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The AFL enters the home stretch

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Roar Guru
15th August, 2019
1

It’s been a month or more since we’ve given an update from the worldwide HQ of Following Football, where we follow football of all forms around the world.

The NFL, American college football, Canadian football, English Premier League, you name it.

But we want to talk footy! Here’s the current ELO-Following Football AFL ratings, alongside the composite meta-ratings from the combination of nine major objective rating systems, for all 18 clubs. Fifty is the average rating in both systems. They are listed in order of their meta-rating.

Team (win-loss record) – ELO rating (rank)/meta-rating
1. Geelong (15-5) – 64.6 (4th)/69.12
2. Richmond (14-6) – 66.7 (3rd)/66.69
3. West Coast (15-5) – 67.8 (2nd)/65.98
4. Brisbane (15-5) – 70.2 (1st)/65.43
5. GWS Giants (12-8) – 53.5 (8th)/60.98
6. Collingwood (13-7) – 53.4 (9th)/58.42
7. Port Adelaide (10-10) – 63.7 (5th)/57.95
8. Hawthorn (9-11) – 58.7 (7th)/54.62
9. Adelaide (10-10) – 53.0 (10th)/53.07
10. Western Bulldogs (10-10) – 61.7 (6th)/52.51
11. North Melbourne (8-12) – 49.8 (11th)/50.67
12. Essendon (11-9) – 36.3 (16th)/46.59
13. Sydney (6-14) – 45.3 (12th)/44.39
14. Fremantle (9-11) – 40.7 (13th)/41.85
15. Melbourne (5-15) – 36.6 (15th)/36.25
16. Carlton (6-14) – 40.5 (14th)/35.13
17. St Kilda (9-11) – 33.4 (17th)/34.66
18. Gold Coast (3-17) – 4.4 (18th)/6.18

Using these ratings and the historical projections given positions two games from the end of the home-and-away season, we see that Geelong are still the most likely minor premier because of their insurmountable percentage lead, despite the lack of advantage that the minor premiership seems to hold against the team in the penultimate spot in recent years.

In the quarter-century of eight-team finals, the first and second place finishers have each won the grand final eight times. The other nine titles went to the third (five times), fourth (twice), fifth (Adelaide in 1998) and seventh (Bulldogs in 2016) place teams.

Our forecast puts all four of the top teams at 16-6 (each losing one game except for Richmond). Our numbers put the Lions ahead of the Eagles on percentage for second if they hold serve this weekend, and the Tigers in fourth with the game and percentage disadvantage too much to overcome even if they do beat both West Coast and Brisbane.

Collingwood and the Giants should safely hold fifth and sixth, although moving back into the top four doesn’t look doable with the teams above them firing on all cylinders. As for their elimination final opponents, our new best guess is that the Magpies will host the Bulldogs and GWS should host the Power, as those two teams seem most likely to reach 12 wins.

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On form, Port should prevail against North, even at the Docklands, and Fremantle shouldn’t be up to beating them in Adelaide with the season on the line – it’ll be like Sunday, with Nat Fyfe on all cylinders and 21 watchers.

The Bulldogs look tremendously strong right now, and the Giants are simply trying to survive until September – and our ratings already have a Western win on the schedule. And if they can handle the Giants, the Crows at Ballarat will be a celebration.

Essendon’s collapse will continue in road games versus Fremantle and Collingwood. Adelaide are not up to a stronger Collingwood team or a hotter Bulldogs club. And Hawthorn won’t survive a must-win game at Optus against the reigning premiers in need of a win.

Fremantle’s loss to Port Adelaide in Round 23 eliminates them, too. None of those four will surpass 11 wins, and nobody else can even theoretically reach it.

The other category we’re tracking is the AFL 2019 Meta-Player Of The Year, which comes from combining the resultant votes and opinions from 16 divergent sources, most of which we’ve explained in previous articles.

Nat Fyfe

(Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

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Short version – some are weekly votes along team-of-the-round lines, some recognise the top players in each game, and some are computerised rankings fantasy players would appreciate.

