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Our gurus pick the AFL’s top 24 players heading into season 2024


afl 2024, top players

By Will Cuckson & Ely Corliss

Season 2024 in the AFL promises to be the biggest yet.

Collingwood’s coming off a drought-breaking premiership, but more than half of the competition’s sides will feel they’re a flag contender — whether they’re major threats or dark horses.

And with plenty of optimistic fan bases comes so much great playing talent to feel good about.

It prompts us to take a step back and assess which individuals are worthy of being labelled the league’s best, after we did this same exercise last year.

But a lot can change in 12 months. And it has.

So take a look — here are the AFL’s best 24 players for season 2024.


AFL’s top 24 players for season 2024

How’d we settle on this list? Three of our biggest Aussie Rules nuffies were separated and sworn to secrecy, told to put together their top 24 players for season 2024, and then we averaged out the rankings.

You can find each of Will, Ely and Phil’s lists down the bottom of the story. Let’s get into it.

1. Toby Greene

afl top players 2024 toby greene
GWS forward Toby Greene is getting the recognition he deserves.

If you could pick a player that epitomises the Giants’ resurgence in the 2023 season, it’d be GWS’ skipper, who comes in at number one on our top 24 AFL players heading into the 2024 season.

Greene bagged a whopping 66 goals last season (fourth most in the league), while ranking third for both goal assists and score involvements.

His dynamic, explosive and – on plenty of occasions – match-winning performances helped elevate his side from bottom three consideration to a team that was only two points shy of a Grand Final.

He’s the reigning All-Australian captain, plays one of the toughest positions on the field and epitomises ‘most valuable player’ sentiment.

2. Christian Petracca

Melbourne’s superstar midfielder Christian Petracca stays inside the top two for the second straight season, coming off his best season impacting the scoreboard; 28 goals to go along with 210 score involvements from 25 matches.

Entering his 10th year in the league, Petracca has become not only one of the best on-ball midfielders in the competition, but his impact forward makes him the best dual-threat talent in the comp.

christian petracca, afl

3. Nick Daicos

It’s hard to believe that Nick Daicos has only been an AFL player for two seasons, given his immense quality.

Now a premiership winner, Daicos has a long career ahead that is sure to involve breaking plenty of opposition fan’s hearts, with his unfaltering ability to find the footy and elevate in the biggest moments — seeing him average 31 disposals across his sophomore campaign.

Daicos is the leading Brownlow favourite heading into the 2024 season and has every chance to clinch it if he starts enough games.

4. Marcus Bontempelli

Many believe ‘The Bont’ was robbed of his maiden Brownlow Medal in 2023 by Lachie Neale, after raking in the other awards — AFL Players’ Association Player of the Year, Best Captain Award, Western Bulldogs Player of the Year, and an All-Australian selection.

Bontempelli was incredible for the Bulldogs in what was a disappointing season for the club, averaging a career high in disposals (27.7), tackles (7.5) and clearances (7.6).

With plenty to prove to the league in 2024, we can expect Marcus Bontempelli to be right up there as one of the best players in the league, trying to drag the Dogs back to the finals after an absence in ’23.

Marcus Bontemp West Bull image

5. Lachie Neale

Lachie Neale finished 2023 devastatingly close to a maiden premiership — the final frontier for the elite ball magnet. It’s been 12 years of brilliance, claiming Brownlow number two in 2023 — a surprise after being left out of the All-Australian team.

But nobody can question his quality, ranking fourth in total disposals while averaging 27 disposals and a career-high eight clearances last season.

6. Charlie Curnow

Curnow backed up his Coleman Medal-winning 2022 season with another last season, cementing his standing as the best tall forward in the game right now.

Coming off an 81-goal campaign, Curnow was a driving force behind Carlton’s incredible run deep into September. But in order to take his game to that next level, he needs to start dominating finals, like we’ve seen Tom Hawkins and Jack Riewoldt do in recent seasons.

His ability to create scoring opportunities also shone through, ranking second in the league for score involvements and displaying his elite field kicking capabilities time and time again.

7. Errol Gulden

Everyone loves an underdog story and Gulden’s incredible rise in 2023, from a promising young player to the star of the Sydney Swans, caught everyone’s attention.

The 21-year-old’s lethal left foot was on display throughout all of 2023, gathering a tonne of ball, hitting the scoreboard and making a strong defensive impact too. It was about as clear of a breakout season as you’ll ever see.

All signs point to Gulden taking his game to another level in 2024 and being amongst the top young midfielders in the AFL.

8. Sam Walsh

Walsh’s regular season went largely under the radar due to him missing extended lengths of time, but the Carlton star made himself known on the September stage, being awarded best Finals player — the Gary Ayres medal.

From his three finals appearances, Sam Walsh averaged 32 disposals. And with his two goals in the Semi against Melbourne proved decisive in the Blues’ narrow victory.

