With the another AFL premiership season almost upon us, I'd thought I'd bring back the ever-so controversial Top 50 AFL players today on Bulldogs Centre. I loved doing it and it recieved a lot of feedback too, some positive, some negative. That is the beauty of putting together a top 50.
Like there was last year when I did two sets of top 50s - one pre-season and one post-season, I found it so hard to settle on a top 50, but I eventually did, with many apologies to players from every club.
For those wondering what I based the top 50 on, I've blended together past successes, along with 2016 form and projected 2017 form. There might be some bias here and there for some players, but I've tried to keep it as unbias as possible.
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Here we are. The top 10. It wasn't easy to settle on a top 10 - it never is.
In case you missed the any of the previous parts: Here is players 50-11:
50. Tim Membrey (St. Kilda)
49. Dale Morris (Western Bulldogs)
48. Jack Viney (Melbourne)
47. Easton Wood (Western Bulldogs)
46. Dayne Zorko (Brisbane Lions)
45. Zach Merrett (Essendon)
44. Sam Docherty (Carlton)
43. Jeremy Cameron (GWS)
42. Jack Ziebell (North Melbourne)
41. Patrick Cripps (Carlton)
40. Andrew Gaff (West Coast)
39. Luke Dahlhaus (Western Bulldogs)
38. Dayne Beams (Brisbane Lions)
37. Callan Ward (GWS)
36. Luke Shuey (West Coast)
35. Dyson Heppell (Essendon)
34. Robert Murphy (Western Bulldogs)
33. Rory Laird (Adelaide)
32. Michael Hurley (Essendon)
31. Dylan Shiel (GWS)
30. Daniel Talia (Adelaide)
29. Todd Goldstein (North Melbourne)
28. Jarryd Roughead (Hawthorn)
27. Cyril Rioli (Hawthorn)
26. Toby Greene (GWS)
25. Jack Steven (St. Kilda)
24. Heath Shaw (GWS)
23. Jeremy McGovern (West Coast)
22. Lachie Neale (Fremantle)
21. Dustin Martin (Richmond)
20. Adam Treloar (Collingwood)
19. Matthew Boyd (Western Bulldogs)
18. Dan Hannebery (Sydney)
17. Sam Mitchell (West Coast)
16. Robbie Gray (Port Adelaide)
15. Gary Ablett (Gold Coast)
14. Rory Sloane (Adelaide)
13. Max Gawn (Melbourne)
12. Joel Selwood (Geelong)
11. Tom Lynch (Gold Coast)
For full explanations, click the following links below:
So now let's get stuck into who I think are the top 10 ahead of season 2017.
10. Luke Parker (Sydney)
Career Games: 127
Career Goal: 103
Parker bounced back in 2016 after missing the entire finals campaign in 2015 due to injury and provided another solid season, averaging 27 disposals a match and kicked 25 goals to be awarded his first ever All-Australian selection. Parker plays a vital role in a star-studded Sydney midfield, as exemplified by his second-placing in the Brownlow medal last year. Not only has he got the ability to win at the coalface, he's got that knack to push down forward and kick a goal or two.
9. Eddie Betts – Adelaide
Career Games: 253
Career Goals: 479
Since crossing over to Adelaide from Carlton at the end of 2013, we've seen Eddie Betts evolve from a solid forward pocket who will give you 30-40 goals a season to a bona fide star. So much of a star is he that the Adelaide Oval have a pocket dedicated to him and all of his freakish goals. 51 goals in 2014, 63 goals in 2015 and 75 goals last year, and on top of all that, he's been Adelaide's leading goal-kicker in all three of those seasons. So go ahead and tell me Eddie's not a top-10 player.
8. Josh Kennedy - West Coast
Career Games: 188
Career Goals: 450
Kennedy will have his detractors due to the fact that he preys on the much weaker sides and disappears against the stronger sides, but the stats won't lie. Two consecutive Coleman medals in which he has logged 80 goals or more. The aim of the game is to kick more goals than the opposition right? Kennedy comes in and does the job with minimum fuss each week, kicking at least a goal in all 23 games the Eagles played in last season. It's hard to argue he's a top 10 player right now, can he be the next person to break the 100-goal barrier?
