Former No.1 overall draft pick Bryce Gibbs was meant to be the missing piece for the Crows' premiership puzzle when he returned to South Australia at the end of 2017 on a lucrative four-year deal. But after a solid first season with the Crows, Gibbs struggled last year and was in and out of the side. With two years remaining on his contract, the 30-year-old will be hoping to recapture his best form under new senior coach Matthew Nicks. Gibbs has played predominately through the midfield, but a switch to half-back, where his accurate kicking can be a weapon, might be the role for him at this stage of his career. - Lee Gaskin


The Lions will be keen to see former No.1 overall draft pick Cam Rayner take a big step forward in 2020. Rayner has played 46 consecutive games since being taken with the top choice in the 2017 NAB AFL Draft, but has struggled to make a consistent impact. Playing the tricky high half-forward role, he averaged just 9.5 disposals per game and kicked 20 goals last season. The 20-year-old returned to pre-season training in great nick, having dropped four kilograms, and looks primed to be able to contribute in attack along with having bursts through the midfield. An explosive Rayner will help the Lions challenge for the flag. - Lee Gaskin


While Mitch McGovern showed glimpses of his potential in 2019, it's fair to say not everything went to plan for Carlton's high-profile recruit. He arrived carrying lingering ankle injuries and struggled to become a dominant force in the team's forward line. He kicked just 22 goals from 16 games and missed a stretch of four matches between July and August due to ongoing fitness issues. McGovern’s return late in the year after a couple of brutal training sessions with high-performance boss Andrew Russell brought about more promising results, but he'll need to deliver on a more consistent basis in 2020 if he is to justify the significant investment from the Blues. With both Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay hampered by ongoing injury issues this off-season, the early part of the campaign will provide the perfect opportunity for McGovern to stamp his authority within Carlton's attack. – Riley Beveridge

Mitch McGovern will be hoping to head in a new direction in 2020. Picture: Getty Images


He may have lifted his game to another level in recent seasons, but Steele Sidebottom will be keen to rectify his recent finals record. On the surface this sounds ludicrous given the creative runner won the Gary Ayres Award as the player of the finals in 2018, while last year he bounced back from a ruptured testicle to be arguably best-afield in the qualifying final win over minor premier Geelong. However, the Collingwood vice-captain's past two seasons have ended with underwhelming performances in heartbreaking defeats – an uncharacteristically quiet 14-possession effort (a personal five-year low) in the five-point loss to West Coast in the 2018 Grand Final, and just 16 touches as the Pies went down by four points in their preliminary final against Greater Western Sydney. - Ben Collins


Last year was a forgettable one for Orazio Fantasia. So often Essendon's spark and livewire, the Bombers small forward endured an injury-hit season that saw him have little influence on games in the second half of the year. And then during that time, and right through to the late stages of October's Telstra AFL Trade Period, he was strongly linked to a move back to South Australia. Fantasia has two more years to run on his deal with the Bombers, but will be determined to get back to his best this season after last year's challenges. He's back in full training after a post-season hip operation, is moving freely, has his dynamic change of pace back and has been eye-catching in recent weeks of training. – Callum Twomey

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Fantastic Fantasia works freakish goal

Orazio Fantasia wows the crowd with a sensational major from the pocket

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Entering his third season, it's time for Adam Cerra to go from solid contributor to breakout star at the Dockers. After playing a variety of roles in his first 41 games, the No.5 pick from the 2017 NAB AFL Draft will take on greater responsibility this year following the departures of Bradley Hill and Ed Langdon and leg injury to David Mundy that will delay the veteran's start to the season. The Dockers have had a major focus on improving skill output this summer and Cerra's class will be central to Justin Longmuir's outfit improving their ranking as the worst in the competition by foot. - Mitch Cleary

Will 2020 be the year Adam Cerra breaks out? Picture: AFL Photos


After five consecutive seasons booting 40-plus goals across 2014-2018, Josh Jenkins won't want to be defined by his 2019 campaign. The 30-year-old featured just 11 times at AFL level last year due to form and injury before falling out with the Crows which forced a trade to Geelong with two years remaining on his deal. Now with a fresh start on a reduced contract, Jenkins will be pushing for a permanent spot in the Cats' forward line and prove he can play in tandem with Tom Hawkins and Esava Ratugolea. - Mitch Cleary

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Get Excited, Cats: The best of new recruit Josh Jenkins

The Cats gain key forward Josh Jenkins from the Crows

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Now into his sixth year in the AFL system, this season represents the perfect opportunity for Peter Wright to establish himself as the dominant force within Gold Coast's forward line. Having shown glimpses of his immense potential early last year, Wright finished the campaign out of the club's best side and with just 21 goals to his name from 17 appearances. The opportunity to partner Ben King and perhaps Jack Lukosius, who also spent time down back last year, in a blossoming Suns attacking unit is one that should excite Wright. If he can begin to stamp his authority on contests with more regularity, using his imposing physical presence to his advantage, he could prove the side's best goal threat this season. – Riley Beveridge

It's time for Two-Metre Peter to stand tall. Picture: AFL Photos


Having a poor game on the big stage can really affect a player’s reputation. Jeremy Finlayson will be eager to erase memories of his one-disposal effort in the 2019 Grand Final. The forward’s output last season had been excellent until then, with 44 goals for the year and seven goals across his first three finals games. Finlayson comes out of contract at the end of this season, which coincidentally coincides with Jeremy Cameron. With plenty to play for from a reputation standpoint as well as from a contract point of view, Finlayson should be set for a huge year. - Jourdan Canil


