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Who has the best forwards? We rank every club

The Eagles' star-studded forward line includes Josh Kennedy and Liam Ryan. But where do AFL.com.au writers rank them? - AFL,Adelaide Crows,Brisbane Lions,Carlton Blues,Collingwood Magpies,Essendon Bombers,Fremantle Dockers,Geelong Cats,Gold Coast Suns,GWS Giants,Hawthorn Hawks,Melbourne Demons,North Melbourne Kangaroos,Port Adelaide Power,Richmond Tigers,St Kilda Saints,Sydney Swans,West Coast Eagles,Western Bulldogs
The Eagles' star-studded forward line includes Josh Kennedy and Liam Ryan. But where do AFL.com.au writers rank them?

WITH boom recruit Tom Lynch set to be unleashed alongside spearhead Jack Riewoldt and his predatory band of fleet-footed smalls next season, it's little surprise Richmond tops our forward line rankings. 

Opposition clubs will have nightmares about containing the Tigers, who surged to the minor premiership last season with the AFL's second-best attack behind Melbourne.

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Of course, that's on the proviso that Lynch coming in from Gold Coast doesn't upset the apple cart, as fretted by now teammate Alex Rance.

Richmond will possess two dominant key forwards, in the mould of reigning premier West Coast, whose attack is led by twin towers Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling and ranks narrowly behind the 2017 flag winners. 

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Interestingly, Melbourne's high-powered offence comes in only mid-table, impacted by Jesse Hogan's departure to Fremantle.

Down the bottom are the Suns, who undoubtedly boast top-end talent in Peter Wright, Izak Rankine and Jack Lukosius but will need plenty of patience.

The case for the defence: We rank every club's backline

1. RICHMOND

A forward line that already boasted the Coleman Medal winner in Jack Riewoldt received an upgrade, with the Tigers securing the free agency market's best prospect in Tom Lynch from Gold Coast. He'll add another reliable goalkicker up forward in 2019. Josh Caddy was an All Australian squad member last year following a stellar season, while Dan Butler, Daniel Rioli, Jack Higgins and Jason Castagna ensure the side keeps its smaller presence even with the arrival of Lynch. The depth is also incredibly strong, with Shai Bolton and Liam Baker keen to make their mark at AFL level, premiership player Jacob Townsend returning as a rookie and with Mav Weller arriving from St Kilda. There are not many weaknesses up forward at Punt Road.

B: Dylan Grimes, David Astbury, Alex Rance
HB: Bachar Houli, Nick Vlastuin, Jayden Short
C: Shaun Grigg, Dustin Martin, Shane Edwards
HF: Dan Butler, Jack Riewoldt, Daniel Rioli
F: Josh Caddy, Tom Lynch, Jack Higgins
Foll: Toby Nankervis, Dion Prestia, Trent Cotchin
I/C: Brandon Ellis, Jason Castagna, Kane Lambert, Jack Graham

Defender depth: Nathan Broad, Oleg Markov, Ryan Garthwaite, Patrick Naish, Ben Miller, Derek Eggmolesse-Smith

Forward depth: Shai Bolton, Callum Moore, Jacob Townsend, Noah Balta, Mav Weller, Liam Baker, Mabior Chol, Jake Aarts

Midfield depth: Kamdyn McIntosh, Connor Menadue, Riley Collier-Dawkins, Luke English, Jack Ross, Fraser Turner

Ruck depth: Ivan Soldo, Callum Coleman-Jones 

The addition of Tom Lynch makes Richmond's forward line an even scarier prospect. Picture: AFL Photos

2. WEST COAST

For too long the Eagles' attack revolved around Josh Kennedy but Jack Darling stepped out of the dual Coleman medallist's shadow last season and the introduction of exciting small forwards Willie Rioli and Liam Ryan took significant pressure off now-retired Mark LeCras and Jamie Cripps. Incredibly, West Coast didn't unleash its first-choice forward line until last season's qualifying final and still finished fifth for points scored, and the side registered a perfect 13-0 record when Kennedy and Darling played together. With Jake Waterman ready to step into LeCras' role, the Eagles appear well-placed and there is real excitement around youngsters Oscar Allen, Jarrod Brander and Jarrod Cameron for the future.

