts and Bomber fans will be hoping that alongside McKay and untapped tall Zach Reid that he can rediscover some of that form. Providing he remains injury free, Ridley will play game 100 this season.

SUMMARY

One thing must be said about the Bombers, and that is that they are very exciting to watch under the roof at Marvel. They won six of their eight games at their pseudo home-ground and often scored heavily in the process. The Dons ranked number #3 in the competition at going from defensive to attacking 50 in 2023, highlighting the strength of their running players (Martin, Durham, Hind, Redman) on transition. This will only be enhanced in 2024 with the additions of Xavier Duursma, Jade Gresham and youngster Elijah Tsatas likely to come in.

A common theme with Essendon over the past few years has been consistently collapsing on the defensive end. They ranked 15th in restricting opposition scores, 15th in opponent disposals and 16th in conceding opposition I50’s in 2023. These are alarming numbers for a club hoping to win their first final since 2004. Coach Brad Scott is known to favour an attacking game plan as was the hallmark of his time at North Melbourne, but he’ll realise that the current imbalance is too severe. Off-season acquisition Ben McKay, a fit Zach Reid (who the wraps are huge on), Ridley, Redman and Kelly looks to be a solid defensive setup on paper heading into 2024.

The weight of expectation will again be on Essendon’s shoulders this season given the way they’ve recruited, and the profile of the list now looks cherry ripe. There will be no excuses to miss September.

Betting Strategy

BACK: Essendon Top 8 at $3.50+

The price is a bit skinny currently, but when compared to the likes of Geelong ($2.08), Port Adelaide ($1.50), Adelaide ($1.82) and Gold Coast ($2.50) the Bombers are overs given the relative strength of their team to others in the market. If they drift to around the $3.50 mark it could be time to bet, (responsibly), especially given it’s Essendon we’re talking about…

FREMANTLE

2023 WIN/LOSS LADDER POSITION

10 WINS
13 LOSSES
96.6%
14TH

LIST ADDITIONS

Jack Delean (No.60 draft pick), Odin Jones (Rookie Draft), Oscar McDonald (delisted free agent), Ollie Murphy (No.41 draft pick), Cooper Simpson (No.35 draft pick), Jeremy Sharp (SSP, Gold Coast), Patrick Voss (SSP, Essendon)

LIST DEPARTURES

Eric Benning (delisted), Travis Colyer (delisted), Joel Hamling (free agent, Sydney), Liam Henry (trade, St Kilda), Lachie Schultz (trade, Collingwood), Nathan Wilson (delisted)

WHO WILL HAVE A BREAKOUT YEAR?

Matthew Johnson may not be widely known on the east coast, but he’s quietly making a name for himself in the West. Entering his third AFL season, Johnson played 18 games in 2023 after missing out entirely in 2022. Pick 21 in the 2021 National Draft, Johnson is a robust midfielder who showcased his potential late in the season. His standout performance was against Richmond, with 25 disposals, 7 clearances, and 6 tackles, highlighting his capabilities. With Fremantle eager for their young talent to step up, Johnson appears to be a significant part of the club’s future plans, contributing to their aspirations for contention in the coming years.

BEST AND FAIREST SMOKEY?

Jye Amiss had a breakout season in his first full year of AFL football, leaving a significant mark on the competition. With impressive performances including multiple four-goal hauls and consistent goal-scoring throughout the season, Amiss proved to be a key contributor for Fremantle. Notably, he played a crucial role in the team’s victories, often scoring multiple goals in their wins. Remarkable considering that Fremantle averaged 16th in the competition for inside 50s. 

Entering his third year in the league, Amiss is a forward to keep a close eye on. With potential for further improvement, he could elevate himself into All-Australian contention, solidifying his status as a vital player for Fremantle.

SUMMARY

The Fremantle Dockers had a perplexing season in 2023, finishing 14th after showing potential as a Top 8 contender. Despite key players like Caleb Serong, Andrew Brayshaw, and Luke Ryan performing at their best, the team struggled to find consistency. Promising developments from young talents such as Matthew Johnson, Hayden Young, Michael Frederick, and Jye Amiss were overshadowed by the team’s inability to string together wins.

Reports of senior players urging coach Justin Longmuir to simplify the game plan resulted in some temporary success, but it wasn’t enough to sustain momentum. The departures of Lachie Shultz, Joel Hamling, and Liam Henry don’t help their 2024 season aspirations. Their top talent is undeniable, however, the Dockers face the risk of missing finals again unless they can address their inconsistency and game style.

GEELONG CATS

2023 WIN/LOSS LADDER POSITION

10 WINS
12 LOSSES
1 DRAW
112.6%
12TH

LIST ADDITIONS

Mitchell Edwards (No.32 draft pick), Joe Furphy (Category B rookie), Lawson Humphries (No.63 draft pick), Emerson Jeka (Rookie Draft), Shaun Mannagh (No.36 draft pick), Connor O’Sullivan (No.11 draft pick), George Stevens (No.58 draft pick), Oliver Wiltshire (No.61 draft pick)

LIST DEPARTURES

Jonathon Ceglar (retired), Flynn Kroeger (delisted), Sam Menegola (delisted), Esava Ratugolea (traded to Port Adelaide), Osca Riccardi (delisted), Sam Simpson (delisted), Isaac Smith (retired), Cooper Whyte (delisted)

WHO WILL HAVE A BREAKOUT YEAR?

20YO Mitch Knevitt showed a solid block of form in the middle part of the year and will be keen to build on his eight games in 2023.