7. Scott Pendlebury – Collingwood
Career Games: 236
Career Goals: 152
Surely Scott Pendlebury would have to be amongst discussion for one of Collingwood's greatest-ever players. In the span of the last six years, Pendlebury has won five of the last six best and fairest awards at the Pies – his most recent coming last year, and with broken ribs mind you! He finds himself one award away from tying his coach Nathan Buckley's record of six and at 29, has every chance of not only tying it, but smashing the record. He's been consistently solid for years, averaging 28-29 possessions a year since 2011, which highlights how damn good he's been for Collingwood as they've ebbed and flowed since the Pies' last Grand Final appearance.
6. Alex Rance (Richmond)
Career Games: 150
Career Goals: 6
Many experts will say this man is miles ahead of the next best key defender, and I very much agree. Already a triple All-Australian and a best and fairest winner, Richmond were an absolute basketcase last season, and had it not been for the efforts of this man, the Tigers would've faced much severe floggings than what they were given. Not only can he lock down on direct opponents and win, but he also provides rebound out of defensive 50, take intercept marks and can find himself plenty of the ball, averaging just under 19 disposals a game last season.
5. Josh Kennedy – Sydney
Career Games: 183
Career Goals: 115
No matter how many times I think about it, I always keep finding myself at that familiar question: “How could Hawthorn let this man go?” Enhanced his reputation as one of the game's elite midfielders with a fantastic 2016 season, topped off with an equally-stunning finals series – his Grand Final in particular was incredible, he nearly carried the entire Swans team to the flag that day. Now captain ahead of 2017, it'll be interesting to see if the three-time Swans best and fairest can elevate his game even further.
4. Marcus Bontempelli - Western Bulldogs
Career Games: 63
Career Goals: 58
At 21 years of age and with just over 60 games of AFL under his belt, it's hard to believe that Marcus Bontempelli is already a premiership player, an All-Australian and a best and fairest winner. Yes he's that good, and the scariest thing about this guy is he's not through improving just yet. He's arguably the most important Bulldogs' player in the midfield with his ability to not only win from the inside, but he can push down forward and become a marking option too, kicking 26 goals last season. It's scary thinking that he's only going to get better.
3. Lance Franklin – Sydney
Career Games: 247
Career Goals: 787
He might be 30 years of age, but one would have to suggest that the Buddy train isn't going to slow down just yet. Last year, he bounced back from a mental illness issue that forced him to miss 2015 and more importantly, he looked as if he was enjoying his footy again. Franklin played every game in 2016 and kicked 81 goals for the year, resulting in a sixth All-Australian in his career. Only needs 13 goals to get to 800 goals for his career, I have no doubt he will be the next player to join an exclusive club – players to kick 1000 career goals in the AFL.
2. Patrick Dangerfield – Geelong
Career Games: 178
Career Goals: 187
After coming home from Adelaide at the end of 2015, Dangerfield put in a blinder of a season, averaging career-highs in disposals (31.7), marks (5.1) and inside 50s (8.1) as well as averaging a goal per game en route to his first Brownlow medal. The one aspect that needs work though is his kicking, both around the ground and his set shots, kicking 24.24 last year, but with Geelong's disappointing Preliminary Final loss to the Swans still fresh in the memory, there is no doubt that Dangerfield will be hell-bent in trying to get the Cats another flag, which means we could have an even better 2017 from him, and that's saying something.
1. Nathan Fyfe – Fremantle
Career Games: 117
Career Goals: 104
I know it's a little strange to give the number one to a bloke that only played five games last year due to a broken leg, but hear me out. Fyfe's 2015 was outstanding, taking home the Brownlow medal, All-Australian for the second-successive year and was named the AFLPA MVP for the second-straight year. Before he went down last year, Fyfe continued his great form, averaging 24 disposals a game and had nine goals to his name. His ability to be a dangerous threat down forward is probably what separated him from Dangerfield for the number one spot, but it could all change come round one, when the two will go head-to-head.
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