2018 AFL crystal ball: Familiar faces in the big dance

Conor Roar Guru

By Conor, Conor is a 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.

    Have Your Say



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    The Crowd Says (294)

    • November 6th 2017 @ 8:33am
      Hungry Jack said | November 6th 2017 @ 8:33am | ! Report

      Good job, Connor. Like your logic. Absolutely agree with you about Essendon missing finals, I’m very bullish about that. The only major difficulty I have is seeing Port placed so high. Grand final result could be reversed, too. Overall a good effort.

      • Roar Guru

        November 6th 2017 @ 10:15am
        JamesH said | November 6th 2017 @ 10:15am | ! Report

        People keep pointing to Essendon’s lack of big-bodied inside midfielders, yet the last two premiers haven’t exactly had massive midfields. Dusty and Bont (who are a comparable size to Heppell) both rotate into the forward line and let other, slightly smaller players do a lot of the inside work. Not every team can have a Kennedy or a Dangerfield.

        I honestly think that the acquisitions Essendon has made, together with more improvement out of its younger guys, vastly outweigh the loss of experience. I’d be surprised if Essendon slide this year but to be fair, Conor does have them on the same win-loss ratio as last season. Looks like another season of log jams for ~4-10. I’m certainly not getting carried away and tipping them for top 4 like some other fans.

        • Roar Guru

          November 6th 2017 @ 10:35am
          Cat said | November 6th 2017 @ 10:35am | ! Report

          Don’t get so caught up in the size, ‘big bodied’ is mostly a euphemism anyway. The in-and-under type, the big-bodied type, the extractor type. Call it what you want but last year Essendon had 1 midfield with over 100 clearances (Heppell with 107) your second was Watson (94) and he retired.
          If you want to use Richmond as the comparison their two highest were Martin (160) and Cotchin (131). Every team that played finals last year, bar Essendon, had at least 2 players with 100+ clearances.
          Outside speed is only useful if your side can get the ball to them.

          • Roar Guru

            November 6th 2017 @ 11:45am
            JamesH said | November 6th 2017 @ 11:45am | ! Report

            I don’t dispute your general point (although Merrett also had 93). However, you need to factor in that in reaching those tallies, Cotchin and Martin played two more games than Heppell, three more than Merrett and 5 more than Watson. Heppell, Watson and a few others were also coming off a year of no footy.

            Winning the hard ball will definitely be an area to monitor closely for Essendon. They will need a few things to go right, like Heppell and Merrett having good years, Parish and McGrath stepping up and contributions from the players rotating through the guts (Smith, Stringer, Zaharakis, etc). They probably lack one additional elite ball-winner but I also think they now have a bit more midfield depth than some other sides.

            • November 6th 2017 @ 3:04pm
              Liam said | November 6th 2017 @ 3:04pm | ! Report

              In addition to Parish and McGrath improving their inside game and time spent there (Parish had 14 contested possessions and 8 clearances in the Sydney EF) and the Smith and Stringer inclusions, I can see one of Langford, Laverde, Mutch and Clarke developing and playing a key role in the inside midfield group. They’re all loaded with upside and potential, surely one has to break out sooner or later! (Flawed logic, I know). My money’s on Langford. Hopefully we can cram a few years of development into the four of them in the one pre-season, use them for 6 games each 😛

          • November 8th 2017 @ 11:50am
            Harsh Truth Harry said | November 8th 2017 @ 11:50am | ! Report

            You say that Cat only because Geelong have NO outside speed. In fact, I’d say Geelong has the slowest list in the AFL.

            • Roar Guru

              November 8th 2017 @ 12:03pm
              Cat said | November 8th 2017 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

              Tell us something you haven’t said ad nauseum under multiple accounts. Have you run out of material already?

    • November 6th 2017 @ 8:36am
      I ate pies said | November 6th 2017 @ 8:36am | ! Report

      What a bizarre prediction. Adelaide, who were minor premiers this year, get better through the addition of Bryce Gibbs, yet slide to 8th? And Hawthorn’s kids are going to miraculously turn them into a top 8 side, despite them losing experience?

      • November 6th 2017 @ 11:16am
        David C said | November 6th 2017 @ 11:16am | ! Report

        Yeh, Adelaide should be top 4 again and if the Hawks make the 8 it’ll be scraping in that last place. Don’t think Adelaide are better though with the loss of Lever and Cameron.

        • November 6th 2017 @ 12:09pm
          I ate pies said | November 6th 2017 @ 12:09pm | ! Report

          I think they are. Smith and Laird provide their punch across the half back line, and Cameron has played one good game in his life.

          • November 6th 2017 @ 1:47pm
            Darren said | November 6th 2017 @ 1:47pm | ! Report

            Not Smith. Out for the year.
            Crows out: Lever, Cameron, Smith
            In: Gibbs, Gibson

            So midfield strengthened but fwd and back drop off. Depends if they can cover defence with other players to determine if they can hold current position.