B: Brad Sheppard, Tom Barrass, Shannon Hurn
HB: Tom Cole, Jeremy McGovern, Lewis Jetta
C: Chris Masten, Elliot Yeo, Dom Sheed
HF: Jamie Cripps, Jack Darling, Jake Waterman
F: Willie Rioli, Josh Kennedy, Liam Ryan
Foll: Nathan Vardy, Jack Redden, Luke Shuey
I/C: Liam Duggan, Mark Hutchings, Tom Hickey, Daniel Venables

Defender depth: Jackson Nelson, Josh Rotham, Will Schofield, Francis Watson

Forward depth: Matthew Allen, Oscar Allen, Jarrod Brander, Jarrod Cameron, Harry Edwards, Jack Petruccelle

Midfield depth: Brendon Ah Chee, Brayden Ainsworth, Hamish Brayshaw, Luke Foley, Andrew Gaff*, Kurt Mutimer, Xavier O'Neill, Josh Smith

Ruck depth: Keegan Brooksby, Fraser McInnes, Nic Naitanui*, Bailey Williams 

3. ADELAIDE

Every forward line feeds off supply and Adelaide's inside 50s dropped by nearly five per game last year, so the staggering reduction in firepower (110 points in 2017 to 88 points in 2018) can't all be sheeted home to the forwards. The Crows were still ranked equal-second for scores per inside 50s last year. Mercurial veteran Eddie Betts was disappointing with just 29 goals, but if the 32-year-old and skipper Taylor Walker return to their best the Crows will pack more punch than most, while Darcy Fogarty should receive more opportunity after Mitch McGovern's departure to Carlton and there are a host of dangerous smalls fighting for spots.

B: Rory Laird, Daniel Talia, Jake Kelly 
HB:
 Wayne Milera, Tom Doedee, Brodie Smith 
C: Paul Seedsman, Rory Sloane, Bryce Gibbs 
HF: Tom Lynch, Taylor Walker, Richard Douglas 
F: Eddie Betts, Josh Jenkins, Jordan Gallucci 
FOLL: Sam Jacobs, Matt Crouch, Brad Crouch 
I/C: Luke Brown, Hugh Greenwood, Rory Atkins, Shane McAdam

Defender depth: Kyle Hartigan, Alex Keath, Andy Otten, Andrew McPherson, Will Hamill, Jordon Butts

Forward depth: Darcy Fogarty, Elliott Himmelberg, Riley Knight, Lachlan Murphy, Ben Davis, Ned McHenry, Tyson Stengle

Midfield depth: David Mackay, Cam Ellis-Yolmen, Myles Poholke, Patrick Wilson, Chayce Jones, Lachlan Sholl

Ruck depth: Reilly O'Brien, Paul Hunter, Kieran Strachan 

If Eddie Betts can rediscover some old form, watch out. Picture: AFL Photos

4. ESSENDON

The Bombers' fortunes in attack in 2019 centre around Joe Daniher. Playing just seven games last year, mostly hindered by osteitis pubis, a return to his 2017 All Australian form will be crucial to a push back to finals. Ranked third for marks inside 50 in 2018, Daniher could take the Bombers even higher. Jake Stringer has become the ideal third tall forward, and with Cale Hooker moving back, Shaun McKernan has been able to provide an outlet in the front half. Best and fairest Devon Smith's rise between midfield and attack has elevated the Bombers and a full year out of fellow small forwards Orazio Fantasia and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti will provide a dangerous combination.

B: Conor McKenna, Michael Hurley, Martin Gleeson
HB: Aaron Francis, Cale Hooker, Adam Saad
C: David Zaharakis, Dyson Heppell, Andrew McGrath
HF: Orazio Fantasia, Shaun McKernan, Devon Smith
F: Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, Joe Daniher, Jake Stringer
Foll: Tom Bellchambers, Zach Merrett, Dylan Shiel
I/C: Darcy Parish, Kyle Langford, David Myers, Patrick Ambrose

Defender depth: Matt Dea, Michael Hartley, Luke Lavender, Ben McNiece, Jordan Ridley, Mason Redman*, Brandon Zerk-Thatcher

