Comprehensive Year-End Review – Australian Football – Part Two

       With the home-and-away season, the finals series, and the trade period all completed, it’s time to do not only a review of each club’s 2018 season (complete with expectation comparisons), but the expectations for the coming 2019 campaign. We’ll be looking at the meta-results for both team and players, as collected from ELO-Following Football’s wide range of sources. [These are being published simultaneously in The Roar.]

Today, the Collingwood Magpies.

Back in 2017…

The team finished 13th with a home-and-away record of 9-12-1, with a percentage of just under 100% and a prolonged death-watch for its coach, Nathan Buckley, that ended with a sigh and resignation to the fact that they didn’t feel they could hire anyone better.

The expectations for the team…

Were that they’d be searching for a new head man right now. Seriously, we here at ELO-Following Football may have been the only ones who believed they’d make finals this year.

Coming into the season, the players who were considered to be in the top 50 in the league by the AFLPA and-or The Roar…

Were surprisingly few: Scott Pendlebury (top ten), Steele Sidebottom, and Adam Treloar.

In 2018, the team finished…

Within a goal of the title. (You probably already knew that.) They landed in third place at the end of August with a record of 15-7, and a percentage slightly above Hawthorn’s (which only meant that their defeat of Richmond was a death knell in the third round and not a wound in the first) of 120.4%. They lost a thriller in Perth to the Eagles in the QF, destroyed the Giants in the semi, held Mason Cox’s coming out party in the second quarter of their destruction of the minor premiers, and scored the first five goals en route to what could have been an AFL title. As with any close game, there were reasons to believe that they were robbed (mostly in the process of the creation of Dom Sheed’s outstanding final goal), but as Buckley and any other good coach would say, they could have prevented that from being an issue by scoring a few more times.

It’s been…

It’s been about a month since the Grand Final, and it still stings, doesn’t it, Magpie fans?

It’s been five years since their last finals appearance, back in 2013, with four mediocre slighty-below-average seasons between that year and this one that just finished. But it seemed like forever to Magpie faithful, who hadn’t gone five years without finals since the turn of the century.

It’s been eight years since that magical re-run of a Saturday, when they defeated St. Kilda in the last take-two Grand Final in history (presumably).

It’s been sixteen seasons since coach Buckley last played in a Grand Final, which he did in both 2002-3, both losses to the Brisbane Lions (although he played admirably in both, gathering 56 disposals between the two games). Can you understand his angst about losing his first as a coach?

It’s been 89 years since the only undefeated regular season in AFL/VFL history, pulled off by the 1929 Collingwood Magpies. They went 18-0, only to sleepwalk through the semi-final and lose by 62 to Richmond (perhaps 2018 was revenge for that loss?), although they got their own revenge by defeating the Tigers in the Grand Final to finish the season 19-1 with the third of four consecutive titles, as well as the fourth of five straight minor premierships when they won 78 out of 90 regular season games from 1926-1930!

 

According to our patented “ELO-Following Football” rating system, the team started the season in the middle of the pack with a rating of 51.1 (where 50 is average, and the ratings at that moment ranged from Richmond’s 77.8 to Gold Coast’s 17.6). There were no dramatic swings in their rating, just as there weren’t any in their record: a nice jump after R4 (their 106-58 win at Adelaide) put them above fifty to stay; their stomping of the Demons’ six game winning streak in R12 solidified them above sixty, and they entered the finals at 63.5, fifth highest in the league. (They finished finals in fourth, behind Geelong, WC, and Melbourne, at 68.9, slightly above the Richmond team they dismantled on September 21.)

The other rating systems said similar if not as positive things: FMI never had them above sixth during the season, while the Wooden Finger ratings placed them in the top five after the Melbourne win and kept them there the rest of the year. US Footy actually had them third going into finals, behind expected premier Richmond and eventual premier West Coast.