There are a few candidates at the Hawks, but it's hard to go past Jon Patton. Patton crossed from the Giants after sitting out the past 18 months since undergoing his third knee reconstruction. Not only does he need to prove he can be durable but also whether he can be the same player who kicked 83 goals across the 2016 and '17 seasons. And, most importantly, how will Patton fit alongside breakout forward Mitch Lewis – a fellow almost-200cm giant – and All-Australians Jack Gunston and Luke Breust? At his best, Patton is a contested marking force and one of the AFL's best set-shot exponents. – Marc McGowan


Almost everything that could have gone wrong in Steven May's first season at Melbourne did. He dealt with a hamstring injury in the summer, missed round one after copping a rough conduct suspension during the pre-season competition and then hurt his groin upon his return. He was then seen drinking while injured in May, capping a disastrous start to his time with the Demons. He finished the year with just eight senior games to his name, failing to form any sort of significant partnership with fellow key defender Jake Lever. The pair played just four matches together throughout the season and couldn't form any lasting synergy. May returned to pre-season training early this summer and has credited yoga sessions for his increased fitness levels. Melbourne fans will hope that translates to more time on the park – and a significantly higher output – during the upcoming season. – Riley Beveridge

Steven May has been training hard in an effort to reach his peak at Melbourne. Picture: Getty Images


Any number of Roos fit the bill here, such as Mason Wood, Sam Durdin, Luke Davies-Uniacke, Ben McKay or Aiden Bonar. However, Dom Tyson is the one to watch, after a wretched debut season at Arden St. The ex-Demon and Giant was dropped to the VFL after round three last year, then a recurring calf problem shortly afterwards ruined his campaign. Still has two more seasons on his contract but faces a familiar problem to what he had at Melbourne, in that there is a large number of competitors for inside midfield spots. Tyson is hardly over the hill at age 26 but he needs to get going again. – Marc McGowan


Nothing went right for midfield bull Ollie Wines last year. A dislocated shoulder from a water-skiing accident disrupted his pre-season before a lower leg injury slowed him down midway through the year. He also lost the co-captaincy, but it's been smooth sailing for vice-captain Wines during the pre-season so far and he looks set to get back to his bullocking best and lead the way for the Power's on-ball division. Wines' strength is his ability to win contested ball, but there have always been questions marks about his disposal and ability to hit targets by foot. This is a key season for the 25-year-old to show why he's long been considered a leader at Port Adelaide. - Lee Gaskin


Unfortunately struck down by an ankle injury at Richmond's Gold Coast training camp, Kamdyn McIntosh will now be behind the eight-ball when it comes to re-establishing himself in the AFL side. The tall winger was a mainstay of the Tigers' senior side for several years before falling out of favour after round 17. He was trialled in a VFL defensive role in the back-end of the season with the coaching group looking to build versatility in his game. McIntosh was extremely unlucky to miss both the VFL and AFL premiership wins after being held over as injury cover. With the move of Brandon Ellis to Gold Coast, there's a spot on the wing up for grabs in 2020. – Sarah Black

Kamdyn McIntosh celebrates a goal. Picture: AFL Photos


It's obvious to list Dan Hannebery as the one who wants – and needs – a big year, but Jake Carlisle is just as in need of a strong showing. The former Bomber managed 10 games in 2019 after back surgery but returned underdone and below his best before being linked to a potential end of season trade. With the arrival of Dougal Howard, the expected return of Dylan Roberton, the emergence of Callum Wilkie and Josh Battle plus the retention of Nathan Brown, Carlisle will need to deliver in 2020 with competition for spots in the backline sure to be hot. – Jennifer Phelan.

Jake Carlisle is working hard to get in shape for the Saints' 2020 campaign. Picture: AFL Photos


It's hard to keep expectations under wraps when you boot seven goals in your third game, but that's what Ben Ronke faced last year after his 2018 display against Hawthorn. Last season, the 22-year-old played 13 AFL games for nine goals and spent time in the NEAFL after failing to capitalise on the 18-game, 24-goal contribution he recorded the previous year. With Tom Papley staying and Sam Gray and Lewis Taylor arriving, Ronke faces stern competition as he aims to consolidate his spot. Youngster Matthew Ling is another looking for a 2020 breakthrough with injury ruining the first-round draftee's first two years as a Swan. – Jennifer Phelan.  


Premiership-winning defender Liam Duggan was below his best last year, even before an ankle injury forced him to miss six weeks late in the season. That resulted in Duggan being overlooked for the Eagles' finals campaign once he returned. The 11th overall pick of the 2014 national draft, the 23-year-old has played 85 games in his six seasons with the Eagles. Contracted until the end of 2021, Duggan will be relied upon to be a regular contributor in the Eagles' backline and to take his game to another level. - Lee Gaskin

Liam Duggan will want to be part of any future West Coast success. Picture: AFL Photos


Jackson Trengove will be feeling the heat in the final year of his contract. The utility spent time as a key defender for most of last season but was displaced after round 22, losing his spot to Lewis Young. With Alex Keath adding to the backline and Josh Bruce joining Aaron Naughton and Josh Schache up forward, there’s no clear spot for Trengove. Tim English will likely be given a chop out by Bruce in the ruck, so unless Trengove can beat out Zaine Cordy or Young for a spot in defence, it mightn’t be smooth sailing for the 29-year-old. - Jourdan Canil

Former Bulldog Jackson Trengove could provide handy ruck depth for other clubs. Picture: AFL Photos