Forward depth: Mark Baguley, Josh Begley*, Mitch Brown, Noah Gown, Brayden Ham, Jordan Houlahan, Jayden Laverde, Jake Long, Irving Mosquito, James Stewart

Midfield depth: Dylan Clarke, Matt Guelfi, Tom Jok, Kobe Mutch, Trent Mynott

Ruck depth: Zac Clarke, Sam Draper

5. GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY

There's a bit of everything in the Giants' forward line, making them one of the most versatile units in the competition. Jeremy Cameron wasn't at his All Australian best last season but still commands the opposition's best defender. With his high work-rate, strong hands and good agility, Harry Himmelberg has quietly gone about becoming one of the most improved – and under-rated – young key forwards in the game. Then there's Toby Greene. Despite an extended run of injuries, his elimination final performance against Sydney reminded everyone of his class. Throw in Stephen Coniglio, who will rotate into the midfield, clever Zac Langdon and Brett Deledio and you have a well-rounded unit despite the unfortunate absence of Jon Patton (ACL).

B: Heath Shaw, Aidan Corr, Adam Kennedy
HB: Nick Haynes, Phil Davis, Zac Williams
C: Josh Kelly, Callan Ward, Lachie Whitfield
HF: Toby Greene, Jeremy Cameron, Brett Deledio
F: Stephen Coniglio, Harry Himmelberg, Zac Langdon

Foll: Dawson Simpson, Tim Taranto, Jacob Hopper
I/C: Adam Tomlinson, Sam Taylor, Sam Reid, Matt de Boer

Defender depth: Matt Buntine, Isaac Cumming, Jeremy Finlayson, Connor Idun, Lachie Keeffe, Harry Perryman, Jake Stein

Forward depth: Aiden Bonar, Callum Brown, Dylan Buckley, Jack Buckley, Brent Daniels, Ian Hill, Daniel Lloyd, Jon Patton*, Zach Sproule

Midfield depth: Jye Caldwell, Jackson Hately, Xavier O'Halloran, Tommy Sheridan, Nic Shipley

Ruck depth: Kieren Briggs, Matt Flynn, Shane Mumford* 

Toby Greene adds plenty of x-factor to the Giants' attack. Picture: AFL Photos

6. PORT ADELAIDE

Ranked 13th for total points in 2018, the acquisition of Scott Lycett and further development of Todd Marshall has propelled the Power this high. Lycett's role will allow Paddy Ryder to play more in attack, with hopes he can return to one of the competition's best ruck-forwards. With Justin Westhoff fresh off a best and fairest but entering a year where he turns 33, the Power will be expecting Marshall to take the next jump in 2019 and as a result Jack Watts falls out. Robbie Gray's class is crucial, while blooding Connor Rozee and the potential speed of Xavier Duursma and Zak Butters will give Ken Hinkley plenty to work with.

B: Dougal Howard, Tom Clurey, Dan Houston
HB: Darcy Byrne-Jones, Tom Jonas, Ryan Burton
C: Sam Gray, Ollie Wines, Steven Motlop
HF: Travis Boak, Justin Westhoff, Robbie Gray
F: Scott Lycett, Charlie Dixon, Connor Rozee
Foll: Paddy Ryder, Sam Powell-Pepper, Brad Ebert
I/C: Tom Rockliff, Todd Marshall, Riley Bonner, Hamish Hartlett

Defender depth: Matthew Broadbent, Xavier Duursma, Riley Grundy, Jarrod Lienert, Sam Mayes, Trent McKenzie

Forward depth: Tobin Cox, Kane Farrell, Aidyn Johnson, Jack Watts, Boyd Woodcock

Midfield depth: Karl Amon, Joe Atley, Zak Butters, Willem Drew, Joel Garner, Cameron Hewett, Jake Patmore, Jack Trengove

Ruck depth: Billy Frampton, Sam Hayes, Peter Ladhams

7. MELBOURNE

When it came to points scored per game in 2018, the Demons led the way. They averaged 104.5 points per match after the home and away season, and their new-look attack with Tom McDonald swinging forward looked dangerous throughout the season. McDonald booted 53 goals in 2018, while Jesse Hogan kicked 47. The departure of Hogan during the trade period will hurt the Dees up forward, but Sam Weideman could soften the blow. The youngster stood up in Hogan's absence during the first two finals but is still relatively untested at senior level having only played 20 games of AFL. Jake Melksham is a crucial part of this attack and was the No.1 player in the competition for goal assists last season. But the Dees still lack a little depth in this area, and are still in need of a classy, small forward who can regularly hit the scoreboard.