ACROSS THE SPECTRUM game-by-game expectations

  • Final record: 15-7.
  • Betting Line expectations: 13-8-1. Perhaps it took a while for bettors to decide if the Magpies were for real? The Pies were 13-9 against the spread this season.
  • ELO-Following Football forecasts: 15-7.
  • com.au game predictions: 13-9.
  • The Roar predictions: Our folks thought the Magpies would go 13-8-1. Individual votes tallied to 77-44.
  • ”Pick-A-Winner” predictions: 5 to 6.5
  • The Age forecasters: 16-6, and the individual pundits totaled 170-94.
  • BetEasy “CrowdBet” percentages: The averages favored Collingwood just 13 times, with the percentages going 1221% win, 979% lose.

(My own game-by-game predictions pegged them at 16-6.)

 

What was their best game of the season?

We tried – I mean, really tried! – to make something else the “best”, but there’s no getting past that feeling of not only winning a prelim final, but to do so by utterly embarrassing the reigning premiers and prohibitive favorites, 97-58 (and it wasn’t that close). Brodie Grundy, Jordan deGoey, Steele Sidebottom, and the legend-in-the-making, Mason Cox, simply toyed with the team that most of us thought to be invincible on the MCG stage. The sight of the Oklahoma State University product, the former soccer and basketball player (not star, mind you), taking contested marks like a man among boys was amazing to watch, and puts the kind of pressure on him in 2019 that Tom Boyd has struggled to live up to so far.

(If you’re looking for an in-season game, R4’s win at Adelaide is a good one. It’s the first sign that this 2018 bunch might not be a mediocre team.)

Which game would they most like to erase from memory?

It was a really good season, and most Collingwood supporters would probably like to remember all 26 games, good and bad. But the first two matches are forgettable, mostly because they felt like the previous few years had: a R1 loss to bully-on-the-block Hawthorn by 34, and a R2 loss by 16 to the rich-kid-down-the-street Giants. After that, a chance to catch their footing and defeat hapless Carlton in R3, followed by that big upset in Adelaide the next week, and they were at 2-2 and climbing from then on. They never dipped below .500 again.

If we were to speak of the club in as many words as they had wins in 2018:

            “If everyone believes Cox a typical American – hard working, funny, larger-than-life – that’s okay with US!”

(If the joke has to be explained…the author’s an American, too. So, now you know…)

 

Meta-Player Of The Year Results

Over the course of the season, we gathered game-by-game naming of the outstanding players of the game or the week from fourteen different sources each round. These range from “Team of the Week” listings to more Brownlow-like “top players of the game” scenarios. Our tallies are mostly from external sources, while the team’s “Best & Fairest” was selected by the team’s coaches, so they never quite match up. But it’s still an interesting comparison.

            Regarding “Dominant”, “Prominent”, and “Notable” performances, those terms indicate games where 90%, 80%, or 70% of those fourteen sources recognized the player as outstanding in that week’s game. (This is the most “Brownlow-ish” we can get during the year!)

  1. BRODIE GRUNDY – 476 points (4th overall) [Third on the club in points during finals.]

            Best & Fairest finish: Equal first, for his first such medal. Received 17 Brownlow votes, second on the team (10th overall).

            Last year’s meta-PotY finish: Sixth (62nd overall), and fourth in 2016.

            Dom/Prom/Notable games: Five dominant games (R2, 4, 10, 19, and 22), four prominent games (R3, 16, 20, and 23), and two notable games (R11 and 15). That’s HALF his games!

All-Australian ruckman (I/c), ELO-FF top 22 and ruck/forward.

  1. Steele Sidebottom – 315 points (17th overall) [Second on the club in points during finals]

            Best & Fairest finish: Equal first, his second medal. Received 24 Brownlow votes, most on the team and second overall.

            Last year’s meta-PotY finish: Fifth (60th overall), third in 2016.

            Dom/Prom/Notable games: Four prominent games (in R3, 4, 14, and 23), and two notable games (R12 and 22).

All-Australian center, ELO-FF top 22. Gary Ayres AFLCA Award – Outstanding Player during finals.

  1. Scott Pendlebury – 290 points (24th overall)

            Best & Fairest finish: Third. Received 15 Brownlow votes, third on the team.

