2018 AFL crystal ball: Familiar faces in the big dance

Conor Roar Guru

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    With the trade period done and only drafts and delisted free agency period to be completed, we can now make our first look at ladder predictions for next year.

    I am predicting another tight season, with only three wins between first and tenth, and percentage again deciding the difference between eighth and ninth. Here is my ladder prediction.

    First – Sydney – 15-7
    Sydney were a very dominant team for most of 2017, and went 14-3 after their 0-6 start to the season. I am predicting them to have a great 2018 season and take out the minor premiership for the third time in five years.

    Second – Port Adelaide – 15-7
    Port Adelaide had a strong draft period, getting Tom Rockliff and Steven Motlop as free agents and trading for Jack Watts, as well as signing Trent McKenzie as a delisted free agent and seem likely to draft Lindsay Thomas as a rookie. They will succeed in beating a top eight side next season, which will result in a second-place finish for the Power.

    Third – Geelong – 15-7
    “Ablett, passes to Selwood, who handballs to Dangerfield and kicks for home from 50! It’s a goal!” That would be the perfect piece of commentary for the Cats after a successful trade period where they brought Gary Ablett home without trading any major players to the Suns for him. I am predicting another top-four finish for the Cats, and they will be hoping to push for a premiership.

    Gary Ablett AFL Geelong Cats

    (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

    Fourth – Richmond – 14-8
    The 2017 AFL premiers haven’t lost any of the premiership gang over the off-season so far despite a three-game suspension to Nathan Broad. I can’t see the Tigers dropping outside the top four as a result of that, and another strong season will be expected for 2018.

    Fifth – Hawthorn – 14-8
    The threepeaters between 2013 and 2015 lined up with a different, younger, developing side more often in 2017, and they will once again get younger with the departure of former skipper Luke Hodge to Brisbane. Despite this, I am predicting that the Hawks talented youngsters will rise this team back up the ladder in 2018.

    Sixth – Melbourne – 14-8
    The fire in the belly will burn for the Demons after missing out on finals by percentage in 2017. Their young talent such as Christian Petracca, Angus Brayshaw, Jesse Hogan, and new recruit Jake Lever, as well as experienced players Jordan Lewis and Nathan Jones will guide the mighty Dees to September action for the first time since 2006.

    Seventh – GWS Giants – 14-8
    The Giants finished inside the top four in the past two seasons with a young, talented, exciting group of players. However, they lost Stevie J, Shane Mumford, Nathan Wilson, and Matt Kennedy to retirement and trades this year, and I believe that they will take a minor dip down the ladder.

    Eighth – Adelaide – 13-9
    Last year’s runners-ups failed in their quest to win the 2017 premiership, and despite crossing Bryce Gibbs off their wish list during the trade period, I believe that they will play finals on percentage.

    Bryce Gibbs Adelaide Crows AFL

    (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

    Ninth – Western Bulldogs – 13-9
    The 2016 premiers endured a difficult 2017 season, splitting the win-loss ledger to finish tenth, and became the first team to miss the finals the year after winning the premiership since Hawthorn in 2008-2009. They’ve made some changes to their list, and I do expect them to improve, however they will miss the finals on percentage.

    Tenth – Essendon – 12-10
    “You have Essendon finishing tenth? How?” readers might question. Let me explain my prediction. Yes, they did manage to trade to get Stringer, Smith, and Saad, however, they did lose experienced players such as Jobe Watson, Brent Stanton, and James Kelly, and are also lacking big-bodied, strong, inside midfielders. I am expecting the Bombers to finish around the same number of wins as last season.

    Eleventh – Carlton – 9-13
    Mark my words, the Navy Blues will be on the up in 2018! They won’t make finals, but their younger players such as Petrevski-Seton, Matt Kennedy, Darcy Lang, Patrick Cripps, plus many more players will continue to develop, and I believe that they will win three more games than last season.

    patrick-cripps-carlton-blues-afl-2016-tall

    (AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy)

    Twelfth – St Kilda – 9-13
    I believe that the Saints will make a minor dip down the ladder next year. They lost Nick Riewoldt, Leigh Montagna, and Sean Dempster to retirement, and it will be a year of development before contesting for finals 2019 and beyond. The first step to September action will be to find Riewoldt’s long-term successor.

    Thirteenth – West Coast – 9-13
    Similarly to the Saints, the Eagles lost plenty of experience in Sam Mitchell, Matt Priddis, and Drew Petrie’s retirement at the end of the 2017 season. The next few years will be development time for the younger players. They must nail their picks in this year’s draft in order to build for the future.

    Fourteenth – Collingwood – 8-14
    Collingwood have been on the down for such a long time under Nathan Buckley, and I see them continuing to slide down the ladder in 2018 despite an easy fixture, which may result in the sacking of Buckley as head coach with a year left on his contract.

    Fifteenth – Brisbane – 8-14
    The Lions looked very exciting at times throughout the 2017 season, and with the recruitment of Luke Hodge and Charlie Cameron a definite to help their playing stocks and help nurture the young talent on their list. I am predicting them to be in the bottom four and finish fifteenth on percentage.

    Sixteenth – Fremantle – 6-16
    Despite the Dockers successful trade period, I am predicting that 2018 will be another long year for Fremantle fans, with only six wins for the season.

    17th – North Melbourne – 5-17
    North Melbourne failed to make any major noise in the trade period despite being linked to Dustin Martin and Josh Kelly throughout the season, and I am predicting that 2018 will be a rebuilding year and this year’s draft will be an important launching pad for their future.

    Eighteenth – Gold Coast – 5-17
    New coach, no Gary Ablett to be a one-man team for them, and it leads to a fresh start. I am predicting the Suns to take the wooden spoon on percentage, however it will be an important year for their future. Here’s to hope Stuart Dew will be the man to lead them to their first finals series within the next five years.

    With my prediction, my prediction of the finals would then look like this.

    Week 1
    Sydney v Richmond – SCG
    Port Adelaide v Geelong – Adelaide Oval
    Hawthorn v Adelaide – MCG
    Melbourne v GWS – MCG

    Week 2
    Sydney v Hawthorn – SCG
    Geelong v Melbourne – MCG

    Week 3
    Richmond v Geelong – MCG
    Port Adelaide v Sydney – Adelaide Oval

    Grand final
    Sydney v Geelong – MCG

    2018 Premiers: Geelong

    Plus, what are 2018 predictions without Brownlow and Coleman Medal predictions?

    Brownlow Medallist – Dustin Martin from Richmond
    Coleman Medallist – Josh Kennedy from West Coast

    That’s my 2018 predictions. Do you agree or disagree? What are your thoughts? Comment below.

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