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My take on the AFL ladder for 2017

The 2016 AFL grand final. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)
Roar Guru
13th December, 2016
220
4056 Reads

As it’s that time of year, I have taken a look at where I think teams will end up on the ladder for 2017.

I’m sure a lot will disagree but it should make for some good arguments. So starting with the Wooden spoon and working up, here is where I think teams will finish.

18th – North Melbourne 6-16
Now I’m sure a few will think that this is nuts, but hear me out.

First, look at how they ended the season when all of their older-bodied players began to fall below their top tier of output. Very few of their younger players seemed to step up and fill the void.

2017 will be the start of a rebuild. After spending the last few seasons bringing in older players in the 29 – 33 age bracket there is going to be a need to provide extended game time for their younger players.

Another thing to look at is the way in which the Roos faltered after their nine game streak to being 2016. Following this streak, to then go and win only three out of their last 12 games represents a worrying sign and rings similar to the latter half of Fremantle’s 2015 campaign.

17th – Brisbane Lions 6-16
Only ahead in my mind by percentage, but extra wins and a display of improvement would see the Lions happy with 2017.

After the last three seasons and the turmoil that has surrounded them, this is the year for them to settle and start to head in the right direction as a team.

16th – Essendon 6-16
Now again I’m sure people will think this is nuts but they were not playing their best football prior to the saga of 2016 and the year-long suspension dealt to their stars.

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In the season prior, they won just six games and were in the process of beginning a rebuild under a new coach, but that has been put on hold until the 2017 season. So they are a step behind the likes of Melbourne and St Kilda who were at the same point in 2015, and to a point Essendon’s rebuild is behind Carlton’s by 12 months as well.

15th – Fremantle Dockers 8-14
Their 2016 season can only be classed as a cliff dive off the top of the ladder – owing to a poor game plan and a poor run of injuries.

They will need to continue with their plan of blooding younger players and developing their game plan. Even before injures took their toll, the game plan was not working.

The Dogs crushed them by 65 points and another three losses of an accumulated total of 155 points all occurred before the point at which the season was killed off by their extensive injury list.

For 2017, it will be working on a new game plan that, fingers crossed, will work better than the 2016 plan.

14th – Carlton 8-14
Another year on and the Blues will continue with their rebuild.

With seven wins last year, they would be happy to, at least, come away with a higher total than that in the new year. Additionally, they’ll be hoping to get more experience into their young team.

With the development of the younger players going well and a backline that boasts a huge amount of potential, the only way is up in the Blues camp.

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13th – Collingwood 9-13
Sorry Magpies fans, but I see another season of disappointment coming your way.

With coach Nathan Buckley saying he is looking at the youth of the future but then bringing in 31-year-old Daniel Wells that is 31 and 28-year-old Chris Mayne – talk about a mixed message.

With how they are playing and the development of other teams around them they will fall back again this year.

12th – Gold Coast Suns 11-11
Will be an improvement as long as injury does not hit them. They have missed their first window for a premiership at this point as they look at beginning a small rebuild of their own.

They will play some good football but will fall behind the eight ball of others, who have been developing well over the last two to three years as well.

11th – Sydney Swans 11-11
Hear me out here. After each grand final loss, the Swans have dropped the next year. It has never been out of the eight but they have dropped on average three to five spots.

The problem for them this year is that there are more teams that are on the way up this time round and that could well see them drop lower this time around.

Tenth – Port Adelaide 12-10
For a team that looked ready to smash their way to a seconded premiership just a few years ago, they have not been showing it lately. There seems to be a problem with how the team work together or something – I just can’t put my finger on it.

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2017 won’t be there year either.

Ninth – Richmond Tigers 12 -10
Now no joke its just where my system put them.

The additions of Josh Caddy and Dion Prestia will help Dustin Martin sure up the Tigers’ midfield in 2017 and I sense improvement.

Percentage is the only thing that has them out of the eight on my predictor, so with some good wins they could sneak their way into the finals.

Eighth – Hawthorn Hawks 12-10
The loss of Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis will hurt the Hawks but I have no doubt it gives a chance for their younger list members to play with experienced players like Hodge, Gibson and Burgoyne before they most likely retire at the end of 2017.

The Hawks will drop and it could well be my biases that have them still in the eight.

But as many have found out in the past, doubt the Hawks at your peril, they can still rip you apart when you least expect it.

Seventh – Saint Kilda 12-10
The Saints have been developing under the radar for the last three or four years. Adding Koby Stevens and Jack Steele into their midfield and Jake Carlisle into their defence will see them become a dangerous side in 2017.

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Especially if they are underestimated.

Sixth – West Coast Eagles 13-9
Sam Mitchell will give his all no matter who he is playing for and can only help the Eagles Midfield.

The only downfall for the Eagles, and the reason I don’t see them higher on the ladder, is the absence of their best two ruckmen for the bulk of the year.

Fifth – Melbourne Demons 14-8
Simon Goodwin’s official first year as Coach sees him guide a side who have been developing nicely for the last three years.

There is no doubt that they will be a challenge for any team and will be fighting hard to make it to their first Finals series in many years.

The only problem that could trip them up is if they fall back onto the Melbourne of 2014/15.

Fourth – Grater Western Sydney Giants 14-8
In 2016, they showed what they are capable of and are the team to beat in the Sydney area after winning the battle with the Swans this year 2-1 overall.

They have the players and the talent to go all the way, along with having Finals experience this time around.

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Third – Geelong Cats 14-8
What else can be said?

They have two of the best midfielders going around at the moment and with the extra support in the back line this year they will again be a strong side.

The only thing that could upset their balance is if fringe players fail to step up when needed – as was the case for the Cats in the 2016 season.

Second – Western Bulldogs 14-8
The 2016 premiers could go back to back if they remain fit.

But they will be the hunted this year and will need to stay tough and strong to be able to say at the top end of the ladder.

First – Adelaide Crows 16-6
In 2016, they proved that they did not need Patrick Dangerfield.

So 2017 is the year they will push out of that era and show that they are a side to be reckoned with.

They have shown that they can play finals, they just need that second chance to be able to make it to that next stage.

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To recap, this is my ladder:

1. Adelaide
2. Bulldogs
3. Cats
4. GWS
5. Melbourne
6. Eagles
7. Saints
8. Hawks
9. Tigers
10. Port
11. Swans
12. Suns
13. Magpies
14. Carlton
15. Dockers
16. Essendon
17. Lions
18. North Melbourne