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Preview Teams 2016

Added 26 March 2016 prior to game 3 (okay; this is cheating a bit, but the delay was caused due to doing the pre-season analysis more than anything else)

This is a very brief preview.

The final ladder may look like this
HAW
FREO
NMFC
GEEL

SYD
WCE
WBD
COLL

PORT
ADEL
RICH
GWS

GCS
MELB
STK
CAR

BRIS
ESS

The gap from 1 (HAW) to 12 (GWS) is very small this year at this stage; the Suns have some chance to play finals and the last 5 have virtually no hope.  Further explanations to appear soon

ADEL: They have followed the methodology of the Cats and Hawks in recent years; ie get rid of arguably the best player in the comp and then win the flag the following year; well, maybe not that high; but a genuine chance for the finals; Brad Crouch’s fitness will be critical; how they will go under the new coach is unknown, but they were great in the NAB series – especially away against Freo; the start is tough – with R11 the first time they are likely to be hot favourites (but may be favourites R9 away to the Suns and R10 at home to the Giants);  Ladder range: 5-12

BRIS: they have the youngest list in the AFL and are certs for the bottom 4; they had a rotten run with injuries last year and start this year without Dayne Beams and Justin Clarke; they have several players better off injury-wise, however, and that may be enough to keep them clear of the bottom of the ladder; The Lions play the Q Clash in R4 vs the Suns; other than that, their first game against a team not expected to be in the finals race comes in R9 (away to the Dees and they are likely to be outsiders that day); they might not start favourites until an away game vs the Bombers in R18; Ladder range: 16-18

CARL: if the AFL was a poker game, the Blues saw a pair of 2s and threw in their hand last year; they have correctly sacrificed a possible small improvement in 2016 for the next decade; the new coach seems to have settled in well and hasn’t yet lost his smile; Jacob Weitering looks like a worthy #1 pick; it will be a slow build, but should give the Blues fans a more positive season; the Blues are likely to start favourites for the first time in R6 vs the Bombers; they are likely to be 0-5 by then
Ladder range: 15-17

COLL: the Pies have recruited well but their key inclusions are all struggling – with Adam Treloar (who had osteitis pubis in the PS and will be better in 2017); James Aish (not in the best 22 yet, but is young) and Jeremy Howe (who flew high and was ko’d by a frisbee); they are on a build to be a top 4 team in 2017 and a flag hope in 2018; they also have Jamie Elliott + Matthew Scharenberg out for a long time; Travis Varcoe also ruined a great pre-season with a hammie just prior to R1; their first 5 games look promising – with tough games against the Swans and Tigers (but both of them have injury concerns); then likely wins over the Saints, Dees and Dons; Ladder range: 4-11

ESS: The 12 month suspension to 12 players means that the Dons are almost certain to finish last; they will need another cellar-dweller to have a long injury list in order to rise to 17th; they have 2 games in the first 6 against teams who finished low on the ladder in 2015 (Dees in R2 and then Blues in R6); the suspensions have unbalanced the team in terms of the alphabet; they have lost: Heppell, Dyson; Hibberd, Michael; Hocking, Heath; Hooker, Cale; Howlett, Ben & Hurley, Michael; enough said! quite a few of their top-up players have had an incomplete pre-season as well; pain for Bomber fans who will have to do it tough and hope that most of the 12 return in good touch in 2017 and that the #1 draft pick is a star; Ladder range: 17-18

FREO: the Dockers battled in the finals last year, but had their injury troubles – the main one being Nathan Fyfe playing with a big hobble; they look well placed to be a challenger again in 2016; they were the ones to take the risk and draft Harley Bennell; he won’t begin in the team due to injury, but he would be a huge help later if fit and fitting in well; he is the only highly ranked player to be injured as they begin the season; their start to the season is mixed; they have likely wins at home to the Suns (E2) and Blues away (R5); they play the Dogs away R1 in a 50/50 type contest and maybe catch the Eagles at the right time in R3 (with the Eagles having a lot of early injuries) and a tough away game vs the Roos in R4; Ladder range: 1-6

GEEL: no need for Patrick Dangerfield to leave Kardinia Park when he ended R23 for the Crows with the ball in his hands; his move to Geelong gives them the midfield power that they needed; they also picked up Lachie Henderson, Zac Smith and Scott Selwood; great recruiting to replace the retired premiership players; they have a good fixture with 2 games against each of Essendon and Brisbane; the problem is that they begin the year with Joel Selwood underdone; Mitch Clark, Scott Selwood and Billie Smedts a long way off playing and Jackson Thurlow gone for the season; Zac Smith finally gives them a fit and capable ruckman; if they can be reasonably fit by mid season, they are a chance for the flag; their start is mixed with likely wins against the Lions and Dons in R3&4 sandwiched in between tough games against the Hawks, Giants away (R1&2) and Port away in R5; Ladder range: 1-10 (extreme variance)