B: Neville Jetta, Steven May, Michael Hibberd
HB: Christian Salem, Oscar McDonald, Jayden Hunt
C: James Harmes, Jack Viney, Kade Kolodjashnij
HF: Alex Neal-Bullen, Tom McDonald, Jake Melksham
F: Charlie Spargo, Sam Weideman, Christian Petracca

Foll: Max Gawn, Clayton Oliver, Angus Brayshaw
I/C: Bayley Fritsch, Joel Smith, Braydon Preuss, Nathan Jones

Defender depth: Sam Frost, Marty Hore, Jake Lever*, Jordan Lewis, Harrison Petty, Josh Wagner, Guy Walker

Forward depth: Toby Bedford, Jeff Garlett, Mitch Hannan, Aaron vandenBerg, Kade Chandler, Tim Smith, Declan Keilty

Midfield depth: Oskar Baker, James Jordon, Jay Kennedy-Harris, Corey Maynard, Aaron Nietschke, Tom Sparrow, Billy Stretch, Corey Wagner

Ruck depth: Austin Bradtke 

Can Sam Weideman and Tom McDonald lift the Demons again in 2019? Picture: AFL Photos

8. COLLINGWOOD

An improvised attack built around Mason Cox worked wonders in 2018, with the American giant providing the focal point for a multi-pronged and high-pressure forward pack in the mould of Richmond's 2017 flag-winning unit. Jordan De Goey has become an elite player, while Will Hoskin-Elliott, Josh Thomas, rookie revelation Brody Mihocek and NAB AFL Rising Star Jaidyn Stephenson each offered something different in one of the most versatile and dangerous set-ups, which ranked third for scoring and equal-fourth for goals per inside 50. Throw injury-plagued Jamie Elliott into a forward pocket and the Pies become even more threatening, but it remains to be seen if they can continue to thrive without a star key forward next to Cox.  

B: Brayden Maynard, Lynden Dunn, Tom Langdon
HB: Jeremy Howe, Darcy Moore, Jack Crisp
C: Steele Sidebottom, Scott Pendlebury, Taylor Adams
HF: Will Hoskin-Elliott, Brody Mihocek, Jaidyn Stephenson
F: Jordan De Goey, Mason Cox, Jamie Elliott
Foll: Brodie Grundy, Dayne Beams, Adam Treloar
I/C: Travis Varcoe, Daniel Wells, Brayden Sier, Josh Thomas

Defender depth: Tyson Goldsack, Ben Reid, Matt Scharenberg, Flynn Appleby, Nathan Murphy, Jack Madgen, Isaac Quaynor, Will Kelly, Mark Keane, Sam Murray

Forward depth: Ben Crocker, Tim Broomhead, Anton Tohill, Atu Bosenavulagi

Midfield depth: Tom Phillips, Chris Mayne, Levi Greenwood, James Aish, Callum Brown, Tyler Brown, Josh Daicos, Rupert Wills

Ruck depth: Jordan Roughead, Max Lynch 

9. HAWTHORN

When it comes to inside 50s, supply isn't an issue for the Hawks. They averaged 54 inside 50s per game in 2018, but it was their conversion that let them down. Hawthorn's efficiency in attack was poor, and it cost them. Jarryd Roughead was well down on his best form, while the injury and then mid-season retirement of star Cyril Rioli certainly hurt the Hawks. Luke Breust and Jack Gunston continue to feature at the top of the League's goalkicking table, booting 54 and 51 goals respectively in 2018. The Hawks will hope that recruit Chad Wingard adds some x-factor to their attack next season, while the development of Mitchell Lewis will be one to watch as he pushes for senior selection.   