Another one to watch will be second year Cat and fourth year player Tanner Bruhn.

With the midfield turnover likely to continue at Geelong with some ageing stars moving on we can expect to see more of Bruhn on the ball. He showed he was adept in the clearances and could win the hard footy.

Bruhn averaged 19 disposals a game over the last nine matches and that number should build again in 2024.

BEST AND FAIREST SMOKEY?

Tom Atkins has only missed two games in the last three seasons and has been a picture of consistency. Runner up in last year’s Carji Greeves he again looms as a key pillar in this Geelong wheel. He averaged 20 disposals a game and laid 175 tackles in 2023.

He led the club in clearances and contested possessions and as the Cats transition into what they hope is their next flag assault, he is the type of player you can build a group of youngsters around.

SUMMARY

The Cats forward line still possesses one of the best key position duos of recent times with veteran Tom Hawkins and superstar Jeremy Cameron. Throw in Ollie Henry who kicked 41 goals last season and they still have the firepower to hurt teams.

Stengle, Close and Miers will get fed a lot of opportunities as well, with Miers coming off a season where he set a competition record for goal assists.

Despite retirements in Smith, Ceglar and Menengola, the Cats still have the second oldest list in the AFL and more than half of their best 22 remains over the age of 30.

On paper they still possess weapons and have enough class, but how many of the likes of Duncan, Hawkins etc hang on?

The key in many ways will be how they best utilize star Mark Blicavs and whether Tom Stewart’s transition into the midfield pays off.
I don’t think they’ll dive to the bottom, but I also don’t see a huge spike in them. Capable of sneaking into finals, but not a flag this time.

Betting Strategy

LAY: Geelong Top 8

$2.08 to play finals currently. The Bulldogs ($2.10), Suns ($2.58), Bombers ($3), and Saints ($3.10) would all have equal or possibly stronger claims.

GOLD COAST SUNS

2023 WIN/LOSS LADDER POSITION

9 WINS
14 LOSSES
91.7%
15TH

LIST ADDITIONS

Sam Clohesy (rookie draft), Will Graham(Pick 26), Jack Mahony (Rookie Draft), Ethan Read (Pick 9), Jake Rogers (Pick 14), Will Rowlands(rookie draft), Jed Walter (Pick 3)

LIST DEPARTURES

Jed Anderson (delisted), Connor Blakely (retired), Chris Burgess (traded to Adelaide), Mabior Chol (traded to Hawthorn), Charlie Constable (retired), Elijah Hollands (traded to Carlton), Brodie McLaughlin (delisted), Jeremy Sharp (delisted), Jake Stein (delisted)


WHO WILL HAVE A BREAKOUT YEAR?

The Suns have a number of players applicable here (Jed Walter, Ethan Read, Jake Rogers, Mac Andrew) to name a few- but I’ve settled on a man new coach Damien Hardwick has tipped to ‘take the footy world by storm’ in 2024. That player is Sam Flanders, who entering his fifth in the league appears to finally have the backing of a senior coach and seems destined for more midfield minutes. Flanders averaged a career high 24.2 disposals in 2023, as well as 3.7 I50’S pg and 8.7 contested possessions pg. Hardwick pointed to ‘His capacity to run, he’s a really good user of the ball, he’s incredibly smart and I think he will reach the potential this club invested in him’ when asked about him in a pre-season interview. If that isn’t the catalyst for Flanders to have a career best season (injuries pending) nothing will be!

 

BEST AND FAIREST SMOKEY?

Look up the word ‘underrated’ in the Oxford Dictionary and Charlie Ballard’s name will appear as the definition. The 196cm key defender is as important player to the Suns as any, with multiple Top 5 finishes in the B&F over the last few seasons highlighting his importance. He played every game in 2023 averaging a career high in marks (6.1 pg), 1%ers (6.1 pg) and kicks (10pg). Ballard is turning 25 this year and has now played over 100 career games, so you’d expect him to be reaching his prime from this season onwards. Standing at 196cm, he is rated ‘elite’ by Champion Data for intercept marks (3.6 pg) and alongside teammate Sam Collins forms one of the most solid defensive duos in the league. It wouldn’t shock to see Ballard contend for an All-Australian blazer in 2024 if Gold Coast rise up the ladder.

 

SUMMARY

There is always a danger when a successful coach like Damien Hardwick is appointed to a new club that the ‘messiah complex’ can take over. This was the same for Alastair Clarkson at North Melbourne, Mick Malthouse at Carlton and even Denis Pagan when he landed at Princes Park. I’m not suggesting that he will be a flop (nor Clarkson for that matter), but I do believe a club is at risk believing a great coach can wave their wand and fix all the problems in quick time.

The facts are simple; Gold Coast have made a grand total of zero finals appearances in their 14 years in the AFL competition. They have an inarguable losing culture which will take time to weed out. Hardwick has all the talent in the world at his disposal: Rowell, Anderson, Ballard, Miller, Ainsworth, Flanders, Lukosius, Read, Walter, Humphrey, Andrew, King and Rosas all names that are capable of being the best in their respective positions league wide!

On the balance of things, the Suns list still needs probably two years to gel together and feel confident in the new game plan/ direction of the club. They will be competitive to start the season and may have an upset win or two, before fading in the second half of the season.

Betting Strategy

LAY: Gold Coast Top 8 at up to $2.56

On the balance of things, the Suns list still needs probably two years to gel together and feel confident in the new game plan/ direction of the club. They will be competitive to start the season and may have an upset win or two, before fading in the second half of the season.

