Who has the scariest forward line in the AFL? Who has the most depth?
We have gone through all 18 AFL teams to rank their six most dangerous players inside 50.
A few midfielders – and even a defender – slip into the top six at certain clubs and are even ranked ahead of forwards, given the likes of Nathan Fyfe, Dustin Martin and Patrick Cripps can be dominant when inserted into the forward half.
Club by club, here are the best attacking threats inside 50.
1. Taylor Walker
Walker kicked 43 goals last year and while he has taken a few steps back, the Crows have lost multiple forwards and haven’t really replaced them, making him their number one option.
2. Tom Lynch
While Lynch is used more between the arcs and less as a permanent forward, he remains one of their most important players forward of the ball. He is more than capable of kicking bags of goals and may get greater opportunities deeper inside 50 in 2020.
3. Darcy Fogarty
Fogarty struggled to break into Adelaide’s best 22 last year, but this may now be his year to break out inside 50. He has received high praise from experts, including Matthew Lloyd, who rated him as the best kick for goal he has seen. He kicked nine goals in just four games last season, including five against the Eagles.
4. Lachlan Murphy
Murphy quietly kicked 19 goals from 21 games last year playing as a small forward for the Crows. The 21-year-old has only played 32 career games and will become more of a focal point in the absences of Eddie Betts and Charlie Cameron. His best return game against St Kilda, booting three.
5. Brad Crouch
Crouch makes the list given the lack of forward options for the Crows. He kicked 11 goals last year and has the strength to be a capable forward if required. Crouch kicked three goals against the Dees in 2019 and has shown the ability to hit the scoreboard, pushing ahead of the ball.
6. Elliott Himmelberg
One of the potential Josh Jenkins replacements, Himmelberg only played seven games last year, but showed enough to be worth persisting with in 2020. His ability to provide some help in the ruck also provides him the verstaility required to have greater opportunities this year. Given he's only played eight games, it is another sign at how bereft the Crows are of established forward options.
1. Charlie Cameron
The least traditional full-forward in the AFL, Cameron booted 57 goals last season and led the Lions to the finals. Brisbane loved to clear out their forward like for the All-Australian and it worked to great effect, kicking three goals or more in nine games.
2. Eric Hipwood
Hipwood kicked 35 goals last year and as a young key forward, is capable of taking a leap in 2020. The 22-year-old isn't yet a finished product and will likely continue to build out in both size and forward craft as the years go on. Hipwood has shown the ability to take big marks and launch goals from outside 50.
3. Lincoln McCarthy
Finally able to play a full season without injuries, McCarthy was dangerous for the Lions as a small forward capable of standing up in big moments. McCarthy's full potential was never realised at the Cats due to ongoing injury issues, but Brisbane utilised him effectively as a dangerous small forward.
4. Daniel McStay
McStay showed the ability to take big contested marks inside 50 and averaged a goal per game in 2019. He kicked 21 goals and while he was never the focal point of the forward line, McStay played his role as a secondary key position target and marking option down the line.
5. Cam Rayner
Rayner hasn’t quite broken out just yet, but kicked 20 goals and has the potential to develop into quite a serious forward threat. The former number one draft pick has shown glimpses, but only had 28 shots at goal and needs to have a greater impact on games for longer periods of time.
6. Dayne Zorko
Zorko kicked 23 goals in 2019 playing mostly through the midfield, but has shown the ability to play forward and be effective. He started his career as a pressuring half-forward and has developed into a great on-baller. Midfielders who can provide 25 goals per season are worth their weight in gold.
1. Charlie Curnow
Whenever Carlton played Charlie Curnow as their deepest forward, he looked close to unstoppable and the club will be hoping they can get his knee right. He has the tank to play further up the ground and even up on the wing, but the Blues should keep it simple and keep him where opposition teams would fear most.
2. Harry McKay
McKay is still finding his feet in the league, but is already an elite contested mark and capable of becoming a star. Wayward goal kicking held him back in 2019, but the 22-year-old has got the potential to be anything. The Blues will be hoping to have both of their young key forwards firing on all cylinders by the end of 2020.
3. Eddie Betts
The Blues welcome Betts back coming off 37 goals for the Crows and the club will be very happy to have someone capable of kicking a bag back given their forward 50 struggles in recent years. Despite his age, Carlton needs Betts to be a genuine goal kicking threat to be competitive in 2020.
4. Mitch McGovern
McGovern’s 2019 was derailed by injuries and fitness issues, but at his best he has shown the ability to be a game changer. At the Crows, he was a high-marking player who could change games in an instant. Blues fans are yet to see it, but will be hoping a fitter McGovern delivers this season.
5. Patrick Cripps
The Blues are reluctant to move Cripps forward, but he takes big marks and kicks goals whenever he pushes into attack. Carlton has desperately needed Cripps around the midfield and also has had too many key forwards to use their skipper inside 50, but the fact remains that he is a mismatch for most defenders when he does swing forward.
6. Levi Casboult
Casboult might not fit in Carlton’s best 22 when everyone is available and may even be better as a defender, but he is an elite contested mark and a veteran who knows what he is doing. He kicked 15 goals in 2019, despite spending half the year in defence.
1. Jordan de Goey
At only 23, de Goey already stands as one of the most potent forward line threats in the competition. With both impressive strength and sublime skills, he can turn a game off his own boot.
2. Jaidyn Stephenson
Stephenson’s speed makes him the second most threatening forward for the Pies. He’s rarely caught off the mark, and a long kick makes the third-year forward very dangerous.
3. Brody Mihocek
The former defender’s reliable boot and big body have Brody Mihocek placed as one of the Pies’ most important forward options. He quietly kicked 36 goals last season and got the job done throughout the season while Mason Cox was on the sidelines.
4. Jamie Elliott
The high-flying Elliott finally put together a solid full season in 2019 after years of injuries hampered his promising career. More continuity and a better connection with his forward brethren will only benefit his already exciting game.
5. Mason Cox
Although he at times resembles a baby giraffe, the towering American possesses the height to trouble any defender in the AFL. As he continues to develop his marking strength and forward smarts, he will only get better.
6. Will Hoskin-Elliott
2018 was a career-best season for 'WHE', kicking 42 goals from 26 games culminating in a Grand Final berth. The skilled, lanky forward had a down 2019, but has the tricks to worry less focused defenders.
1. Joe Daniher
Daniher’s season looms as one of footy’s biggest on-field stories and for Essendon, his recovery from a groin injury could make or break their season. As it stands, it remains to be seen whether he can get back to the form he showed in 2017 when he helped himself to 65 goals.
2. Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti
So often the barometer of Essendon’s forward line, the Bombers will be looking for more consistency from the exciting small forward. When McDonald-Tipungwuti is playing well and kicking goals, the Bombers look a lot more formidable of a side.
3. Jake Stringer
2019 was Stringer’s best season in the red and black, kicking 33 goals. He’ll be looking for another strong season as the Bombers re-jig their forward line without Mitch Brown as one of the key focal points.
4. Orazio Fantasia
It’s the million dollar question – how good can Fantasia be if he stays fit for an entire season? His 2019 was largely ruined by a persistent hamstring injury, playing 15 games but kicking just 20 goals. The Bombers need a significant uplift from the talented 24-year-old after he rejected a move home to South Australia in the off-season.
5. Cale Hooker
Hooker’s entering the twilight of his career but that doesn’t discount his importance to Essendon, with his flexibility adding plenty to John Worsfold’s side. Whether he plays down back or in the forward line remains to be seen.
6. Shaun McKernan
McKernan’s output at Essendon since moving from Adelaide in 2015 has been well above what was expected when he originally joined the club, with his 2019 season being arguably his best yet as he held down a key position spot while Daniher remained on the sidelines. He remains a vital cog to the Bombers.
1. Michael Walters
Walters kicked 40 goals last year and won two games off his own boot after the siren. He remains Freo’s most dynamic option forward of centre. The Dockers might need Walters more in the midfield in 2020 given the depth they have lost. When given the chance, the 29-year-old is as good as any small forward in the game.
2. Nathan Fyfe
Not far behind him is the captain Fyfe who not only is among the competition’s best midfielders, but could be a dominant forward if required. He kicked 16 goals last year and didn't have the freedom to spend as much time forward given the club's lack of midfield depth. Fyfe can mark above his head as well as any midfielder in the AFL.
3. Jesse Hogan
The question for Hogan is whether he can stay on the park, but he has proven he can be a quality key forward when healthy. Hogan has kicked 40 goals or more in all three of his healthy seasons and the Dockers would be desperate to get that output from him.
4. Brandon Matera
Matera kicked 30 goals last year from 20 games and was impressive playing as a small forward all season. He had an excellent year playing one of the toughest positions on the ground in a struggling team. He booted five in the club's win over the Bulldogs in Round 6, highlighting his skills.
5. Matthew Taberner
Taberner had a strong start to 2019 before injuries ended his season, kicking 13 goals in nine games. Injury may have derailled a breakout season for him, but there's no reason to suggest he can't do it again in 2020.
6. Rory Lobb
Lobb may return to a key forward role in 2020 depending on how Fremantle structures their ruck and he can be a threat as he showed at GWS. While he prefers to play in the ruck, Sean Darcy may be given the starting job, with Lobb playing predominantly inside 50.
1. Tom Hawkins
Hawkins booted 56 goals in 2019 and continues to be Geelong’s spearhead. They showed in September that without him, the Cats are a completely different looking team going forward given his ability to take big marks inside 50 and between the arcs. He had a run of five games in a row last season where he booted four goals.
2. Gryan Miers
Miers stood up late in the season following an outstanding debut season where he kicked 28 goals. The young forward provided a dynamic option for the Cats and will only get better as he grows in experience across 2020 and beyond.
3. Patrick Dangerfield
Dangerfield is not only a proven goal kicker, but a dominant player when isolated deep inside 50. The question is how long the Cats choose to keep him there. He has shown that when he is isolated in the forward half, opposition defenders struggle to contain his strength above his head and his acceleration on the lead.
4. Gary Ablett
Ablett was moved forward in 2019 and was in All-Australian form across the first two thirds of the season. Even at 35, he remains one of the most damaging players in the AFL with ball in hand.
5. Josh Jenkins
Jenkins arrives from Adelaide and should slot straight in alongside Hawkins inside 50. He quietly kicked 22 goals last year from his 11 games with the Crows. Jenkins flourished as a deep forward next to Taylor Walker at the Crows and will hope to have a similar impact with Hawkins and Ratugolea.
6. Esava Ratugolea
Still young and improving, Ratugolea has shown the ability to take games over with his athleticism and contested marking. He sits at six on this list for now, just ahead of Gary Rohan who was unlucky to miss out, but could leap into the top three by the end of the season if he breaks out.
1. Alex Sexton
Comfortably Gold Coast’s leading goal kicker in 2019, Alex Sexton kicked 39 goals as a dynamic medium forward who could be anything if he gets some help from others.
2. Ben King
King was incredibly impressive in his first season playing as a key forward, kicking 17 goals in just 14 games. The sky seems to be the limit for him going forward. King needs help inside 50 from others at the Suns, but is one player to watch closely in 2020.
3. Izak Rankine
Yes, Rankine is yet to actually play a game, but he was the most exciting forward in last year’s draft and if he can hit the ground running, he can have an immediate impact for the Suns.
4. Peter Wright
Wright hasn’t quite taken the leap as many thought he could, but he kicked 21 goals last year from 17 games. The Suns lack dangerous forwards and Wright still has the ability to be a marking target next to Ben King and Sam Day.
5. Jack Lukosius
Drafted as a key forward, Lukosius spent most of 2019 down back as he adjusts to AFL level. It’s unclear where he will end up playing his footy, but the potential is certainly still there. Some draft experts rated him higher as a key forward than the likes of Charlie Curnow.
6. Hugh Greenwood
Greenwood spent more time in the midfield for the Crows, but has shown his skills across half forward as well and will have plenty of versatility for the Suns. If Greenwood is used as a forward for the Suns, he is capable of having a big impact, putting on pressure and kicking goals.
1. Jeremy Cameron
The reigning Coleman Medallist is one of the game’s best key forwards and not much more really needs to be said. With size, strength and an incredibly reliable boot, the Dartmoor-born Cameron will remain the focal point of the Giants' forward line as they hope to finally win their first Premiership.
2. Toby Greene
With their star midfielders back, Greene can return to playing as a deep small forward, a role he has dominated in recent years. Providing X-factor, dead-eye goal-kicking and inside 50 vision, Greene's ongoing health and continuity in games played will be critical if the Giants want to remain near the top of the league.
3. Harry Himmelberg
Himmelberg was incredibly effective in 2019, kicking 38 goals and being one of the best assist players in the AFL. At just 23, the exciting tall should continue to establish himself as one of the game's best young forwards.
4. Jeremy Finlayson
Moved forward in 2019, Finlayson kicked 44 goals as one of the surprise packets of the season. His versatility was a key component of the Giant's success last season, and the mobile tall forward posed headaches for his fair share of opponents. With Himmelberg and Cameron taking the two best defenders, expect Finlayson to kick bags in 2020.
5. Daniel Lloyd
Lloyd kicked 16 goals from 18 games in 2019 and has flown under the radar in an outstanding GWS forward line. A strong, wily medium forward, Lloyd competently performs a role as an agile ground-ball player amongst the Giants' tall timber.
6. Stephen Coniglio
The gun midfielder averaged a goal per game in 2019 and while he doesn’t spend much time inside 50, he clearly knows how to impact the scoreboard. With his skills Coniglio will always trouble defenders, and has the mental toughness to kick the captain's goal in close matches.
1. Luke Breust
Plays a difficult position and his consistency over his career has been largely unheralded having topped the 30-goal mark in all of his nine seasons. Breust has finished top two in Hawthorn’s goal kicking in each of the last five years and remains the most dangerous attacking player for Alastair Clarkson with his class, composure and pure goal nous.
2. Jack Gunston
Continues to deliver inside forward 50, kicking 20 or more goals in seven of his eight seasons as a Hawk. Gunston has been thrown around the park in recent times but maintains a presence as a focal point. His set shot accuracy may not be what it once was but there are few better key avenues to goal in the brown and gold.
3. Jon Patton
Remains to be seen what he’ll deliver at his new club but at his best, Patton is a hulking target who is capable of clunking big grabs up forward. Can kick plenty of goals as evidenced by his returns of 45 and 38 with the Giants in 2017 and 2016 respectively.
4. Mitch Lewis
Showed plenty of promise in 2019, particularly in the back half of the season when he kicked 13 goals in six games. The more faith shown in him the more prominent he’ll become and with Patton alongside him and easing some pressure, Lewis may get the chance to really step up in 2020.
5. Chad Wingard
We all know how good Wingard can be when he is full flight. He has not quite reached his All-Australian heights of 2013 and 2015 but remains a dangerous prospect, particularly given there are other key Hawks for the opposition to worry about.
6. Tim O’Brien
Was tried as a key defender at times last year but retains an ability to take contested marks and kick goals, highlighted by 12 in five games late in the year, including four against the Eagles.
1. Tom McDonald
McDonald is extremely threatening when he is up and running, highlighted by his 53 goals in 2018. He was restricted by injury last year and the Demons will have their fingers crossed he can return to his best in 2020. It is not fully evident where he is of best value, particularly with Sam Frost leaving a whole in defence, but a fully fit Steven May and Jake Lever will allow McDonald to spend his time inside attacking 50 where he no doubt has a very strong presence.
2. Jake Melksham
Similarly to McDonald, injury hampered Melksham in 2019 following a career-best return of 32 goals the season prior. Can play tall and small and is tough which makes him a difficult proposition for opposition defenders. He was sorely missed last year and is one of Melbourne’s prime attacking options.
3. Christian Petracca
Won the goal kicking last year with 22 majors. He is seen as a vital operator in attack who can pinch-hit in the middle. Entering his fifth season, it is time for Petracca to go the next level.
4. Bayley Fritsch
Fritsch was a victim of circumstance last year when, out of necessity, he was played all over the place due to injuries. He certainly has attacking qualities and given more time in and around 50, can add some class to Melbourne’s forward set up.
5. Sam Weideman
A similar case to Petracca in that he is entering his fifth season. It takes tall forwards a bit longer to get there but the time is right for Weideman to take more responsibility and go to another level. Has shown glimpses, now needs to deliver.
6. Mitch Brown
A solid off-season acquisition, Brown provides much-needed depth for the Demons. Has endured a somewhat stuttering career with both the Cats and Bombers but if he can be afforded some continuity at his third club, can be good for 25-plus goals.
1. Ben Brown
Clearly North Melbourne’s go-to spearhead such is their desire to find him inside 50. His numbers are quite impressive, returning 41, 63, 61 and 64 goals in the last four seasons. Is one of the top five key forwards in the competition and with a little bit of help, can be even more dangerous.
2. Nick Larkey
That assistance for Brown will likely come in the form of Larkey. He developed nicely in 2019 with 26 goals highlighted by his ability to take strong marks and finish accurately. A more than handy secondary avenue to goal for the Kangaroos.
3. Cam Zurhaar
In a similar vein to Larkey, in terms of experience, although the pair play different roles. Zurhaar is the wrecking ball who provides great forward line pressure and has already shown an ability to grab a game by the scruff of the neck with two bags of five goals, which coincidentally is Larkey's best return.
4. Tarryn Thomas
It was an impressive debut season by Thomas who has plenty of tricks up his sleeve. He’ll no doubt feel more comfortable knowing he has what it takes to mix it at the top level. With further confidence will come better performances and hopefully for the Roos that may equal more goals.
5. Jack Ziebell
Ziebell is definitely a threat inside 50 but is it his best position? He spent much of the first half of 2019 as a forward before moving back to his customary midfield role where he excelled. Rhys Shaw could deploy him in the middle more often in 2020 but he still provides a dangerous option in attack.
6. Mason Wood
It seems like we say it every year. Mason Wood has so much potential but he is such a tease. When he is on song, he looks sublime and is a forward line weapon for North. But there is a gaping hole between his best and worse.
1. Robbie Gray
Continually leads the way for the Power with his wonderful knack inside 50 whether he is leading up at the ball or playing as a true crumbing small. Gray is so often thrown into the middle when his side needs him most so it would be nice for others to take some of the responsibility. At his best he can deliver close to 50 goals so as he gets on in age, perhaps he spends more time closer to goal?
2. Charlie Dixon
Dixon struggled in 2019 after a terrible leg injury and with that behind him, he should be ready to take the Power’s forward line on his shoulders. We point to his 2017 output of 49 majors and fourth most inside 50 marks as his very best. He is a mountain of a man who simply must deliver if Port are to play finals footy.
3. Connor Rozee
What a debut season from the exciting teenager. Rozee won Port’s goal kicking with 29 goals and showed he has the class and poise to become an elite player. He may spend a little bit more time around the ball in his second campaign but he looks a natural attacker with match-winning talent.
4. Todd Marshall
Marshall has promised so much in his 20-game career and the Power would benefit enormously from him getting a full season under his belt. With both he and Dixon up and running, it provides a two-pronged attack capable of kicking a score. But the jury is still out.
5. Brad Ebert
We saw Ebert floating across half-forward in most of his 11 games in 2019 and with an undefined attacking setup, the veteran could again play a similar role. Not universally noted as a goal kicker but he made an impact on the scoreboard last year and with limited other options, may be called on again.
6. Zak Butters
The 2018 draftee impressed in his debut season with the Power, playing 19 games and kicking 12 goals. His creativity was on show as evidenced by his equal team-high 14 goal assists. With Sam Gray out of there picture, Butters may be given further responsibility which could heighten his impact in the forward half.
1. Tom Lynch
Coming off knee surgery and without a serious pre-season under his belt, you could have forgiven Lynch for producing a so-so debut season with the Tigers. But he showed why the club were happy to pay the big bucks to bring him to Punt Road. Lynch breathed life into things early in the season when the side experienced injury woes and provided the finishing touch when everyone was up and running. With Riewoldt fully fit alongside him, we may see the former Sun kick 70-plus.
2. Jack Riewoldt
Riewoldt has been one of the league’s most dangerous forwards over the last decade, second only to Lance Franklin for goals kicked since 2010. The three-time Coleman Medallist and nine-time Tigers leading goal kicker missed a large chunk of 2019 with injury but expect him to return with a bang, like he did in the Grand Final, now that he’s worked out how to operate next to Lynch.
3. Dustin Martin
What a luxury it is for Martin to strut forward whenever he seemingly pleases. He is arguably the best one-on-one player inside 50 in the competition. When your best midfielder kicks 12 goals in a finals series, you know you have a serious attacking weapon on your hands. 'Dusty' now has three 30-plus season goal returns on the trot.
4. Jason Castagna
Season returns of 26, 26 and 27 highlights Castagna’s consistency, even if he mixes his best with his worst from minute to minute. Capable of both the incredible and the incompetent, he always puts himself in the picture with relentless forward line pressure. He is building himself a very nice CV and if he can straighten himself up in front of goal, can make himself even more dangerous.
5. Daniel Rioli
He is a vital member of the two-time premiership winning forward line. May not amass a big disposal rate but his high pressure game and ability to kick crunch goals is important. The onus is on Rioli to improve his overall numbers in 2020, but he has a major impact away from the stat sheet.
6. Josh Caddy
Caddy may have moved away from the forward 50 in the second half of last season but he remains a genuine threat. Over the last three years, he has kicked the third most goals for the club with 84 behind Riewoldt and Martin. Even in his defensive wing role, he managed to hit the scoreboard. Lynch’s arrival has forced Caddy into less attacking areas but there is no doubting his ability in attack.
1. Tim Membrey
St Kilda’s leading goal kicker in three of the last four seasons, Membrey booted a career-best 44 goals in 2019 and will spearhead the Saints again in 2020.
2. Jade Gresham
Gresham had more midfield minutes last year but still contributed 15 goals and 15 assists when deployed up forward.
3. Paddy Ryder
Ryder is likely to be used in a forward/ruck role in tandem with emerging big man Rowan Marshall. He kicked 15 goals for the Power last season.
4. Matthew Parker
Bursting onto the scene as a mature-age recruit, Parker kicked 16 goals in 17 games and excited Saints fans with his energy and aggression inside forward 50.
5. Dan Butler
Butler will hope to replicate his 30-goal contribution towards Richmond’s premiership win in 2017. He was starved of senior opportunities in 2019, playing just the seven games.
6. Max King
King has the chance to replace Josh Bruce as St Kilda’s second key forward. An injury-free campaign could see the prized draftee make his mark at senior level.
1. Lance Franklin
No surprises here. ‘Buddy’ is still one of the competition’s most dangerous and threatening forwards and definitely remains Sydney’s. Restricted to just 10 games in 2019, thew Swans will be banking on him returning to somewhere near his best if they are to taste September action again. At full flight, he is simply sublime and extremely difficult to stop.
2. Tom Papley
In Franklin’s absence, the small forward filled the void by taking on the scoring burden in 2019. He finished with 37 goals in what was his best season thus far. As he continues to mature, Papley will continue to learn the tricks and traits of a crumbing forward and as a result can become an even more deadly prospect in the red and white.
3. Isaac Heeney
It’s uncertain just where Heeney is most dangerous given his ball winning ability in midfield. However, he poses a serious attacking threat inside 50 highlighted by his aerial qualities. It is likely he’ll keep mixing his time between the two areas but opposition defenders will always be wary when he is thrown deep into attack.
4. Sam Reid
Reid is a bit of an enigma. When fit, he one game per season on average where he is dominant and kicks a bag. Think back to his six against Collingwood last year. He is capable of chiming in with three or four goals occasionally, however, his very best performances are few and far between.
5. Nick Blakey
The 19-year-old showed plenty of potential in his debut season, playing 21 games and returning 19 goals while providing 12 goal assists. The Swans have high hopes for Blakey and there is doubt that he will emerge as an even deadlier attacking threat with more experience.
6. Will Hayward
The talented youngster kicked 50 goals from his first 40 games before he was restricted to just 13 games in 2019 due to a broken jaw and a hip injury. The 21-year-old has already proven dangerous in front of the big sticks and provides another threat for the Swans with his strong marking and set shot soundness.
1. Josh Kennedy
With a full pre-season under his belt, we may see the competition’s third most prolific forward of the last 10 years back to his absolute best. By no means has Kennedy failed in the last two years with his returns of 43 (from 14 games in 2018) and 49 goals respectively, but if he can get himself fully fit, expect another 60-plus goal return.
2. Jack Darling
This number one position has basically been reserved for Kennedy over the last decade but Darling has become the lead focal point for the Eagles in the past couple of seasons. Admittedly, that has come as Kennedy has dealt with injury woes but there is no doubting the danger of Darling. Has kicked 40-plus goals in each of the past four seasons.
3. Liam Ryan
Just two seasons in and Ryan is developing nicely. His best is scintillating and he possesses match-winning attributes. A 30-goal return in your second season is certainly something to hang your hat on and with the uncertainty surrounding Willie Rioli, he may be required to step up yet another level.
4. Jamie Cripps
The hard-working small forward puts himself in goal scoring positions with his work rate and tackling pressure. He is capable of adding sublime skills to his enduring reliability which makes him a player that opposition defences must keep tabs on. Cripps has delivered 156 majors in his past five seasons which is a very strong return.
5. Oscar Allen
Much is expected of the promising tall who has a similar profile to Darling. The 20-year-old was used in various positions last year but his future lies as a key forward and he will continue to develop alongside West Coast’s key spearheads. 20 goals in 2019 provided ample support but his scope for improvement suggests there are plenty more goals in Allen’s arsenal.
6. Jack Petruccelle
Another who could make the most of the potential absence that Rioli faces. The speedy Petruccelle can be a handful at times, especially when he gets off the leash running hard towards goal. He booted 21 last year and will only become more prominent with further opportunity.
1. Aaron Naughton
The athletic Naughton will become an absolute weapon when he puts on a bit of size to help with the strength required for a key role. We all recall the colossal game against Richmond when he kicked five and took contested marks at will. The 20-year-old will only benefit from the arrival of Josh Bruce, as it will take some of the focus off, and if he can improve his efficiency in front of goal then he could be in for a massive 2020.
2. Josh Bruce
An inspired piece of recruiting by the Bulldogs in the off-season. Apart from his injury-derailed 2018 season, Bruce has kicked a minimum of 36 goals in four of the last five last five years. There are few doubts that a fit and firing Bruce will only add plenty of attacking menace.
3. Sam Lloyd
Lloyd fit in seamlessly in his first season with the Dogs, kicking 38 goals which was the best return of his career. Can play as a lead-up buoyed by his marking strength or in more of a crumbing role which makes him a dangerous proposition.
4. Marcus Bontempelli
The luxury that Luke Beveridge has with his prolific midfield is that he can occasionally drop Bontempelli in the goal square. Some say he would be better served as a centre-half forward and although we don’t quite agree with that notion, there’s no doubt that the ‘Bont’ is an attacking asset when it’s required.
5. Josh Schache
Entering his fifth season and with 54 games under his belt, the time is right for Schache to take the next step. If a player of his talent gets the chance to take the opposition’s ‘third’ defender, then look out. Naughton, Bruce and Schache together has great potential on paper but all we know potential is a dirty word.
6. Tory Dickson
He's been a fairly dependable forward for the Dogs over the journey. Boasts season returns of 50 (in 2015) and 40 (in premiership year 2016) and his reliability in front of goal is second to none. Managed to kick 24 last year but with the arrival of Bruce, is his position on jeopardy? Regardless, Dickson provides depth and dependability to the Dogs' forward line.