AFL 2020: Our way-too-early predictions

play
What's it like for players during trade period? (1:10)

Jude Bolton recalls the time he thought he was 'in the gun' as the Swans looked to rejuvenate their list. (1:10)

Richmond look to have set up a dynasty, but are they favourites to go all the way again next year?

Can the Giants go one better? Will West Coast, Geelong or Collingwood spoil Richmond's party? Who will be the big risers and sliders?

Let's take an early stab at how things will stack up next year with our way-too-early ladder predictions for 2020.

Niall Seewang

Richmond
GWS
West Coast
Western Bulldogs
Collingwood
Geelong
Hawthorn
Brisbane

Melbourne
Essendon
Port Adelaide
Carlton
St Kilda
North Melbourne
Sydney
Adelaide
Fremantle
Gold Coast

With the game's best key defender (Alex Rance), set to return to the Richmond line-up, all things point to the Tigers going back-to-back.

Their biggest challenger for me is GWS, barring any Adelaide-style meltdown after their Grand Final shocker. If they can learn from the experience and use it as motivation, they should be back on the big stage next year, especially if the injury gods smile on them.

West Coast should be right up there again, especially if they can land Geelong's Tim Kelly during the trade period, while I expect the Western Bulldogs to jump into the top four - they appeared to have regained that famous hunger and intensity in the second half of 2019 and are armed with a huge war chest to chase readymade players during the offseason.

Geelong and Brisbane might slip a little but still should make finals, while Hawthorn should jump into the top eight with a fit Tom Mitchell raring to go.

I envision Carlton and St Kilda rising a few spots -- they both might challenge for finals -- while it might be a sorry season ahead for the Crows, Dockers and Suns (again).

Jake Michaels

Richmond
West Coast
Collingwood
GWS
Geelong
Brisbane
Western Bulldogs
Hawthorn

Port Adelaide
Melbourne
Adelaide
North Melbourne
Essendon
Carlton
Sydney
Fremantle
St Kilda
Gold Coast

They will enter 2020 riding a 12-game winning streak and it's hard to see Richmond finishing the home and away season anywhere other than at the summit of the ladder.

I expect the Eagles to have another strong season, especially if they're able to land Cats star Tim Kelly, while Collingwood and first time Grand Finalist GWS will get key personnel back and should make up the rest of the top four.

I'm predicting both the Cats and Lions to slide, albeit only a little. Both side are going to have tougher draws next year and you only need to look at the Hawks this season to see how much of an impact that can have.

Speaking of Hawthorn, I have them back in the top eight. 2018 Brownlow Medal winner Tom Mitchell slots back into the midfield alongside the likes of Jaeger O'Meara, Liam Shiels and young gun James Worpel and there were enough signs in the back half of this season to suggest they will have a bounce back year in 2020.

At the bottom of the ladder I've got Gold Coast. A priority pick isn't going to help this club rise, while the Swans, Dockers and Saints will all have disappointing seasons.

Matt Walsh

Richmond
West Coast
Collingwood
Essendon
Brisbane
GWS
Western Bulldogs

Hawthorn
Geelong
Port Adelaide
North Melbourne
Melbourne
Carlton
Sydney
Adelaide
St Kilda
Fremantle
Gold Coast

Starting from the top of the ladder, it's hard to see Richmond falling away considering the core of that side is still in its sweet spot in terms of list age and profile. The Eagles should also be in the mix for a top-two finish considering they likely add A-grade midfielder Tim Kelly to the mix, while the Pies will have a more consistent season and the Bombers will finally deliver on the promise of a finals win.

I think the Lions are unlikely to reach the lofty heights they reached in 2019 purely as their fixture will be more difficult next year, and a number of mid-tier players played out of their skins for most of the season (kind of like Melbourne's journeymen in 2018), while the Giants will remain around the mark again. The Dogs should again make finals and the Hawks will round out the eight considering they get a Brownlow medallist back.

Expect the Cats and the Crows to fall - the Cats are looking like an old football team, while Crows are abandoning ship left, right and centre ... they may be in for a rebuild. Speaking of rebuilds, the Swans are blooding youth and will remain in the bottom half of the ladder, as will the Dockers.

The Blues should continue their rise up the ladder, particularly if they can snag a much-needed small forward, and the Dees should bounce back from what really was a terrible season. I don't think they'll make finals, but they're much better than a bottom two outfit. I'm banking on the Suns again taking out the wooden spoon.