            Last year’s meta-PotY finish: First in both 2017 (17th overall) and 2016 (12th overall).

            Dom/Prom/Notable games: Two dominant games (R5 and 18), three prominent games (R9, 14, and 16), and three notable games (R15, 19, and 23).

All-Australian 40-man roster.

  1. Jordan deGoey – 258 points (30th overall) [Fourth on the club in points during finals.]

            Best & Fairest finish: Eighth. Received 12 Brownlow votes, fourth on the team.

            Last year’s meta-PotY finish: Seventh (150th overall).

            Dom/Prom/Notable games: Two dominant games (R12 and 18), three prominent games (R7, 9, and 16), and one notable game (R21).

All-Australian 40-man roster, ELO-FF First team I/c Forward.

  1. Tom Phillips – 191 points (59th overall)

            Best & Fairest finish: Sixth.

            Last year’s meta-PotY finish: 18th.

            Dom/Prom/Notable games: One dominant game, in R11, and one prominent game, in R10, back-to-back.

  1. Adam Treloar – 171 points (69th overall)

            Best & Fairest finish: not in top ten. Fifth in Brownlow votes received at Collingwood this year with eight.

            Last year’s meta-PotY finish: third (39th overall) and second in 2016 (18th overall).

            Dom/Prom/Notable games: Two dominant games (R5 and 9) and one prominent game (R4).

  1. Taylor Adams – 158 points (73rd overall) [First on club in points during finals.]

            Best & Fairest finish: Fifth, plus first in finals. Received six Brownlow votes, sixth most on the club.

            Last year’s meta-PotY finish: Second (26th overall), and sixth in 2016.

            Dom/Prom/Notable games: One dominant game, in R22, one prominent game, in R18, and one notable game, in R21.

  1. Jeremy Howe – 136 points (85th overall)

            Best & Fairest finish: Seventh.

            Last year’s meta-PotY finish: Fourth (52nd overall), and fifth in 2016.

            Dom/Prom/Notable games: One prominent game (R6) and one notable game (R2).

  1. Josh Thomas – 107 points (106th overall)

            Best & Fairest finish: Ninth.

            Last year’s meta-PotY finish: 26th.

            Dom/Prom/Notable games: Two prominent games, in R3 and R15.

  1. Jack Crisp – 86 points (145th overall)

            Best & Fairest finish: Fourth.

            Last year’s meta-PotY finish: 14th (13th in 2016).

            Dom/Prom/Notable games: none.

[Collingwood had eight top 100 players and 13 top 200 players in the 2018 ELO-FF meta-rankings. Averages would be 5½ and 11, respectively.]

Honorable Mentions

Mason Cox – 13th place (81 points), one dominant game (R12), All-American team. (Not roster – “team”. He’s IT – for now…)

Will Hoskin-Elliott – equal 11th place (85 points), one prominent game (R11).

Brayden Maynard – 14th place (48 points), 10th place in Best & Fairest voting.

Jaidyn Stephenson – equal 11th place (85 points), one prominent game (R4), 2018 NAB Rising Star Award.

 

Player movement during the trade period

  1. IN) Dayne Beams (back from “loan” to BR), Jordan Roughead (from WB).

GONE) Alex Fasolo (who wasn’t playing much anymore anyway, unfortunately).

Current list of draft picks) #41, 44, 51, 56, 57, 93. But they wouldn’t be likely to play any teenaged first or second rounders anyway, so it’s no real loss for this club not to have a high level draft day presence.

 

2019 Roster Highlights)

Defencemen: Jack Crisp, Lynden Dunn, Tyson Goldsack, Jeremy Howe, Tom Langdon, Brayden Maynard, Darcy Moore, Sam Murray, Matthew Scharenberg.

Midfielders: Taylor Adams, James Aish, Dayne Beams, Scott Pendlebury, Tom Phillips, Steele Sidebottom, Brayden Sier, Adam Treloar, Daniel Wells.

In the Ruck: Brodie Grundy, Jordan Roughead.