GWS GIANTS

2023 WIN/LOSS LADDER POSITION

13 WINS
10 LOSSES
107.1%
6TH

LIST ADDITIONS

Joseph Fonti (No.44 draft pick), Phoenix Gothard (No.12 draft pick), James Leake (No.17 draft pick), Harvey Thomas (No.59 draft pick, Academy), Nathan Wardius (Category B rookie, Academy)

LIST DEPARTURES

Phil Davis (retired), Cameron Fleeton (delisted), Matt Flynn (free agent, West Coast), Jason Gillbee (delisted), Daniel Lloyd (retired)

WHO WILL HAVE A BREAKOUT YEAR?

Finn Callaghan went from five games in his debut season to 21 games in 2023. He averaged nearly 21 disposals a game and had a good finals series for the Giants as well. Always touted as a future star, he was one of the main catalysts for their second half surge in 2023. He looks destined to take the next step again and join the likes of Tom Green in leading the next generation. Aaron Cadman would be another the Giants would love to see show progress after 12 games in his debut season. Ex Demon Toby Bedford’s last three months of the season was outstanding as well, with his pressure work inside 50 pivotal to their success. He could develop into a 30-goal forward.

BEST AND FAIREST SMOKEY?

The star power in the engine room, plus the brilliant match winner Toby Greene makes B&F smokey’s hard to find.
Greene, Green, Kelly, Coniglio and Whitfield all look set to star again. Of note would be key defender Sam Taylor who finished 8th in the B and F last year despite missing seven games. He is a genuine top echelon player in a defensive unit that is elite. He could certainly give it a nudge, with someone like Lachie Ash and Harry Himmelberg a good chance for votes.

SUMMARY

The Giants beat Geelong at Kardinia Park, both Adelaide teams in South Australia, Melbourne in Alice Springs, the Bulldogs in Ballarat, St.Kilda and Carlton in Melbourne in the second half of the year. They also conceded scores of 36,45,72,57,63,73,36,77,73,70 and 58 with the only blowout coming against Port in Round 21 (136 points). They became defensively outstanding and their midfield was on fire. The pleasing thing is that the style looks sustainable. They don’t have elite key forwards, but through Hogan (49 goals) and Riccardi (35 goals) they were able to compete and create chances for the fleet of smalls. They are fourth favourite for the flag and should naturally improve, provided Coniglio can go close to matching his 2023 exploits.

Betting Strategy

BACK: Top 8 at $1.40+

GWS are too good to miss the finals in 2024.

BACK: Top 4 at $2.08+

On form in second half of year they are a good chance to elevate.

HAWTHORN

2023 WIN/LOSS LADDER POSITION

7 WINS
16 LOSSES
80.2%
16TH

LIST ADDITIONS

Massimo D’Ambrosio (traded from Essendon), Mabior Chol (traded from Gold Coast), Calsher Dear (No.56 draft pick, father-son), Jack Ginnivan (traded from Collingwood), Jack Gunston (traded from Brisbane), Will McCabe (No.19 draft pick, father-son), Ethan Phillips (SSP, Box Hill VFL), Bodie Ryan (No.46 draft pick), Nick Watson (No.5 draft pick)

LIST DEPARTURES

Lachie Bramble (delisted), Tyler Brockman (traded to West Coast), Fergus Greene (delisted), Emerson Jeka (delisted), Jacob Koschitzke (traded to Richmond), Ned Long (delisted), Max Lynch (retired), Josh Morris (delisted), Fionn O’Hara (delisted), Brandon Ryan (traded to Brisbane)

WHO WILL HAVE A BREAKOUT YEAR?

The Hawks have quite a few options in this space, with a host of young midfielders emerging.

Josh Weddle is one to focus on, with the teenager playing 17 straight games after debut and averaging 17.3 disposals per game.

Connor Macdonald has only missed four games in two seasons and amassed 363 disposals and kicked 12 goals in 2023.

Josh Ward averaged 20 disposals in his second season as well, and watch out for new recruit Nick Watson who is nicknamed “The Wizard”.

BEST AND FAIREST SMOKEY?

Day, Newcombe and Nash have all emerged as young talent in recent years and have entered the best and fairest window. What the Hawks would love to see is one of the above mentioned youngsters following suit and jumping into this sort of range.

Mitch Lewis is only averaging 14 games a season over the last four years, but is coming off a 36 goal season last year. If he plays a full year he could kick 60-65 and challenge for the B and F. His presence is absolutely crucial for Hawthorn’s development. 

SUMMARY

The Hawks pre-season injury list is longer than most sides in the competition at the moment, with Day, Jiath, Wingard and Moore the biggest concerns.

Hawthorn’s fixture is mixed in the first half of the year with some winnable games along the way, but they will need to hang on early until they can settle some of those injuries.

In the back half of the year the Hawks defeated Collingwood, Brisbane and the Bulldogs and also pushed the Giants so they were establishing a strong and competitive style of football.

They don’t have the depth to challenge for finals but the aim would be to build the consistency and evolve out of the bottom four as a good step in their development.

Betting Strategy

BACK: Nick Watson Rising Star at $16+

Nick Watson will play early, so the $17 on offer for the rising star is worth a look. Should have an impact and gain an early nomination, even if Harley Reid is a very short favourite in this space.

