The AFL’s top 99 players in 2018

Gordon P Smith Roar Guru

By Gordon P Smith, Gordon P Smith is a Roar Guru

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    With six weeks to go in the season, here are the AFL’s top 99 Meta-Player Of The Year contenders, as recognised by a range of evaluators.

    For each player,I’ve listed point totals, as well as the number of games where they were recognised by at least 80 per cent of my sources (‘Prominent’ performances) and by 90 per cent of sources (‘Dominant’ performances), which are used as the tie-breakers between matching point totals.

    Is it possible that a ruckman could win the Brownlow? Max Gawn has taken the lead over dormant superstar Nat Fyfe (who is ineligible in any case) in the Meta-Player race.

    Following Round 17, when Gawn had his most influential game, he has reached the pinnacle of not just my list but many others as well. He and Fyfe are the only players who have excelled in over half of their games (Fyfe having only played in 13 games so far).

    Behind those two sit ball-Hawk Tom Mitchell, young Blue Patrick Cripps, and 2017 Brownlow winner Dustin Martin. Other notable players include the second outstanding ruckman this season, Brodie Grundy of Collingwood (sixth), superstar Lance Franklin in ninth, despite having missed three games early in the season, and 2016 Brownlow winner Patrick Dangerfield in 17th.

    (By the way, both Martin and Dangerfield were also the Meta-Player of the Year in 2017 and 2016, respectively.)

    Patrick Dangerfield Geelong Cats AFL Brownlow Medal 2016

    Patrick Dangerfield (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

    Coleman Medal favourite Ben Brown is in 18th, newly minted 2012 Brownlow winner Trent Cotchin sits right behind him in 19th, and two-time MVP Gary Ablett now holds 32nd place.

    The first Gold Coast players to show up on this list are Touk Miller and Tom Lynch, all the way down in 92nd and 93rd places. For comparison, every other team has at least three players above them on this list.

    It begets the question – is it a lack of talent showing up, or does their lack of success lead to a lack of recognition? I would argue the former, since Carlton has been demonstrably less successful this year, yet those two Suns are looking up not only at Cripps in third, but also Kade Simpson and Charlie Curnow, with Ed Curnow right behind them as well.