With a full pre-season under his belt heading into 2024, Walsh will be ready to explode, as Carlton look to push for a premiership.

9. Zak Butters

If Zak Butters’ 2023 season is anything to go by, then Port Adelaide are in great hands with the 23-year-old having a career best season. He finished equal-fourth in Brownlow voting, amassing the sixth-most disposals in the league, proving his elite abilities as an exciting young midfielder that looks destined for greatness in the competition.

Although he didn’t claim the most prestigious award in the AFL, he was still recognised with one of the highest honours, crowned the AFL Coaches Association’s Champion Player.

10. Jeremy Cameron

At the start of the 2023 season, there was widespread belief Jeremy Cameron was the not only one of the best tall forwards in the league, but one of the best players full-stop.

Bagging over three goals in seven of the first eight games of the year, Cameron continued on from his premiership-winning season in 2022 and you can expect as he enters his 30’s, he’ll only get smarter.

Jeremy Cameron image

11. James Sicily

James Sicily is an out-and-out star, whose footballing abilities are nothing short of prolific. And on top of the game-breaking impact he consistently produces behind the ball, his elite leadership capabilities as captain of a young and emerging Hawks side continue to grow.

He led the league in average marks in 2023, recording 10 per game, while amassing an average of 26.4 disposals. His intercepting puts him in the conversation as the best half-back in the league, off the back of a maiden All-Australian berth in 2023.

12. Clayton Oliver

It’s been rocky off-season for Melbourne star midfielder Clayton Oliver, who was given a fairly public ultimatum by the club during the Trade Period; get serious, or continue your career elsewhere.

It’s expected he’ll work his way back to peak physical condition this season, likely resulting in a return to the top five best players in the competition, strong Brownlow consideration and an addition to his three All-Australian selections.

In a down season, Oliver still made it inside the top 10 for disposals for the fifth consecutive year.

13. Connor Rozee

The Rozee-Butters one-two punch in Port’s midfield has all the hallmarks of a combination that will give the league nightmares for the next decade.

At only 23 years old, Rozee’s midfield transition has been a huge win for the Power, averaging over 23 quality disposals for the second straight year.

Having spent plenty of his young career up forward, he now floats forward to lethal effect, totalling 21 goals last year — his best collection since producing 29 in his rookie season in 2019, when he played almost exclusively up there.

afl gather round, Connor Rozee, Port adelaide power, AFL, showdown

14. Sam Taylor

Sam Taylor has become perhaps the premier one-on-one defender in the AFL and the stats back it up, losing just under 13% of his contested defensive contests this year.

And get use to the name, because Taylor was in All-Australian consideration in his age 24 season, but missed out due to playing one less game than the criteria requires.

Taylor’s rise has been unassuming, a true credit to his football attitude. But just ask the likes of Lance Franklin about the key back, who had to deal with the fellow West Australian twice in each of the last several seasons.

15. Jordan Dawson

You know someone’s a special talent when they improve year-in, year-out, and Jordan Dawson has done exactly that since emerging at the Swans.

He’s firmly made a name for himself since crossing over to the Crows two off-seasons ago, becoming one of the league’s sharpest shooters. Dawson’s kicking efficiency is elite and he accumulated 27 touches per game in 2023.

The 26-year-old relished becoming one of the younger captains in the AFL entering the 2023 season.

16. Harris Andrews

Harris Andrews is straight up one of the most important players at the Lions.

The two-time All-Australian is constantly tasked with marking up on the oppositions best tall forward — and more often than not it’s Andrews that walks away as the winner in those matchups.

On top of going at 88% disposal efficiency, his strong intercepting ability and immense presence down back makes him of the league’s hardest workers.

17. Tom Green

Tom Green is a name that will be held in high regard for the next decade to come, with the 22-year-old averaging a career-high 32 disposals in 2023.

Entering his fifth year in the AFL, Greene has already led the league in disposals and played in a deep finals run, two things that will give him the world of confidence for 2024.

The Giants’ season will be relying on Green (and Greene) replicating 2023 production.

18. Darcy Moore

Now a premiership-winning captain, Darcy Moore is considering one of the best defenders in the league — so much so he needed to find a spot on this list somewhere.

For the second time in his career, Moore was selected in the All-Australian team alongside fellow teammate Nick Daicos.

Entering season 10, Moore and the Magpies look like frontrunners to go back-to-back, having added one of the best small forwards in the competition to their roster — Lachie Schultz.

19. Patrick Cripps

With Patrick Cripps – a Brownlow Medalist only two seasons ago – placing 19th on our best AFL players entering the 2024 season, you know that the league is currently stacked with elite talent.

It was, admittedly, an average 2023 campaign by Cripps’ lofty standards, averaging just under 25 touches, five tackles and around seven clearances a game.