MELBOURNE

2023 WIN/LOSS LADDER POSITION

16 WINS
7 LOSSES
125.2%
4TH

LIST ADDITIONS

Jack Billings (traded from St Kilda), Kynan Brown (Father-son rookie), Tom Fullarton (traded from Brisbane), Marty Hore (SSP, Williamstown VFL), Shane McAdam (traded from Adelaide), Koltyn Tholstrup (No.13 draft pick), Caleb Windsor (No.7 draft pick)

LIST DEPARTURES

Luke Dunstan (retired), Brodie Grundy (traded to Sydney), James Harmes (traded to Western Bulldogs), Michael Hibberd (retired), James Jordon (free agent, Sydney), Deakyn Smith (delisted), Kye Turner (delisted)

WHO WILL HAVE A BREAKOUT YEAR?

Melbourne’s forward line issues have been well documented, although injuries late in 2023 played a key role in destabilizing them. With Brown, McDonald, Petty and Melksham all going down, plus the injury to Brayshaw forcing Petracca back into the middle.

They’d be hoping to see progression in Jacob Van Rooyen who debuted in 2023 and kicked 28 goals before a costly suspension in their first final, and also emerging talent Matthew Jefferson who was their first pick in the 2022 draft. Jefferson was a solid player with Casey in the VFL and could potentially see some action as a tall forward.

Watch out for Caleb Windsor as well in 2024. Pick #7 in the National draft and already showing great signs on the track. Will almost certainly play footy early in the season and will be a great help in their midfield/forward transition.

BEST AND FAIREST SMOKEY?

It is difficult to find a B and F smokey on the Dees list given the star power they have amongst their best six.

It is likely the prize will be taken home by Petracca, May, Gawn or even Oliver if he settles back into a rhythm. Viney will also be around the mark for the Demons.

Some slight left field options might be Bailey Fritsch who kicked 38 goals in 17 games (meaning he’d be on track for mid 50s in a full season) or perhaps a Christian Salem if he gets his body right.

SUMMARY

The Dees will win a lot of games of footy, and they have far too much depth combined with top end talent to miss the finals. The question will be whether they can hold off the likes of Carlton and the Giants to finish top four, and more crucially, can they do some damage in September?

The shadow of consecutive straight sets exits from the finals hang over their heads and will do so regardless of whether they win 18 games in row during the year.

The litmus test comes in the finals. There is no doubt they’ll be there, but what happens next?

I don’t subscribe to any theory around choking, as I feel the 2023 exit was largely due to about six issues hitting their forward line in the space of a month, which was something they couldn’t quite cover for, even though they still had Carlton on toast half way through the last quarter of that semi-final.

Betting Strategy

BACK: Melbourne Top 4 at $3.20+

Melbourne is $3.20 to finish top four, which is a longer price than both Port Adelaide and Sydney. I still feel they are marginally better than both of those sides so I’d happily take that.

NORTH MELBOURNE

2023 WIN/LOSS LADDER POSITION

3 WINS
20 LOSSES
71.5%
17TH

LIST ADDITIONS

Colby McKercher (Pick 2), Zane Duursma (Pick 4), Taylor Goad (Pick 20) Wil Dawson (Pick 22), Ryley Hardeman (Pick 23), Dylan Stephens (traded from Sydney), Zac Fisher (traded from Carlton), Bigoa Nyuon (traded from Richmond), Toby Pink (delisted free agent), Finbar Maley (rookie draft)

LIST DEPARTURES

Aiden Bonar (delisted), Ben Cunnington (retired), Jacob Edwards (delisted), Todd Goldstein (free agent, Essendon), Aaron Hall (retired), Daniel Howe (retired), Jack Mahony (delisted), Ben McKay (free agent, Essendon), Flynn Perez (delisted), Phoenix Spicer (delisted), Kayne Turner (delisted), Lachie Young (delisted), Jack Ziebell (retired)

WHO WILL HAVE A BREAKOUT YEAR?

In just eight career games- George Wardlaw has North Melbourne fans dubbing him the next big thing, and rightly so. Their pick four from 2022 has all the tools to be become one of the best midfielders in the competition, with a great mix of contested ball winning ability and burst from stoppage being the hallmarks of his game. A 22- disposal, nine tackle & one goal performance vs an elite GWS midfield in Round 13 earned him a Rising Star nomination, and it’s arguable he should be clear favourite for that award in 2024. Of some concern for Roos fans is Wardlaw’s ongoing hamstring issues, though he has completed a full pre-season up to this point and looks ready to go for Round 1.

BEST AND FAIREST SMOKEY?

Harry Sheezel had one of the best seasons by a debutant we’ve seen in 2023, culminating in the Syd Barker medal. He was deserving of all the praise that came his way, but I think in the scheme of things Nick Larkey can consider himself unlucky not to have won it. Larkey kicked 71 goals from just 95 shots in 2023, equating to an incredible 74.7% accuracy. In an era where commentators, fans and pundits alike bemoan the lost art of set shot goal kicking, Larkey’s efforts in a three-win team were nothing short of outstanding. A player at the peak of his powers turning 26 this year and now firmly entrenched in the leadership group, he is my tip to claim a maiden B&F (albeit not a smokey).

SUMMARY

North’s list will officially be both the youngest by age and games played heading into 2024. With Jack Ziebell, Ben Cunnington and Todd Goldstein departing the club in the offseason the Roos lost 833 games of AFL experience! On paper that looks daunting, but in reality none of those guys were helping North get better in the short or long term.