    Round 17 Leaderboard Player Club Points total D(90%) P(80%)
    1 Max Gawn MEL 349 1 9
    2 Nat Fyfe FRE 344 4 7
    3 Tom Mitchell HAW 323 0 7
    4 Patrick Cripps CAR 311 3 5
    5 Dustin Martin RCH 288 3 4
    6 Brodie Grundy COL 277 3 5
    7 Clayton Oliver MEL 273 2 5
    8 Shaun Higgins NM 271 3 5
    9 Lance Franklin SYD 258 2 5
    10 Andrew Gaff WC 252 1 5
    11 Jack Macrae WB 246 2 3
    12 Joel Selwood GEL 231 1 3
    13 Steele Sidebottom COL 231 0 3
    14 Dayne Beams BL 229 1 4
    15 Jesse Hogan MEL 218 1 5
    16 Rory Laird ADE 217 0 3
    17 Patrick Dangerfield GEL 214 2 5
    18 Ben Brown NM 209 1 4
    19 Trent Cotchin RCH 208 3 5
    20 James Sicily HAW 208 0 2
    21 Robbie Gray PA 207 1 3
    22 Jack Darling WC 206 1 3
    23 Stephen Coniglio GWS 203 2 2
    24 Scott Pendlebury COL 198 1 4
    25 Dyson Heppell ESS 197 0 2
    26 Josh P Kennedy SYD 194 2 3
    27 Ben Cunnington NM 191 2 3
    28 Callan Ward GWS 188 3 3
    29 Shannon Hurn WC 187 0 2
    30 Elliot Yeo WC 185 1 3
    31 Jack Steven STK 183 2 3
    32 Gary Ablett GEL 180 2 3
    33 Jordan deGoey COL 180 1 2
    34 Dayne Zorko BL 178 2 3
    35 Alex Rance RCH 177 1 1
    36 Luke Breust HW 175 2 2
    37 Lachie Whitfield GWS 175 1 2
    38 Lachie Neale FRE 171 1 2
    39 Adam Treloar COL 168 1 2
    40 Ollie Wines PA 165 0 1
    41 Jake Lloyd SYD 163 1 2
    42 Jeremy McGovern WC 161 2 3
    43 Zach Merrett ESS 160 1 3
    44 Tom Phillips COL 160 1 2
    45 Shane Edwards RCH 158 1 4
    46 Tom McDonald MEL 157 2 4
    47 Harris Andrews BL 152 1 2
    48 Josh Caddy RCH 152 2 2
    49 Kane Lambert RCH 151 1 3
    50 Luke Parker SYD 151 2 2
    51 Stefan Martin BL 151 0 2
    52 Marc Bontempelli WB 150 0 2
    53 Isaac Heeney SYD 149 1 1
    54 Tom Stewart GEL 146 0 2
    54 Kade Simpson CAR 146 0 2
    56 Jack Redden WC 140 1 2
    57 Jaeger O’Meara HAW 137 0 2
    58 Angus Brayshaw MEL 136 0 2
    59 Mitch Duncan GEL 134 1 2
    59 Devon Smith ESS 134 1 2
    61 Charlie Curnow CAR 130 2 2
    62 Callum Sinclair SYD 130 0 1
    63 Justin Westhoff PA 129 0 2
    64 Bryce Gibbs ADE 128 0 2
    64 Tim Kelly GEL 128 0 2
    66 Jeremy Cameron GWS 126 1 2
    67 Jack Gunston HAW 125 0 1
    68 Josh Kelly GWS 123 2 2
    69 Isaac Smith HAW 120 1 1
    70 Jack Riewoldt RCH 119 1 1
    71 Paul Seedsman ADE 118 0 2
    72 Sam Menegola GEL 117 0 2
    73 Lachie Hunter WB 117 0 1
    74 Jarrad Waite NM 112 2 2
    75 Seb Ross STK 111 1 2
    76 Jeremy Howe COL 110 0 1
    77 Jade Gresham STK 109 1 3
    78 Tom Hawkins GEL 108 0 1
    78 Toby McLean WB 108 0 1
    80 Dylan Shiel GWS 107 0 0
    81 Chad Wingard PA 106 0 0
    82 Michael Walters FE 104 0 1
    83 Michael Hurley ESS 103 0 1
    84 Nic Naitanui WC 102 0 0
    85 Ben Ronke SYD 99 1 2
    86 Jack Ziebell NM 99 1 1
    86 Liam Shiels HAW 99 1 1
    88 Nick Vlastuin RCH 94 0 1
    89 Scott Thompson MEL 91 1 1
    89 Cale Hooker ESS 91 1 1
    91 Jared Polec PA 91 0 1
    92 Touk Miller GC 91 0 0
    93 Tom Lynch GC 90 1 1
    94 David Mundy FRE 89 1 1
    94 Ed Curnow CAR 89 1 1
    96 Ben Jacobs NM 88 0 1
    97 Taylor Walker ADE 84 0 0
    97 Jimmy Webster STK 84 0 0
    99 Tom Jonas PA 83 1 1
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    The Crowd Says (36)

    • Roar Guru

      July 19th 2018 @ 8:21am
      Peter the Scribe said | July 19th 2018 @ 8:21am | ! Report

      Well you gloss over what your “evaluators” are Gordon, but whatever it is the list results are hard to argue with. IMO, if the Brownlow was held right now I’d call that an excellent ranking based on performance so far.

      • July 19th 2018 @ 4:16pm
        Slane said | July 19th 2018 @ 4:16pm | ! Report

        This article is one in a long series. The author goes into more detail about what is happening in earlier articles. Basically he analyzes all media outlets in the country and collates the ‘best on ground’ mentions. Naturally there will be inherit bias towards clubs that the media love to talk about. If you are aware of these biases, it can actually be a pretty powerful tool.

        • Roar Guru

          July 19th 2018 @ 5:02pm
          Peter the Scribe said | July 19th 2018 @ 5:02pm | ! Report

          Thanks Slane. It has produced a pretty solid list.

        • Roar Guru

          July 20th 2018 @ 7:08am
          Gordon P Smith said | July 20th 2018 @ 7:08am | ! Report

          Thanks very much, Slane – you said it better than I could have myself! Peter, I did gloss over the list because it’s pretty long – besides some smaller sites from different areas (trying to balance that Vic-centric tendency), I tag the Age, the Roar, AFL.com, and a host of other sites including the various fantasy scoring sites like Supercoach to get some of the stat-hounds credited as well. My biggest concern, less than the prejudice for certain clubs, is the prejudice to recognize midfielders over all other positions. So I’ll admit I do try to seek out polls that are less mid-biased and occasionally recognize defenders, for example.

    • July 19th 2018 @ 8:33am
      Rissole said | July 19th 2018 @ 8:33am | ! Report

      I’ve been impressed by Heppell this year. Quietly putting together a very good season.

      • Roar Guru

        July 20th 2018 @ 2:59pm
        JamesH said | July 20th 2018 @ 2:59pm | ! Report

        Yeah, there are a few Bombers that have been underrated in this process. Merrett behind Ablett and Steven? Smith behind O’Meara and Redden? Hooker at 89?!?!?

        I suppose it all gets a bit speculative outside the top 20, which is a solid list in itself.

    • July 19th 2018 @ 8:38am
      Mick_Lions said | July 19th 2018 @ 8:38am | ! Report

      I’m intrigued by the points system you’ve incorporated here.
      The current Meta is pace and forward pressure created by smalls (Richmond) vs clinical ball movement to several talls (West Coast) with other clubs somewhere in between.
      With this in mind, the Ranking of Jack Reiwoldt seems far to low when put into a meta ranking as his influence on Richmonds game style is the main reason it works.
      Then I looked up and saw Josh Kelly just above him in 68th!! True, he has been injured yet GWS has been kicking arse since his return.

    • Roar Guru

      July 19th 2018 @ 9:46am
      gameofmarks said | July 19th 2018 @ 9:46am | ! Report

      Can’t see how Martin is so high in the order.
      He has had a pretty ordinary season.
      I reckon Yeo should be ahead of Dusty and he is down at 30

      • July 19th 2018 @ 10:43am
        truetigerfan said | July 19th 2018 @ 10:43am | ! Report

        Dusty’s ordinary must still be very good then, yeah?

        • Roar Guru

          July 19th 2018 @ 11:05am
          Cat said | July 19th 2018 @ 11:05am | ! Report

          As long as the umpires keep letting get away with all the illegal high fend offs …

          • Roar Guru

            July 19th 2018 @ 12:05pm
            Peppsy said | July 19th 2018 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

            AFL Rule 1: All other rules are to be ignored if it looks cool. see “Specky” and “Chase down tackle where player disposes of the ball legally but a free kick is awarded anyway”.

    • Roar Guru

      July 19th 2018 @ 12:03pm
      Peppsy said | July 19th 2018 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

      Why would people offer Lynch 1mill+ if he’s worse than Shiels?

      • Roar Guru

        July 19th 2018 @ 2:30pm
        Peter the Scribe said | July 19th 2018 @ 2:30pm | ! Report

        Why Peppsy? Because anti clog rule changes are going to open up space for players like Dusty, Shiel, Dangerfield and Treloar who are breakaway players, meaning better forward entries and better opportunities for key position CHF’s. All WCE have to do is keep their players and they should almost be unbackable in 2019 with the rule changes that look like they are coming in. If Hawthorn get Lynch, combined with Clarksons nous and creativity with the rule changes watch out for the Hawks too.

      • Roar Guru

        July 19th 2018 @ 4:39pm
        Cat said | July 19th 2018 @ 4:39pm | ! Report

        There are dozens and dozens of elite mids. You might be lucky to count a handful of full forwards who fit that bill.

    • Roar Rookie

      July 19th 2018 @ 12:05pm
      Mattician6x6 said | July 19th 2018 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

      Either way its Gaff’s brownlow already

      • July 19th 2018 @ 12:42pm
        Slane said | July 19th 2018 @ 12:42pm | ! Report

        Hard to imagine an outside midfielder with no ‘x-factor’ winning the brownlow. Just not quite eye-catching enough. I reckon there’s a chance that Yeo polls higher than Gaff.

        • Roar Rookie

          July 19th 2018 @ 1:54pm
          Mattician6x6 said | July 19th 2018 @ 1:54pm | ! Report

          Slane think it’s time you watched gaff before making assumptions, his numbers in clearances and contested possession are just a bit too high for a outside player mate. Also avg a goal a game, anything else??