            • November 6th 2017 @ 2:06pm
              Rick said | November 6th 2017 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

              McGovern missed the grand and prelim. finals, so effectively another in.

              • November 6th 2017 @ 3:34pm
                Darren said | November 6th 2017 @ 3:34pm | ! Report

                No he played all year so doesn’t help their H&A position

              • November 7th 2017 @ 8:57am
                AD said | November 7th 2017 @ 8:57am | ! Report

                McGovern didn’t play all year, he missed half the season due to injury. Played a total of 13 out of 25 games for the season. So if he can stay fit and play a full season (and continue developing) then there’s a lot of upside there.

        • November 6th 2017 @ 12:29pm
          tim said | November 6th 2017 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

          Milera is going to be a gun. Tom Doedee needs to be given game time. I don’t see Adelaide slipping out of the 4. Hawthorne, lol. Port need to win against top sides, they have another year b4 they do it regularly. Waych out for them though. Sydney is a very professional side, but apart from Buddy are 1 dimensional.

          • November 6th 2017 @ 2:45pm
            I ate pies said | November 6th 2017 @ 2:45pm | ! Report

            Port have done the equivalent of backing 4 roughies in a row and hoping that they all get up. Talk about a speculative trade period.

            • Roar Rookie

              November 6th 2017 @ 9:07pm
              Lamby said | November 6th 2017 @ 9:07pm | ! Report

              Not just backing 4 roughies – selling the house to pay for the bet! Rockliff and Motlop are not top 5 earning players at the club.

    • November 6th 2017 @ 9:13am
      Bobby said | November 6th 2017 @ 9:13am | ! Report

      Nice article Conor. Personally I’m ready for the hawks to stay down a bit longer, but if that is what it takes for a cats flag, I’ll be happy 😛

    • November 6th 2017 @ 9:20am
      phil.osopher said | November 6th 2017 @ 9:20am | ! Report

      I wouldn’t recommend betting one’s house on it. Even a doll’s house.

    • November 6th 2017 @ 9:36am
      Don Freo said | November 6th 2017 @ 9:36am | ! Report

      Your choices for 2nd 3rd and 5th won’t make the 8, Connor. Freo will finish ahead of each of those 3 sides.

      I could give you lots of reasons behind my thinking but you didn’t give reasons for your selections so I don’t think you’d want to read them.

      • November 6th 2017 @ 9:45am
        Macca said | November 6th 2017 @ 9:45am | ! Report

        Hang on, what’s this, Don thinks Freo is better than Geelong and Hawthorn? I never thought I would see the day! Next thing he will be telling us Freo has the most exciting young list in the comp and they are only a good run with injury away from a top 4 finish.

        • November 6th 2017 @ 10:23am
          Don Freo said | November 6th 2017 @ 10:23am | ! Report

          Why would that be “the next thing” I’d say? I’ve already told everybody that.

          I have no need to repeat that. Repeating former posts is your domain.

        • November 6th 2017 @ 10:46am
          The Original Buzz said | November 6th 2017 @ 10:46am | ! Report

          Freo won’t finish above Port either.

          • November 6th 2017 @ 10:47am
            Don Freo said | November 6th 2017 @ 10:47am | ! Report

            Will too!

            • November 6th 2017 @ 12:23pm
              AD said | November 6th 2017 @ 12:23pm | ! Report

              You make a compelling argument.

              You’ve convinced me!

              • November 6th 2017 @ 1:33pm
                Don Freo said | November 6th 2017 @ 1:33pm | ! Report

                Get the money on.

              • November 6th 2017 @ 10:58pm
                rusty said | November 6th 2017 @ 10:58pm | ! Report

                Fremantle will come last next year and should start to build after that.
                We are both Fremantle fans Don but the difference between me and you is that I view what happens on the footy field as the ultimate truth whereas you just pull things out of your ass.

                Actually put me down for bottom four. North and GC are probably further from a flag than Freo.

              • November 7th 2017 @ 1:40am
                Don Freo said | November 7th 2017 @ 1:40am | ! Report

                Here’s a list of names that don’t come out of my bottom, Rusty, they come from the injury list; Walters, Bennell, Blakely, Alex Pearce, Langdon, Grey, Sandilands, Spurr, Apeness. All back after missing all, most or a great slab of last season. Basically, recruits to add. That’s worth 10 more wins/season with that lot.

                Then Fyfe, Ballas and McCarthy have a season back after long term injury or lay-off and you saw how much Fyfe improved as the season went on.

                Then you have Nathan Wilson and #2 and #5 draft pick. We have pumped games into Hughes, Logue, Cox, Ryan, Tucker, Hamling and Darcy…all 200 game players in Freo’s future.