On a positive note Pick 2 Colby McKercher has track watchers in awe at his ability to win the ball and distribute, Dylan Stephens looks set to slot straight in on the wing and Tristan Xerri looks ready to step up and take on solo ruck duties. One name to watch out for is Brayden George, with former interim head coach Brett Ratten labelling him as ‘potentially the best of the lot’ when asked about North’s young brigade. The club are building the nucleus of an outstanding midfield with captain Jy Simpkin, Luke Davies Uniacke, George Wardlaw, Harry Sheezel, Colby McKercher, Tom Powell, Will Phillips and Dylan Stephens all 25 or under.

The glaring weakness lies is the backline, with key pillar Griffin Logue set to miss half of 2024 with an ACL injury, and Ben McKay’s offseason departure leaving them severely undermanned and undersized. Charlie Comben has trained all pre-season as a key defender and looks set to partner Aiden Corr as one of the pillars, while Kallan Dawson is a name that North fans can get used to seeing more of too. Beyond that the cupboard is bare, and it’s fair to assume North will leak plenty of goals in 2024.

Nick Larkey is in desperate need of some assistance up forward to lighten the load, and while Zane Duursma looks a promising talent for the future he will take a few pre-seasons to fulfill his ability.

The Roos won just three games last year, however a percentage increase of 15.7 on 2022 showed signs that they are on the right track. It’s likely the Roos finish bottom four again this year due to the profile of the list, but there’s plenty for their fans to be excited about.

Betting Strategy

BACK: George Wardlaw Rising Star

At time of writing the Warlord was $6.40 for the Rising Star, however after a great pre season and increased media attention he has now been backed into $5.00! This is still a solid play.


BACK: Colby McKercher Rising Star

McKercher has racked up touches for fun in the Roos pre season hit outs, playing exclusively off the half back line. Very feasible that he could have a similar debut year to H. Sheezel.

PORT ADELAIDE

2023 WIN/LOSS LADDER POSITION

17 WINS
6 LOSSES
112.7%
3RD

LIST ADDITIONS

Thomas Anastasopoulos (No.48 draft pick), Lachlan Charleson (No.52 draft pick), Will Lorenz (No.57 draft pick), Esava Ratugolea (traded from Geelong), Ivan Soldo (traded from Richmond), Jordon Sweet (traded from the Western Bulldogs), Xavier Walsh (Rookie Draft), Brandon Zerk-Thatcher (traded from Essendon)

LIST DEPARTURES

Nathan Barkla (delisted), Riley Bonner (delisted), Trent Dumont (delisted), Xavier Duursma (traded to Essendon), Orazio Fantasia (delisted), Sam Hayes (delisted), Tom Jonas (retired), Scott Lycett (retired), Jake Pasini (delisted), Brynn Teakle (delisted)

WHO WILL HAVE A BREAKOUT YEAR?

Port were ranked 12th defensively in 2023 despite the top 4 finish on the ladder, which means they desperately need some key position defensive options to breakout. Recruiting Brandon Zerk-Thatcher from Essendon and Esava Ratugolea from Geelong was important, and they need one or both of them to have a major impact this year.

Ollie Lord showed some good signs late last year as well, with four goals in a final against Brisbane amongst 15 that he kicked overall.

Ivan Soldo was another important pickup to bolster their ruck stocks which haven’t been elite for a little while.

BEST AND FAIREST SMOKEY?

He’s not a smokey because he’s won a brownlow medal, but Ollie Wines played every game last year and finished 10th in Port’s Best and Fairest. If they are to graduate from a finalist to a genuine contender they really need him to recapture his best form.

He needs to get himself back up into the Butters, Rozee conversation with those two looking the clear standouts at present.

Jason Horne-Francis had a good first season at his new home, finishing 7th in the B and F. He is another who could elevate himself up onto the podium if he can turn his 17-18 disposal average into a 22-23 disposal a game output.

SUMMARY

Port’s 2023 season saw them win 13 consecutive matches before dropping four on the bounce, responding with a late surge before falling over again in the finals.

The relatively low percentage for a 17-6 team was indicative of the number of close games they won. A good trait to have as demonstrated by Collingwood a year earlier.

Port were exposed in a couple of key areas at crucial times and they’ve addressed those quite well in the off-season, in particular the need to build their key defensive stocks.

On paper the list looks better than it did in 2023, but can they hold off the likes of the Giants and the Blues in order to maintain a top 4 spot?
A lot will depend on their midfield depth, with too much left to Rozee and Butters in 2023. Can Wines, Houston, Drew and Horne-Francis do the job for them?

Betting Strategy

A safe bet would be to take the $1.50 on them making the 8. The top 4 race has them about $2.10 which is probably an accurate market.
Port’s first five weeks looks quite good for them, so I’d expect them to go about 4-1 over that journey, possibly even 5-0. The fixture gets tougher from there which will bring the lay option into play as that top 4 price shortens.

RICHMOND

2023 WIN/LOSS LADDER POSITION

10 WINS
12 LOSSES
1 DRAW
93.6%
13TH

LIST ADDITIONS

Oliver Hayes-Brown (Category B rookie), Jacob Koschitzke (traded from Hawthorn), Liam Fawcett (No.43 draft pick), Kane McAuliffe (No.40 draft pick), Sam Naismith (delisted free agent)

LIST DEPARTURES

Kaelan Bradtke (delisted), Jason Castagna (retired), Trent Cotchin (retired), Bigoa Nyuon (traded to North Melbourne), Jack Riewoldt (retired), Ivan Soldo (traded to Port Adelaide), Robbie Tarrant (retired)

WHO WILL HAVE A BREAKOUT YEAR?

