WELCOME back to the Fox Footy Power Rankings.
Each week during the 2017 AFL season, the team at Fox Footy will come together and rank every AFL club from best to worst, creating our Power Rankings.
It’s our attempt to fix the problems of the ladder. Listing clubs based on their number of wins works later in the season, but even then some wins and losses are better than others. This way we can try to truly represent how good or bad teams are.
So forget the ladder because it’s all up for debate. Here’s what we think.
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FOX FOOTY POWER RANKINGS
AFTER ROUND 4
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1. Adelaide Crows (4-0, 146.2%)
Last week: 1
Average ranking: 1 (High: 1, Low: 1)
A BLISTERING first half saw the Crows continue to firm as premiership favourites, tied in most betting markets with the Giants. But they’re an outright first in the Power Rankings. Keep in mind that they’ve been without a key forward line cog every game so far; and then realise they’ve scored over 128 points per game. They could get BETTER offensively.
Next game: Gold Coast Suns at Metricon Stadium, Saturday twilight
2. GWS Giants (3-1, 133.7%)
Last week: 2
Average ranking: 2.7 (High: 2, Low: 4)
THE Giants did what the good teams do on Saturday; pull away and be too strong when the game is in the balance. But they’re a clear second in the Power Rankings because as the weeks go by, and the top-tier teams become evident, their Round 1 loss to the Crows looks even more telling. They’ll be as big of favourites as they have ever been in a Sydney Derby this week but the Swans, at home and with a bunch of talent set to come back in, are dangerous.
Next game: Sydney Swans at SCG, Saturday night
3. Geelong Cats (4-0, 148%)
Last week: 4
Average ranking: 3.3 (High: 2, Low: 6)
THE surface level numbers look good for the Cats — undefeated and on top of the ladder. But their strongest opponent so far has been Melbourne (ninth in this week’s Power Rankings) and they really should have lost that game — they regressed to the mean in terms of goalkicking accuracy early against Hawthorn. There are troubling signs even in the midst of success; there’s a reason Chris Scott has been trying to temper expectations.
Next game: St Kilda at Etihad Stadium, Sunday afternoon
4. West Coast Eagles (3-1, 123.3%)
Last week: 5
Average ranking: 4.8 (High: 3, Low: 7)
IT wasn’t a strong win over Sydney — the margin was just a single kick during the fourth quarter, at home, against a winless side. But what is clear is that some of the Eagles who dropped off last year from 2015’s Grand Final side are improving again; that’s a big positive. A rematch of that Grand Final on Sunday should be simple enough if the Hawks are as bad as they’ve looked for the first month. But it’s rarely simple for West Coast in Melbourne.
Next game: Hawthorn at MCG, Sunday twilight
5. Western Bulldogs (3-1, 106.9%)
Last week: 3
Average ranking: 5.2 (High: 3, Low: 7)
THE Bulldogs are wobbly, there’s no doubt about it. They escaped an upset on Good Friday but shouldn’t have trailed by as much as they did against North Melbourne; never mind the tightness of the final margin. Surely they’ll win for Bob in game 300 on Saturday … but then surely they should have beaten Fremantle?
Next game: Brisbane Lions at Etihad Stadium, Saturday afternoon
6. Richmond (4-0, 141.5%)
Last week: 8
Average ranking: 5.2 (High: 3, Low: 8)
IF you spoke with most of the people who tipped Brisbane against the Tigers in Round 4, their reasoning was probably that “it’s the type of game Richmond always loses”. Well, they didn’t, and didn’t look like they would at any stage. There’s a chance this is the Tigers side that changes things — that gains a bit more respect, that contends and wins a final. There’s also a chance that it’s Round 4 and apart from the win over West Coast, they haven’t done much yet.
Next game: Melbourne at MCG, Monday night
7. Port Adelaide (2-2, 119.7%)
Last week: 6
Average ranking: 6.7 (High: 5, Low: 9)
ADELAIDE and GWS are, as agreed upon by the betting markets and the Power Rankings, the best two teams in the competition right now. So Port Adelaide losing to them both after being close all game — the latter coming without vital ruckman Paddy Ryder — was worth almost as much as the wins in Rounds 1 and 2. They are by some margin the best team that has lost two games.
Next game: Carlton at Adelaide Oval, Friday night
8. St Kilda (2-2, 98.9%)
Last week: 12
Average ranking: 8.8 (High: 7, Low: 10)
TWO straight wins and St Kilda is up in the top eight of the Power Rankings, albeit narrowly. Gaining some consistency will be a big point of discussion for Alan Richardson this season and this is that. Next up is Geelong, who the Saints downed last year in the corresponding fixture and are as shaky as an undefeated, top-of-the-ladder team as you may find.
Next game: Geelong Cats at Etihad Stadium, Sunday afternoon
9. Melbourne (2-2, 105.4%)
Last week: 7
Average ranking: 9.3 (High: 7, Low: 12)
WHILE it’s hard to tell how good Fremantle actually is right now, the Demons’ loss on Saturday is still mightily disappointing. It’s not all doom-and-gloom; they could very easily be 3-1 or 4-0 if not for their kicking. That’s very fixable. The ANZAC Eve clash has rarely looked as enticing as it does this coming week.
Next game: Richmond at MCG, Monday night
10. Essendon (2-2, 92.7%)
Last week: 9
Average ranking: 11.2 (High: 8, Low: 13)
YOU wouldn’t want to be hitting the wall after Round 4; but John Worsfold says that’s where some of his players are right now. They were bad early against Adelaide and allowed a monster score, but then everyone has done that this year, so they’re still thereabouts given how few teams are making a firm claim to those spots at the bottom end of the top eight. But they’d want to beat Collingwood. They always do, but it matters plenty this season.
Next game: Collingwood at MCG, Tuesday afternoon
11. Collingwood (1-3, 86.7%)
Last week: 10
Average ranking: 11.5 (High: 9, Low: 13)
DANIEL Wells may finally have found some good timing — he has a few extra days to be ready for his Collingwood debut thanks to the timing of ANZAC Day and he’s coming into a side that really, really needs his ability to connect the midfield and the forward line together. If he can be fit we know there’s talent on this list that can improve and can still challenge for the top eight; but there are too many ifs and cans in that sentence.
Next game: Essendon at MCG, Tuesday afternoon
12. Gold Coast Suns (2-2, 102%)
Last week: 15
Average ranking: 11.5 (High: 8, Low: 15)
REMEMBER two weeks ago when the Gold Coast Suns were a basket-case and they would never win again and footy in Queensland was doomed? They’ve now won two in a row and are above average on percentage. Funny how things change. And they’ll probably change straight back when the Crows come to town on Saturday.
Next game: Adelaide Crows at Metricon Stadium, Saturday twilight
13. Fremantle (2-2, 74.1%)
Last week: 17
Average ranking: 11.8 (High: 7, Low: 17)
IS the Fremantle from Round 3 onwards going to be the one many expected to see this year? The team that wasn’t quite going to contend for the top eight, but could come close, and would at least be better than the 2016 edition? It certainly seems that way after they backed up the win over the reigning premiers with a victory at the MCG. Three in a row is very much on the cards.
Next game: North Melbourne at Subiaco Oval, Saturday night
14. Sydney Swans (0-4. 80.1%)
Last week: 11
Average ranking: 13.3 (High: 11, Low: 16)
IT is unfortunate for Sydney that things should get better for them injury-wise just as they get worse fixture-wise. Even at full strength all year they probably would not have been favoured against GWS following last year’s qualifying final. Throw in all of the cliches you like about form not mattering in derbies here — if the Swans do well, it won’t be that, it’ll be that they’ve gotten most of their stars back. Finally.
Next game: GWS Giants at SCG, Saturday night
15. North Melbourne (0-4, 80%)
Last week: 14
Average ranking: 14.8 (High: 13, Low: 16)
NORTH Melbourne is incredibly consistent in 2017; they threaten for much of the contest but can’t get over the line. They were as close as ever against the Bulldogs. From all of the research done in almost every sport, performance in close games isn’t predictable; so you could argue they ‘should’ have won at least one of their four losses. Travelling west is always a tough task — ask the Dogs — but don’t count the Roos out this week.
Next game: Fremantle at Subiaco Oval, Saturday night
16. Carlton (1-3, 79.4%)
Last week: 16
Average ranking: 15.8 (High: 14, Low: 18)
THE loss to Gold Coast provided a fair statement of the position of both of those clubs. The Blues don’t have someone like Tom Lynch and he was the difference. We know that the Blues are — they can challenge many teams despite the talent gap. But that means we also know they really shouldn’t have much of a chance on Friday night.
Next game: Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval, Friday night
17. Hawthorn (0-4, 56%)
Last week: 13
Average ranking: 16.5 (High: 15, Low: 18)
THE only reason Hawthorn is 17th rather than 18th is history. There’s a lot more respect for them as a list than the Lions have, so even though the Hawks are dead last in the competition in most important statistics, they sit here. But they have simply been awful this season; it really is a stunning drop-off.
Next game: West Coast Eagles at MCG, Sunday twilight
18. Brisbane Lions (1-3, 75.1%)
Last week: 18
Average ranking: 17.5 (High: 17, Low: 18)
FOLLOWING on from the Hawthorn capsule — what does Brisbane need to do to pass Hawthorn in the Power Rankings? Winning, obviously, is the easy answer, but the Lions have a tough draw before Round 8’s clash with the Hawks down in Tasmania. Doesn’t that clash sound interesting in a morbid way?
Next game: Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium, Saturday afternoon