The Best 22 thread

Basing this team off Essendon squad that played vs Melbourne in Rd 5 2023
(Probably the best Team performance for the year)

Essendon vs Melbourne R5 2023:
FB: Redman Zerk Ridley
HB: Kelly Laverde McGrath
C: Langford Merrett Durham
HF: Menzie Jones Parish
FF: Setterfield Stringer Martin
Fol: Draper Caldwell Snelling
IC: Shiel Perkins Heppell Phillips
sub: Hind

Zerk (trade)
Draper (inj)
Stringer (inj)
Phillips (ret)
Snelling (del)
Laverde (omitted)
Jones (omitted)

Z Reid
A. Davey

FB: Z.Reid McKay Redman
HB: McGrath Ridley A.Davey
C: Duursma Merrett Martin
HF: Menzie Gresham Durham
FF: Langford Wright Shiel
Fol: Goldstein Setterfield Parish
IC: Perkins Caldwell Kelly Heppell
emj: Hind, Cox, Caddy, Hobbs

I’m playing Alwyn as a creative running defender role, similar to what Hind does, or what Daniel Rioli does for RIchmond very well, just because I think he would suit that.
Otherwise you could play Hind in there (or Archie Roberts or LL, if they’re up to it.)

Kelly and Heppell on the bench because they’re super fit + strong + versatile, but Hobbs could easily be there too.
Having Caldwell + Setterfield in there, for the moment I think Hobbs stays out.

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Too hard to do a best 22, but reckon our round one team must have ‘ins’ of McKay, Duursma, Caddy, Reid, Tsatas.

Whats Duursma’s form been like for Port? I felt we just targeted him because Port had a lousy draft hand.

McKay obv is a round 1 starter and Goldstein probably too of the new arrivals.

With a nearly complete list our best first round team of 22 (23) will be difficult to pick. It depends on injuries and form at training and in practice matches but here’s a stab at one possibility. Hobbs could be a key in shaping the team as we need a strong in and under player in the Centre to get it out to our running Mids and Wingers. Hobbs changing with Setterfield and Stringer provides three strong and mature bodies to get that done. The difficulty is fitting in Laverde if Reid is fit and ready to go. The make up in the AFL Team indicates we will also have a very strong VFL line up. Here goes:
B: RIDLEY (195) McKAY 202 MCGRATH (180)

HB: REDMAN (187) REID (202) HEPPELL (189)

C: DUURSMA (186) HOBBS (183) DURHAM (185)

HF: PERKINS (188) WRIGHT (203) MARTIN (192)


Foll: DRAPER (205) PARISH (180) MERRETT (179)


Then the VFL Side:

HB: LUAMON LUOL (181) HAYES (199) HIND (180)

C: KELLY (190) LAVERDE (193) COX (200)

HF: CADDY (193) JONES (196) WANGANEEN (179)

F: JDAVEY (180) HUNTER (196) MENZIE (180)

R: BRYAN (203) ADAVEY (180) GUELFI (184)

Goldstein could be the 2nd option in the AFL, but at the moment I just have him floating as it depends so much on Draper’s fitness and whether Scott plans to run 2 Rucks in the AFL.

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Shortest half forward line in history!!!

Roberts 200cm ???


My team rd 1

Ridley McKay Mcgrath
Redman Reid Hind
Duursma Setterfield Martin
Perkins Langford Stringer
Gresham Wright Menzie
Draper Merrett Parish

Interchange - Cox, Hobbs, Caldwell, Shiel, Durham (Cox/Durham sub)

Tsatas stiff to not make the cut

Don’t want to see heppell, Kelly or laverde in the team unless we are smashed for injury. Jones needs to show a bit in preseason, ditto Guelfi.


It’s fun shuffling the deck and look at the different possibilities and to assess the best balance to achieve our goals. By January it will tighten further as injuries, fitness etc are assessed and to see who is actually performing above last years weight. I plan to enjoy the ride and probably chanmge my assessments each week as we gain a better knowledge of where everyone sits, current form, injury progress etc. After the doom and gloom of the final few rounds of 2023. it is much better being optimistic with the reality and potential of our current list.

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Funny that, we kicked a lot more goals with the shorter forward line this year

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Can someone post this article on here please?

Doubt we actually select the seniors like this but i’d like to see it with an eye to go the future


Baldwin McKay McGrath
Cox rids Redman

Duursma parish durham
Bryan martin setterfield

Perkins 2mp merrett
Draper Langford gresh

Hind Hobbs tsatis stringer - caldwell


rogers hayes Lav
lual reid kelly

Davey hepp guelfi
Goldy Shiel hately*

Menzie caddy tex
Jones hunter davey

Weed vigo O’Neil* xxx

*VFL listed

McGrath McKay Ridley
Redman Reid Durham
Duursma Hobbs Martin
Gresham Jones Perkins
Langford Wright A.Davey / Menzie

Draper Parish Merrett

Goldstein Tsatas Cox Caldwell Stringer (sub)


The rest.


My only difference is setterfield for cox.

