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AFLPA Top 50: Mitchell earns his spot

Bupa Recovery Report - JLT & Pre-Season Hear from Hannah Greasley and Andrew Russell as they discuss all the latest injuries from the pre-season.

Two Hawks have already been revealed inside the AFLPA's Top 50 players so far. Click here to see the named listed from 50-21.

Another Hawk has found his place, as reveal No.20 down to No.6 below.

20. Dayne Zorko

Last year's ranking: 36

Official AFL Player Rating: 6
Debut: 2012
Games: 122
AFL Fantasy value: $805,000

It was a big 2017 for Zorko, who won his third consecutive best and fairest, earned All-Australian selection for the first time and represented Australia in the International Rules. He couldn't have done much more for the Lions, topping the list for goal-kicking with 34 – the greatest scoreboard impact of his career – while averaging 25 disposals and seven tackles a game. Only Patrick Dangerfield and Dustin Martin hit the scoreboard more often when it came to midfielders pushing forward. While Zorko can struggle when tagged, and will no doubt get more attention this season, his durability, explosiveness and ability to kick a long goal are elite components of his game.

19. Joe Daniher

Last year's ranking: -

Official AFL Player Rating: 72
Debut: 2013
Games: 93
AFL Fantasy value: $597,000

18. Zach Merrett

Last year's ranking: 28

Official AFL Player Rating: 20
Debut: 2014
Games: 81
AFL Fantasy value: $825,000

Ascended to be considered one of the competition's best ball-getters with an average of 30 disposals in 2017, which rated him elite. Was named All-Australian for the first time and was a force at clearances and in tackles for the Bombers, although his kicking was rated below average. Still, his left foot can prove damaging and his consistency – and maturity despite being in the system for just four seasons going into 2018 – have confirmed his place as an integral part of the Bombers' midfield. 

17. Eddie Betts

Last year's ranking: 19

Official AFL Player Rating: 23
Debut: 2005
Games: 277
AFL Fantasy value: $511,000

Fan-favourite and all-round package, it's easy to forget Betts wasn't always a Crow. The ex-Blue has become a cult figure at West Lakes for his exciting string of traits that extend beyond kicking remarkable goals. Consistently brings his teammates into the game – a skill that's rated elite – and packs a strong defensive game as well as being Adelaide's leading goalkicker for four straight seasons. Won his third consecutive All-Australian selection in 2017, and will continue to thrill Crows' supporters for years to come after signing an extension until the end of 2020. 

16. Tom Mitchell

Last year's ranking: -
Official AFL Player Rating: 31
Debut: 2013
Games: 87
AFL Fantasy value: $896,000

Thrived in his first season at the Hawks after crossing from the Swans, finishing the year as one of the competition's biggest ball-winners. Broke the AFL record for total possessions in a home-and-away season with 787, which included 50 against Collingwood in round nine. He didn't just rack up raw numbers, though; Mitchell was also a driving force and ranked No.1 in the League for assisted metres gained. Ran second in the Brownlow medal for his efforts, which also included personal-best returns in tackles and clearances. Capped off the year with his maiden All-Australian selection and a Peter Crimmins Medal as Hawthorn's best and fairest player.

Read: Young Hawks star in VFL practice match

15. Marcus Bontempelli

Western Bulldogs

Last year's ranking: 5
Official AFL Player Rating: 15
Debut: 2014

Games: 85
AFL Fantasy value: $704,000

14. Josh Kennedy

West Coast

Last year's ranking: 15

Official AFL Player Rating: 36
Debut: 2006
Games: 207
AFL Fantasy value: $575,000

It was a testament to the ability of the key forward that he managed to finish second in the Coleman Medal last year despite missing five games with a calf injury. Kicked 69 goals, with his most consistent work keeping the Eagles in the finals race after he returned from injury in round 17. Was named All-Australian for the third straight year, and rated elite for forward 50 groundball gets and marks inside 50 as he again staked his claim as one of the Eagles' most important contributors.