B: Blake Hardwick, James Frawley, James Sicily
HB: Grant Birchall, Ben Stratton, Harry Morrison
C: Isaac Smith, Tom Mitchell, Ricky Henderson
HF: Chad Wingard, Jack Gunston, Shaun Burgoyne
F: Paul Puopolo, Jarryd Roughead, Luke Breust
Foll:
 Ben McEvoy, Jaeger O'Meara, Liam Shiels
I/C: James Worpel, Dan Howe, Jarman Impey, Jon Ceglar 

Defender depth: Kaiden Brand, Conor Glass, Damon Greaves, Changkuoth Jiath, Jacob Koschitzke, Teia Miles, David Mirra, Tim Mohr, Tim O'Brien, Jack Scrimshaw

Forward depth: Oliver Hanrahan, Will Langford^, Mitch Lewis, Darren Minchington, Conor Nash, Jackson Ross, Ryan Schoenmakers, Mathew Walker

Midfield depth: James Cousins, Will Golds, Harrison Jones, Dylan Moore, Tom Scully*

Ruck depth: Marc Pittonet

Jack Gunston and Luke Breust are a dangerous combination for defenders. Picture: AFL Photos

10. FREMANTLE

Slotting Jesse Hogan and Rory Lobb into Fremantle's forward line changes plenty. The Dockers had been crying out for marking targets and too often relied on emerging tall Brennan Cox to be the main man last season. Now they have proven big men who will straighten up a side that has ranked bottom three for scoring over the past three seasons. Freo still lacks quality small forwards since Hayden Ballantyne's decline and needs two of Michael Walters, one up forward and one in midfield. If the likes of Brandon Matera or mature draftee Lachlan Schultz can bob up it would be a massive help, while Cam McCarthy needs to rediscover his best with more threats around him.

B: Luke Ryan, Joel Hamling, Griffin Logue
HB: Nathan Wilson, Alex Pearce, Reece Conca
C: Bradley Hill, David Mundy, Ed Langdon
HF: Michael Walters, Brennan Cox, Adam Cerra
F: Rory Lobb, Jesse Hogan, Hayden Ballantyne 
Foll: Aaron Sandilands, Nat Fyfe, Connor Blakely
I/C: Andrew Brayshaw, Bailey Banfield, Travis Colyer, Brett Bewley

Defender depth: Taylin Duman, Ethan Hughes, Shane Kersten, Ryan Nyhuis, Tobe Watson

Forward depth: Hugh Dixon, Brandon Matera, Cam McCarthy, Lachlan Schultz, Sam Sturt, Sam Switkowski, Matt Taberner

Midfield depth: Jason Carter, Mitch Crowden, Harley Bennell, Stefan Giro, Stephen Hill, Tom North, Darcy Tucker, Luke Valente

Ruck depth: Sean Darcy, Scott Jones, Lloyd Meek 

11. GEELONG

It's hard to believe a team that averaged the fourth-most points in 2018 can slip this low. However, just three goals in three quarters in an elimination final loss to Melbourne exposed the lack of avenues to goal when their backs were against the wall. For the Cats to play finals, they'll need another 60-goal season out of Tom Hawkins who will be partnered by Esava Ratugolea who has eight games to his name. Adding Luke Dahlhaus and Gary Rohan will add spark and while Gary Ablett is tipped to play more in attack, the Cats will be pushing the likes of Nakia Cockatoo, Lachie Fogarty, James Parsons and Jamaine Jones to apply pressure for spots.

B: Jed Bews, Mark Blicavs, Jack Henry
HB: Zach Tuohy, Lachie Henderson, Tom Stewart
C: Brandan Parfitt, Joel Selwood, Mitch Duncan
HF: Sam Menegola, Esava Ratugolea, Luke Dahlhaus
F: Gary Rohan, Tom Hawkins, Gary Ablett
Foll: Rhys Stanley, Patrick Dangerfield, Tim Kelly
I/C: Jake Kolodjashnij, Scott Selwood, Quinton Narkle, Cameron Guthrie

Defender depth: Harry Taylor, Zach Guthrie, Mark O'Connor, Jordan Clark, Stefan Okunbor