Forwards: Mason Cox, Ben Crocker, Jordan deGoey, Jamie Elliot, Will Hoskin-Elliott, Chris Mayne, Brody Mihocek, Ben Reid, Jaidyn Stephenson, Josh Thomas, Travis Varcoe.

 

FORECAST for the 2019 Collingwood Magpies:

            Here’s the situation: the most economically powerful club in the league has been revitalized in 2018, with not only veteran stars like Sidebottom and Pendlebury still playing at or near the top of their abilities but budding stars like Brodie Grundy, Jordan deGoey, Taylor Adams, Tom Phillips and, yes, even Mason Cox – that’s going to be a good team again next year. Add Dayne Beams and Jordan Roughead to that? They should slot right in where the holes already were. Then, add to that a chip on their shoulder after the painful loss on Grand Final day, coupled with the confidence from September that they CAN beat any team, any day, anywhere?

            Pencil the Magpies in for top four, easily. We think they’ll finish second next season.


 

Next, the Essendon Bombers.

Back in 2017…

The team finished seventh, having finally recovered from the scandal-which-must-not-be-named, with a home-and-away record of 12-10 and with a percentage of 107%.

The expectations for the team…

Were that they’d be playing finals again this season.

Coming into the season, the players who were considered to be in the top 50 in the league by the AFLPA and-or The Roar…

Included Joe Daniher (remember him?), Michael Hurley, and Zach Merrett (all top thirty), plus Dyson Heppell.

In 2018, the team finished…

With a flourish after starting 2-6, that R8 loss to Carlton universally considered the season killer. They did make it back to last year’s record of 12-10, strangely enough, but in 2018 that was one game short of making it into the top eight. Instead, with their 105%, they landed third among four “equals” at twelve wins, eleventh place overall, behind North and Port but ahead of the Crows.

It’s been…

It’s been two seasons since their player-deprived wooden spoon experience of 2016, when half their roster (basically the half on board in 2011) was banned by the WADA from playing that season as a punishment all of Australia thought was beyond the boards. It’s also been five years since the AFL punished the club by pulling them from finals for the same scandal; in essence, the Bombers lost two competitive seasons for (fill-in-the-blank) one man’s actions / a few rogue administrators / the poor judgment of the majority of the team. Regardless of your choice, it seems like overkill.

It’s been eighteen years since the greatest single season of my footy lifetime, the 24-1 Essendon Bombers, AFL champions of 2000. Scrunched in the middle of three straight minor premierships (Essendon was 56-10 in those three years), the millennial Bombers rolled over three AFL finalists by a collective 230 points, including a beatdown of third-place Melbourne by a “mere” sixty in the Grand Final. Including finals as well as the home-and-away season, no team has ever had a better record than those Bombers. (Collingwood did go 18-0 during the regular season back in 1929, but lost in the semis before winning the GF to finish 19-1 overall.)

 

According to our patented “ELO-Following Football” rating system, the team started the season just below the midpoint of 50, with a rating of 46.4, twelfth of the eighteen teams. As you might expect, the lowest rating (35.3) came after the R8 loss to Carlton that dropped them to 2-6, and each of the last five games created a new highest rating of the season, ending at 63.2 (seventh overall, above finalists Hawthorn and Sydney).

The other rating systems? Yeah… Wooden Finger said exactly the same thing; FMI started their string of “highest ratings” at R17, while US Footy and The Arc each had dips in the ratings over the last couple of games.

ACROSS THE SPECTRUM game-by-game expectations

  • Final record: 12-10.
  • Betting Line expectations: If the line-setters had been right, the Bombers would’ve been 10-11-1. Essendon did go 13-9 against the spread, however.
  • ELO-Following Football forecasts: We were no better here at Following Football, figuring on 8-13-1 once they proved themselves inferior to Carlton in week 8.
  • com.au game predictions: 6-16. Noticing a theme yet?
  • The Roar predictions: Better than most – 11-11, with the individual votes splitting 59-62.
  • ”Pick-A-Winner” predictions: 9-13.
  • The Age forecasters: 9-13, and the individual voters went 126-138.
  • BetEasy “CrowdBet” percentages: They expected 10-12. Percentage-wise, it added up to 987% wins, 1213% lose.

