The Roar’s AFL top 50 players, 10-1: Why the reigning Brownlow Medallist couldn’t even crack the top five


The 2024 AFL season is here!

Not officially – no, the first bounce of the season proper isn’t for another few weeks, but The Roar’s annual countdown of the league’s top 50 players has arrived.

If you’re new here, it’s all very simple. Five Roar AFL experts – Liam Salter, myself, Dem Panopoulos, Cameron Rose and Matt Russell– each listed our top 60 players as of this very moment.

If you haven’t checked out our list so far, you can do so below.

>> The Roar’s AFL top 50 players, 50-41

>> The Roar’s AFL top 50 players, 40-31

>> The Roar’s AFL top 50 players, 30-21

>> The Roar’s AFL top 50 players, 20-11

Today, we get to the big guns. The cream of the crop. The best in the business. It’s time for the Top 10.

I asked each of our five experts to submit a list of their Top 60 players, based on right here, right now. If you lined every single AFL player up against a wall, who would you pick first, and second, and third, and so on, for a team you’re making from scratch?

I then awarded 50 points for 1st, 49 points for 2nd and so on until the 50th player. As a potential tie-breaker, I gave 0.5 points to any player someone ranked from 51st to 60th.

If two players were tied for total points, tie-breaker 1 was to give the higher ranking to whomever had the most top-50 appearances; i.e. three rankings in the 40s and two misses was better than two in the 30s and three misses.

If that was equal, then the second tie-breaker was highest ranking, i.e. if a player was ranked 5th by one of our experts, then that was deemed better than if one only got as high as 8th.

If you’re interested in exactly how we voted, I’ve put the full table below this list; it should go without saying, but unless you want spoilers you should probably read the whole article first.

If you’re interested in exactly how we voted, I’ve put the full table below this list; it should go without saying, but unless you want spoilers you should probably read the whole article first.

Before we get to the Top 10, some honourable mentions.

Isaac Quaynor (Collingwood)

51st on our list, three of our panellists had the Magpies defender in their top 60s, making him desperately unlucky to just miss the cut.

And despite me calling him the real star of Collingwood’s back six midway through last year, I was one of the two who didn’t have him. Sorry, Isaac.

Isaac Quaynor will have to console himself with his premiership medal after missing our top 50. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Oscar Allen (West Coast)

Just one of our experts had the West Coast spearhead outside their top 60s – neatly, three of us had him at either 41 or 42; like for Nick Larkey, it’s a superb effort for a key forward in one of the worst sides in the league to rank so highly.

His omission is actually making me rethink the current ranking system I’m using to determine our top 50s, because Allen was certainly just as deserving of a spot as, say, Jack Macrae or Bayley Fritsch, who spotted in despite having just two of us pick them.

Tim Taranto (Richmond)

*Kane Cornes likes this*

Ditto with Allen – four of our five experts had Taranto in their top 60s, with one even rating him as high as 33rd.

Stiff to miss out – but hey, at least he cracked the top 150!

Taranto seals it ????#AFLTigersSaints

— AFL (@AFL) June 17, 2023

Steven May (Melbourne)

After he cracked the top 10 last year, I thought the Dees defender dropped off slightly but noticeably in 2023, and figured ranking him 28th was about fair.

So imagine my shock to see all but one of my fellow experts – who had him exactly 50th – boot him off the list entirely! The most brutal thing to happen to May since Jake Melksham put one on his chin.

Ollie Wines (Port Adelaide)

One of the most controversial non-picks in last year’s rankings was all five of our experts collectively ignoring Ollie Wines, a mere 17 months on from his 2021 Brownlow Medal win.

And clearly one of our experts concurs, ranking Wines an impressive 28th. Unfortunately for him – and Power fans – the rest of us disagreed, leaving him off our lists entirely. Again.

Ollie Wines snaps truly.#AFLTigersPower | #AFLDeadly

— AFL (@AFL) May 28, 2023

10. Tom Stewart

Geelong Cats | Defender

Tom Stewart has completed seven AFL seasons. He’s been an All-Australian in five. Absurd.

The clear pick for the best defender in the game, Stewart does it all: he’s an elite intercept mark, despite an unassuming size, while also a precise ball-user and incredibly tough to beat one-on-one – in fact, Champion Data rates him elite in all three of those categories.

It’s fitting the 30-year old has cracked the top 10 through consistency: while only two of our experts rated him in their own top 10s, the lowest anyone had him was 18th (as it happens, that was me – and given how many new ones he’s torn my Bulldogs over the years, I’m not sure I agree with past Tim anymore).

Tom Stewart celebrates making it to 10th in The Roar’s top 50 players list. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

9. Charlie Curnow

Carlton | Forward

Quite genuinely, this time last year I ranked Harry McKay ahead of Curnow on these pages. Whoopsie.

Winning a second straight Coleman Medal, the Blues spearhead proved his remarkable career renaissance in 2022 was no fluke to lead Carlton’s charge to an unexpected preliminary final berth.

With career-highs for goals (81), Brownlow votes (17) and marks (6.9 per game), Curnow’s influence over every Blues game was profound. With his lethal mix of pace on the lead, strength in the contest and powerful marking, he’s as close to Lance Franklin as our game has ever seen – and he’s a better kick for goal, too.

I had Curnow 7th on my list, with only one of our experts ranking him outside the top 10 – down at *checks notes* THIRTY-FOUR? Wowee.


A massive leap before slotting his career-high eighth goal ????#AFLEaglesBlues

— AFL (@AFL) April 29, 2023

8. Clayton Oliver

Melbourne | Midfielder

For all the turbulence of his off-season, and the injury-plagued 2023 he endured before it, Oliver remains unquestionably one of the AFL’s elite core.

Starting out in 2016 as a contested beast with unmatched ferocity at the coalface, the Dees superstar has added more strings to his bow with every passing year; improving his ball use, becoming a greater attacking threat, kicking more goals, and most recently, setting a world record for the longest two-week injury lay-off in history. (Thanks for the updates all season long, Goody.)

You’d be silly to think Oliver won’t pick up right where he left off in 2024; with all of us experts ranking him in the top 16, and as high as eighth on two occasions, we at The Roar are certainly backing him to bounce back in a big way.

Clayton Oliver snaps a beauty on the left ????

????: @kayosports @foxfooty

— AFL (@AFL) February 18, 2024

7. Zak Butters

Port Adelaide | Midfielder

Coming from outside our top 50 12 months ago, Butters’ ascent to superstardom in 2023 happened so suddenly it was hard to believe he hadn’t been a Brownlow Medal-frontrunning, stoppage-dominating, goal-kicking midfield maestro for years already.

As with his fellow 2018 draftee Connor Rozee – aren’t those two names going to be linked forever and a day? – a permanent move to the midfield instantly transformed the 23-year old into a star of the game. Averaging 27.5 disposals a game, Butters proved he could win his own ball as fiercely as anyone going around, while remaining every bit as polished on the outside as Rozee – though not quite as smooth-moving.

His 41-disposal, two-goal effort in the rain to single-handedly sink Melbourne in Round 10 was quite clearly the best individual performance of 2023, and I will fight anyone who says otherwise.

With four of our panellists ranking Butters in the top 10, and as high as fifth in one instance, I doubt I’ll get much disagreement in these parts. Nor would I from the AFL Coaches or Players Associations, who named him Player of the Year and Most Courageous Player respectively.

Zak Butters with an absolute beauty ????

— AFL (@AFL) August 20, 2023

6. Lachie Neale

Brisbane Lions | Midfielder

Everyone knows why Neale is a star – the number one clearance player in the game, he’s silkily smooth away from stoppages, a driving force into attack and a tackling machine without the ball. In short, just about the complete midfielder.

The reigning (and two-time) Brownlow Medallist the beating heart of a Brisbane team that transformed overnight from laughing stock to premiership contender, and nearly flag-winner in 2023, the minute he walked through the door in late 2018.

So why is he here, on the outskirts of the top five? Well for me, who had him ninth, the answer was again his lack of scoreboard impact. With just three goals for the season – two in a demolition of Richmond – he’s never been a prolific goalkicker, which, despite his individual success, has always left him a rung lower than the genuine all-time greats.

To put his numbers into perspective, the three midfielders ahead of him in these rankings bagged 19, 28 and 19 goals respectively in 2023. If Neale has one area of the game to improve on, it’s that.

Lachie Neale reacts to missing the top five of The Roar’s player ratings. And losing the grand final by less than a kick. That too. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

5. Jeremy Cameron

Geelong Cats | Forward

It’s pretty good going when you can kick 53 goals and put together an all-time great six-week stretch in a year pretty much universally deemed a ‘comedown season’ – but that’s just how good Jeremy Cameron was in Geelong’s 2022 premiership campaign.

No player last year touched the level Cameron hit across the first eight rounds of 2023: averaging 18.5 disposals and 6.6 marks per game while booting 33 goals AND polling 11 Brownlow votes, the Cats spearhead was simply unstoppable.

That he flagged from there – outside of a monumental seven-goal haul to nearly beat Collingwood on his own in Round 22 – was largely a symptom of the Cats’ decline from reigning premiers to missing the finals altogether. The moment Cameron began to plateau, Geelong simply struggled to cope.

Still, a key forward with the aerobic capacity of an elite midfielder without sacrificing any size, strength or marking power is just about the biggest asset in the game. If the Cats are to rise again in 2024, it’ll be with Cameron leading from the front.

Jeremy Cameron snags number seven!#AFLPiesCats

— AFL (@AFL) August 11, 2023

4. Toby Greene

GWS Giants | Forward

I can probably sum up Greene’s standing as a footballer like this: I absolutely despise him, think his penchant for on-field cheap shots makes him the biggest grub in footy in my lifetime, and can’t stand the narrative that he is unfairly targeted by umpires or the AFL… and I rated him the second-best footballer in the league and would kill to get him in my team.

The ultimate impact player, Greene’s 17.75 disposals per game in 2023 were almost entirely of the highest class. When he’s not kicking team-lifting goals himself from any manner of angles or distances, he’s setting them up for teammates, ranking third for both goal assists and score involvements – and the four others in the top five in the former category combined for 61 goals in 2023, five fewer than Greene on his own.

An inspirational leader, the 30-year old is surely the best and most influential captain in the game – a heart and soul champion who you’d love to follow into battle knowing he’d inevitably be the one to turn the tide in your favour.

 Only one of our other experts had him as high as I did, but with a lowest rating of 12th, my fellow judges clearly know quality when they see it.

Toby Greene – the best captain in the game? (Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images)

3. Christian Petracca

Melbourne | Midfielder

Number one on this list last year, Petracca again finds himself right up the pointy end of the game’s elite – and like I said 12 months ago, it still feels like there is another level he can reach.

With four consecutive All-Australian nods, the Demons superstar has the contested ball-winning power of a Lachie Neale, along with the high-octane impact of Toby Greene. He’s had 112 scoring shots in the last two years alone, while still averaging 28 disposals a game – only woeful inaccuracy has prevented him from challenging for a 50-goal season.

Used up forward for longer stints than at any point since his switch to full-time midfielder in 2020, primarily to try and solve the Dees’ weaknesses in attack, Petracca wasn’t quite as eye-catchingly dominant as in 2021 and 2022, which perhaps explains him falling three places in our rankings.

Third is where I had him, at any rate; and with four of my fellow experts rating him in the top five, and all in the top 10, there’s no doubt he’s still as spectacular a footballer as anyone going around.

Christian Petracca got right into the Lions after this goal!#AFLDeesLions

— AFL (@AFL) July 14, 2023

2. Nick Daicos

Collingwood | Defender/Midfielder

Finishing nine points adrift of our No.1 pick, Daicos would have really challenged for the top spot had it not been for one of our experts ranking him down in 8th. (That was me: more on that in a sec.)

After a Rising Star win in 2022, the Magpies son of a gun somehow ascended to new heights in 2023, becoming a near-unbackable Brownlow favourite and winning a host of other individual awards as he led the Pies’ white-hot start to the season.

His Anzac Day heroics with two final-quarter goals to snatch the game off Essendon were the highlight. But in truth, every game was a standout on its own, with the now-20-year old’s unmatched ball-winning ability, outrageously good vision and skills and his nose for the big sticks, kicking 19 goals for the season despite spending plenty of time at half-back.

Not until Hawk Finn Maginness shut him down completely in Round 21 did he have fewer than 25 disposals in a match.

Two of our experts had seen enough to name the second-year superstar No.1 on their list, while one other had him here in second. For me, though, I felt, much like Richmond did for peak Dustin Martin, that the Pies moulded their game style around Daicos’ brilliance and covered for him defensively, which is why I rated him lower than players I considered more complete all-round stars like Jordan Dawson (5th) and Errol Gulden (7th).

I’m a harsh judge, though – and given he rose from outside the top 50 up to second on these pages in just 12 months, he might well be the number one seed this time next year!

Daicos has two and the Pies are in front!#AFLPiesDons

— AFL (@AFL) April 25, 2023

1. Marcus Bontempelli

Western Bulldogs | Midfielder

First. First. First. Second. Second.

That’s how my fellow experts and I ranked the Bulldogs captain in our top-60 lists; it was literally impossible for anyone to pip him.

Fittingly, having been a mainstay in most peoples’ top 10s for half a decade now, the Bont is officially (in our eyes, at least!) the best player in the land.

Somehow, he actually reached a new level in many ways in 2023, despite the Dogs crumbling around him to miss the finals; Bontempelli posted career-highs for disposals (27.65 per game), tackles (7.5) and clearances (7.6), all while ranking fifth in the league for score involvements, third for contested possessions and equal fourth for inside 50s. With nearly a goal a game, too, the 28-year old is the complete midfielder.

He can also do this, apparently.

Bontempelli gets UP!#ImLovinIt | #AFLFreoDogs

— AFL (@AFL) April 21, 2023

Polling 29 Brownlow votes, the Bulldogs captain is closing in on the one big prize his glittering CV lacks, and as the hot favourite heading into 2024, he’s as good a chance as anyone of adding ‘Charlie’ to his accolades as well.

Put simply, Bontempelli is the best in the business. Long may he reign.

Sports opinion delivered daily 


The Roar’s 2024 AFL Top 50

50. Jack Steele (St Kilda)
49. Tom Hawkins (Geelong Cats)
48. Josh Dunkley (Brisbane Lions
47. Bayley Fritsch (Melbourne)
46. Jack Macrae (Western Bulldogs)
45. Tom Papley (Sydney Swans)
44. Chad Warrner (Sydney Swans)
43. Nick Larkey (North Melbourne)
42. Scott Pendlebury (Collingwood)
41. Josh Kelly (GWS Giants)
40. Taylor Walker (Adelaide Crows)
39. Jack Viney (Melbourne)
38. Shai Bolton (Richmond)
37. Jack Sinclair (St Kilda)
36. Noah Anderson (Gold Coast Suns)
35. Callum Mills (Sydney Swans)
34. Tom Liberatore (Western Bulldogs)
33. Luke Davies-Uniacke (North Melbourne)
32. Rory Laird (Adelaide Crows)
31. Harris Andrews (Brisbane Lions)
30. Touk Miller (Gold Coast Suns)
29. Joe Daniher (Brisbane Lions)
28. Tom Green (GWS Giants)
27. Caleb Serong (Fremantle)
26. Dustin Martin (Richmond)
25. Jacob Weitering (Carlton)
24. Sam Taylor (GWS Giants)
23. Andrew Brayshaw (Fremantle)
22. Zach Merrett (Essendon)
21. Jordan De Goey (Collingwood)
20. Tim English (Western Bulldogs)
19. Charlie Cameron (Brisbane Lions)
18. Darcy Moore (Collingwood)
17. Patrick Cripps (Carlton)
16. Sam Walsh (Carlton)
15. Max Gawn (Melbourne)
14. Errol Gulden (Sydney Swans)
13. James Sicily (Hawthorn)
12. Jordan Dawson (Adelaide)
11. Connor Rozee (Port Adelaide)
10. Tom Stewart (Geelong Cats)
9. Charlie Curnow (Carlton)
8. Clayton Oliver (Melbourne)
7. Zak Butters (Port Adelaide)
6. Lachie Neale (Brisbane Lions)
5. Jeremy Cameron (Geelong Cats)
4. Toby Greene (GWS Giants)
3. Christian Petracca (Melbourne)
2. Nick Daicos (Collingwood)
1. Marcus Bontempelli (Western Bulldogs)


Please note the below is sorted column-wise not by each of our panellists, but in order (L-R) of highest ranking given to a player to lowest ranking.

RankPlayer#1 rank#2 rank#3 rank#4 rank#5 rankPTS1Marcus Bontempelli111222482Nick Daicos112482393Christian Petracca3445102294Toby Greene22512122225Jeremy Cameron36811112166Lachie Neale3689182117Zak Butters581010162068Clayton Oliver77912162049Charlie Curnow36683319910Tom Stewart51011141719811Connor Rozee41313152518512Jordan Dawson56111716513James Sicily151516192516514Errol Gulden713222613615Max Gawn121623274213516Sam Walsh91931313213317Patrick Cripps91924244813118Darcy Moore414183912919Charlie Cameron720232512920Tim English1021243011921Jordan De Goey1820232658117.522Zach Merrett182729293911323Andrew Brayshaw1316303455111.524Sam Taylor7142211025Jacob Weitering1420253610926Dustin Martin318393956105.527Caleb Serong172729334510428Tom Green1719224310329Joe Daniher23262836509230Touk Miller122135465890.531Harris Andrews202630458332Rory Laird15223751548033Luke Davies-Uniacke22273843497634Tom Liberatore242831467535Callum Mills212440467336Noah Anderson2328316071.537Jack Sinclair293233407038Shai Bolton213337486539Jack Viney193544446240Taylor Walker942426041Josh Kelly1732495542Scott Pendlebury11385453.543Nick Larkey213158605144Chad Warner3434375948.545Tom Papley254545484146Jack Macrae15493847Bayley Fritsch26383848Josh Dunkley37404351533449Tom Hawkins3438505731.550Jack Steele3543445331.5DNQIsaac Quaynor32405130.5Oscar Allen4142425128.5Tim Taranto3344505226.5Patrick Dangerfield304725Josh Daicos3445505924.5Rowan Marshall3646475224.5Darcy Parish275624.5Steven May285024Hugh McCluggage29505923.5Tom Lynch30525722Zac Bailey384618Max King355216.5Jai Newcombe365715.5Isaac Heeney41475314.5Stephen Coniglio40555612Kysaiah Pickett415510.5Tim Kelly44547.5Dan Houston4748577.5Callum Wilkie49522.5Luke Ryan55601Mitch Duncan13Lincoln McCarthy14 Aaron Naughton20Ollie Wines28Mitch Owens32Jack Crisp35Cameron Guthrie36Finn Maginness37Jeremy Finlayson39Jamie Elliott41Luke Jackson41Dayne Zorko43Zach Tuohy47Tom Mitchell48Sam Docherty49Harry Sheezel50Steele Sidebottom53Charlie Dixon54Jayden Short54Dion Prestia55Nick Blakey56Cameron Zurhaar56Sam Powell-Pepper57Tom Barrass58Jamarra Ugle-Hagan58Jacob Hopper59Izak Rankine59Oscar McInerney60Harry McKay60

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