Forward depth: Nakia Cockatoo, Wylie Buzza, Lachie Fogarty, Nathan Kreuger, Gryan Miers, James Parsons, Jamaine Jones, Ben Jarvis, Jake Tarca, Blake Schlensog

Midfield depth: Charlie Constable, Jordan Cunico, Tom Atkins, Oscar Brownless, Jacob Kennerley, Sam Simpson

Ruck depth: Zac Smith, Ryan Abbott, Darcy Fort

How much of the goalkicking burden will fall to Tom Hawkins? Picture: AFL Photos

12. SYDNEY

The Swans brought Daniel Menzel into the mix in an effort to lend a helping hand to Lance Franklin, but he could struggle to prove his fitness for round one. It leaves the reigning All Australian captain a bit light up forward. While Franklin remains one of the game's most influential players, a lot could rely on youngers like Will Hayward, Ben Ronke, Tom Papley and Tom McCartin. Fortunately, Franklin will receive key-position help in the form of a fit-again Sam Reid. He could prove a key inclusion in a Sydney forward line that craves a reliable second option.

B: Nick Smith, Heath Grundy, Dane Rampe
HB: Jake Lloyd, Aliir Aliir, Jarrad McVeigh
C: Zak Jones, Josh Kennedy, Oliver Florent
HF: Will Hayward, Sam Reid, George Hewett
F: Ben Ronke, Lance Franklin, Tom Papley
Foll: Callum Sinclair, Luke Parker, Isaac Heeney
I/C: Callum Mills, Harry Cunningham, Nick Blakey, Ryan Clarke

Defender depth: Matthew Ling, Jack Maibaum, Lewis Melican, Colin O'Riordan, Harry Reynolds, Jackson Thurlow, Durak Tucker

Forward depth: Jordan Dawson, Kieren Jack, Tom McCartin, Daniel Menzel*, Toby Pink, James Rose, Sam Wicks

Midfield depth: James Bell, Zac Foot, Robbie Fox, Justin McInerney, James Rowbottom, Ryley Stoddart

Ruck depth: Joel Amartey, Darcy Cameron, Sam Naismith

13. NORTH MELBOURNE

Roos star Ben Brown will only continue to go from strength to strength after a second consecutive year of booting over 60 goals. While he is the focal point of North Melbourne's attack, he didn't do it alone in 2018. Skipper Jack Ziebell spent more time up forward, kicking a career-high 35 goals in a season. If the Roos can continue to share the load, then they are sure to improve in 2019. Kayne Turner continues to take steps, and if Taylor Garner can get his body right then the Roos have some good options in attack. The only thing that could see them come unstuck in up forward, is if Brown gets injured, as they don't have a lot of tall timber to fall back on. 

B: Marley Williams, Robbie Tarrant, Ed Vickers-Willis
HB: Jamie Macmillan, Ben McKay, Jasper Pittard
C: Jared Polec, Ben Jacobs, Trent Dumont    
HF: Mason Wood, Jack Ziebell, Jy Simpkin
F: Shaun Atley, Ben Brown, Kayne Turner     
Foll
: Todd Goldstein, Ben Cunnington, Shaun Higgins
I/C: Jed Anderson, Paul Ahern, Dom Tyson, Aaron Hall

Defender depth: Sam Durdin, Luke McDonald, Tom Murphy, Scott Thompson*, Declan Watson, Sam Wright, Majak Daw*

Forward depth: Joel Crocker, Taylor Garner, Nathan Hrovat, Nick Larkey, Red Og Murphy, Curtis Taylor, Tarryn Thomas, Tom Wilkinson, Cameron Zurhaar

Midfield depth: Luke Davies-Uniacke, Kyron Hayden, Tom McKenzie, Bailey Scott, Will Walker

Ruck depth: Tom Campbell, Tristan Xerri

Ben Brown's star continues to rise after another 60-goal season for the Roos. Picture: AFL Photos

14. BRISBANE

If this was graded on potential the Lions would be much higher, but as it's currently constructed, their forward line is more promise than consistency. That could change this season, though. Eric Hipwood is still just 21 and leading the attack, while Dan McStay looks close to a breakout year if he can kick straight on a regular basis. Cam Rayner is a terrific third marking option and will likely spend most of his time forward again in 2019, while lightning-quick Charlie Cameron was having an All Australian season until a foot injury stopped him last year.

