MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 08: Clayton Oliver of the Demons competes for the ball during the JLT Community Series AFL match between the Melbourne Demons and the St Kilda Saints at Casey Fields on March 8, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

2021 is finally here and the footy season cannot come soon enough as football will likely return to its spiritual home in Melbourne and fans will return in their thousands.

The lead up to Round 1 is filled with hot takes and speculation, not to mention everyone’s predictions. But how often are those predictions on the safe side of the fence?

In this series we will be going out an a limb and make some fearless predictions for the upcoming season, everything from free agency moves to premiers and award winners.

50. Darcy Fogarty makes the Adelaide forward line his own

Fogarty has looked the goods since his debut but has found himself unable to nail down a consistent spot in the side. Now that Adelaide have committed to a full rebuild and Taylor Walker nearing the end of his career, it is Fogarty’s time.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA – AUGUST 11: Darcy Fogarty of the Crows kicks on goal during the 2019 AFL round 21 match between the West Coast Eagles and the Adelaide Crows at Optus Stadium on August 11, 2019 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

2020 will be his breakout year and the exciting spearhead will be the Crows number one forward by season’s end.

49. Hawks suffer serious pain and acknowledge need for rebuild

The idea of a rebuild doesn’t seem to be one Alistair Clarkson is keen to acknowledge, but there’s no denying Hawthorn’s need for youth and a full rebuild.

The denial will run dry in 2021 as Hawthorn struggle all year and likely finish bottom four as Clarko will acknowledge the need for the Hawks to head to the draft. Whether he is the man to lead that new chapter won’t be confirmed just yet.

48. Eddie Betts retires as the game’s best ever small forward

Eddie Betts will retire at the end of the 2021 season, that’s obviously not the fearless prediction. But he will walk away as the game’s best ever small forward, his tally of 613 goals will increase by at least 10 and he end his career not only a great ambassador for the game but as one if the best competitors ever.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – SEPTEMBER 14: Eddie Betts of the Blues celebrates after kicking a goal during the AFL First Semi Final match between the Sydney Swans and the Carlton Blues at ANZ Stadium on September 14, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

47. Clayton Oliver gets paid

Oliver is out of contract at season’s end and the Dees will be keen to lock him away ASAP, especially with the rumours that surfaced in the 2020 trade period that Oliver may be on his way out.

While Melbourne are adamant their star mid is going nowhere, they won’t be keen to wait and see. In a bid to lock him away early in 2021 they will cough up some serious cash and he will re-sign.

46. Sydney Stack doesn’t play another game of AFL football

Stack had a very torrid 2020 which culminated in him breaching hub quarantine rules on Surfers Paradise and having his season ended abruptly.

The promising youngster then spent weeks behind bars for breaching quarantine laws in Western Australia and now has a pending court date. While Richmond has reaffirmed their support of Stack, he won’t play at the level again. His time is up and won’t be on the list come 2022.

45. Hunter Clark takes step into league superstar

Clark was symbolic of St Kilda’s rise into the finals in 2020, his year was littered with class and glimpses of the young man’s creative ability.

He has all the poise of a young Scott Pendlebury and boasts elite foot skills. More time in the Saints midfield group will see Clark’s stocks rise and he will be widely recognised as a genuine star of the game in 2021.

44. Buddy finds his best

Lance Franklin missed the entirety of the 2020 season with multiple soft-tissue injuries, but by all reports out of Sydney he is ready for a huge 2021.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – AUGUST 26: Lance Franklin of the Swans celebrates after kicking a goal during the round 23 AFL match between the Sydney Swans and the Carlton Blues at Sydney Cricket Ground on August 26, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Buddy will return and will be back in the goals tally in no time. He will return to the form that has made him arguably the game’s most exciting player and will light the SCG up once again.

43. Lachie Neale shares the load, loses Charlie

Neale was a walk-away winner of the 2020 Brownlow Medal, his form was head and shoulders above the rest and he led the Lions to a preliminary final berth.

Brisbane will know to go further they will need a more even spread and they will get just that, as a result Neale will not retain his Brownlow Medal. He will have a stellar season but he won’t reach the individual heights of 2020.

42. Bevo under pressure as Dogs form dips

The Bulldogs best is as good as anyone and their worst is as bad as anyone. They have struggled with consistency for some time, and in 2021 when their form dips once again Luke Beveridge will face pressure surrounding his future in the job.

The Dogs will however keep the faith and Bevo will steer them into finals once again.

41. Freo step up and just miss finals

Fremantle were a surprise packet of the 2020 season and showed the signs of a developing and exciting side.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – JUNE 13: Freemantle coach Justin Longmuir talks to his team during the round 2 AFL match between the Brisbane Lions and the Fremantle Dockers at The Gabba on June 13, 2020 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Jono Searle/AFL Photos/Getty Images)

They will continue their rise in 2021 and with the benefit of 11 home games they will be right on the edge of the eight. They will likely just miss out but they will be in the frame deep into the season.