Across the globe, 2016 proved to bear the year of the underdog, and nowhere more so than in the AFL. Fans of Aussie Rules won’t forget the Western Bulldogs epic 22 point Grand Final triumph margin over the much vaunted Sydney Swans! It put an end to the longest active Premiership drought in AFL/VFL history and laid a few ghosts to rest for the club. After a intriguing draft, the 2017 season looks set to be just as enthralling. Our AFL tipster Owen Fulda runs the rule of all 18 teams and their chances, as well as whether he reckons they’re worth a punt or not...
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AFL 2017 Season Preview
Greater Western Sydney Giants @ $4.50 -
A fast, mobile side who defied the odds in 2016 by making it to the top four, although the Giants were cut down to size by the Bulldogs in their preliminary final. However, the Giants have the capacity go one better and finish at the top of the ladder in 2017.
Western Bulldogs @ $5.50 -
The Bulldogs made history by winning the premiership from seventh place on the ladder last year. The Dogs are still a rather youthful side and I’d consider them too unpredictable for a top two finish. Yet, they will still have another great year as recognised by the bookies in their pretty short price.
Sydney Swans @ $8 -
Sydney were the minor premiers and the runners up in the 2016 season, falling 22 points short of premiership victory. I believe that they will have another strong season and finish up in the top four. AFL is thriving in Sydney and the Swans are riding on the crest of that wave. Youngster Isaac Heeney who has just signed on for five more years could be one to watch this term.
Geelong @ $11 -
The Cats had a strong 2016 with Patrick Dangerfield winning the Brownlow Medal. Chris Scott’s side will follow up with another great season in 2017. Keep an eye on rising star Nakia Cockatoo, the highly regarded 20-year-old has been one of Geelong’s standout performers throughout pre-season.
Adelaide @ $12 -
Adelaide’ strong form throughout 2016 saw them almost finish in the top two, until a last-round shock loss to the West Coast Eagles sent them into an elimination final against North Melbourne. I believe they have a good chance of finishing top four in 2017.
Hawthorn @ $13 -
Hawthorn made some surprising trades in the 2016 window, shipping out Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis while trading in Jaeger O’Meara and Tom Mitchell. The Hawks were far from their usual force last year and may fall even further in 2017. Their supporters won’t accept anything less than a top eight finish.
West Coast Eagles @ $13 -
With an ACL injury ruling Nic Natanui out for the majority of the year, the Eagles will be unable to be at their best despite recruiting Sam Mitchell. West Coast legend Josh Kennedy has a chance to equal Gary Ablett Snr’s achievement as the only player to have won three consecutive Coleman Medals in the past 50 years.
Fremantle Dockers @ $21 -
Fremantle's miserable 2016 campaign saw them win just four games. There’s no way they can be that bad again as they’ve recruited some wise heads in Cam McCarthy and Joel Hamling among others. The jury is still very much out on whether the Dockers can reach the finals this year however.
St Kilda @ $26 -
The Saints were so unlucky to miss out on the finals in 2016, finishing in ninth position on scoring percentage. They have a squad that’s flush with impressive young talent, but do Alan Richardson’s team have the requisite experience to go far in the postseason? I’m not too sure, but I can certainly see them at least reaching the finals for the first time since 2011.
Essendon Bombers @ $31 -
The majority of the Bombers players who were banned in the aftermath of the drug-scandal will have returned for this season. But the club is still recovering and Essendon with still be unable to be at their best. A year of getting their house in order in the most likely scenario and a mid-ladder finish at best.
Melbourne Demons @ $31 -
The Demons were close to making the finals for the first time since 2006, but two losses to Carlton and Geelong in the last two rounds hurt them. With 12 Premierships to their name but the last coming in 1964, history weighs heavy on their shoulders. North Melbourne are still a way off finishing in the top eight in my mind, let alone resurrecting the glory days.
Collingwood @ $34 -
The Magpies have had declining win totals in each of Nathan Buckley’s five seasons at the helm. They’ve splashed huge money on a three-year contract for 32-year-old Daniel Wells and he’s just the kind of kicker they need. But he alone won’t be enough to halt this six-year train wreck. Another season of disappointment awaits Pies fans.
Port Adelaide @ $34 -
The Power are very hard to place if you try to predict where they’ll end up on the ladder. You wouldn’t be surprised if they have another season that fails to meet expectations, with key players unable to take them back to the finals in 2017. Still one of the best supported teams in the league however with an average home attendance just shy of 40,000.
Gold Coast @ $51 -
You can’t underestimate the impact the loss of Jaeger O’Meara will have on the Suns. A dismal season and the likely sacking of coach Rodney Eade are probably the only things Gold Coast fans can count on.
Richmond @ $51 -
Richmond Tigers are really just treading water. No hope of challenging for the top eight, a failure to attract new talent to the club and no sign of anything changing anytime soon.
North Melbourne @ $67 -
The Kangaroos delisted a bunch of players over the Summer and tough task awaits the new blood. Brad Scott will lead his side into a new era but this season will be one of bedding in and it’s quite likely they’ll end up with only around half-a-dozen wins.
Carlton @ $501 -
Carlton have the undesirable record of four wooden spoons since 2002 but should have enough in the locker to avoid a fifth in 2017, but only because the Brisbane Lions look so awful.
Brisbane Lions @ $501 -
The Lions will continue to struggle at this new level, remaining easy opponents for most of the league. Their new coach Chris Fagan will begin the slow, painstaking process of rebuilding the club one step at a time.
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