Our AFL experts Niall Seewang, Jake Michaels and Matt Walsh dissect all of the main talking points ahead of Round 20.
Which team is currently the worst in Victoria?
NS: Looking at the past five weeks, it's almost a dead heat between Collingwood and Melbourne, who are both 1-4 and dreadfully out of form. That's crazy considering the expectations of both clubs heading into this season. At least for the Pies' sake, they banked a stack of wins early in the season which can't be said of the dismal Demons, so I'd say Melbourne are the worst at the moment.
JM: I know the Pies are on struggle street right now but you can't say they're the worst in Victoria - that title has to go to the Demons. Not only are they the lowest ranked Victorian side on the ladder, but some of their performances this year have been utterly insipid. I don't think I've ever seen a team fall so far in the space of 12 months and I really don't know what to expect in 2020.
MW: If you're looking at a form ladder from over the past five weeks, it has to be Collingwood! They've gone 1-4 in their last five matches and have a woeful percentage of just over 70 - which would the second worst in the league only to Gold Coast. Sure, the Pies are still sixth on the ladder with everything to play for -- and injuries have played a massive role in their late-season tumble - but you can't deny they're the worst performing team in Victoria right now.
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What is Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti worth?
NS: He's such a hard one to place because the gap between his best and worst is so vast. Contractually -- with the AFL average wage a tick under $400,000 -- I'd say he'd be worth about $550,000 annually. If he did seek a trade from Essendon, having so far put off contract talks, I'd imagine he'd be worth an early second round pick. At 26, he still has plenty of good footy left so the Dons should find a way to satisfy his demands and lock him in.
JM: He's not the most consistent player going around, but there's no denying his X-factor and ability to win games off his own boot (sorry, North). If I was AMT, I wouldn't be settling for anything under $500,000 and I expect there would be a few clubs willing to part with that kind of cash in exchange for his services. In terms of a trade, surely he's worth an early second round pick.
MW: It's a curious question considering he's putting contract talks on hold until the end of the season, but his form can be up and down. Painted as the Bombers' barometer at times, McDonald-Tipungwuti can be a dangerous match-winner one week, but unsighted the next. For a team in need of a dynamic forward presence, why wouldn't you offer him $600,000? In terms of a trade, a pick around 20-25 would be on the mark.
Will Carlton play finals in 2020?
NS: These words may come back to haunt me but I think they will. Even when they were struggling under Brendon Bolton, you could see the building blocks in place and now David Teague has them playing with freedom and confidence. That will give them so much belief heading into next year, plus they'll be boosted by the additions of two of their finest players in Sam Docherty and Charlie Curnow -- and possibly a big-name trade target which has been rumoured.
JM: As much as I'd love to say yes, I still think the Blues are a few years away from being consistent over the course of the season. Let's remember, Carlton have not won more than seven games in a season since 2014 and we all know you need to be around the 12-13 mark to be a finals contender. Having said that, if Teague gets the full-time job next year, and he should, who knows!? Stranger things have certainly happened.
MW: If the 2019 season has started seven weeks ago, they might have been playing finals this year! This young side is playing an exciting, attacking brand of football, and with another preseason into the likes on McKay, Walsh, Weitering, Petrevski-Seton, they might have a mature enough (and talented enough) list to make finals. You probably wouldn't have said that two months ago, and therefore credit does need to go to Teague, who is unleashing this squad's potential.
Which South Australian club is in the most strife?
NS: I think the reactions to both teams' losses at the weekend have been over the top - the Crows and Power sit eighth and ninth on the ladder and a bunch of teams below them would love to be sitting where they do! The Power though are in a better spot, having stripped their list back and injected some top-end talent last year and the Crows should follow suit this offseason to ensure they don't fall off the proverbial cliff.
JM: It has to be the Crows. They might play finals this year, which seems crazy, but things have really gone backwards at a rapid rate since their run to the Grand Final in 2017. Don Pyke's side is the oldest in the competition and it's clear that their premiership window has well and truly closed. The Power may be horribly inconsistent, but at least they have a plethora of young talent coming through that should hold the club in good stead going forward.
MW: I think in terms of list, Adelaide are in bigger strife than Port, but the Power's off-field dramas threaten to, ironically, tear the place apart. Much like what happened at St Kilda (and we all know how that panned out), chairman David Koch set unrealistic expectations of Ken Hinkley and the list at his disposal; the Power probably won't make finals and that's okay - they're blooding youth and the list is fine. This old-school, SANFL Magpies 'success is expected' attitude can't remain... the game has changed.