It’s already February, and the early markets for the AFL are in full swing.
BetDeluxe takes an in-depth look at three major markets and hunts down the value on offer.
Having won the past three Coleman Medals – Charlie Curnow (2022-23) and Harry McKay (2021) – it’s a relatively safe bet to place the former at the top of the pile again.
Pre-finals Curnow was a beast in 2023 with 78 goals from his 23 games, including a total of 19 against West Coast in their two match-ups. While he certainly went missing come finals with just a solitary major in each game against Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, there’s no doubt a poor finish to the season will have made him hungrier than ever before over the pre-season.
If Carlton is going to make a grand final – let alone win it, as every Blues supporter will have you believe– they’ll need Curnow to break the 80-goal barrier yet again. And with the unpredictability of McKay’s goal kicking as well as Silvagni’s season-ending ACL injury, Curnow will need to maintain the same level of output at the very least.
Taylor Walker (Adelaide) presents excellent value at $12 after recapturing his best form and finishing the 2023 season with 76 goals, but all eyes will undoubtedly be on North Melbourn’s Nick Larkey. Despite another disappointing season from the team’s perspective and the fact Clarko stepped down for a large chunk of the year, Larkey went the other way and booted a career-high 71 majors. His previous best was 42 in 2021. Entering his seventh season and with the greatest coach of the modern era back at the helm, don’t sleep on the Roos’ spearhead $10.
Suggested Bet: N. Larkey to win @ $10
Bet Now: Coleman medal
To Make The Top 8
Let’s be honest, Collingwood, Brisbane, GWS, Carlton and Port Adelaide aren’t going anywhere. Two grand finalists, two teams that learnt to play to their potential and the notorious home and away champions (Power) will be lining up for a spot in the top four this season.
The second half of the eight is where we want to focus our attention, with Melbourne, Sydney, and Adelaide the next in the betting. While the Swans and Crows are seemingly back on the way up, the 2021 premiers could reasonably be expected to nosedive and miss the eight for the first time since 2020. While Simon Goodwin’s men haven’t even missed a top-four spot in the past three seasons, the off-field drama surrounding Clayton Oliver and Joel Smith, their dysfunctional forward line and the signs emanating from last year’s straight sets finals exit, one could make a case for the Dees’ decline in 2024.
Who then jumps into finals contention? Geelong? The Dogs? Can St Kilda do it all over again? At $2.75 in the market, we’re backing the Gold Coast under the tutelage of three-time premiership coach Damien Hardwick.
With more young talent than any other team, Dimma will expect the world from his list, and players like Ben King, Touk Miller, Noah Anderson, and Matt Rowell will thrive under his no-nonsense approach to the game.
This will require the Suns to make finals for the first time in club history. But a bloke who has held the Cup above his head five times (three as a coach and twice as a player) is a pretty good place to start.
Suggested Bet: Gold Coast To Make The Top 8 @ $2.75
Bet Now: TOP 8
Can the good ol’ Collingwood do it all again?
Unsurprisingly, the market suggests it’s between last year’s two grand finalists again in 2024, with the Pies ($5) and the Lions ($5.50) leading the chasing pack around the $8-9.50 mark.
Despite losing three of their last five games ahead of finals, the Pies were the clear standouts with 18 wins en route to the minor (and major) premiership. Nick Daicos, Josh Daicos, Jordan de Goey, Darcy Moore, and the forever-young Scott Pendlebury led a team that simply didn’t know how to quit.
As is the case in the history of our great game, success on the field breeds success off it, with former Fremantle livewire Lachie Schultz joining the Magpies during the trade period and instantly improving their forward line. They will need to repeat the dose without Taylor Adams (Sydney), Jack Ginnivan (Hawthorn) and perhaps the most devastating blow, Dan McStay (ACL).
Brisbane will undoubtedly prove Collingwood’s biggest threat again after landing Tom Doedee and Brandon Ryan in the free agency and trade period. The most exciting part of the 2024 Lions is the return of Will Ashcroft after he ruptured his ACL in July. They still have improvement to come.
GWS and Carlton have been backed into single figures following their incredible late runs in 2023, but it’s Ken Hinkley’s men across the border who have gone all-out for premiership success. Port Adelaide ($13) is an interesting one after they plugged holes in their list with the addition of Ivan Soldo, Esava Ratugolea, Brandon Zerk-Thatcher, and Jordon Sweet. While the talk of Ratugolea being an AA-quality forward is (extremely) premature, Soldo is a genuinely underrated ruckman and an automatic improvement on Scott Lycett.
Suggested Bet: Brisbane to win @ $5.50
Bet Now: Premiership
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