(My own game-by-game predictions pegged them at 7 and 15, so I can hardly throw stones.)

 

Which game would they most like to erase from memory?

The easiest call of the whole series of articles: Round eight, at the MCG.

Carlton 91, Essendon 78. First Carlton win of the season.

Bombers drop to 2-6, season in tatters, calls for heads to roll.

What was their best game of the season?

Therefore, the R9 game against Geelong was the cry of a prisoner being set free from its bondage. As Marc McGowan put it in the recap on the company website, This was what Essendon’s shiny new 2018 model was supposed to look like.” They led nine goals to two at the half, 71-23 at three quarters, and eased into a 34-point victory when the oddsmakers had called for a 31-point loss. It must’ve felt incredibly good in that locker room, especially considering they were still just a 3-6 team.

If we were to speak of the club in as many words as they had wins in 2018:

“Finally! A disappointing season that can’t be blamed on the drug scandal!”

 

Meta-Player Of The Year Results

Over the course of the season, we gathered game-by-game naming of the outstanding players of the game or the week from fourteen different sources each round. These range from “Team of the Week” listings to more Brownlow-like “top players of the game” scenarios. Our tallies are mostly from external sources, while the team’s “Best & Fairest” was selected by the team’s coaches, so they never quite match up. But it’s still an interesting comparison.

            Regarding “Dominant”, “Prominent”, and “Notable” performances, those terms indicate games where 90%, 80%, or 70% of those fourteen sources recognized the player as outstanding in that week’s game. (This is the most “Brownlow-ish” we can get during the year!)

  1. DYSON HEPPELL – 261 points (29th overall)

Best & Fairest finish: second. Received 13 Brownlow votes, most on the club.

Last year’s meta-PotY finish: fourth (46th overall)

Dom/Prom/Notable games: Three prominent games (R15, 17, and 19) and two notable games (R14 and 21).

  1. Devon Smith – 241 points (39th overall)

Best & Fairest finish: first (in his first year at Essendon). Received 11 Brownlow votes, second most on the team.

Last year’s meta-PotY finish: 19th at GWS.

Dom/Prom/Notable games: One dominant game (R14), two prominent games (R10 and 18), and two notable games (R22-23).

            All-Australian 40-man roster.

  1. Zach Merrett – 231 points (45th overall)

Best & Fairest finish: third. Third here, third there, third most Brownlow votes on the team with ten.

Last year’s meta-PotY finish: first in both 2017 (seventh overall) and 2016 (33rd).

Dom/Prom/Notable games: One dominant game (R9), three prominent games (R12, 15, and 21), and two notable games (R16 and 19).

  1. Michael Hurley – 151 points (75th overall)

Best & Fairest finish: seventh. Received the fourth highest number of Brownlow votes on the team, with seven.

Last year’s meta-PotY finish: third (32nd overall)

Dom/Prom/Notable games: One prominent game (R4) and one notable game (R17).

  1. Cale Hooker – 113 points (101st overall)

Best & Fairest finish: eighth

Last year’s meta-PotY finish: ninth (107th overall)

Dom/Prom/Notable games: One dominant game, in R9.

  1. David Zaharakis – 108 points (105th overall)

Best & Fairest finish: not in top ten, although he did receive the fifth highest number of Brownlow votes with six.

Last year’s meta-PotY finish: fifth (60th overall), second in 2016.

Dom/Prom/Notable games: One prominent game, in R1.

  1. Orazio Fantasia – 104 points (111th overall)

Best & Fairest finish: Outstanding clubman

Last year’s meta-PotY finish: sixth (74th overall)

Dom/Prom/Notable games: Two dominant games (R15 and 18).

  1. Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti – 92 points (124th overall)

Best & Fairest finish: fifth

Last year’s meta-PotY finish: eighth (100th overall), sixth in 2016

Dom/Prom/Notable games: One dominant game, in R21.