B: Darcy Gardiner, Harris Andrews, Nick Robertson
HB: Luke Hodge, Josh Walker, Alex Witherden
C: Hugh McCluggage, Jarrod Berry, Tom Cutler
HF: Lewy Taylor, Dan McStay, Lincoln McCarthy
F:
 Charlie Cameron, Eric Hipwood, Cam Rayner
Foll: Stefan Martin, Lachie Neale, Dayne Zorko
I/C: Jarryd Lyons, Daniel Rich, Mitch Robinson, Zac Bailey

Defender depth:  Marcus Adams, Noah Answerth, Allen Christensen, Cedric Cox, Matt Eagles, Mitch Hinge, James Madden, Jack Payne, Sam Skinner

Forward depth: Connor Ballenden, Tom Berry, Tom Fullarton, Connor McFadyen, Toby Wooller

Midfield depth: Jacob Allison, Ryan Bastinac, Tom Joyce, Ben Keays, Ryan Lester, Corey Lyons, Rhys Mathieson, Ely Smith, Brandon Starcevich

Ruck depth: Oscar McInerney, Archie Smith 

15. CARLTON

The recruitment of Mitch McGovern and Alex Fasolo over the off-season improves Carlton's forward line significantly. While both Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay had already shown plenty of potential and look like stars of the future, McGovern adds another element to a pretty talented attack. Fasolo is a proven performer who can hit the scoreboard, though he'll need to improve his forward pressure to ensure the Blues have the ability to lock the ball inside 50. While the talent is there on paper, the facts are Carlton hasn't kicked a score of over 100 in 55 games. That's why the Blues remain so low in the rankings.

B: Nic Newman, Jacob Weitering, Lachie Plowman
HB: Lochie O'Brien, Caleb Marchbank, Kade Simpson
C: Ed Curnow, Will Setterfield, Marc Murphy
HF: Sam Petrevski-Seton, Charlie Curnow, Paddy Dow
F: Mitch McGovern, Harry McKay, Alex Fasolo
FOLL: Matthew Kreuzer, Patrick Cripps, Zac Fisher
I/C: Matthew Kennedy, Tom Williamson, Dale Thomas, Sam Walsh

Defender depth: Sam Docherty*, Angus Schumacher, Harrison Macreadie, Hugh Goddard, Ben Silvagni, Liam Jones

Forward depth: Jack Silvagni, Tom De Koning, Jarrod Garlett, Cam Polson, Patrick Kerr, Levi Casboult, Kym LeBois, Matt Owies, Finbar O'Dwyer, Tom Bugg, Jarrod Pickett*

Midfield depth: Darcy Lang, David Cuningham, Liam Stocker

Ruck depth: Matthew Lobbe, Andrew Phillips

Blues fans hope Charlie Curnow will deliver on his boundless potential. Picture: AFL Photos

16. ST KILDA

The Saints are ranked low but there's plenty of upside in their forward 50. With high-pressure trio Jack Billings, Jade Gresham and Ben Long in the mix they can probably afford to use three talls. Paddy McCartin's concussion problems are well-documented but he has obvious talent while Tim Membrey has been a consistent avenue to goal in the past three seasons, averaging two a game. If Billings elevates his game (and kicks straight) and Gresham continues his upward trajectory, this unit might cause some headaches for opponents. If the talls don't fire, Josh Battle, Josh Bruce and draftee Max King – once he recovers from his ACL – are waiting in the wings for a chance.