It was a toss-up here between Samson Ryan and Josh Gibcus but have settled on the latter. Gibcus, a 196cm key back drafted with Pick 9 in 2021, has played just 18 games owing to serious hamstring problems. After winning the clubs ‘best first year player’ award in 2022 showing real talent, Gibcus has failed to play a game since leaving Richmond fans frustrated. Gibcus undertook a significant move in the off season, jetting off to a leading sports science practice in Qatar for answers. This has seemingly worked wonders, as he has been in full training since Christmas and will feature in the club’s pre-season matches in a bid to lock down a spot in their Round 1 team vs Gold Coast. The emergence of Gibcus will be critical to the Tigers rebuild as backline warriors Nick Vlastuin and Dylan Grimes enter the twilight of their careers. Fingers crossed for an uninterrupted year for the youngster.

BEST AND FAIREST SMOKEY?

Tim Taranto and Shai Bolton are obvious candidates here, but Daniel Rioli is my pick for the 2024 Jack Dyer Medal. Rioli has come into his own the last two seasons, finishing second in the 2022 B&F and fifth in the 2023 edition. Rioli is exceptionally durable, having not missed a home and away game since 2021! He averaged a career high 20.7 disposals per game last year, while ranking ‘elite’ for handballs (8.9 pg) and tackles (3.4pg). Rioli has a new lease on life as a running half-back and is crucial to the Tigers transition from defence to offence. He is entering his ninth year in the system and has played 160 games, so now is Rioli’s time to shine. Expect him to be a key man for new coach Adam Yze.

SUMMARY

Trent Cotchin, Jack Riewoldt, Jason Castagna and Robbie Tarrant all retired at the end of 2023 signaling the end of an era at Tigerland. They head into 2024 with the equal fourth oldest list, and eighth most experienced in games played.

Perhaps the most telling stat of their demise last season was that they dropped from first in ‘points scored’ in 2022, to 11th in 2023. Yes, spearhead Tom Lynch only managed four games across the season, but the reliance on the soon to be 32-year-old is concerning. Where do their goals come from this year? Richmond still have undeniable star power in Martin, Taranto, Bolton, Rioli and Baker but their youth is largely unknown and the only way forward is to get games into them under new coach Adam Yze.

Richmond will lean heavily on their over 30 players again in 2024, and this could be a recipe for disaster. Fans will look for glimpses and continued improvement from young players such as Gibcus, Ryan, Ralphsmith and Dow but this could be a tough season for them in the win/loss column. A tough first five weeks loom on the fixture as they face four of last year’s finalists.

Betting Strategy

LAY: Tom Lynch Coleman Medal at up to $15.00

No doubt a powerhouse at his best, Lynch has missed the best part of a year of footy owing to a foot injury. He has been very limited this pre-season, only resuming running post Christmas. He is worth opposing at the current price.

ST KILDA

2023 WIN/LOSS LADDER POSITION

13 WINS
10 LOSSES
107.8%
6TH

LIST ADDITIONS

Riley Bonner (Pre-Season Draft), Lance Collard (No.28 draft pick), Paddy Dow (traded from Carlton), Hugo Garcia (No.50 draft pick), Angus Hastie (No.33 draft pick), Liam Henry (traded from Fremantle), Liam O’Connell (Category B rookie), Arie Schoenmaker (No.62 draft pick), Darcy Wilson (No.18 draft pick)

LIST DEPARTURES

Oscar Adams (delisted), Jack Billings (traded to Melbourne), Jack Bytel (delisted), Nick Coffield (traded to Western Bulldogs), Leo Connolly (delisted), Jade Gresham (free agent, Essendon), Tom Highmore (delisted), Dan McKenzie (delisted), Jack Peris (delisted)

WHO WILL HAVE A BREAKOUT YEAR?

We forecast Marcus Windhager to be this player last year before a wrist injury in the opening practice match held up his progress. By the end of the year he was tracking very well, but was dwarfed by his mate Mitch Owens in this area.

Windhager averaged 19.5 disposals a game after Round 13 and feels like a Ross Lyon type player.

Whilst he has kicked 50 goals in a season before, Max King still looks to have another level in him. Having missed half of last season the Saints would be keen to see him combine with Tim Membrey (something which happened only 3 times last season).

A left field potential debutant in 2024 is Isaac Keeler. An emerging young key position prospect who moves well.

BEST AND FAIREST SMOKEY?

Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera had an outstanding second season as a 19 year old. Wanganeen-Milera finished 4th in the Trevor Barker award and amassed 563 disposals for the season, ranked third at the club.

He also ranked third for rebounds and third for marks. With Liam Henry and Brad Hill also providing run and carry, and with the prospect of Jack Sinclair moving into the midfield more frequently, he will continue to give plenty of drive for the Saints off half back. Fellow youngster Mitch Owens should settle into more of a midfield role this year which may also elevate him.

SUMMARY

In 2022 the Saints were ranked 15th for scoring and 7th for defense. Meaning they could restrict teams but couldn’t always hurt them.
In 2023 they were again ranked 15th for scoring but this time they ranked 1st for defense. That improvement elevated them into the top 6, but it’s clear they need to find consistent avenues to goal.

Last year they ran a very young forward set up with the likes of Owens, Caminiti and Sharman driving it, with King missing half a season and Membrey only appearing half a dozen times. So the scoring upside is there, but a lot of it is to do with system.