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Why Brad Scott finally has depth and selection pressure at the Hangar

Heppell or Cox? Caldwell or Hobbs? Setterfield or Tsatas? The Dons finally have a chance to present an elite best 23 every week. Here’s their best side and seven signs they’ll be a serious team by Rd 6.

Jon RalphJon RalphANALYSIS


5 min read

November 22, 2023 - 11:10AM

News Corp Australia Sports Newsroom

AFL: The first night of the 2023 AFL draft came with high emotions and thrilling scenes.

Brad Scott can finally sweep aside the list cloggers and project players.

As he shifts the magnets on his whiteboard to assess his round 1 side the influx of new talent at Essendon guarantees absolutely nothing.

A 7000-day finals winning drought should be the ultimate reminder after so many rebuilds, rejigs, post-ASADA list retools and false dawns.

But whether Adrian Dodoro is the messiah or just a naughty boy, he at least has given his coach options in this year’s trade, free agency and draft period.

On Monday night 193cm power forward Nate Caddy arrived via the draft, joining Ben McKay (North Melbourne), Xavier Duursma (Port Adelaide), Jade Gresham (St Kilda) and Todd Goldstein (North Melbourne) as Essendon’s new faces.

All will hope to be in Essendon’s round 1 team next year along with players who missed the round 24 slaughter against Collingwood.

They include Jake Stringer (foot), Harrison Jones (back, ankle), Zach Reid (back), Dylan Shiel (foot, ankle, knee), Jordan Ridley (quad), Matt Guelfi (hamstring).

Gone from that round 24 team are Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti (retired), Andrew Phillips (retired), Will Snelling (delisted) and Brandon Zerk-Thatcher (traded).

So the round 1 team will be vastly different, but will it be significantly improved?

Brad Scott has some options for his Rd 1 team. Picture: Getty Images

Brad Scott has some options for his Rd 1 team. Picture: Getty Images

What attempting to find Essendon’s best 23 on paper does is illustrate that the Dons finally have depth.

Not just across the squad but in multiple positions of need.

Essendon not only has its big key full back (McKay) and athletic interceptor (Ridley), it will have a frantic battle between Jake Kelly, Jayden Laverde and Kaine Baldwin to fill the third defensive post.

If Nik Cox wants to play the aggressive rebounding role he was trialled in for the round 24 Collingwood clash, he might have to displace former captain Dyson Heppell.

If Jake Stringer is fit, he plays.

This article contains features which are only available in the web versionTake me there

But suddenly Essendon has Langford, Stringer, Gresham, Sam Durham and Archie Perkins as dangerous half-forwards who can be thrown into the centre square.

And if Nick Bryan wants to play in round 1 - with Brad Scott keen to play two rucks all of next year - he needs to get past an All Australian in Todd Goldstein with the most hit-outs in AFL history.

Dons fans might quibble, but there isn’t room in this team for Cox, Elijah Tsatas, Nick Hind, Matt Guelfi or Will Setterfield, with Caddy only squeezed in as the sub.

Nate Caddy in his new Essendon colours. Picture: Michael Klein

Nate Caddy in his new Essendon colours. Picture: Michael Klein


1. Nate Caddy won’t be able to find a spot in the round 1 best 22.

Let’s hope he is Essendon’s new great white hope.

Let’s hope he has a massive summer to knock down the selection door.

But his selection at pick 10 on Monday night should light a spark under Perkins, Stringer, Gresham, not to mention Tex Wanganeen, Matt Guelfi and the Davey twins.

Stringer, Perkins, Wright and Langford are locks, and Duursma’s acquisition means the Dons want to push Durham to half forward with some midfield time.

Caddy averaged 16 possessions and 2.8 goals in nine Coates League games but if he plays round 1 he must deserve it instead of being handed a game on promise.

Surely Essendon is past that phase of its development.

2. Xavier Duursma develops a weapon as Essendon’s new wingman.

Duursma has what it takes to be an excellent AFL footballer.

He runs harder than anyone, he is strong overhead, he kicks the ball well.

But since his breakout 20-game debut season he’s played 15, 11, 11 and 16 games kicking seven, three, six, and six goals.

Scott needs to decide if he is an elite defensive runner like Carlton’s Blake Acres, who averaged 4.7 intercept possessions playing such a key finals role helping his back six AND kicking 10 goals across the year.

Is he an offensive weapon like Josh Daicos - 16 goals, 439 metres gained, plus 3.2 intercept possessions this year?

On the opposite wing Martin had a nice blend - 17 goals, 3.5 intercept possessions, 2.7 inside 50s.

Right now Duursma isn’t elite at anything - he has never averaged more than 20 touches or 300 meres gained - but a defined role under Scott can help him out.

Nik Cox needs to bounce back to his debut-season form in 2024. Picture: Michael Klein

Nik Cox needs to bounce back to his debut-season form in 2024. Picture: Michael Klein

3. Nik Cox has to have forced an Essendon mainstay out of the side.

Cox arrived as an elite kick on both sides who could play anywhere and while his debut season was brilliant he still only averaged 13 possessions and was the unused sub in the club’s final two matches of 2021.

