Key statistics for every club this season, strengths and weaknesses, Champion Data, state of play, analysis, news – TOTOCC

With a month of footy behind us, we’re beginning to get a real sense of how good – or bad – every AFL team really is.

And while the rises of Collingwood and Adelaide are laid bare by a pair of brilliant stats, we can also see why Richmond and Brisbane have taken steps back.

With help from Champion Data, breaks down every club’s statistical strengths and weaknesses so far this season.

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Strength: Score per inside 50 % (51%) – Ranked 1st in the AFL in 2023

After adding Izak Rankine to their mix, the Crows’ forward line is suddenly booming with talent, consistently converting their opportunities – which goes in stark contrast to their recent years of inaccuracy. Rankine (11 goals) and fellow rising star Josh Rachele (nine goals) both sit top 10 in the AFL this season in total goals. Meanwhile veteran Taylor Walker continues to produce at a high level, Darcy Fogarty looked set for a breakout season prior to his latest setback and Riley Thilthorpe appears ready to take the next step.

Question mark: Clearances differential (-5.8) – 17th

Adelaide is playing a deepened midfield rotation this season to provide more spark, moving out Bean Keays and giving more on-ball opportunities to the likes of Rankine, Rachele and Jake Soligo. It’s clearly sill a work in progress though, with Matthew Nicks even experimenting with Jordan Dawson in there. Sam Berry has struggled to back up his form in the second half of last season, too.

AFL & Crows condemn racist post | 01:45


Strength: Opposition score per inside 50 % (38 from Rounds 2-4) – 1st

While there’s been queries further up the ground, Brisbane’s defence is holding up strong once the ball heads inside 50. In particular the last three weeks where they held Melbourne (82), the Bulldogs (67) and Collingwood (83) to underwhelming total scores. It’s impressively come without both Marcus Adams and Darcy Gardiner, while Daniel Rich has been sidelined for the past fortnight. Harris Andrews, as usual, deserves plenty of credit.

Question mark: Inside 50 differential (-6.5, down from +3.9) – 15th, down from 5th

Chris Fagan’s side hasn’t been able to generate enough entires into attack, and even in its 33-point win over Collingwood, lost the inside 50s count 57-54. While some of this comes down to method, it also highlights that the star-studded midfield led by Lachie Neale and Hugh McCluggage with recruits Josh Dunkley and Will Ashcroft has struggled to fire. Interestingly, it was strength area for Brisbane last year, ranking fifth in the league (+3.9%).

Suburban ground transformed to host AFL | 03:41


Strength: Points from turnover differential (+15.5) – 4th

The Blues’ ball movement has been much sharper in 2023 and it’s leading to them consistently outscoring their opponent on turnover. This can be attributed to Carlton’s improved defence, with Adam Saad enjoying another All-Australian calibre season, while new wingers Blake Acres and Ollie Hollands have provided a key boost between the arcs.

Question mark: Points from stoppages (21 per game, down from 34) – 18th, down from 4th

It’s as if the Blues have completely flipped from last year where they essentially solely relied on scoring from stoppage and were among the best teams in the competition at doing so (34 per game, ranked fifth). Michael Voss’ midfield hasn’t been quite as dominant as last season, hampered by inside bulls George Hewett and Matt Kennedy being in and out of the side.

McKay free to play in huge tribunal news | 02:26


Strength: Contested possession differential (+20.8, up from -9.1) – 1st, up from 17th

Speaking of teams to have completely changed their identity, the Magpies have gone from being the second-worst contested possession differential side (-9.1) to the best. While the addition of Tom Mitchell haw clearly helped in this area, it’s largely come down to improved effort across the board and a deepened midfield playing at a high level in a credit to Craig McRae and his coaching staff. They’ll be hopeful that their depleted ruck stocks for the medium term doesn’t buck this trend, with Collingwood losing the contested possession for the first time this year against Brisbane playing without Darcy Cameron and Mason Cox.

Question mark: Points from forward half intercepts (21) – 16th

The Pies have had no problems scoring, but it has’t come from intercepts in the forward half. It’s tricky to know how much to read into this, but it might be a by-product of the team playing a taller forward line for the first three games with Dan McStay and Brody Mihocek along with the resting ruckman Cameron or Cox, meaning it’s putting less pressure on opposition distributors coming out of defence.