The defense should remain miserly and it is a clear strength of Ross Lyon…if they can elevate their scoring even into the top 10 in the AFL they should be able to repeat their finals run.

King, Owens, Higgins, Membrey the key.

As is the midfield depth which was exposed for class by the Giants in that final last year. Can Henry and perhaps Sinclair spending more time in there have an impact?

Betting Strategy


The Saints are currently $3.10 on the exchange to make the eight. Sides who finished below them last year such as the Bulldogs ($2.22), Geelong ($2.08), Gold Coast ($2.64), Essendon ($3) and even Adelaide ($1.66) are all much shorter.

I think St.Kilda could stake a claim to be at least as good a chance to make the finals as all of those sides, if not better.

SYDNEY SWANS

2023 WIN/LOSS LADDER POSITION

12 WINS
10 LOSSES
110%
8TH

LIST ADDITIONS

Taylor Adams (trade, Collingwood), Caiden Cleary (No.24 draft pick, Academy), Will Green (No.16 draft pick), Brodie Grundy (trade, Melbourne), Joel Hamling (free agent, Fremantle), James Jordon (free agent, Melbourne), Indhi Kirk (Category B rookie, Academy), Patrick Snell (No.53 draft pick)

LIST DEPARTURES

Ryan Clarke (delisted), Will Gould (delisted), Hugo Hall-Kahan (delisted), Lance Franklin (retired), Tom Hickey (retired), Paddy McCartin (retired), Cameron Owen (delisted), Lachlan Rankin (delisted), Marc Sheather (delisted), Dylan Stephens (trade, North Melbourne)

WHO WILL HAVE A BREAKOUT YEAR?

Hayden McLean and Logan McDonald, both promising forwards, are set to play vital roles for the Swans in 2024. McLean’s standout performance in the Sydney vs Carlton Elimination Final showcased his ability as a big-game player, particularly his elite marking was on show. With an average of two goals per game in his last five matches of the season, McLean has the potential to become a focal point in his team’s forward line with consistent performances.

The other, Logan McDonald, entering his fourth AFL season, has quietly developed into a reliable goal kicker, tallying 32 goals in the previous season compared to 15 in the one prior. With another pre-season of development, McDonald is ready for further improvement in 2024. Both players will likely elevate their games and fill the void left by the absence of Buddy Franklin.

BEST AND FAIREST SMOKEY?

Brodie Grundy‘s move to Sydney is fascinating, particularly given the team’s approach to ruckmen in recent years. While players like Callum Sinclair, Tom Hickey, Sam Naismith, and Peter Ladhams have contributed, there’s no doubt John Longmire’s coaching has helped them excel above expectations. Grundy’s arrival raises questions about what Longmire can extract from him.

Given Sydney’s need for size around the ball, Grundy is likely to play a pivotal role in the ruck.
At 29 years old, Grundy should still be in his prime as a ruckman. If he’s in the right physical and mental shape, there’s no reason why he couldn’t vie for All-Australian honours in a Sydney Swans jersey this season, adding depth and potency to their lineup.

SUMMARY

The Sydney Swans boast remarkable consistency since the year 2000 with only five double-digit ladder finishes since then, two of which were in 2019 and 2020. Despite a slow start in 2023, they demonstrated that famous never-say-die Bloods culture by storming into the finals after languishing at 15th on the ladder in Round 17.

Key acquisitions this year, including Joel Hamling, Taylor Adams, James Jordan, and Brodie Grundy, are poised to make significant impacts. While losing Paddy McCartin to concussion retirement is a setback, Hamling’s addition bolsters their defensive lineup seamlessly. Adams and Jordan bring valuable experience and versatility, enhancing Sydney’s depth.

The integration of Grundy is particularly intriguing, given Melbourne’s experiment with him and Max Gawn didn’t yield the desired results. With John Longmire’s track record of maximising ruckmen’s potential, Grundy’s addition could elevate the Swans’ game significantly.

While lacking depth in defence, the Swans are well-rounded with weapons across the field. No value for the Swans on the Betfair Exchange at this stage in the Top 4 and 8 markets as they are well around the mark. Sydney is expected to be fiercely competitive in 2024, and should challenge the best teams in the league.

Betting Strategy

BACK: Logan McDonald Coleman Medal at $50+

Logan McDonald is our pick to command the number-one forward spot at Sydney now Buddy Franklin has retired. Currently massive odds on the Exchange, so we’ll look to back him early and lay off if/when he shortens in the market. He’s capable of kicking a bag and if he does early in the year, watch his odds plummet.

WEST COAST EAGLES

2023 WIN/LOSS LADDER POSITION

3 WINS
20 LOSSES
53.03%
18TH

LIST ADDITIONS

Tyler Brockman (trade, Hawthorn), Matt Flynn (free agent, Greater Western Sydney), Clay Hall (No.38 draft pick), Harvey Johnston (No.49 draft pick), Coen Livingstone (Category B rookie, Academy), Archer Reid (No.30 draft pick), Harley Reid (No.1 draft pick), Loch Rawlinson (Rookie Draft)

LIST DEPARTURES

Greg Clark (delisted), Luke Foley (delisted), Shannon Hurn (retired), Nic Naitanui (retired), Xavier O’Neill (delisted), Sam Petrevski-Seton (delisted), Luke Shuey (retired), Connor West (delisted), Isiah Winder (delisted)

WHO WILL HAVE A BREAKOUT YEAR?