B: Jarryn Geary, Logan Austin, Dylan Roberton
HB: Jimmy Webster, Jake Carlisle, Daniel McKenzie 
C: Dan Hannebery, Jack Steven, Hunter Clark
HF: Jade Gresham, Tim Membrey, Jack Billings
F: Ben Long, Rowan Marshall, Paddy McCartin

FOLL: Billy Longer, Seb Ross, Jack Steele
I/C: Blake Acres, Jack Newnes, Dean Kent, Jack Sinclair

Defender depth: Nathan Brown*, Bailey Rice, Oscar Clavarino, Darragh Joyce, Callum Wilkie, Shane Savage, Nick Coffield, Brandon White

Forward depth: Jack Lonie, Josh Battle, Max King*, Robert Young, Matthew Parker, Josh Bruce, Ben Paton

Midfield depth: Ed Phillips, Doulton Langlands, Jack Bytel*, Luke Dunstan, David Armitage, Nick Hind

Ruck depth: Lewis Pierce, Sam Alabakis 

17. WESTERN BULLDOGS

It's not really a surprise the Bulldogs' forward line is ranked here. They were one of the most inefficient teams in 2018 when it came to scoring. Once inside their attacking 50, the Bulldogs only managed to score 39.7 per cent of the time, the second-worst percentage behind Gold Coast. If they can improve this in 2019, it will go a long way to helping them climb back up the ladder. Billy Gowers was a revelation for the Dogs in attack last season, kicking 26 goals. But he needs support, and lots of it. Josh Schache and Tom Boyd both only played 12-13 games and need to provide strong marking options for the Dogs up forward. Patrick Lipinski will continue to develop while veteran Liam Picken could provide a welcome boost, if his recovery from concussion continues to track positively.

B: Easton Wood, Dale Morris, Zaine Cordy
HB: Bailey Williams, Aaron Naughton, Jason Johannisen
C: Lachie Hunter, Marcus Bontempelli, Jackson Macrae
HF: Toby McLean, Josh Schache, Sam Lloyd
F: Billy Gowers, Tom Boyd, Tory Dickson
Foll: 
Jackson Trengove, Tom Liberatore, Mitch Wallis
I/C: Ed Richards, Caleb Daniel, Josh Dunkley, Hayden Crozier

Defender depth: Matthew Suckling, Taylor Duryea, Brad Lynch, Roarke Smith, Lewis Young, Fletcher Roberts, Laitham Vandermeer, Lachie Young, Buku Khamis

Forward depth: Liam Picken, Patrick Lipinski, Lukas Webb, Fergus Greene, Ben Cavarra

Midfield depth: Lin Jong, Bailey Dale, Bailey Smith, Rhylee West, Will Hayes, Callum Porter

Ruck depth: Tim English, Jordan Sweet 

Billy Gowers was a shining light for the Dogs in an otherwise bleak 2018 season. Picture: AFL Photos

18. GOLD COAST

When you lose one of the competition's best forwards it's going to take a toll. From the moment Tom Lynch decided to leave the Suns in free agency the club has been in rebuild mode. If you're an optimist you'd call the forward line exciting, if you're a pessimist you'd call it unproven. 'Two-Metre' Peter Wright is entering his fifth season and has all the traits to be a dominant key forward, while Jack Martin has shown his class time and again – he just needs to do it more consistently. No.3 pick Izak Rankine was hailed as the most exciting prospect in the draft and Ben Ainsworth is looking more and more comfortable at senior level. This young group will need games together to prove themselves, though.

B: Jesse Joyce, Rory Thompson, Jarrod Harbrow
HB: Callum Ah Chee, Jack Hombsch, Pearce Hanley
C: Lachie Weller, David Swallow, Alex Sexton
HF: Jack Martin, Josh Corbett, Ben Ainsworth
F: Darcy MacPherson, Peter Wright, Izak Rankine
Foll: Jarrod Witts, Anthony Miles, Touk Miller
I/C: Brayden Fiorini, George Horlin-Smith, Jack Bowes, Aaron Young

Defender depth: Charlie Ballard, Sam Collins, Caleb Graham, Connor Nutting, Ben King, Jack Leslie, Jez McLennan, Michael Rischitelli, Josh Schoenfeld, Harrison Wigg

Forward depth: Chris Burgess, Sam Day, Jacob Heron, Sean Lemmens, Jack Lukosius, Wil Powell, Brad Scheer

Midfield depth: Will Brodie, Jacob Dawson, Corey Ellis, Nick Holman, Jordan Murdoch

Ruck depth: Brayden Crossley, Tom Nicholls 

Players suspended for round one, or who have long-term injury concerns likely to keep them on the sidelines early in the season, have been left out of the sides. They are denoted with an asterisk in the above lists. 

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs