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AFL 2016 TipBetPro Projections

So we've looked at squad development, talent and depth but which team does the TipBetPro statistical model predict will take out the 2016 premiership?

The TipBetPro model has adapted our statistically tested algorithm for predicting matches to rate every player on an AFL list for the 2016 AFL premiership season. From this baseline ranking, we have projected improvement and decline for each player throughout the 2016 season using historical trends based primarily on age and AFL experience. We have used these TipBetPro player rankings to simulate 5,000 virtual seasons of the upcoming 2016 AFL premiership season under various randomly generated conditions for injuries and player performance. The results have been collated over each of the 5,000 simulations and averaged to provide you with the TipBetPro 2016 AFL pre-season predictions.

The Teams to Beat - Hawthorn, Port Adelaide and West Coast This time last season, TipBetPro rated Hawthorn far superior to any other list and predicted something would need to go horribly wrong for the Hawks not to emerge 2015 premiers. It was more of a battle throughout the season than we expected, but ultimately Hawthorn showed that they were a class above any other side when it mattered. In 2016, whilst we still rate Hawthorn as the team to beat, it is no longer a clear cut advantage with 2015 runner-ups West Coast and an emerging Port Adelaide rated only narrowly below the Hawks.

2015 runner-ups West Coast have improved their list with the off-season recruitment of Lewis Jetta and Jack Redden and, as noted in our squad development analysis, West Coast have a higher number of players in the prime of their career than any other side. The biggest challenge for West Coast will be remaining amongst the lead contenders through a tough first half of the season where, amongst numerous challenges, the TipBetPro simulator has them losing more often than not on the road to Hawthorn, Geelong, Port Adelaide and Western Bulldogs. Make it to half way in the Top 4 and West Coast will be perfectly placed to be the side to beat over the back half of the season.

Port Adelaide were shock non-finalists in 2015 but the recruitment of Charlie Dixon and a softer fixture should prove the catalyst for a rebound not just to finals contention but premiership contenders in 2016. Unlike last season, we expect Port to burst out of the blocks with only a Round 6 trip to the MCG to play Richmond, their Round 9 home clash against West Coast and a Round 11 trip back to the MCG to play Collingwood producing a significant number of losing simulated games. Port are currently rated a $2.50 chance by most markets to make the Top 4, TipBetPro have the Power finishing Top 4 in over 80% of our simulated seasons so that is looking like the best value bet of the off-season. Premiership Roughies - Collingwood, North Melbourne, Fremantle, Geelong, Western Bulldogs

Each of these premiership roughies had simulated seasons where they emerged on top of the ladder following the regular season. It will come as a surprise to many that Collingwood is so highly rated by TipBetPro, but the Pies injury woes and focus on youth in recent seasons has left them superbly placed with respect to development and depth. The recruitment of Adam Treloar adds another A-Grade midfielder to compliment an already strong midfield division boasting Scott Pendlebury, Dane Swan and Steele Sidebottom whilst James Aish and Jeremy Howe are more than handy recruitments. Of our 5,000 simulated seasons, nearly half had Collingwood finishing top 4 and at $6 at most betting agencies, the Pies look excellent value for a Top 4 finish.

Of the remainder - although the TipBetPro simulation model suspects that North Melbourne and Fremantle are on the slide, there is still too much class and experience in their line-ups for them to be ignored. Everything would likely have to go right for these two sides to steal a flag but both were projected to be minor premiers in more than 2% of our simulated seasons, not an immaterial percentage, and we would not be stunned if they give one more premiership push before they rebuild.

Geelong have recruited heavily with the addition of Patrick Dangerfield, Lachie Henderson, Scott Selwood and Zac Smith and with a soft fixture we expect the Cats to rebound back into the Top 8 in 2016. The Cats Top 7 players (Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood, Tom Hawkins, Jimmy Bartel, Mitch Duncan and Corey Enright) we rate higher than any of the best 7 from any other team and that class rockets them into premiership contention. Ultimately a lack of depth costs Geelong in many of our simulations but the top end talent is enviable and will make them a dangerous opponent for any side this season.

Finally, the surprise packets of 2015, the Western Bulldogs have an average projected finish of 8th and in 10% of our simulations, the Dogs finish Top 4. The Dogs have arguably the poorest squad balance in the AFL with very few players in the prime of their career and an over-reliance on veterans and developing youngsters. However, the Dogs veterans are absolute class and TipBetPro still rate Bob Murphy and Matthew Boyd as the Dogs two best players. Further, the Dogs youngsters, led by Marcus Bontempelli, Jake Stringer and Jack Macrae are well and truly out-performing expectations compared to the average AFL player at a similar stage of their career and this unusual combination of high performing veterans and elite (for the stage of their career) youngsters makes the Dogs a continued threat in 2016.

Fighting for Finals – Essendon, Richmond, Adelaide, Gold Coast, Sydney No doubt one or more of the above sides will under-perform or have a bad run with injury which will open the door for someone to slip into the top 8 and this group of teams are best placed to steal a Top 8 birth.

No surprises with Essendon, Adelaide (now minus Patrick Dangerfield) or Gold Coast being amongst this group, however many will be surprised at the low rating of Richmond and Sydney by the TipBetPro model.

Richmond improved their squad throughout 2015 and are well regarded with eight players now rated by TipBetPro inside the Top 100 in the AFL (the Tigers Top 10 players rated 7th in the AFL by TipBetPro). However, the Tigers don't have the absolute elite talent of a Hawthorn or Geelong, the experience of a Fremantle or North Melbourne, or the depth of a West Coast or Collingwood and unfortunately for Tigers fans - that leads TipBetPro to believe that their recent middle of the road finishes are to continue in 2016.

Sydney are a fascinating case study with remarkable elite talent and they are the only side to match the Hawks with five Top 40 ranked players - Lance Franklin, Josh Kennedy, Jarrad McVeigh, Kieren Jack and Dan Hannebery, not to mention Luke Parker rapidly approaching that group. However, Sydney's depth has taken a hammering in recent seasons and the trend will continue in 2016 with the loss of Lewis Jetta, Adam Goodes, Mike Pyke, Rhys Shaw and Craig Bird. The Swans have a large group of below average starting 22 players and their youth have thus far under-performed compared to their cohort (other than the supremely talented Isaac Heeney and to a lesser extent Jake Lloyd). All this leads TipBetPro to once again anticipate that Sydney will be the big sliders in 2016 and only 11% of our simulated seasons have the Swans making the Top 8 (only 0.5% for the Top 4). Unlikely to contend in 2016 - GWS, St Kilda, Brisbane, Melbourne, Carlton There would be few surprises that St Kilda, Brisbane, Melbourne and Carlton are not expected to contend in 2016 and I doubt there would be any fans offended that not a single simulated season had these teams making the top 4 (in fact - in the case of Brisbane, Melbourne and Carlton - not a single simulated season had them in the top 8).

More surprising though is that TipBetPro do not rate GWS a big chance to make the finals in 2016 (just 2.6% of simulations had the Giants finishing top 8 and none had them finishing top 4). The loss of the highly rated Adam Treloar in addition to numerous depth players has the Giants projected by TipBetPro to decline in 2016. For all the talent of the Giants youth, particularly Dylan Shiel, Devon Smith and Jeremy Cameron, the Giants will again be heavily dependent on their experienced talent such as Shane Mumford, Heath Shaw and Callan Ward to stand up in 2016 and it could be a very long season if any of this trio succomb to injury.

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