The Middle Six – Finals but not Premiership contention

Following the countdown from 18-13 in my AFL ladder predictions, here are the next six teams, all of whom should be pushing for a finals spot but who are unlikely to be too relevant in the final scheme of things.

If you missed the first article in this series, that's where I outlined the teams I thought that would finish 13th-last, you can read it here.

12. Gold Coast

Love the direction and there’s no denying the talent this young squad possesses. However, I still don’t think the absolute top end ability is actually there at this stage. Would they have a player considered a top 30 player in the comp? The likes of Rowell and Rankine are more than likely to get there in time, but until then, the timeline isn’t quite right to make a debut finals appearance.

11. Fremantle

Very similar to the Suns in that the young talent is undeniable – Brayshaw, Cerra and Serong were all excellent under big responsibility last season, coupled with Hayden Young and Liam Henry as other high draft picks.

Difference with the Dockers is that they do contain the top end superstars with Fyfe and Walters speaking for themselves. Would be my smoky to make the eight, $3.75 provides good value.

10. GWS

By far the most disappointing team in the league last season after a grand final appearance in 2019. Tipped by many to return to premiership contention, despite the losses of Cameron, Corr and Williams. Still, the class is there to do some damage and return to lofty heights. However, I waited all season for them to come right last season and they never did. For those still offering some faith, be ready to be burnt again.

9. Carlton

This has to be the season they return to the finals doesn’t it? Fantastic off-season with the inclusion of Saad and Williams, although the latter spoiled it a little by getting himself suspended for round one. Have all the tools to make the next step but at the end of the day it’s Carlton, success has alluded them in recent times. Over the past nineteen seasons, they’ve had a positive win/loss record just twice. Doesn’t fill you with much confidence does it?

8. Collingwood

Media narrative would tell you they had a disastrous off-season - the trade period was a nightmare and the entire racism saga led to the demise of Eddie McGuire. But how much will that actually play a role in this season’s performance? If you look at it from a top 22 perspective, last year’s finals team takes out Treloar and Stephenson whilst adding Howe and Sidebottom.

Probably have the worst forward line in the league, coupled with one of if not the best defence. Jordan De Goey seems like the barometer, if he replicates his pre-season form then they could push for top four, if he gets injured then they may drop a little. Ultimately difficult to remove them from the eight given they won a final last season with two of their top five players missing.

7. St Kilda

Another team on the rise who’ll be looking to press on from a positive 2020 season. They seem very solid across the ground with a super talented key forward in King, an impressive young ruckman in Marshall, and an underrated midfield jet in Steele. Yet my worry is that they don’t contain the necessary star power to take the next step. Prior to Steele’s inclusion on the bench last season, they hadn’t had an All-Australian selection since 2014 (Nick Riewoldt). Is there another individual player that will take themselves to All-Australian honours?

Next up, we'll look at the top 6 for season 2021!

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