With the wings settled the Dons hope he can play half back as a defender who uses his size to mark and instantly turn defence into attack.

Dyson Heppell’s year just kept getting better after a rocky start_ above average in intercepts, disposals, kicking and intercept marks - so can he keep up that form to ward off the kids who want to take his spot?

Given Redman, McKay, McGrath and Ridley are locks, Cox must force Scott into some difficult selection decisions.

4. Essendon finds one over summer.

The club’s value picks have been spectacular - mid-season picks Durham and Martin, Wright for a future fourth-rounder - so can one of the Davey boys break out?

Jayden Davey is coming off two knee recos but is a genuine fall-of-the-ball crumber who was ready very early in 2023 but instead rehabbed his body all season.

Will Snelling is gone, Jye Menzie broke out in 2023 (23 goals) and Matt Guelfi is a goal-a-game forward with above-average pressure (2.8 tackles a game in 2023) but can Jayden or brother Alwyn take a big step over summer?

Nick Bryan and Todd Goldstein will fight it out for the second ruck spot. Picture: Michael Klein

Nick Bryan and Todd Goldstein will fight it out for the second ruck spot. Picture: Michael Klein

5. Nick Bryan trumps Todd Goldstein.

Sam Draper has a heap of rehab ahead of him after groin surgery, but the Dons hope he will be ready by round 1.

Who will play alongside him?

Coaches get frustrated at Goldstein who at times has been keener to amass possessions as a corridor option than a genuine down-the-line marking target with packs jumping on his head.

But they always play him because he’s so consistent and racks up possessions and hitouts to advantage (9.8 a game this year).

Can Bryan realise his potential quickly enough to displace Goldstein?

The glass-half-full theory is that this year in eight games the 22-year-old was elite for hitouts and hitouts to advantage and won more contested possessions (4.8 a game) than uncontested (3.9).

He has a long way to go to be that second ruckman but it will be fun watching the battle over summer.

6. Kyle Langford proves he isn’t a one-hit wonder.

Langford had to stand up in 2023 because no one else was there to help.

With Wright injured, Stringer lame and Guelfi often injured he emerged as a star with 51 goals, with daylight second then surprise packet Jye Menzie next best.

Can Wright and Langford coexist in the same team as dominant forwards both kicking 50 goals?

The signs after Wright’s return were good - in 10 games together Langford kicked five goals three times in a row.

In one of those games against Sydney Langford kicked five and Wright four.

But both only averaged one contested mark a game, so the Dons don’t really have a pack-crasher in the Tom Lynch or Max King mould.

The Bombers are building a strong midfield group. Picture: Getty Images

The Bombers are building a strong midfield group. Picture: Getty Images

7. Essendon starts bashing up opposition midfields.

In the first six weeks they face off against some up-and-coming and elite midfields - Hawthorn, Sydney and St Kilda, then Port Adelaide, the Dogs and Adelaide.

Scott is spoiled for choice if everyone stays fit - Draper, Merrett, Darcy Parish, Shiel, Caldwell, Setterfield, Ben Hobbs, Tsatas.

Tsatas and Shiel can explode from the stoppage and Merrett kills you with his disposal.

But where is Essendon’s point of difference with its midfield? It’s up to Scott to find one.

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Finally he has strong-bodied mids like Setterfield, Caldwell and Hobbs who can impose themselves at the contest.

Right now their pace comes from whipping boy Dylan Shiel and while Tsatas will succeed him he too needs to show he can hit targets while on the fly.

Essendon needs a midfield identity. Can Scott carve one out?


Agree!.. except, Tsatas for Shiel and Perkins needs to play VFL unless he shows enough consistency and gets involved more.

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I’d be hesitant to not play either. Perkins I feel is a bit harshly treated around here. There’s far worse than him getting games. Shiel on the other hand I’d start in the 22 if fit. If he has a poor couple games though, then I’d drop him


I don’t have any faith in Brad dropping senior players that aren’t performing.


So why did we extend his contract?

I think Brad will go with the encumbants first round. And to get in will need VFL form behind you, unless your a first round pick that plays a good half.

round 1 side
b: McGrath McKay Laverde
hb: Redman Ridley Heppell
c: Duursma Setterfield Martin
hf: #Merrett Wright Gresham
f: Draper Langford Menzie
r: Goldstein #Stringer Parish
int: Hobbs, Caldwell, Shiel, Durham (7th def/wing rotation)
Sub: Perkins
Emg: Tsatas, Kelly, Cox, Perkins

Any of Hobbs, Caldwell, Perkins , Shiel could be sub.
would love to squeeze Tsatas in there. will be interesting if Scott goes for youth over experience. I think be will go with experience first.

b: Kelly Reid Cox
hb: Roberts Baldwin Lual
c: Davey Hately Hind
hf: Wanganeen Hunter Caddy
f: Davey Weideman Jones
r: Bryan Tsatas Guelfi
int: Visentini, Hayes, O’Neill

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We need a thread where a random name generator picks 6-10 players from the list to be out injured and then we have to pick the best 22 from the remaining.