The Brownlow Lowdown Preseason Buzz part 2
Welcome to The Brownlow Lowdown pre-season thoughts and musings part 2! This week I’ll be looking at your team’s main contenders in season 2020 and some value bets from each team. For the purpose of this exercise I’ll be using one bookie, Play Up (sign up here), but be sure to look around for the best odds available to maximise value.
Adelaide Crows– Adelaide is a tough one to pick as they tend to share the votes around, after a dismal season in 2019 and with a new coach in charge we might see some positional changes at the club, including talk of Tex Walker playing on a wing. My tip is for Sloane @ $67 to have a bounce back year in the midfield, but both Crouch (Matt @ $81 and Brad @ $101) brothers, Gibbs @ $251 and Laird @ $151 could easily put their hand up. The Crows play their first 3 games at home, someone from the Crows will jump out of the blocks, the question is who, if you can pick the right guy their odds might shorten real quick and by round 4 you could be looking at a small cash out profit.
Brisbane Lions– Neale finished equal 3rdin Brownlow betting last year. I bet on him before the season started at $51 and cashed that out near round 18 and took the money and ran. Unfortunately we don’t get those starting odds this year with Neale being 6thfavourite at $10. He will lead the Lions in voting this year, however I don’t think that is great value and don’t see him improving on last year with the Lions tougher schedule than last season and the emergence of the Lions youth brigade. Ellis-Yolman has been added to the Lions midfield aswell and he will take away some of Neale’s contested possession numbers. I may take a punt on Neale though if his odds blow out early in the season. Lyons @ $251 and Zorko @ $151 are at crazy high odds so keep an eye on them as well.
Collingwood Magpies– Another tough one to pick with so much quality in Grundy @ $21, Pendlebury @ $67, Treloar @ $34, Sidebottom @ $41, Adams @ $151 and De Goey @ $101. All have their issues when coming to Brownlow betting, as good as Grundy is he’s a ruckman and until a ruckman wins I wouldn’t be backing any, Pendlebury keeps on going, but his peak has passed, Treloar and Adams haven’t really every had a clear run at it due to injuries, both are very capable if they can stay on the park, Sidebottom came close a few years ago which I feel was a bit of an anomaly, and De Goey has all the making’s of superstardom, but his ability in front of goal has limited his chances in the midfield. I think Treloar is my best pick for the Pies, but I’d watch closely to see if De Goey can get consistent minutes in the middle.
Essendon Bombers– Zach Merrett @ $51, Dylan Shiel @ $67 and Devon Smith @ $251 are the only ones with half a chance, I wouldn’t be backing any of these guys unless it looks like the Bombers could have a winning season. Merrett if I had to pick.
GWS Giants– This team is stacked and their players have the ability to rack up votes, however they’ve all either had injury problems or have been suspended (looking at you Toby Greene) so have never been in the mix to win the medal. Out of their talented line-up, Josh Kelly is the one for me who has the ability to win that medal, he just needs to stay injury free and at $34 you could do worse. The other boys with a chance are Whitfield @ $26, Coniglio @ $26, and Taranto @ $67. Taranto has been the least injury prone out of the lot and had a breakout season last year, but I feel his superstar teammates will most likely gather the votes. One for the future is Jacob Hopper @ $501, still a bit behind in the GWS midfield pecking order, but has all the assets of a Brownlow medallist I believe.
Gold Coast Suns– The Suns have barely bothered the voters over the past few years ever since Gary Ablett Jnr left. I think they will look better this year, but it will be by committee and I don’t see anyone standing out. This team has always been one of the toughest to pick in terms of team vote winner, but if I had a gun to my head and had to pick a player I’d pick new recruit Hugh Greenwood @ $501…no Suns player is paying less than $501 to win the Brownlow, that about says it all.
Melbourne Demons– This is where my first Brownlow smoky comes into play. The Demons were a force in 2018 only to come crashing down in 2019. If they can regain some sort of form then my pick here is Clayton Oliver @ $51. Oliver is under the umpires noses constantly getting his hands dirty, but it will come down to Melbourne pushing for finals. Oliver is worth a small bet in my opinion like Neale last season. Gawn @ $34 is arguably the 2ndbest ruckman in the league behind Grundy and polls reasonably well, but again it’s tough out their for a ruckman when it comes to the Brownlow.
