'Best 18': One player from every club

Here's the challenge: Pick a 'best 18' featuring only one player from every AFL club.

Sounds easy, right? Well for our AFL writers, it cause much head-scratching and endless debate.

How do you build your team? Pick a smattering of superstars and fit others around them as best you can? Perhaps choose a spine and go from there? Or even select the standout players from the weakest teams first, in the knowledge you'll have more guns available from the league's premier sides?

We were tasked with the challenge and here are the results - check our teams and vote on which is strongest!

Note - our players were chosen based on our expectations for the 2019 season, not by judging their careers as a whole.

Niall Seewang

B: Rory Laird (Adel), Alex Rance (Rich), Neville Jetta (Melb)
HB: Zach Tuohy (Geel), Jeremy McGovern (WC), Lachie Whitfield (GWS)
C: Steele Sidebottom (Coll), Jack Steven (St K), Nat Fyfe (Fre)
HF: Jack Gunston (Haw), Lance Franklin (Syd), Dayne Zorko (Bris)
F: Robbie Gray (Port), Ben Brown (NM), Devon Smith (Ess)
R: Jarrod Witts (GC), Patrick Cripps (Carl), Marcus Bontempelli (WB)

My strategy when picking this team was to start from the worst clubs and go from there as I knew the best sides in the AFL have so much depth to choose from.

This unfortunately led me to choose Jarrod Witts as my ruckman, certainly the weakest link in this hypothetical outfit. Witts is a solid operator but he's several rungs below the premier big men in the league such as Max Gawn and Brodie Grundy. But I'd rather have Witts in there as opposed to missing out on a star midfielder if I selected David Swallow from the Suns, for example.

Patrick Cripps and Jack Steven were head and shoulders above their teams' second-best midfielders, so they slotted into the 18, and from there I looked at building the best spine possible. I'm pretty happy to have Alex Rance, Jeremy McGovern, Lance Franklin and Ben Brown to build around.

I like the balance of my talls, mediums and smalls, and the midfield power is eye-catching to say the least.

I also wanted to select a team that would mimic one picked to actually play, hence my perhaps surprising choice of unheralded small defender Neville Jetta out of Melbourne's star-studded squad.

Jake Michaels

B: Rory Laird (Adel), Harris Andrews (Bris), Dane Rampe (Syd)
HB: Adam Saad (Ess), Phil Davis (GWS), Sam Docherty (Carl)
C: Jack Macrae (WB), Shaun Higgins (NM), Steele Sidebottom (Coll)
HF: Robbie Gray (Port), Jack Riewoldt (Rich) Alex Sexton (GC)
F: Luke Breust (Haw), Josh Kennedy (WC), Jade Gresham (St K)
R: Max Gawn (Melb), Patrick Dangerfield (Geel), Nat Fyfe (Fre)

I think the key to success here is to select defenders, or at least the majority of them, first up. There's so many quality midfielders and forwards in the competition that you're likely better served to take a specialist defender right off the bat and that add in the rest afterwards.

For example, when looking at Sydney, many would be quick to pencil in Lance Franklin but Dane Rampe's value in defence is arguably more important. The same could be said by my selection of Sam Docherty over Patrick Cripps at Carlton. I feel either way, you are likely to end up with A-grade midfielders and forwards but only by selecting defenders first do you guarantee quality in the backline.

This strategy proves to have merit given my forward line boasts the reigning Coleman medallist Jack Riewoldt and the game's best small forward Luke Breust. In the midfield, the elite duo of Patrick Dangerfield and Nat Fyfe will work off Max Gawn -- the AFL's No. 1 ruckman -- while the wings boast star ball-winning ability and running power in Jack Macrae and Steele Sidebottom.

Nevertheless, it was an extremely difficult task and the only lock from the beginning was Fremantle skipper Fyfe who is a class above his teammates. For the other 17 clubs, this proved quite the challenge.

Matt Walsh

B: Rory Laird (Adel), Harris Andrews (Bris), Tom Stewart (Geel)
HB: Adam Saad (Ess), Alex Rance (Rich), Sam Docherty (Carl)
C: Jack Macrae (WB), Nat Fyfe (Frem), Isaac Heeney (Syd)
HF: Jade Gresham (St K), Josh Kennedy (WCE), Luke Breust (Haw)
F: Jordan de Goey (Coll), Ben Brown (NM), Alex Sexton (GC)
R: Max Gawn (Melb), Josh Kelly (GWS), Ollie Wines (Port)

I've gone down the path of choosing the best flankers and pockets before choosing the easier, 'sexier' positions. That way, you can cram in talented names such as Luke Breust, Jordan de Goey, Sam Docherty and Tom Stewart while still accumulating A-grade midfielders from other clubs.

As a result, my 18 is crammed with talent at every position, and while my colleagues bemoaned the options at weaker clubs such as Gold Coast and St Kilda, Alex Sexton had a remarkably consistent 2018 and Jade Gresham is just about ready to explode onto the scene.

The spine, too, is incredibly strong, headlined by Ben Brown and Josh Kennedy up forward, and anchored by Harris Andrews and Alex Rance in the backline. While I prioritised other positions over the midfield, the starting centre bounce unit of Gawn, Fyfe, Kelly and Wines is still most impressive and ably assisted on the wings by Jack Macrae and Isaac Heeney.