                Cheer up smiley!

      • November 8th 2017 @ 11:53am
        Harsh Truth Harry said | November 8th 2017 @ 11:53am | ! Report

        On what basis Don Freo? Nlo one seems to know what Freo’s plan is or what on earth they are doing? Are they building? resetting? what time clock are they in? My take is Ross Lyon is protecting his next coaching gig by getting what he can out of an average list before he joins Collingwood when Buckley is sacked end 2018.

        • November 8th 2017 @ 3:21pm
          rusty said | November 8th 2017 @ 3:21pm | ! Report

          Unless Fremantle can rise again by 2020 this will be Lyon’s last gig. He has lost the fan base at Freo and the wider footy community can’t stand the way his teams play. Personally I think he is a very good coach and the way the team plays isn’t all his fault. He has been hamstrung by a recruiting department completely incompetent at finding forwards.

          • November 8th 2017 @ 3:38pm
            Don Freo said | November 8th 2017 @ 3:38pm | ! Report

            By 2020? Is that what you are worrying about? They’ll be back this next season now they have those injured players back.

            As for Rossy having lost his fan base, you are sitting with the wrong crew. Freo loves him. He has a dominant purple fan base. Change your friends.

          • November 8th 2017 @ 4:37pm
            bryan said | November 8th 2017 @ 4:37pm | ! Report

            If Freo walked on water, the “wider footy community” would say “The Dockers can’t swim!”

            • November 8th 2017 @ 6:23pm
              Stephen said | November 8th 2017 @ 6:23pm | ! Report

              That might be a little too defensive Bryan. You may be surprised at the number of us outside WA who rate the coach and the hard-nosed brand of football played by Fremantle. Aside from injuries – covering the loss of Matthew Pavlich – has arguably been understated. Only three players ‘ever’ have played over 350 games and kicked 700 goals. Pavilich. Bartlett and N. Riewoldt. But it was more than games and goals with Pavilich. He made those around him better. Not someone easily replaced.

              • November 8th 2017 @ 10:00pm
                Stephen said | November 8th 2017 @ 10:00pm | ! Report

                Correction. Bernie Quinlan not Nick Riewoldt.

        • November 10th 2017 @ 1:42pm
          Chris said | November 10th 2017 @ 1:42pm | ! Report

          No Collingwood man would accept Ross Lyon because of his appalling tactics and jinxed record in Grand Finals. Moreover, the inability to entertain will not enhance him to the crowd. Look at Mourinho at Manchester United. He has got them playing better than they had been playing in recent years but there is no X-Factor and he may be treading on thin ice. The same rule will apply to Mr. Lyon. If Harsh Truth Harry wants us to sink into oblivion then I would kindly ask that he concern himself with the other 17 teams and give us some space. We will improve contrary to what most people think and we should be around 7th or 8th by the first week of September. Then it will come down to how the crowd fire up the boys. If they get behind them, then a Preliminary Final berth is a distinct possibiltiy. As for the much hyped Port Adelaide and Essendon, they may find out that you can’t buy a Premiership with duds and rejects. Stars are born and Champion teams are moulded. Patchwork can only go so far. I think Geelong may get a tremendous shock, too. They may be on a premature rebuild because both Selwoods have exceeded their use-by date and Mr Ablett is retirement village material.

          • Roar Guru

            November 10th 2017 @ 4:06pm
            Paul D said | November 10th 2017 @ 4:06pm | ! Report

            I would have thought someone with appalling tactics and a jinxed record in grand finals would fit in well at Collingwood actually

    • November 6th 2017 @ 9:39am
      Macca said | November 6th 2017 @ 9:39am | ! Report

      I think your prediction on the blues requires absolutely everything to go right, not saying it isn’t possible just no t probable. It is also a little hard to get a read on the blues until the list is finalised – they have 7 senior spots available plus 3 rookie spots and have just 4 live draft picks with the 4th being in the 70’s.

      What I do see for the blues is a significantly younger list, more games into young players, some real exciting moments mized with some disappointing ones and being in a much better position by years end than we started.

      • November 9th 2017 @ 3:41pm
        Harsh Truth Harry said | November 9th 2017 @ 3:41pm | ! Report

        considering it hasnt gone right in 22 years, can’t see why it will now

        • November 9th 2017 @ 4:13pm
          Macca said | November 9th 2017 @ 4:13pm | ! Report

          Half Baked Harry – 3 days and 6 hours after I posted this comment you respond! I would have thought that after all that time you could have come up with something better than that disappointing effort. I would like to say you can do better but based on what you have produced so far I doubt you can, especially as you seem to have peaked about a week ago and you are deep into re-runs.

          ” can’t see why it will now’ that is because you are too busy looking back 22 years – as the industry super funds love to tell us “past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance”.

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