The 2016 AFL season begins this Thursday and so I thought it was about time to give some thoughts regarding the 2016 Brownlow Medal.
Over the last several years I have followed the Brownlow Medal very closely and it has quite often been my most successful event to punt on. That is because the information is all right there for you to decipher and the results are decided AFTER this information is available - both you and the umpires who give the votes have access to the same information.
Once again I will be giving my week-by-week Brownlow votes (the best way to find an edge betting on the Brownlow as you avoid the inevitable 'hype' train that happens at the end of each season). But before then, placing bets on the Brownlow market prior to the season beginning can be very profitable down the track, especially if you know how to back and lay bets on Betfair. I recommend betting on the Brownlow at Betfair for this reason, and being a betting exchange they also often have the best odds available throughout the season.
Some of the players I like for the Brownlow this year will seem cliché, but that's because they are prolific vote scorers and can't be ignored. It could be argued that some of these same players are 'under the odds' preseason, but there is a reason for that. Here are some of the players I am looking at betting on the 2016 Brownlow Medal and during the season you will be able to find my 2016 Brownlow vote predictions here at Before You Bet.
Votes in 2015: 31
Games polled in 2015: 13 (Freo - 17 wins)
Career votes: 106
Ave votes per game: 1.05
There hasn't been a back-to-back winner since Robert Harvey got it done in 1997 and '98 - if any player can make that happen again its Nat Fyfe. There is no flashier player in the AFL and the umpires simply can't ignore him. He breaks out of packs, runs like crazy, can barely be tackled, delivers the ball with precision and kicks goals - the perfect example of someone who scores Brownlow votes.
In 2015 he had nine BOG performances and polled in 13 games. That means when he plays good, he's the best and that's another important trait for a Brownlow contender. He's coming into his prime and if he stays on the park, will no doubt be around the top 5 Brownlow scorers each year for the rest of his career (like a Chris Judd or a Gary Ablett).
It doesn't look like Fyfe's summer back injury was too much to worry about. Naturally, his game-time was managed by the Dockers in the preseason, but there were moments he looked absolutely primed.
Votes in 2015: 5
Games polled in 2015: 3 (Suns - 4 wins)
Career votes: 214
Ave votes per game: 0.83
There isn't too much to say about two-time Brownlow medallist Gary Ablett. He's one of the best players of all time and despite being a ripe old age of 31, you can never write Gaz off.
Ablett's injury ravaged 2015 saw him poll just 5 votes - the equal least amount in his career and the first time since 2006 he has polled under 20 votes. By all accounts he is fit and ready for Round 1 and that means we can't ignore him. As usual, his preseason odds are a little short considering the amount of games the Suns are likely to win, but he also won a Brownlow while the Suns struggled for wins, so he can never be counted out.
Votes in 2015: 21
Games polled in 2015: 9 (Crows - 13 wins)
Career votes: 97
Ave votes per game: 0.66
There is a fast-moving hype train following Patrick Dangerfield to Geelong. I'm not on that hype train, but when it comes to the Brownlow Medal, Danger is always in with a chance.
Dangerfield has finished with over 20 votes in each of the last four seasons and there is no reason to expect that trend wont continue. Performance wise he looked very good during the NAB Challenge and obviously mentally he is in the right place after getting the move to Geelong that he wanted. Danger will have plenty of support from a solid Geelong midfield and the media hype train I referred to earlier won't be a negative either as he will always be nagging in the back of the umpire's minds. Another one of those players who gets more 3s than 2s and can poll in losing games.
Votes in 2015: 25
Games polled in 2015: 11 (Swans - 16 wins)
Career votes: 82
Ave votes per game: 0.57
Since 2012, Josh P Kennedy has been one of the most prolific ball winners in the AFL. He's been in the top 5 most disposals each of the last four years and the Brownlow is quite simply all about having the ball - the main reason Priddis won in 2014.
JP plays in a winning team, is a big noticeable body and doesn't get anywhere near as much attention from the opposition as teammate Dan Hannebery. He also tackles a lot, managed 15 goals last year (an improvement on the previous two years) and had the most inside 50s of his career. He had six BOG's in 2015 and finished in 4th... Looks like value at these Betfair odds where you can get $38 compared to $25 at the sportsbooks!
Votes in 2015: 15
Games polled in 2015: 7 (Pies - 10 wins)
Career votes: 133
Ave votes per game: 0.68
Scott Pendlebury is Mr. Consistency when it comes to the Brownlow. He hasn’t fallen below 15 votes in the last six seasons and is always hovering around the top 10. There were a couple of years there where he fell victim to the classic 'stolen votes' from teammate and brownlow medallist Dane Swan, along with guys like Dayne Beams and Steele Sidebottom.
Pendles is just one of those players that is going to poll when he plays an above average game. He is very noticeable and has an impact on the game. He just needs Collingwood to win a few more games and to stay injury free. Love him or hate him, I don't think any footy fan would say Pendles doesn't deserve the medal and after a couple of slower years, I think his odds are a little inflated.
Votes in 2015: 19
Games polled in 2015: 9 (GWS - 11 wins)
Career votes: 49
Ave votes per game: 0.36
Greater West Sydney's co-captain is a genuine beast. Callan Ward polled 19 votes from 11 wins in 2015 and I think GWS could win up to 13-14 games in 2016. The more games GWS wins, the more chance Callan Ward has to win Charlie.
Ward is definitely the best player at GWS in my opinion. He uses the ball well, tackles hard and has a huge amount of inside 50s. He's a very noticeable player when he has the ball and that's very important when it comes to the Brownlow. He kicks the ball almost as much as he handballs, which is also important as, right or wrong, some players simply handball too much which I think is noticed by the umpires far less. Might not win in 2016, but wouldn't be surprised if Ward won the Brownlow in the next couple of years.
Votes in 2015: 4
Games polled in 2015: 2 (Lions - 4 wins)
Career votes: 57
Ave votes per game: 0.49
I will consider Tom Rockliff a chance to win a Brownlow every year until he has Charlie around his neck. Rocky is a classic example of a player who doesn’t get enough credit because he is at an unsuccessful non-Victorian club. If he was at a Melbourne-based team, or a team like Freo or West Coast we would talk about him like we talk about Fyfe. He's a freak, plain and simple.
As usual, Rockliff's chances come down to how many games the Lions are going to be winning. While I think they will only win a couple more this year, Rockliff is the kind of player who can poll in losing games (he managed 15 votes off just 7 wins in 2014 and 21 off 10 in 2013). Last year was a bit of a step back in terms of polling, but he was interrupted by injury and I expect him to bounce back in 2016. Odds are just $30 at the regular sportsbooks, but you can get $48 at Betfair.
Remember to stay tuned for my 2016 AFL Round 1 betting tips later in the week and to return to Before You Bet every week as I offer my predicted Brownlow votes for every game of the season.
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Take note: Any of the tips in this article are simply the author’s opinion, so bet at your own risk and always gamble responsibly. Also be sure to check out the Before You Bet Twitter Page for all our thoughts in the lead up to bets! Happy punting!
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