13. Tom Lynch 

Gold Coast

Last year's ranking: 14
Official AFL Player Rating: 45
Debut: 2011
Games: 121
AFL Fantasy value: $566,000

It wasn't Lynch's best season in 2017, but he still topped the Suns' goalkicking for the fourth straight year with 44 from 19 games before a knee injury ended his season in round 20. Attracted plenty of attention as the Suns' focal point, but still managed to rank eighth for AFL Player Rating points per game of all key forwards. He might have delivered less on the field last year, but it hasn't hurt his currency, with his outstanding signature one the Suns – and their opposition – are desperate to secure on a long contract. 

12. Robbie Gray

Port Adelaide

Last year's ranking: 16
Official AFL Player Rating: 8
Debut: 2007
Games: 178
AFL Fantasy value: $572,000

Remains one of "those" players every coach would want two of. Gray has proven himself as a dominant midfielder, but last year earned his third All-Australian selection playing mainly as a small forward. Kicked 47 goals and was ranked as the No.1 score assist player in the AFL. While he's not a force in one-on-one contests, his silky skills and ability to read the play make him a standout. Port's recruitment of a handful of "finishing" players will give Gray even more flexibility to play where he's needed in 2018.

11. Scott Pendlebury


Last year's ranking: 6
Official AFL Player Rating: 3
Debut: 2006
Games: 252
AFL Fantasy value: $767,000

Likely would have claimed his sixth best and fairest last season had he not lost the last six rounds to a finger injury that needed two bouts of surgery. Still, polled the most Brownlow votes of any Pie, with the smooth-moving, skillful midfielder comfortably leading the club for goal assists. Pendlebury spent more time in the forward half last year and collected plenty of possessions there, while being involved in 31 per cent of the Pies' scoring chains. Remained a class above despite his shortened season in his fourth year as captain.

10. Josh Kennedy

Last year's ranking: 7
Official AFL Player Rating: 4
Debut: 2008
Games: 204
AFL Fantasy value: $690,000

Polled the fourth most votes in last year's Brownlow, which supported the belief the Swans captain had another ripping season despite surprisingly being overlooked for the All Australian team. Considered to be one of the game's best inside midfielders, Kennedy ranked inside the top five in the League for contested possessions, first possessions and clearances, despite missing three games with injury last season.

9. Rory Sloane

Last year's ranking: 11
Official AFL Player Rating: 5
Debut: 2009
Games: 165
AFL Fantasy value: $754,000

8. Joel Selwood

Last year's ranking: 4
Official AFL Player Rating: 12
Debut: 2007
Games: 249
AFL Fantasy value: $670,000

Missing the last three games of last season after ankle surgery didn't stop the Cats captain from being named All Australian for the sixth time. Was typically in and under, ranking elite for contested possessions and centre clearances, and simply got the job done while working in tandem with his team's other midfield heavyweight, Patrick Dangerfield.

7. Gary Ablett

Last year's ranking: 8
Official AFL Player Rating: 47
Debut: 2002
Games: 302
AFL Fantasy value: $837,000

Won his fourth Suns best and fairest last year in his final season at the club, despite missing eight games with shoulder and hamstring problems. Has returned to the Cattery for an emotional homecoming after seven seasons away, and will add class to the Geelong midfield and attacking structure if his body can stay sound, which carries an automatic question mark given he's played just 49 of a possible 88 games across the past four years.

6. Alex Rance

Last year's ranking: 10
Official AFL Player Rating: 22
Debut: 2009
Games: 175
AFL Fantasy value: $458,000

The game's best key defender had another cracker of a season in 2017 where he played every game and added a premiership medal to his trophy cabinet. Earned his fourth consecutive All Australian guernsey, and was named captain of that all-star team. Easily ranked No.1 in the competition for intercept possessions but was also a force when it came to one-on-one contests. A proven match winner for the Tigers and a crucial cog in their defence.

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs