18 Teams in 18 Days: Fremantle Dockers

2017: 14th (8 wins – 14 losses)

Key Acquisition:

Nathan Wilson (from GWS), Brandon Matera (from Gold Coast), Andrew Brayshaw (AFL Draft – Pick #2), Adam Cerra (AFL Draft – Pick #5)

Key Losses

Lachie Weller (to Gold Coast), Hayden Crozier (to the Western Bulldogs), Zac Dawson (retirement),  Garrick Ibbotson (retirement), Nick Suban (retirement)

Million Dollar Question 

Can Ross Lyon conduct a rebuild? He didn’t have to do it at St. Kilda, adopting a list primed for September action (albeit young and inexperienced). Now Ross the Boss has to, as this is a Dockers list that looks a fair way off at this point in time. Freo had an odd start to season 2017, losing their first two games by a combined 131 points, before going on to win 6 of their next 7, including a thrilling after-the-siren victory against eventual Premiers Richmond at the MCG. Despite that good run, people currently see the Dockers as the team who lost by 100 points in back to back weeks at the conclusion of the season. It’s Ross Lyon’s job to now turn the ship around and set sail, on course to the clubs maiden premiership. There’s some work to be done.

Case For

This was a terrible team statistically in 2017, only tanking inside the top 3rd of the competition for disposal efficiency and hit outs. Regardless, this is a team that has plenty of young players all over the field to keep an eye on, including their top two draft choices from November in Andrew Brayshaw; a tough, clever, skilful and uncompromising young footballer (and also the younger brother of Melbourne’s Angus), and Adam Cerra; another beautifully sized midfielder with sharp foot skills and leadership galore. The Dockers also welcomed dashing halfback flanker Nathan Wilson over from GWS, adding to an already stacked outside brigade consisting of the Hill brothers, Michael Walters and Danyle Pearce. Freo’s scoring issues (they scored the least amount of goals last season with a total of 231, 1 less than Carlton) should be fixable with a healthy Hayden Ballentine.  Additionally, more midfield depth allows skipper Nat Fyfe and David Mundy to drift forward, as well as another year under the belt for promising tall forward Cam McCarthy.

Case Against 

Fremantle ranked dead last in 2017 for efficiency inside forward 50, goals scored, goal assists, marks inside 50, tackles inside 50 and ranked next to last in total disposals, contested possessions and intercept possessions. Perhaps there’s good news in that there’s plenty to improve on. With a new era beginning in WA with the opening of the work of art that is Optus Stadium, Freo fans can hope that with it brings a new era of hope for the Docker diehards. There is some talent here, but it may be a bit much to expect Fremantle to be challenging for a top 8 spot as soon as 2018. If Ross Lyon can get with the times and allow this team to play break neck, exciting football like they look capable of, Freo could become a pleasant surprise this season. Though don’t expect Ross to change too much.

One to Watch

Freo fans are lucky in that the club will be introducing two young guns into the midfield this year for them to drool over, but Andrew Brayshaw is the one to watch. He’s clean, clever and of course, being a Brayshaw, as tough as they come. Could be the rare type of first year player who can have a big impact at the senior level right away. Look for him to get a NAB rising star nomination early and even be in the running to win the award at seasons end.

Bold Prediction 

A tough team to predict for 2018, but expect them to look to quickly make Optus Stadium a home fortress. Perhaps a possible slow start will be on the cards, given an unusually tough draw will see the Dockers play 3 2017 finals teams in the first month. Keep on eye on them when the season finishes, however, as they will be major players in free agency, in pursuit of somebody like a Tom Lynch or Jeremy McGovern.


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