          • July 19th 2018 @ 3:50pm
            Slane said | July 19th 2018 @ 3:50pm | ! Report

            What are the cut-off numbers for being an outside midfielder? If he isn’t a very good outside mid who wins a little bit of his own ball then he must be a terrible inside mid who recieves a lot of handballs. Seems like you have another strange definition that is keeping us from agreeing. Since you are so ontop of the statistics maybe you could tell me when the last time a player averaging 21 uncontested possessions and 9 contested possessions won the brownlow?

            Dusty: UP: 14.4 CP: 14.5
            Danger: UP: 16.1 CP: 16.2
            Fyfe: UP: 11.3 CP: 17.8
            Priddis: UP: 13.5 CP: 15
            Ablett: UP: 15.8 CP: 14.9
            Mitchell: UP: 14.2 CP: 12.9
            Cotchin: UP: 14.9 CP: 12.9
            Watson: UP: 15.3 CP: 14.4

            For Gaff to win the Brownlow the umpires would have to dramatically change what they are looking for in a vote getter. That isn’t impossible, just pretty unlikely. Especially when we have Gawn/Grundy revolutionizing the ruck position right in front of the umpires eyes.

            • Roar Rookie

              July 19th 2018 @ 4:56pm
              Mattician6x6 said | July 19th 2018 @ 4:56pm | ! Report

              Did dean cox win a brownlow? The greatest ruck of the afl era.
              You’re expecting gawn or Grundy to buck a trend that gas been in place since when was wynd medal? 1992.
              I would sat gaff is in the umpire eye enough to get votes considering he is playing a more inside-outside role this season, having a higher number of clearances, cp, goal assists and goal to go with his high running handball receive game.

              • July 19th 2018 @ 7:15pm
                Slane said | July 19th 2018 @ 7:15pm | ! Report

                I don’t expect Gawn or Grundy to win a Brownlow at all. I just think the umpires tend to give votes to players right in front of their eyes. It’s hard to miss a massive bald bloke with a Ned Kelly beard getting contested possessions. Actually Dean Cox’s 2011 is pretty similar statistically to Gawn this year. Cox finished 10th in the Brownlow that year but didn’t place in the Coaches Award, which Gawn now leads.

          • July 19th 2018 @ 6:23pm
            AB said | July 19th 2018 @ 6:23pm | ! Report

            This is hysterical Mattician, maybe you need to check to stats. Gaffs averages this year CP:8.9 UP:21.2

            • Roar Rookie

              July 19th 2018 @ 6:34pm
              Mattician6x6 said | July 19th 2018 @ 6:34pm | ! Report

              I said His cp where up, aswell as continuing his more renowned game, he is scoring goals, having higher goal assists and clearances, he is also playing in a team that has won 12 games where he has consistently been referred to as wce best midfielder in those wins, as it is a midfield medal I’m happy to stand by my view he will win the brownlow this year, you’re a funny guy 😉 check your ability to read next time.

            • July 19th 2018 @ 7:40pm
              Don Freo said | July 19th 2018 @ 7:40pm | ! Report

              You don’t award Brownlow votes on averages. They are awarded to the best players in games.

              Statistical averages are pointless in this conversation.

        • Roar Guru

          July 19th 2018 @ 2:32pm
          Peter the Scribe said | July 19th 2018 @ 2:32pm | ! Report

          Slane, I give you Matt Priddis, Brownlow medalist 2014.

          • July 19th 2018 @ 3:52pm
            Slane said | July 19th 2018 @ 3:52pm | ! Report

            Priddis was a very good inside mid with wild blond hair. Exactly the type of player that catches the umpires eye.

          • Roar Guru

            July 19th 2018 @ 4:41pm
            Cat said | July 19th 2018 @ 4:41pm | ! Report

            An outside midfielder that averaged more CP than UP … that is surely a new definition.

        • July 19th 2018 @ 7:37pm
          Don Freo said | July 19th 2018 @ 7:37pm | ! Report

          Gaff is no ‘outside’ middielder. He’s my tip for the Brownlow too…even though Shannon Hurn has been WC’s best.

          Umps don’t understand footy well enough to reward Hurn.

          • Roar Rookie

            July 19th 2018 @ 7:42pm
            Mattician6x6 said | July 19th 2018 @ 7:42pm | ! Report

            Agree there Don, hurn has been wce best this year and due to where he plays won’t get the praise he deserves, at least most ate saying he should be aa capt this year.

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