But which players (and coach) deserve to be in the final 22? Our experts have put their heads together to pick their team of the year.
A quick disclaimer: The selected 22 has been picked as though it would be lining up for a real game, rather than loading it up with A-grade midfielders at the expense of genuine forwards and defenders.
Have a read and have your say below!
Dylan Grimes (Richmond): With Alex Rance sidelined, Grimes has played a massive role in keeping the Tigers' defence functioning as well as ever. Able to negate talls and smalls and displaying crucial leadership qualities, Grimes has risen from criminally underrated to bonafide defensive general this season. Should be rewarded with an All-Australian guernsey after making the squad of 40 last year.
Harris Andrews (Brisbane): With his size (201cm, 100kg+), athleticism and intercept marking abilities, Andrews is the modern day prototype for an attacking key defender. The 22-year-old made the 40-man squad last season and should be locked in the 22 this year. He ranks first for spoils and one percenters across the league, and is fourth for intercept marks.
Shannon Hurn (West Coast): An elite interceptor and booming kick, Hurn strikes a brilliant balance between attack and defence. Raking fourth in kicks per game and eighth in rebound 50s, the veteran Eagle is an exceptional organiser and general of West Coast's backline.
🎙️ Should Tom Hawkins have been given a BIGGER suspension? 🤔— footytips (@footytips) September 17, 2019
🎙️ The Lions squandered an opportunity to jag a flag 🧐
🎙️ Should Matt de Boer go to Brodie Grundy? 🤷
Ep. 27 of the @ESPNAusNZ #AFL podcast.
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Daniel Rich (Brisbane): Long viewed as an unfulfilled talent, Rich is finally playing consistently elite football at 29 years of age. The Lion with the booming left boot is third in total kicks this season, second in metres gained and fourth in rebound 50s. He's also displaying leadership and intensity and is a key weapon in this Brisbane team that might produce a fairytale premiership.
Jeremy McGovern (West Coast): Narrowly edges North Melbourne's Robbie Tarrant as the second key defender in this team thanks to his intercept ability (No. 1 in the league; No. 2 for intercept marks). The 27-year-old's ability to beat an opponent, assist teammates and launch attacks is still second-to-none among the key defenders in the league, so much so that rivals have played defensive forwards on him this year to negate his influence.
Zac Williams (GWS): Often overlooked in the galaxy of GWS stars, Williams has become a key attacking weapon for the Giants at half-back. The 24-year-old can defend resolutely when needed but then launch rapid counter attacks, with Williams ranked sixth for kicks and seventh for metres gained per game. He also showed he can impact through the midfield when moved up the field late in the season.
Tim Kelly (Geelong): He may have slowed down in the back half of the season, but don't forget Kelly was the overwhelming Brownlow Medal favourite at the halfway mark of the year. The classy Cat averaged 25 disposals per game and has proven he can win the inside ball as well as outside ball. Not only that but Kelly knows how to hit the scoreboard, having kicked 18 goals this season.
Lachie Neale (Brisbane): There's absolutely no question Neale has been the recruit of the season. The former Dockers star has been a major factor in Brisbane's rise up the ladder having averaged 31 disposals, eight clearances and four tackles per game. He also led the competition in assisted metres gained, meaning he does the grunt work and sets up his teammates on the outside beautifully.
Jack Macrae (Western Bulldogs): One of the competition's best ball winners has had his best season to date. On 16 occasions this year Macrae racked up 30+ disposals and on 10 occasions he had 35+. But it's not just about his high possession numbers which have him in the team. Macrae averaged five tackles and five clearances per game this year, helping the Bulldogs to an unexpected finals berth.
Dayne Zorko (Brisbane): The Lions' skipper has had a wonderful season running in from the tip of the square and pinch-hitting in the midfield. In addition to averaging 22 touches a game, he kicked 22 goals in 2019 and was as influential as any Brisbane player - and that's saying something given the year they had.