  1. Jake Stringer – 91 points (129th overall)

Best & Fairest finish: not in top ten

Last year’s meta-PotY finish: ninth for Footscray

Dom/Prom/Notable games: none

  1. Adam Saad – 90 points (131st overall)

Best & Fairest finish: fourth

Last year’s meta-PotY finish: thirteenth

Dom/Prom/Notable games: One notable game in R14.

 

[Essendon had four top 100 players and 13 top 200 players in the 2018 ELO-FF meta-rankings. Averages would be 5½ and 11, respectively.]

Honorable Mentions

Tom Bellchambers – equal 12th place (77 points), sixth in Best & Fairest voting

Aaron Francis – 15th place (47 points), one notable game in R23.

Brendan Goddard – 11th place (78 points), 10th in Best & Fairest voting

Connor McKenna – 16th place (46 points), ninth in Best & Fairest voting, one notable game (in R21).

David Myers – equal 12th place (77 points), two notable games (in R15 and 21).

 

Player movement during the trade period

  1. IN) Dylan Shiel (from GWS, despite the last-minute concerns)

GONE) Travis Colyer

Current list of draft picks) #34, 66, 84. A risk.

 

2019 Roster Highlights)

Defencemen: Patrick Ambrose, Mark Baguley, Matt Dea, Aaron Francis, Martin Gleeson, Michael Hartley, Cale Hooker, Michael Hurley, Connor McKenna, David Myers, Adam Saad

Midfielders: Matt Guelfi, Dyson Heppell, Kyle Langford, Andrew McGrath, Zach Merrett, Darcy Parrish, Dylan Shiel, David Zaharakis

In the Ruck: Tom Bellchambers

Forwards: Mitch Brown, Joe Daniher, Orazio Fantasia, Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, Shaun McKernan, Devon Smith, James Stewart, Jake Stringer

 

FORECAST for the 2019 Essendon Bombers:

It never quite felt like the 2018 Dons were complete. They finished the season 10-4, and the consensus was that they were definitely one of the eight best teams at the end of the season. Will they be one of the eight best at the start of the 2019 season? Hard to know. Dylan Shiel is going to be a HUGE addition for them, and the easiest thing to do is to pencil Essendon in for a seventh place finish in 2019, where they were last year. However, there are eight other clubs that are equally reasonable (in our estimation) to make finals next year, and we see the Bombers in the four-team pack from places six through nine with Sydney, Brisbane, and Adelaide. For now, we’re placing Essendon ninth next year¸ but we won’t be surprised if they do make finals. (In our minds, they’ve got about a 75% chance to do so!)


 

Finally today – the Fremantle Dockers.

Back in 2017… the team finished in 14th place, with a home-and-away record of 8-14 and a percentage of just 74%.

The expectations for the team… were for about the same, although we at “Following Football” had them making finals in 2018. The average of all the sites we examined put them back in fourteenth again this year, which turned out to be prescient, but the range was exceedingly wide – from last up to eighth.

Coming into the season, the players who were considered to be in the top 50 in the league by the AFLPA and-or The Roar included Nat Fyfe (top five), Bradley Hill, and Nathan Wilson.

In 2018, the team finished with the same record of 8-14, the same placement in 14th, and only a very slightly different percentage of 76%.

 

It’s been three, going on four years since that glorious 2015 season when the Dockers finished on top of the ladder with 17 wins, two more in the finals, and a heart-breaking but convincing loss to the dynastic Hawthorn team set on winning its third straight GF. Fremantle hasn’t played in September since.

It’s been nine seasons since the 2008 and 2009 Dockers teams also finished 14th in back-to-back years. The next season, they jumped up to sixth place. Can it happen again?

 

According to our patented “ELO-Following Football” rating system, the team started the season second from the bottom, at 25.7, with only the Suns below them. (50 is average, with most ratings falling within thirty or forty points of that number.) The high point in the season, rating-wise, was still sub-par, at 38.6 following their R13 demolition of Carlton. Coincidentally, that was the last full game Nat Fyfe played before his injury, and by the time he returned in August, they were back into the mid-20s, ending in 16th place at 20.1 after bottoming out against Geelong.

The other rating systems said very much the same thing: All four of them started the Dockers around the fourteenth place they’d ended 2017 in; all of them moved up slightly while Fyfe was still an MVP candidate; and all of them plummeted down to 16th, at the bottom of the still-somewhat-competitive teams (which, arguably, the Blues and Suns weren’t at season’s end).

ACROSS THE SPECTRUM game-by-game expectations

*Final record) 8-14.

*Betting Line expectations) 7-15.

*ELO-Following Football forecasts) Our ratings only forecast four victories.

*AFL.com.au game predictions) 6-16.

*The Roar predictions) 5-16-1, with a breakdown of 40-81 among the individual forecasters.

*”Pick-A-Winner” predictions) 5.5 wins, 16.5 losses.

*The Age forecasters) 6-16, with a 71-193 accumulation of tipsters.

*BetEasy “CrowdBet” percentages) The crowd forecasts were for seven wins, 15 losses, with a net percentage of 751% for, 1449% against.

(My personal game-by-game predictions pegged them at 3-19, tied for the lowest of any team in the league – yes, ANY team. I freely confess I never believed in their success this season, especially without Sandilands and a healthy Nat Fyfe.)

 

 

What was their best game of the season? Round 17’s defeat of then top-four Port Adelaide 59-50 was hardly the most attractive game of footy played in the season, but in terms of their CV, it was most likely Fremantle’s best game of 2017. If you don’t mind losses as being a “best game”, you could easily include either the final game of the season against Collingwood, a team primed for its run to the GF, or the first Western Derby in Optus Stadium in R6, when they gave the Eagles arguably the toughest test of their ten-game winning streak.

Which game would they most like to erase from memory? Unless you’re a Cattery resident, you probably would prefer that the debacle of the last three quarters of R22’s Geelong/Fremantle game be erased from everyone’s memory. It bore little resemblance to a top-level game – after leading three goals to one at the end of one period, the Dockers never found the big sticks again, while Geelong scored an astonishing 23 consecutive goals to win by 133 points, the biggest margin of defeat in Fremantle’s AFL history.

(Until then, the 110-33 loss to Richmond in R7 was the leader in the clubhouse for this “honor”.)

If we were to speak of the club in as many words as they had wins in 2018:

“Well, at least the title resides nearby now…”

 

Meta-Player Of The Year Results

Over the course of the season, we gathered game-by-game naming of the outstanding players of the game or the week from fourteen different sources each round. These range from “Team of the Week” listings to more Brownlow-like “top players of the game” scenarios. Our tallies are mostly from external sources, while the team’s “Best & Fairest” was selected by the team’s coaches, so they never quite match up. But it’s still an interesting comparison.

            Regarding “Dominant”, “Prominent”, and “Notable” performances, those terms indicate games where 90%, 80%, or 70% of those fourteen sources recognized the player as outstanding in that week’s game. (This is the most “Brownlow-ish” we can get during the year!)

 

  1. NAT FYFE – 371 points (10th overall)

Best & Fairest finish: third. Despite missing seven games, received 16 Brownlow votes, most on the team.

Last year’s meta-PotY finish: first, 25th overall. In 2016, despite injuries, he was still second on the club and 100th overall.

Dom/Prom/Notable games: Four dominant games (in R5, 8, 10, and 13), and three prominent games (in R2, 3, and 7). Fyfe had 350 points after round 14 and led by 83 points over Tom Mitchell in second – and then his hamstring betrayed him.

            All-Australian; ELO-FF Top 22 and interchange midfielder

  1. Lachie Neale – 277 points (26th overall)

Best & Fairest finish: first (his second medal – now, he’ll have to strive for Brisbane’s B&F next year). Received 11 Brownlow votes, second most on the Dockers.

Last year’s meta-PotY finish: second (43rd overall), and first in 2016 (33rd overall).

Dom/Prom/Notable games: Two dominant games (in R13 and 21), one prominent game (R23), and one notable game (R12).