Crisp free to play after issuing apology | 01:23


Strength: Contested possession differential (+8.2) – 3rd

Darcy Parish deserves a ton of the credit here, ranked top 10 in the competition in contested possessions (13 per game). Adding the big-bodied, 192cm Will Setterfield has also helped give the Bombers a more hardened and deeper on-ball mix, with the former Blue flourishing as an exclusive midfielder and helping the team with it, while ruckman Sam Draper has taken his game to another level.

Question mark: Opposition defensive 50 to inside 50% (29%) – 17th

While the Bombers have looked much more organised defensively and are playing with a more sound system than in recent years, they’re still allowing the opposition to transition the ball to easily from their defence to attack. This is all the more alarming considering the Bombers have played teams sitting 18th (Hawthorn), 17th (Gold Coast) and 15th (GWS).

What does the noodle sign mean?! | 01:11


Strength: Opposition score per inside 50% (41%) – 3rd

One thing the Dockers can always rely on is their defence, and it continues to stand tall in 2023. Fremantle has conceded the seventh-most scores against, which also indicates the team is defending at a high level when the ball is coming into its back 50, Of course, we the Dockers being so defensively focused (especially with ball in hand) has hurt other areas of their game, though.

Question mark: Score per inside 50 % (38) – 18th

The forward line was the biggest concern for the Dockers after they lost Rory Lobb in the off-season – and those concerns have been justified. Buzz recruit Luke Jackson has struggled to have an impact in attack, while Nat Fyfe has played just one game. Freo’s two leading goalkickers – Lachie Schultz and Michael Walters (both six – ranked equal 29th in the AFL) – are both small forwards as the team’s attack has lacked any structure or potency. But the problems aren’t just inside 50 with the team’s languid ball movement meaning the forwards aren’t getting any easy opportunities.


Strength: Points from forward half intercepts (36 per game) – 1st

Despite a slow start to the season, the Cats have scored better than any side in the competition from intercepts in their attacking zones. This is helped by their array of small forwards like Tyson Stengle, Brad Close and Gryan Miers constantly applying pressure and heat, as well as Geelong’s intercepting defence – albeit an undermanned defence in the early parts of this season. This is an important factor in modern footy and if the Cats can sustain this, they should climb back up the ladder.

Question mark: Contested possessions differential (-9.2) – 17th

Perhaps the loss of Joel Selwood was more significant than given credit? The Cats midfield just can’t get first hands on the footy and has struggled collectively without its longstanding skipper. Even Chris Scott mightn’t even know what his best mix is in there. The team’s trusty veterans have been below their best form, while recruit Tanner Bruhn hasn’t yet delivered on his potential with increased on-ball opportunities. He was dropped for Easter Monday with Patrick Dangerfield (12 contested possessions) stepping up while Max Holmes (nine) and Cam Guthrie (eight) lifted.

Cameron kicks 7 as Cats down Hawks | 04:01


Strength: Clearances differential (+9.8) – 1st

With Matt Rowell (averaging 8.3 clearances per game) taking his game to another level alongside Touk Miller (7.3) and Noah Anderson (6.3), the Suns are moving the footy in the right direction in the first contest better than any other side. This is both encouraging and alarming for one of the most disappointing sides of 2023 that sits 17th on the ladder with just one win. Now if they can just get the rest of their game right…

Question mark: Points from turnovers (37 per game) – 17th

For all of Gold Coast’s good grunt work at the coalface, it’s been poor at scoring in transition with ball in hand. Several injuries to the Suns’ key outside players and good ball users would be a factor here, while they’re also just generally struggling to score – ranked 16th in the competition. This speaks more to their method falling down than the personnel in attack, but it’s still concerning because turnover scoring is the most important source in modern footy.

Are the Suns ‘walking on eggshells’? | 01:43


Strength: Points from stoppage (33 per game) – 6th

Adam Kingsley has deployed a tighter midfield rotation led by Tom Green, Josh Kelly and Stephen Coniglio. Green, who has superstar written all over him, and Kelly in particular have led the team brilliantly in the trenches and helped turned the Giants into a high-scoring points from stoppage team. This is a less sustainable method than turnover scoring, though.