North Melbourne Kangaroos– Another tough one as North has never gotten that superstar that they crave. With no standout, their votes tend to go towards whoever was best on the day in their wins, with Cunnington @ $67 and Higgins @ $81 usually sharing the votes between them and Ziebell @ $251 and Brown @ $251 sneaking some in here and there. With no confidence here at all, I’ll take Higgins to get the most votes for the Roos, he’s at $81 for the medal and I don’t condone this!
Port Adelaide Power– Like North Melbourne, Port tend to share the votes around whether it’s Westhoff @ $251 on the wing, Rockliff @ $101 racking up 40 touches, or Robbie Gray @ $101 kicking 5 goals. If I was confident in Gray not being stuck at forward for chunks then he’d be another one of my smokeys @ $101, however I have no confidence in that at all considering how well Gray plays in front of goals. Port aren’t in my calculations for the medal in 2020.
St Kilda Saints– The Saints have made some good moves in the off season and we saw an improvement in their style of play with the coaching change. This is also another team that spreads the voting love with Billings @ $101 and Ross @ $101 being their 2 standout guys to gather votes. They’ve added Bradley Hill @ $151 to their stocks making it once again difficult to predict who will be their leading vote getter. I’m tipping Ross to be leading the votes come seasons end and he is @ $101. My smokey to breakout for the Saints this year is Jade Gresham @ $151 who I believe will a full time midfielder.
Sydney Swans– Swans once had arguably the best midfield in the comp and they’re players were always in the mix for the medal, however I fell they sit in that space where they are rebuilding, but still feel they can challenge for finals, a space that I don’t think exists in modern AFL football. Heeney @ $151 has threatened to break out for some time now, however with consistent injuries to Buddy Franklin @ $101 has seen Heeney thrown forward more often than not. I feel this trend will continue till the Swans can be confident on a forward line that doesn’t include Heeney. I’ll head to the midfield for my vote leader in Luke Parker and @ $101 to win the medal with no confidence whatsoever. Lloyd at $251 is fantastic value as he has the ability to rack up the disposals very quickly and is their go to guy in the backline, however as said above, I don’t think they will win enough games or have a player dominant enough in losses to challenge for the medal.
West Coast Eagles– With the off season addition of Tim Kelly @ $15, West Coast arguably have the best midfield in the competition. I’ve heard a lot of comments over the years through following the Brownlow that teams with such a talented midfield can’t win the medal because they are stealing the votes off each other, this is true in some cases, but I don’t believe it’s the be all and end all. The Brisbane Lions dominant midfield had 3 winners in Voss, Black and Akermanis, with Voss and Black consistently polling high year in year out. The West Coast Eagles in the mid 2000’s saw Cousins and Judd win in back to back years with Kerr always lurking in the shadows just behind them in votes. So I think a winner can come from this stacked midfield, the question is who that person is as they all have the ability. Both Shuey and Gaff are @ $41 and tend to poll very well, but if I had to choose I would lean towards Yeo @ $41 as I feel he has the ability to impact the score board the most and gets contested possession.
Western Bulldogs– My other smoky along with Oliver comes from the Dogs, is it Bontempelli @ $21 or 2019 breakout player Dunkley @ $51? No, my pick is Jack Macrae @ $34. The first half of last season saw Macrae thrown forward on regular occasions reducing his ability to do what he does best, find the ball. It took the coaching staff till the second half of the year to realise the error of their ways and put Jack where the ball is…at all times. In my opinion he is as big a ball magnet as Tom Mitchell at his best. He’s worth an early season bet, because I can only see his odds getting shorter as the season progresses.
Well there you have it, my run down of all the teams heading into the 2020 AFL season. After each round I will update my votes across the team pages and on the leader board, along with a blog recapping the round gone. Use my resources as you see fit, it’s all a bit of fun, but also something I enjoy doing in my spare time. Through out the season if any players catch my eye from standout games or role changes I will incorporate that info into my weekly blogs. Looking forward to the ride and will catch you again for the The Brownlow Lowdown post round 1.