GCS: the Suns disappointed in 2015, but had a shocking run with injuries; trouble is that they already have Jaeger O’Meara and David Swallow out for extended periods; at least Gazza is back; the lack of O.Meara and Swallow for much of the season probably kills off their chance of playing finals this year; Jesse Lonergan was named as the player to step up to replace Harley Bennell; they have a generally friendly start to the season – with home games against the Dons, Blues and Cats (R1,3,5), with a tough road trip to play Freo in R2 and an away Q clash game vs the Lions in R4; they should be 4-1 after 5 rounds; Ladder range: 9-14

GWS: the finals window is opening, but may be one more season away perhaps; their one seasoned recruit is Steve Johnson, but they lose Adam Treloar and host of others; their improvement will / should come from within as the younger players develop; maybe they lack some quality in the mid age range; due to Jeremy Cameron’s suspension for R1-3, they begin the year with neither key forward from last year (with Cam McCarthy on indefinite leave); they early season is a bit challenging – with their R5 game vs the Saints the only game where they may be a clear favourite; their other games are Dees away (R1); Cats at Canberra R2, Swans away R3, Port in Canberra R4 and the Hawks at home R6; Ladder range: 8-13

HAW: the last and only time a team won 4 in a row was 1927-30 (Collingwood); a lot has changed since then; since 1955 the Dees won three in a row then lost the GF in 1958; the Lions did the same 2001-03 and then got overrun in the Gf 2004 (albeit after travelling in weeks 3 & 4 of the finals); mixed news on the Hawks this year; they have lost Brian Lake and David “red vest specialist” Hale and traded Matt Suckling & Jed Anderson; their only in is Jack Fitzpatrick, but the improvement will come from their assembly line of players who have been in the system for several years – such as Jonathon Ceglar and James Sicily; despite lots of stories about the obstacles they have had to overcome in recent years, they actually were close to fully fit in most of the finals series; this year they begin with Jarryd Roughead out for a fair chunk of the season and Bradley Hill, Liam Shiels and Matt Spangher missing several weeks first up; they may, perhaps, win again, but they are no certs to even make the top 4 – with the above-mentioned injuries and a few ageing players in the line-up; they are likely to be favourites for the first 5 games (Cats, Eagles and Dogs in Melbourne, then the Saints in Tassie and Crows at the “G”, but would only be dead certs for the Saints game; Ladder range: 1-6

MELB: Are we there yet? that’s the question Dee fans are asking; the answer is” not quite; but the pre-season has given them some hope; the main improvement is coming from increased self-belief as they enter the last year of Paul Roos’ coaching tenure; they begin the year without top draft picks Angus Brayshaw and Christian Petracca, but both should be back early in the season; Chris Dawes may struggle to get back to his best as he battles yet another injury; and they still await Jack Terngove’s return;  They start the year with a winnable game against the Giants, then an easy one against Essendon & a game they should start favourites in for R6 against the Saints; sandwiched in between them are challenging games against the Roos, Pies and Tigers; finals are out of reach, but they are building nicely for the future; Ladder range: 11-15

NMFC: when you recruit Farren Ray as a rookie, you are in the premiership window; with an old list, they need to win it now or maybe other teams may go past them in 2017; they already have the team to win a GF, but they cannot afford to play catch-up as they did in 2015 when they were 6/6 at the break; the good news this time is that they have a pretty healthy list early on; their best “recruit” may be Daniel Wells who looks good again after hardly playing at all last year; they need to rack up the wins early as their draw is easier in the first part of the season than the later part; they have matches against the Saints Dons and Blues in R7-9; prior to that they have winnable but tricky away games vs the Lions and Suns (games that they have tended to lose in recent years) and games against the Crows at home, Dees in Tassie, Dockers at home and Dogs; this sort of fixture could see them at 8-1 by round 9; Ladder range: 1-7

PORT: Port looked likely to play finals on New Year’s Day, but they lost 2 players in Paddy Ryder and Angus Monfries (aka My Chips) for the year – without getting access to any top-up players; they do get Jared Polec back from an injury-riddled 2015; they also rolled the dice in recruiting Charlie Dixon (could be a star if his body holds up); they may have the right game to suit the 90 interchange cap this year; despite having a few injury early on, they top 22 all look fit to begin R1; their fixture looks okay early – with likely home wins vs Saints (R1) and Dons (R3); they have a Showdown in R2 and play the Giants at Canberra in R4 before hosting the Cats in R5; they have to wait until R6 until they play a team at the other team’s real home ground; they need to win 4 of these 5 in order to set themselves up for a finals tilt; Ladder range: 6-12