Question mark: Opposition score per inside 50% (53) – 18th

When the opposition get the ball into the Giants’ defensive 50, they’re simply scoring too easily. It comes despite GWS only ranking the seventh-worst in scores against this season, with teams scoring at a high efficiency in an area Kingsley will look to tighten things up. You would expect the Sam Taylor-led back six to improve though perhaps poor defence of ball movement is allowing teams good entries.


Strength: Clearances differential (+5) – 5th

Maybe they didn’t cut too deep? The main criticism towards the Hawks’ bold off-season moves was how the midfield would fare without hardened bodies in Tom Mitchell and Jaeger O‘Meara. But the likes of Jai Newcombe, Will Day and Josh Ward have done a good job of carrying the load so far – even if they’ve lacked polish – while it’s also helped fast-track the youngsters’ development and provide opportunities they mightn’t have gotten otherwise. This has been the clear best sign from the start of what’s likely to be a difficult season for Sam Mitchell and company.

Question mark: Inside 50 differential (-11.2) – 18th

Opposition are simply overwhelming the Hawks in inside 50s more than any side in the competition. So while the midfield has held up OK, the team as a collective hasn’t, with its structure breaking at some point and struggling to regain control – exemplified by Hawthorn conceding 10 goals to Geelong in the third quarter of the Eastern Monday clash, a period in which the Hawks had just one entry. Territory matters.

Meek avoids ban for kneeing Blicavs | 00:52


Strength: Points from turnovers (68 per game) – 1st

It’s the most common way for AFL teams to score, and the Demons are doing it better than any side right now. This would be all the more encouraging given Melbourne’s ball movement inside 50 and general forward function fell apart in the second half of last season. But Simon Goodwin’s side, which has been boosted by the addition of winger Lachie Hunter, is currently the gold standard for converting goals in transition by craftily changing angles and playing with more flare. Big improvement in this area may be the No.1 reason the Demons can win the flag.

Question mark: Clearances differential (-6.8) – 18th

This might be the most surprising stat of the lot for a team so recognised for its star-studded midfield. Although it could be partly of the club’s own doing. While Clayton Oliver is probably the best inside mid in the game and continues to get heavy usage in the role, Goodwin has made an emphasis to expand his on-ball rotation this season. Oliver, Christian Petracca and Jack Viney are still the Dees’ main three on-ballers, but the likes of Tom Sparrow, Kysaiah Pickett, James Harmes and James Jordon have gotten more midfield opportunities. And although Brodie Grundy has done a great job filling the No. 1 ruck role in Max Gawn’s absence, the Demons skipper was the best clearance ruckman in the game last year by some margin.


Strength: Clearances differential (+5.5) – 5th

The much-improved Kangaroos have been among the elite clearance teams in the competition under Alastair Clarkson, with Luke Davies-Uniacke (averaged 8 per game) a key part of that. Beyond Davies-Uniacke, they’ve gotten better buy in across the board, and their midfield personnel has always been a strength area with the likes of Jy Simpkin and Ben Cunnington plus emerging talents Cameron Zurhaar, Will Phillips and Tom Powell.

Question mark: Time in forward half differential (-8:16) – 18th

For all of the Kangaroos’ improved play, the ball is unfortunately living in their opponents’ forward half in an unsustainable brand if the club is to continue on its upward trajectory. It means they’ve still been constantly under constant pressure and forced to defend in an area Clarkson will hope to turn things around.

Tarryn Thomas embroiled in fresh drama | 00:43


Strength: Pressure rating (182) – 5th

You can always back a Ken Hinkley side to have a red-hot crack, and this year has been no exception outside of the team’s blowout loss to Collingwood in Round 2. It comes in a season the out-of-contract Hinkley is under pressure to keep his position, but he’s still clearly getting buy in from his players. Jason Horne-Francis, although still very much developing his game, has helped lead a new-look midfield alongside Connor Rozee.

Question mark: Opposition points from turnover (55 per game) – 15th

Although this number is probably blown out by Port’s 71-point loss to the Pies, it’s an area of its game it’ll need to tidy up to be a genuine finals contender, if not more. There’s been question marks of the Power’s defence and if its too undersized, but this suggests there’s also problems further up the field. In effect this suggests teams can move the ball far too easily against Hinkley’s side.

Tredrea reiterates Hinkley criticism | 01:09


Strength: Opposition points from turnovers (36 per game) – 3rd

We know Richmond’s defence doesn’t have its reliable personnel anymore from its golden years anymore, but the team is still limiting teams from scoring on turnover. This is a big tick to the way Damien Hardwick is setting up and coaching his troops all across the field.

Question mark: Points from forward half intercepts (18 per game, down from 35) – 17th, down from 1st

The Tigers, who’ve underwhelmed after many tipped them to return to flag contention in the pre-season, have most alarmingly fallen right away in forward half turnovers after ranking 1st in the area last season. This suggests the forward line isn’t as hard without the ball, which couldn’t be said about Hardwick-coached teams of recent years. That manic pressure was a trademark of their premiership years and if it’s gone, you have to wonder what the trademark of this crew actually is?

Nankervis set to miss six weeks | 00:56


Strength: Opposition chain to score% (15%) – 1st

No stat could tell you more about a Ross Lyon side than this, with opposition struggling to convert chains of play into scores against St Kilda more than any team. Lyon has been long recognised for his defensive-first mindset and getting players – no matter their level of talent – to buy in across the board, and we’re very much seeing that with the undefeated Saints.

Question mark: Score per inside 50% (39%) – 16th

You’ve got to cut the Saints some slack here, they’ve operated without a widespread of forwards including Max King, Tim Membrey and Jack Hayes. In fact, it’s scary to think how much better the team could get once this stat invariably improves with more starpower inside the attacking zones, with the likes of Jack Higgins and Mitch Owens currently carrying a big load. But still, they’ll want to be a lot more efficient against the top teams who’ll limit their forward entries better than recent opponents Gold Coast and Essendon could.

Experts to assess McCartin’s AFL future | 01:06


Strength: Defensive 50 to inside 50% (31%) – 1st

Although the Swans are yet to really hit their straps in 2023, they’re still moving the ball from defence to offence better than any team in a big tick for John Longmire and the coaching staff. This has been an impressive part of the recent strong Sydney sides and the better their ball movement, the more likely their forward line – which isn’t exactly at full power right now with Lance Franklin and Sam Reid sidelined – is to fire.

Question mark: Contested ball differential (-8.5) – 14th

The Swans have struggled in contested ball this year; though this is no great shock, as it wasn’t a strength area last year either (ranked 7th in contested possessions per game) – and proved costly in the club’s grand final loss to Geelong (lost contested possessions 151-110). But being bottom six is still very concerning. The Swans will want to improve this to properly announce themselves as flag contenders as they continue to develop the likes of James Rowbottom, Chad Warner and Errol Gulden in on-ball roles. Tom Hickey’s absence has also hurt them in this area, too.

Buddy to miss Swans’ clash with Tigers | 00:30


Strength: Forward half intercepts (23.2) – 5th

It’s not all doom and gloom at West Coast, albeit a team coming from a very low floor after winning just two games last season. But the Eagles deserve credit for their capacity to force forward half intercepts, such is the more competitive brand with more experience out on the park. They’re simply playing a more modern style of footy which will serve them well once they get enough talent for this rebuild to pay off.

Question mark: Opposition points from stoppages (44 per game) – 18th

Alarm bells should be going off for Adam Simpson and his coaching staff here in a number that doesn’t bode well. The Eagles leaking scores from stoppage, and the midfield is an obvious problem area. Their veterans have struggled with injury and form issues, and outside of Reuben Ginbey, there’s not that much coming through to get excited about.

Ginbey to become an ‘A-grade midfielder’ | 00:49


Strength: Clearance differential (+6) – 3rd

New year, same Bulldogs, with their potent midfield still among the most damaging in the competition. Tom Liberatore has led the way inside, while Josh Dunkley’s departure has opened up more midfield time for Adam Treloar, who’s reminded the AFL world how good his best form is. To look at it through a different lens though, it remains true that if you can shut down the Dogs’ mids, it goes a long way in stopping them.

Question mark: Score per inside 50% (41%) – 15th

The Dogs deployed a bold new-look tall timber attack this year featuring Rory Lobb, Sam Darcy and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan all in the same forward 50, and it hasn’t worked thus far. Lobb (three goals) has been well down on form, while Darcy was dropped after two games. Meanwhile Cody Weightman is yet to make a senior appearance this year, leaving a key void. If they’re not going to be efficient, there are going to be many weeks where the midfield doesn’t dominate, and thus the Dogs can’t kick a winning score.


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