            All-Australian 40-man roster.

  1. David Mundy – 136 points (85th overall)

Best & Fairest finish: second. Received eight Brownlow votes, equal third on the club.

Last year’s meta-PotY finish: fifth (101st overall).

Dom/Prom/Notable games: One dominant game, in R21, and one notable game (R17).

  1. Michael Walters – 125 points (91st overall)

Best & Fairest finish: eighth. Received eight Brownlow votes, equal third on the club.

Last year’s meta-PotY finish: third in 2017 (56th overall) and 2016 (116th overall).

Dom/Prom/Notable games: One prominent game, in R10.

  1. Ed Langdon – 105 points (110th overall)

Best & Fairest finish: fourth.

Last year’s meta-PotY finish: 21st.

Dom/Prom/Notable games: One notable game, in R21.

  1. Nathan Wilson – 90 points (131st overall)

Best & Fairest finish: not in the top ten.

Last year’s meta-PotY finish: 13th at GWS.

Dom/Prom/Notable games: One notable game, R12.

  1. Aaron Sandilands – 82 points (155th overall)

Best & Fairest finish: Outstanding clubman. Received five Brownlow votes, fifth most on the club.

Last year’s meta-PotY finish: twelfth.

Dom/Prom/Notable games: One prominent game, in R8.

  1. Luke Ryan – 78 points (168th overall)

Best & Fairest finish: fifth.

Last year’s meta-PotY finish: tenth.

Dom/Prom/Notable games: One notable game, R17.

  1. Joel Hamling – 65 points (197th overall)

Best & Fairest finish: seventh

Last year’s meta-PotY finish: 11th.

Dom/Prom/Notable games: none.

  1. Alex Pearce – 62 points (203rd overall)

Best & Fairest finish: tenth.

Last year’s meta-PotY finish: 38th.

Dom/Prom/Notable games: None.

 

[Fremantle had four top 100 players and nine top 200 players in the 2018 ELO-FF meta-rankings. Averages would be 5½ and 11, respectively.]

Honorable Mentions

Connor Blakely – 13th place (49 points), one notable game in R13.

Stephen Hill – 14th place (44 points), ninth in Best & Fairest voting.

 

Player movement during the trade period

  1. IN) Travis Colyer (from ES), Reece Conca (from RI), Jesse Hogan (from ME), Rory Lobb (from GWS). Help from back end to front. The Ross has no excuse not to make progress this year.

GONE) Lachie Neale. Yes, that’s a big price to pay. If you’ve still got Nat Fyfe in the midfield, though, you should be able to overcome that loss.

Current list of draft picks) #14, 31, 43, 65, 81

 

2019 Roster Highlights)

Defencemen: Taylin Duman, Joel Hamling, Stephen Hill, Griffin Logue, Alex Pearce, Luke Ryan, Nathan Wilson.

Midfielders: Bailey Banfield, Connor Blakely, Andrew Brayshaw, Nat Fyfe, Bradley Hill, Ed Langdon, David Mundy.

In the Ruck: Aaron Sandilands, Rory Lobb.

Forwards: Hayden Ballentine, Adam Cerra, Brennan Cox, Stefan Giro, Jesse Hogan, Cam McCarthy, Ryan Nyhuis, Matt Taberner, Michael Walters.

Unknown but prayed for: Harley Bennell.

 

FORECAST for the 2019 Fremantle Dockers:

It’s hard to look at that incoming help and not think they’ll be better this coming year than last. But that’s what Port Adelaide thought last year. And that’s what Geelong thought bringing in Gazza this year. And that’s what the LA Lakers probably think bringing in LeBron this year – actually, that one’s probably going to come true. Not “playoffs” true, or at least not “significant playoffs” true, but “better than last year” true.

            And that’s this edition of the Fremantle Dockers. It seems like they should be close to making it back to finals – our bet is close in 2019, finals in 2020. We’re projecting them in 12th place this year, in a tight pack with GWS, Geelong, and North Melbourne for spots 10 through 13.

 

 

 

 

 

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