Premiership Odds: $11
Rounding out my bottom ten is a finals stalwart in the Sydney Swans, who I just feel have lost too much talent to maintain their spot in the eight.
Lance Frankin may or may not be a 100 per cent and if he isn’t, it could take most of next season for him to reach his previous levels. Hopefully he is given the support needed to get back to his best, but it is tough when dealing with a mental illness.
These losses will leave holes in the Swans line-up and while they have picked up a few acquisitions, experience has been lost which other AFL clubs have struggled with, in the same scenario.
That being said, the Swans may fly under the radar in 2016 and could surprise me and sneak into the eight, but as it stands, there are stronger teams above them.
Key Player: Josh Kennedy
Kennedy raised his game once more in 2015, reaching new heights in what was a brilliant season for the big-bodied midfielder.
Already one of the AFL’s elite midfielders, Kennedy increased his averages to incredible levels last year, putting up an average of 30.5 disposals, 17 handballs, 12 kicks, 6 tackles and 3 marks per game, putting him in Brownlow Medal contention.
Kennedy also ranked first in contested possessions and second in disposals, solidifying his rank as one of the AFL’s best, and there is no drop-off in sight.
Kennedy will once again be part of decent midfield set-up that includes Kieran Jack, Dan Hannebery and Luke Parker.
Rising Star: Callum Mills
Sydney’s top academy draft pick, Mills is set to be a gem.
The 18-year old fits right into the Swans’ system, as a hard-bodied, aggressive and in-and-under midfielder, who should slot right into Sydney’s best 22.
Mills possesses good size, at 188cm, which allows him to dominate in the middle of packs, and a be a headache to deal with in the middle.
He is also rated as a tackling machine, with commentators saying he has already taken down Jarrad McVeigh in a training drill, proving Mills isn’t afraid to mix it with the best.
Mills was one of the draft’s best talents and the Swans have a future star on their hands.
Under the Pump: Ben McGlynn
There is no doubting McGlynn’s hardness or attack on the footy and when he is fit, there’s no doubt that he belongs in the Swans’ best 22.
But the 153-game veteran struggled for form and fitness this year and only played 9 games. At 30 years old – and with the likes of Mills, Jake Lloyd and Brandon Jack close on his heels – McGlynn will be under pressure to retain his spot in the side if he doesn’t get on top of his injury problems.
The Swans’ backline for 2016 doesn’t look as strong as it has in recent years and may struggle this year.
It looks like a slow and shaky backline and they may be blown away by the stronger teams in the competition.
Jeremy Laidler did only miss three games last season and performed well in the Swans’ defensive third, but it remains to be seen whether he will have adequate support in new-recruit Michael Talia, who only managed to play 30 games in three years at the Bulldogs.
The Swans have reliable premiership-winning defender Nick Smith in their ranks, while Dane Rampe has a damaging left-foot that could be useful off the half-back line.
For me though, the backline is too old and without the likes of Rhyce Shaw and Lewis Jetta, the Swans will leak too many goals.
Despite where I have the Swans finishing in 2016, they still have one of the better midfields in the competition.
Losing Mike Pyke is a huge blow, but the Swans have recruited well in bringing Callum Sinclair over from West Coast. Sinclair had a really good year with Eagles, breaking into their best 22, but at the Swans he’ll have to take the number one ruck spot by the throat, something he hasn’t done before and he’ll have Kurt Tippett fighting him for that spot.
The aforementioned Josh Kennedy will provide consistency for the Swans’ midfield, while Luke Parker has shown he can be an asset both in the guts and on the scoreboard and took home the most courageous player of 2015 for a good reason.
Dan Hannebery struggled for form and fitness throughout 2014 but rebounded well in 2015 and is set to have another big year. Hannebery has put in a solid summer, resulting in him blitzing the conditioning components and performing well in the time-trials.
The Swans have depth in this area, with Mills and Brandon Jack waiting in the wings, while Jake Lloyd had a pretty consistent season last year which should see him break into the Swans’ best 22.
What’s the fixture like: Okay
The Swans only have to travel to Perth once, and they get to play home games against four clubs with massive fan bases in Collingwood, Essendon, Hawthorn and Richmond.
However, they do play regining premiers, Hawthorn, twice, with the first of those fixtures coming off a six-day break. In addition, they also face North Melbourne and Richmond twice.
A pretty decent start to the season that sees them play Collingwood, Carlton, GWS and Adelaide should enable Sydney to get a jump on some of the other sides I have in the top 8.
C: Gary Rohan, Josh Kennedy, Tom Mitchell
HF: Kieran Jack, Sam Reid, Isaac Heeney