In a slim lineup, Reuben Ginbey looks like one to watch in 2024. In 17 matches across his debut season he ranked ‘ below average’ in disposals, kicks, and marks, whilst ranking ‘average’ in handballs and clearances. What we liked from him though was his ‘elite’ level of tackling. Ginbey averaged 5.9 tackles per game which ranked 17th in the league, and was one of only two rookies inside the top 20!

With not much upside to West Coast’s 2024 season (besides the Harley Reid hype machine) Ginbey may be the shining light.

BEST AND FAIREST SMOKEY?

This year sees Liam Duggan join Oscar Allen as co-captain. Duggan had a very solid 2023 season considering West Coast’s historically bad campaign.

He averaged 23.8 disposals per game, with a couple of highlights in massive losses to Gold Coast (32 disposals in a 70-point loss), Essendon (35 disposals in a 50-point loss), Collingwood (33 disposals in a 63-point loss), and Brisbane Lions (33 disposals in a 81-point loss). Duggan ranked ‘Elite’ in kicks, marks and metres gained last season and was a pillar throughout the backline. Expecting the footy to be in West Coast’s backline more often than not again in 2024 , so Duggan will rack up plenty of the ball and showcase his ability as one of the best medium defenders in the league. He’s undoubtedly a leading contender for the John Worsfold medal.

SUMMARY

There’s not much to say about the Eagles other than it’s going to be a long season. They only managed three wins in 2023 with five 100+ point losses, the worst of which was a 173-point thumping by the Swans.

We hadn’t seen such a statistically poor side since the 1985 Saints, who lost four games by over 100-points. Couple this together with them being the first team to concede 200-points to an opposition side in a game since 2011, it really was one to forget for the Eagles faithful.

The silver lining is that it’s only uphill from here! The addition of number one draft pick Harley Reid seems to have invigorated the fans out West- but boy have we seen this movie before, *que Dees saviour Jack Watts*… Reid is a heavy favourite on the Exchange for Rising Star, but we’ll wait until round 10 to determine whether or not he’s worth a bet.

Expect West Coast to end up with back-to-back spoons at the conclusion of 2024.

Betting Strategy

BACK: Least Season Wins @ $2.70

West Coast are clearly the worst side on paper in the AFL this season. Their home ground advantage was non-existent last season, winning only 2 games at Optus Stadium, and we don’t think this will be much different in 2024. Currently trading at $2.70, we feel they’re value in this market.

WESTERN BULLDOGS

2023 WIN/LOSS LADDER POSITION

12 WINS
11 LOSSES
108.7%
9TH

LIST ADDITIONS

Lachie Bramble (SSP, Hawthorn), Nick Coffield (traded from St Kilda), Jordan Croft (No.15 draft pick, father-son), Joel Freijah (No.45 draft pick), James Harmes (traded from Melbourne), Aiden O’Driscoll (No.55 draft pick), Ryley Sanders (No.6 draft pick), Lachlan Smith (No.47 draft pick)

LIST DEPARTURES

Josh Bruce (retired), Hayden Crozier (delisted), Mitch Hannan (delisted), Robbie McComb (delisted), Toby McLean (delisted), Tim O’Brien (delisted), Cody Raak (delisted), Roarke Smith (delisted), Jordon Sweet (traded to Port Adelaide)

WHO WILL HAVE A BREAKOUT YEAR?

Into his third year in the system, could we see Sam Darcy emerge in a similar way to what Jamara Ugle-Hagan did in 2023?

Darcy has had some injuries and played just the two games last season. Having spent a lot of his formative years as a forward, Darcy may need to play back given the depth the Bulldogs now have in the front half with Ugle-Hagan, Lobb and Naughton.

With Bailey Smith rupturing his ACL the door would now be open for boom youngster Ryley Sanders to have an impact. The Tasmanian prodigy was taken with pick six and has impressed on the track so far. Watch out for him early in the season.

BEST AND FAIREST SMOKEY?

Tim English finished 7th in the Best and Fairest in 2023 and earned All Australian honours for a stellar year in the ruck.
Can he take his game to another level and help drive the Dogs midfield?

It’s hard to see the likes of Bontempelli, Libba and Macrae not polling enough to challenge but English finding another gear could be pivotal in their quest to return to finals football.

Bailey Dale is another who will poll a lot of votes and it will be fascinating to see if Ed Richards can follow up his top three finish from last year.

SUMMARY

The Bulldogs had a frustratingly inconsistent season in 2023. Heavy defeats to the Demons and the Saints early put them on the back foot, but wins over Brisbane, Carlton and Adelaide got their season back on track, before disastrous defeats to Hawthorn and in particular the West Coast Eagles cost them a finals spot.

The Dogs are an enigma. On face value they have easily enough talent to play finals. They have good depth in their running options and they can move the ball exceptionally well.

They do however seem to fluctuate in how they play, in terms of speed and style and they appear to complicate the simple too often.

Rumours have floated around about some disharmony in the ranks which they will need to squash quickly. They also have to contend with the loss of Bailey Smith, but the addition of James Harmes does help them through the middle.

The Bulldogs inconsistency cost them top 4 in 2021, a home final in 2022 and finals spot completely in 2023.

Has enough changed to have more faith entering 2024? Probably not, but they remain good enough…

The question is, Will we see it?

Betting Strategy


Similar to Geelong. The Bulldogs are $2.14 to make the 8 with the Suns $2.52, Saints $3 and Bombers $3. Not saying they won’t make it, but I’d lay at that price.

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