THE top four is starting to become clear after 20 rounds of AFL action, but I still have no idea what order spots 5-11 will look like at the end of the home and away season. Some telling results over the weekend have left us with seven teams within four spots of each other with just four finals spots up for grabs. More MRP drama and the usual weekly power rankings/fantasy news this wrap up is one that can’t be missed.

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In A Nutshell

– SYDNEY underlined their premiership credentials with a huge seven goal victory over Geelong to kick off the round. Without superstar Patrick Dangerfield and a hobbled Joel Selwood, the Cats were blitzed in the first half by the Swans and never caught up.

– THE Orange Tsunami is alive and well after teetering on edge for a few weeks. The Giants regained a top two spot with their 35-point win over the Demons who are now in danger of missing the finals completely.

– A brave Carlton outfit couldn’t finish the job against Essendon, conceding the final three goals of the game allowing the Bombers to keep their September dreams alive. Sitting eighth on the ladder now the future for the Dons is in their hands while the Blue languish at 17th.

– FOUR wins on the trot for the Bulldogs has come at the perfect time. Their latest W, a 14-point triumph over Brisbane, was close to being the end of their season as they regrouped to survive a late scare.

– IN a match with little impact on the 2017 season one of the biggest stories of the weekend emerged. Brodie Grundy’s tackle that KO’d Roos forward Ben Brown in the Pies 57-point win will be a hotly debated topic over the next few days.

– ANOTHER match that featured two non-finalists out West saw Fremantle record win No. eight for the year. It came at the expense of Gold Coast with mounting pressure on Suns coach Rodney Eade’s job security.

AFL Round 20 Wrap Up 1Image from au.sports.yahoo.com

– FINALS this year for the West Coast Eagles seem unlikely after they once again gave away a final quarter lead to lose away from home. The single digit victory for St Kilda however, keeps their slims hopes of finals action alive.

– RICHMOND moved into third on the ladder and effectively ended Hawthorn’s campaign to the tune of 29-points at the MCG on Sunday arvo. In one of their best performances of the season, the Tigers never trailed with a top four spot now theirs to lose.

– THE ninth and final game of Round 20 saw Adelaide dismantle Port Adelaide in the 43rd Showdown between the two South Australian clubs. The margin could have been significantly worse than 84 points for Ken Hinkley’s men if it wasn’t for the Crows inaccuracy in front of goal.

The Four Points

Ninth No More
GONE are the days of Richmond languishing in the middle of the pack only to see them fall short of a finals berth, or fail to register a win in the finals. After three successive seasons of losing in week one of the finals, Richmond bottomed out and finished 13th last season only to storm back towards the top of the ladder this season. On the verge of their highest ladder finish since 2001, a lot will be revealed about the Tigers this weekend against Geelong.

More MRP Drama
FOLLOWING Brownlow medal favourite Patrick Dangerfield’s suspension last round a handful of big names could also find themselves sidelined after some similar incidents. The likes of Mitch Duncan, Brodie Grundy, Shane Mumford, Zach Merrett and Tom Hawkins are in the firing line for their actions over the weekend with Grundy the one most likely to be handed a few weeks off, after his tackle on Ben Brown.

Will The Real Finalists Please Stand Up
AS addressed earlier in the article there is a significant logjam of teams fighting it out for a handful of finals places. In an unpredictable season nothing is assured, so don’t be surprised if teams that are inside the eight slide out of contention or vice versa over the finals three weeks of the regular season.

Nat Fyfe Looks Like Himself Again
IT took close to 20 rounds, but finally, the 2015 Brownlow Medalist looks like his dominant self again. Averages of 25 touches, 4.2 marks and 4.1 tackles through the first 12 rounds of the season aren’t terrible, but Fyfe has upped his numbers to 28.2/5.3/5.5 a game in Freo’s last six. After turning in perhaps his best performance of the season last weekend the 2018 Brownlow betting should be very interesting.

Power Rankings

1. Adelaide Crows (level) – Crushed Port Adelaide and should coast to a top two spot.
2. Richmond Tigers (Increase 1) –
I’m putting the Tigers here temporarily, they need to prove their worth against the Cats. 
3. Sydney Swans (Increase 1) –
Continue to strengthen their premiership odds.
4. Geelong Cats (Decrease 2) –
 Trending in the wrong direction with mounting injuries.
5. GWS Giants (Increase 1) – Need to send a message by touching up the Bulldogs this weekend.
6. Port Adelaide Power (Decrease 2) –
Time to regroup and take care of the Maggies.
7. Western Bulldogs (Increase 1) – There season will be defined by the tough fortnight ahead.
8. Essendon Bombers (Increase 1) – Scrapping their way to the finals. My guess is they drop out of the eight this week.
9. Melbourne Demons (Decrease 2) – 
Virtual elimination final this weekend against the Saints. Season defining game.
10. St Kilda Saints (Increase 2) – Ditto.
11. West Coast Eagles (Decrease 1) – They’ve blown it for season 2017.
12. Collingwood Magpies (Increase 1) –
Doing their reputation no harm with some extra W’s.
13. Hawthorn Hawks (Decrease 1) – 
Met their demise against the Tigs. The Luke Hodge farewell tour is now their focus.
14. Fremantle Dockers (level) –
Took care of business with some youngster’s looking promising. 
15. North Melbourne (level) – 
Smashed by the Pies, they are lucky to hold down this spot. 
16. Carlton Blues (Decrease 1) –
Missed a real chance to upset the applecart against Essendon.
17. Brisbane Lions (Increase 1) – Also let an opportunity against the Dogs slip through their fingers. 
18. Gold Coast Suns (level) –
I have nothing to say.

AFL Round 20 Wrap Up 2Image from afl.com.au

THE ball’s in your court Richmond. After rising to 2nd in the Power Rankings a win against Geelong would likely see them stay there, while a loss could see them plummet as pretenders. Hawthorn and West Coast may have sealed their fate with L’s in Round 20, while the Dees and Power have work to do. Sydney, GWS, St Kilda, Essendon and the Western Bulldogs all rose slightly with big games on the horizon.

Fantasy +3

2227 – I can’t be too upset with a score over 2200 considering how many under performing players are around. After biting the bullet and trading out Danger last week I have the necessary money to bring him back in if I want, or save roughly $100K and opt for a Gibbs/Zorko move. Tough choices ahead.

  • THOSE underperforming picks mentioned above included Dahlhaus (72), Heeney (76), Yeo (75), Beams (80) and a proppy Joel Selwood, who limped to 64. Selwood is now slated to miss the rest of the fantasy season with an injury and therefore should be traded out immediately.
  • IT wasn’t all doom and gloom though with the likes of Max Gawn (140), Taylor Adams (124), Josh Kelly (131), Lachie Neale (152) and Nat Fyfe (132) among the common picks to score big. Josh Caddy (134), Marcus Bontemelli (122), Dion Prestia (125) and Jack Ziebell (130) where the uniques who may have helped their owners single handedly win finals matchups.
  • SUSPENSIONS and injuries could derail any chances we had of performing well in the final few weekends of game play with Zach Merrett and Brodie Grundy owned by over 22% of coaches. Throw in Selwood (13.8% ownership), Witherden (27.9%) and other injured players like Connor Blakely and Josh Kennedy riding some coaches pine this weekend could get ugly very quickly.