Jeremy Cameron (GWS): Cameron was back to his best in 2019, kicking a career-high 67 goals (including nine in the final round) to seal his first Coleman Medal win. In addition to his stellar year in front of the big sticks, the GWS spearhead averaged career-high disposals and clearances. One of the league's most valuable players.
Patrick Dangerfield (Geelong): Dangerfield had another stellar year, kicking 25 goals and averaging career-best inside-50 numbers (six per game). And for those wondering why he's not in the midfield? According to Champion Data he spent 36 percent of his time forward, so we've started him on a flank so he can run riot.
Charlie Cameron (Brisbane): Cameron was the first picked in the forward line after an outstanding breakout year. After looking so promising last year before injuries struck, Cameron's 2019 makes for impressive reading; 54 goals (nearly double his previous best of 29) and a career best 37 marks inside 50. He's a handful for opposition players and a lock for our All-Australian forward pocket spot.
Tom Hawkins (Geelong): The very picture of consistency, Tom Hawkins kicked 50 goals in a season for the fourth straight year. Not only did he hit the scoreboard often in 2019, he was also remarkably accurate (dobbing 52.27 for the year), and also tallied 24 goal assists for the season (second in the league behind Harry Himmelberg).
Gary Ablett (Geelong): The Little Master may be 35, but he's ageing like Benjamin Button. Tallying 33 goals for the season -- his most since 2006 -- Ablett also had impact up the ground, averaging 20 touches and five inside-50s. Long may he reign.
Brodie Grundy (Collingwood): He elevated his ruck game in 2019 and finished the season as Champion Data's highest ranked player. But what makes Grundy so special is his ability to do more than just your average tap ruckman. This year he's averaging 21 disposals (13 contested), six clearances and four tackles per game.
Patrick Cripps (c) (Carlton): The inspirational Carlton co-captain has taken his game to even greater heights in 2019, averaging 28 disposals and eight clearances per outing. His leadership abilities are extraordinary and he's the obvious choice for captain of this team. Despite the Blues finishing 16th this season, few would be surprised to see Cripps actually win the Brownlow Medal. Just stop and think about that.
Nat Fyfe (Fremantle): Yet another Brownlow contender. Fyfe has been a colossus for the Dockers and may have actually just had a career best year, if you can believe that. He wins ball, sets up play and can go forward and dominate a one-on-one contest with his elite contested marking. He's the perfect player to complement this already stacked midfield.
Dustin Martin (Richmond): He started slowly but has come storming home like freight train - there's an argument to be made that he's again the best player in the league after a dominant second half of the season. The dynamic Tiger is the epitome of a dual threat, able to dominate from the midfield or forward, ranking second for inside 50s per game, eighth in score involvements and fourth in total inside 50s.
Scott Pendlebury (vc) (Collingwood): There's an argument the Pies captain is producing a career-best season and he richly deserves his sixth All-Australian jacket after another brilliant campaign. He continues to set up so many attacking plays for Collingwood, with his ability to find time and space and deliver by hand and foot. Unlucky not to be in this team's starting 18.
Marcus Bontempelli (Western Bulldogs): The No. 1 score involvement player in the competition, Bontempelli is back to his 2016 best - and possibly even a level above. Like Pendlebury, he can cut you up without needing to amass 30+ touches, such is his ability to win the ball in congestion, find teammates and hit the scoreboard himself.
Jack Darling (West Coast): Darling has taken over from Josh Kennedy as West Coast's go-to man in attack, booting 58 goals in the home and away season and rating elite for ground-ball gets inside 50 and above average for pressure in the forward half. Darling is not only one of the league's most dangerous deep targets, he can also present up the field and fights like crazy to keep the ball in the Eagles' attacking zone.
Chris Fagan (Brisbane): Fagan's Lions have risen the equal most places on the ladder in history (13), so how could he not be coach of the year? He has transformed a basket case to a premiership contender within a couple of years and it's not out of the equation that the Lions do salute on the final Saturday in September. The team is united, playing attractive, bold footy and a host of players are producing career-best football.