The Brownlow score is based on how many games the players received votes from at least 70% (one vote), 80% (two vote), or 90% (three vote) of the possible sources – long-time readers will recognise these as notable, prominent, and dominant performances. It’s not scored in strict Brownlow fashion, because it’s not a strict one-per-placement situation, but it’s the closest this system will get.

Here’s what we have through Round 21 – the meta-score is followed by their projected number of Brownlow votes.

1. Nat Fyfe (Fremantle) – 533.5 – 27 Brownlow votes
2. Patrick Cripps (Carlton) – 494 – 24 Brownlow votes
3. Marcus Bontempelli (Bulldogs) – 472.5 – 21 Brownlow votes
4. Lachie Neale (Brisbane) – 464 – 21 Brownlow votes
5. Brodie Grundy (Collingwood) – 462.5 – 23 Brownlow votes
6. Patrick Dangerfield (Geelong) – 445 – 21 Brownlow votes
7. Tim Kelly (Geelong) – 417.5 – 19 Brownlow votes

Realistically, the winner of the Meta-Player of the Year will come from that top five, with the two Geelong midfielders as smokies if they get hot.

There’s a very strong correlation between our two systems, and although there isn’t necessarily among the different evaluative methods we track, the actual 2019 Brownlow medalist is within those first seven names, with Fremantle’s uber-star Fyfe having taken a significant lead with his certain three-voter against the Saints on Sunday.

But let’s continue anyway.

8. Jeremy Cameron (GWS) – 393.5 – 15 Brownlow votes
9. Max Gawn (Melbourne) – 386.5 – 18 Brownlow votes
10. Travis Boak (Port) – 370 – 18 Brownlow votes
11. Michael Walters (Fremantle) – 364.5 – 15 Brownlow votes
12. Dustin Martin (Richmond) – 359 – 19 Brownlow votes
13. Jack Macrae (Bulldogs) – 355.5 – 17 Brownlow votes
14. Adam Treloar (Collingwood) – 339.5 – 13 Brownlow votes
15. Josh Dunkley (Bulldogs) – 334.5 – 17 Brownlow votes
16. Dayne Zorko (Brisbane) – 333.5 – 14 Brownlow votes
17. Stephen Coniglio (GWS) – 333 – 16 Brownlow votes
18. Scott Pendlebury (Collingwood) – 331 – 19 Brownlow votes
19. Gary Ablett, Jr. (Geelong) – 323 – 13 Brownlow votes
20. Charlie Cameron (Brisbane) – 315.5 – 12 Brownlow votes
21. Zach Merrett (Essendon) – 314.5 – 17 Brownlow votes
22. Elliot Yeo (West Coast) – 308 – 15 Brownlow votes
23. Tom Hawkins (Geelong) – 301 – 9 Brownlow votes
24. Ben Cunnington (North) – 295 – 12 Brownlow votes
25. Clayton Oliver (Melbourne) – 288 – 12 Brownlow votes
26. Jack Darling (West Coast) – 281 – 11 Brownlow votes
27. Luke Shuey (West Coast) – 278 – 10 Brownlow votes
28. James Sicily (Hawthorn) – 276.5 – 13 Brownlow votes
29. Mitch Duncan (Geelong) – 270 – 12 Brownlow votes
30. Brad Crouch (Adelaide) – 267 – 9 Brownlow votes

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Luke Parker (Sydney, 35th, 252), Jack Billings (St Kilda, 38th, 239.5) and David Swallow (Gold Coast, 75th, 174) lead the three teams not yet featured.

Other players with at least 12 Brownlow points are…
15 – Rory Sloane (Adelaide)
14 – Jarryd Lyons (Brisbane) and Rick Henderson (Hawthorn)
13 – Bachar Houli (Richmond), plus Toby Greene, Tim Taranto and Lachie Whitfield (GWS)
12 – Brad Hill (Fremantle) and Zac Williams (GWS), meaning the Giants have six players with at least 12 Brownlow points this season.

In three of the four years we’ve tracked the Meta-Player of the Year, our winner has coincided with the Brownlow medalist, and last year Tom Mitchell came in second on our list behind Max Gawn.

The 2019 season will be a test of everyone’s faux systems, because there is no consensus a la Dusty’s 36-vote romp in 2017. But this is our contribution to the conversation.