Introducing the 2016 Consensus Phantom Draft

Since 2014 HPN has trawled the internet in order to find out which club is meant to pick which player in the upcoming draft, in lieu of our lack of knowledge about junior footy. So, for the third year in a row, we have produced a Consensus Phantom Draft (CPD), attempting to use the wisdom of the crowd to aggregate the phantom drafts and power rankings/big boards of a range of experts in order to come up with the average view on the pecking order of players.

The method is simple – we have assembled a number of draft rankings (seven phantom drafts and two “power rankings” from the mainstream media”) in order to sort the prospective draftees. We’ll use this to identify which players and clubs there is consensus on, and where the experts disagree. HPN looks at two different measures: the average draft position and the club “mode” – which club most frequently selects any given player.

At the end of the draft, we’ll take a look back and see which phantom drafters have been the most accurate. Last year, Matt Balmer came out closest to the pin on average, quite an achievement for a first-year journalism student. Knightmare and Cal Twomey tied for getting the most players to the right club.

The phantom drafts we’ve used so far are:

We also took two power rankings, which explicitly don’t represent expected selections but as the current thoughts of influential draft watchers in the mainstream football press, are worth incorporating into our rankings which also don’t consider club needs.

We are not re-publishing their work here in full because we don’t want to steal traffic away from these sites, and want them to get fair reward for their hard work. If you want to read the reasons for all the selections made by those writers above, we encourage that you have a read.

We encourage readers to bring new phantoms and power rankings to our attention, especially those at independent websites which we might have missed. Hit us up @hurlingpeople on twitter, via email at hurlingpeoplenow [at] or via the comments below.

Here, then, is the first version of the Consensus Phantom Draft:


Note that in a number of cases we’ve got players going to clubs, based on their ranking, that might not want or need them and who nobody individually predicted. That’s an intended function. It illustrates the consensus pecking order and it helps suggests clubs that might be “reaching” for needs or a local player, rather than taking the best available.

We’ve listed the draft range of each player and their most common club as valuable context. Any player listed with a low range of “+” means that at least one listed phantom draft did not select that player in their draft of that length.

The “most common club” selection is a mode view, identifying which club is most frequently indicated by each phantom drafter as picking a player, regardless of position. This analysis excludes the Twomey and Beveridge rankings as those do not indicate clubs.

McConsensus near the top

There is not, as yet, a consensus number 1, with drafters stumping for McGrath and McLuggage in roughly equal numbers with McGrath just ahead. At three the phantom drafters generally agreed to send Ben Ainsworth to Brisbane, with two academy players bid next (Bowes and Setterfield). At six Carlton the drafters have either Will Brodie or Sam Peetrevski-Seton, with the Suns taking the other one.

Further into the top ten there is a degree of confidence about the destinations but not the picks of certain players, due largely to the multiple selections in the hands of the Suns. The drafters have Tim Taranto and Jack Scrimshaw headed north to the Suns, but the draft rank has Freo snapping up the former. The mode, however, has coalesced around the Dockers stumping for (slightly) mature WAFL ruckman Tim English despite the recent re-signing of Zac Clarke.

The phantom drafters seem to be in substantial agreement about both of the Swans’ early picks – Griffin Logue most frequently ends up in the Harbour City at pick ~10, and mature age Luke Ryan most frequently at pick ~20. On pure rank, however, the drafters have the Swans stumping for English at ~10 and Josh Battle at 20.

By contrast, there is almost no consensus about what North Melbourne will do with pick ~13, with nearly every drafter settling for a different player, such as Oliver Florent, Daniel Venables, Todd Marshall, Jarrod Berry and Griffin Logue. On draft rank the CPD gives it to Florent, after North bids for Perryman first.

The wildcards

The widest range of any pick here is probably Alex Villis, whose recent heart condition revelations have created doubt about whether he will be drafted. Josh Poulter has him missing out completely, while a number of older drafts value him as high as pick 16 (mostly going to Port Adelaide). Josh Rotham (14 to beyond pick 44) also looks like a bit of a mystery.

Among earlier picks, outside midfielder Oliver Florent drifts between 9 and 24.

Who will the Giants take?

In terms of the most common destination club, for five of the six first or second round calibre GWS academy prospects, a majority of drafters have most going to the Giants. Several feel Zachary Sproule will be passed over, but there is unanimity on Will Setterfield, Harry Perryman and Harrison Macreadie and near certainty on Isaac Cumming.

The “victim” of this certainty is Kobe Mutch, expected to go around 44 and most frequently drafted to the Swans. As the Giants have between 6-8 spots available on their list, the Giants will be able to take all six if they have enough points in the bank to match bids (after using pick two on either McGrath or McLuggage).

A “most frequently picked” consensus phantom

Below is an alternative phantom draft, assigning each pick the player most frequently ranked there. This should in theory get closer to the thinking of phantom drafters regarding which clubs might take particular players. To do this we took the mode of each draft pick:


We assigned the academy players in advance and then drafted around them, breaking ties with the higher consensus rankings.

The result is a first 30 where most players have some degree of consensus around them. Will Brodie is identified here as a wildcard – his mode selection is pick 5, but he gets bumped by Setterfield, is less common at picks 6-10 than other players, and instead is taken by Gold Coast at 11. These sorts of cascading dependencies are of course pretty common in drafting, and often why “sliders” occur.

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