But as other Carlton players start taking the brunt of the workload off Cripps, it can only mean good things for the Bluebaggers moving forward.

Patrick Cripps, patty, Carlton, AFL

20. Tim English

If you had English in your AFL fantasy team last year, you certainly know how valuable he is to the Bulldogs, ranking first overall in average fantasy points.

This is due to the 26-year-old having a career-high season in average disposals (19.1), total marks (145), tackles (100) and clearances (74).

As a ruckman who can also play up forward, in what is already a stacked rotation of tall forwards, English is beyond a luxury for the Bulldogs.

21. Andrew Brayshaw

The only WA-based player to feature on our top 24 AFL players list, Andrew Brayshaw at only 24 years of age has established himself as a serious midfielder.

Having always been a great possession-getter and brilliant defensive presence, Brayshaw looks poised to only keep getting better, which seems almost impossible considering he’s averaged over 29 disposals for consecutive years, while also averaging over six tackles a game.

22. Jacob Weitering

We may think that Charlie Curnow, Sam Walsh and Patrick Cripps are better players than Weitering, but according to Carlton, that wasn’t the case in 2023 with the defender awarded the club’s Best & Fairest.

Claiming a fourth consecutive All-Australian squad selection, Weitering’s tireless and often unheralded defensive ability has become Carlton’s backbone.

Leading the league for marks, intercept marks, and intercept possessions in 2023, Weitering’s all-round defensive game has him held in the top tier of defenders in the AFL and will be key again for the Blues in 2024.

23. Tom Papley

For the third time in his eight year career, Tom Papley was the Sydney Swans leading goal scorer and may need to be for a little while longer, after Buddy Franklin’s recent retirement.

An absolute excitement machine, Papley is much more than just a livewire for the Swans. But his big moments lift the team like no other player in the league, making him Sydney’s barometer player as well.

His best season output of 43 goals back in 2021 – his only All-Australian year – could be under serious threat in 2024, as he keeps becoming a more intelligent operator forward of centre. But on top of his impact inside 50, it’s his unique skillset of also moving up and impacting clearance that makes Papley so vital to what Sydney does.

24. Charlie Cameron

Rounding out our top 24 AFL players heading into 2024 is the one, the only, Charlie Cameron — Brisbane’s very own excitement machine.

Now into his seventh season with the Queensland-based side, Cameron has had four years scoring over 50 goals — all of which have involved the Lions making it to the second week of finals, or greater. And it’s no coincidence.

Having attended the ‘Eddie Betts school of small forwardary’, Cameron is one of the craftiest players in the AFL, who you can not afford to give any space to.

charlie cameron, brisbane lions

Our experts top 24 AFL players heading into 2024 list

Will Cuckson:

1. Toby Greene, 2. Marcus Bontempelli, 3. Christian Petracca, 4. Charlie Curnow, 5. Nick Daicos, 6. Lachie Neale, 7. Sam Walsh, 8. Errol Gulden, 9. Zak Butters, 10. Jeremy Cameron, 11. James Sicily, 12. Sam Taylor, 13. Connor Rozee, 14. Clayton Oliver, 15. Harris Andrews, 16. Jordan Dawson, 17. Darcy Moore, 18. Tom Green, 19. Tim English, 20. Patrick Cripps, 21. Charlie Cameron, 22. Jacob Weitering, 23. Zach Merritt, 24. Rowan Marshall

Phil Prior:

1. Christian Petracca, 2. Toby Greene, 3. Nick Daicos, 4. Lachie Neale, 5. Marcus Bontempelli, 6. Errol Gulden, 7. Charlie Curnow, 8. Jeremy Cameron, 9. Sam Taylor, 10. Connor Rozee, 11. James Sicily, 12. Sam Walsh, 13. Zak Butters, 14. Jordan Dawson, 15. Tom Papley, 16. Clayton Oliver, 17. Darcy Moore, 18. Harris Andrews, 19. Jacob Weitering, 20. Chad Warner, 21. Hugh McCluggage, 22. Tom Green, 23. Charlie Cameron, 24. Patrick Cripps

Ely Corliss:

1. Nick Daicos, 2. Christian Petracca, 3. Toby Greene, 4. Marcus Bontempelli, 5. Lachie Neale, 6. Errol Gulden, 7. Charlie Curnow, 8. Sam Walsh, 9. Zak Butters, 10. Clayton Oliver, 11. James Sicily, 12. Andrew Brayshaw, 13. Tom Green, 14. Jordan Dawson, 15. Jeremy Cameron, 16. Patrick Cripps, 17. Tim Taranto, 18. Tim English, 19. Connor Rozee, 20. Harris Andrews, 21. Josh Daicos, 22. Shai Bolton, 23. Gryan Miers, 24. Isaac Heeney

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