The byes are here, which means it's time to assess which players have dominated through the first half of the year.
In choosing a mid-year All-Australian team, there are always several stiff omissions, so apologies to Brownlow Medal favourite Patrick Cripps, Daniel Rich, Jordan De Goey and Max Gawn.
Balance was a key selection criteria for me, meaning I have selected a 22 that closely resembles a genuine team, including negating defenders, small and key forwards as well as a mix of inside and outside midfielders. It also features Chris Scott as coach of the year (so far).
So without further ado, here's my mid-year All-Australian team.
Editor's note: ESPN's AFL experts have also picked a mid-year All-Australian team: we're asking our readers to judge who's done the better job. Check it out and have your say!
Shannon Hurn (West Coast): It's hard to believe that the reigning premiers have flown under the radar this season, but Hurn has led from the front, and the Eagles reach the mid-point of the season well positioned to defend their title.
Bachar Houli (Richmond): Acting as a continual springboard off the backline for Richmond, Houli reads the cues early and stops many forays forward from the opposition. Alex Rance's knee injury has meant all the Richmond defenders have had to share the load, and Houli has been pivotal to the half-way mark.
Harry Taylor (Geelong): Taylor is one of seven Geelong players to feature in my line up. He is a resolute defender who rarely gets beaten in the air by the key forwards. So far in 2019 Taylor has been a rock for Cats in their stunning start to the year.
Tom Stewart (Geelong): Stewart has gone from strength to strength as the most miserly defence in the league continues to stifle opposition ball movement and scoring. The rebounding half-back has again improved his output and is averaging 24 disposals and eight rebound 50s a game.
Mark Blicavs (Geelong): A dual best and fairest winner after a stellar 2018 has the key defender comfortably in this side. Elite endurance and size makes Blicavs an extremely tough match up for any key forward who doesn't bring strong bodywork and a consistent work rate.
James Sicily (Hawthorn): Since Alastair Clarkson threw him into defence, Sicily has adapted to the role with aplomb and has looked every part an All-Australian defender. Injury and couple of misdemeanours denied him the opportunity last season, but Sicily has shown he can deal with repeat entries and provides the Hawks with valuable bounce off half-back.
Adam Treloar (Collingwood): Prolific and explosive. The energetic Magpie can be described as such with his bursts from stoppages and damaging overlap run. Treloar has averaged 33 disposals, five clearances and seven score involvements from his 11 games this year.
Tim Kelly (Geelong): The highly sought after WA product has now elevated his game to the upper echelon of midfielders with his silky skills and balance in the contest. Kelly has an ability to push forward and hit the scoreboard which makes him even more complete as a midfielder.
Lachie Neale (Brisbane): Neale's move to Brisbane is one of the prime reasons why the Gabba crowds are returning. His clearance work and gut running have given this young Lions list confidence and sees them sit nicely inside the eight with a genuine chance toward the back half.
🎙️ Why the Tigers are roaring 🐅— footytips (@footytips) July 23, 2019
🎙️ @championdata on the last month of footy 📊
🎙️ Xavier Duursma's celebration 👍👎
Ep. 19 of the @ESPNAusNZ #AFL pod:
Ben Brown (North Melbourne): Brown has kicked four or more goals on 14 occasions since the start of 2018, which is well above any other key forward. he is a consistent target for the Roos and reliable in front of the big sticks. In the year of the caretaker coach, it would provide Rhyce Shaw the comfort knowing Brown is in good form heading into the back half of the year.
Tom Hawkins (Geelong): Hawkins is an imposing key forward who has simply monstered some of his matchups in recent weeks on his way to 31 goals at this point. Hawkins is selfless in bringing others into the play, averaging 8 score involvements and is the #1 ranked player for score assists in the AFL.
Dom Sheed (West Coast): Sheed's clutch goal from the boundary was the defining moment of the 2018 Grand Final, and the premiership-winning Eagle has taken that confidence into the new season with some scintillating form. The goalkicking midfielder will be an important cog in West Coast's premiership defence.
Michael Walters (Fremantle): Speaking of clutch shots on goal, Walters' game winning behind and goal in consecutive weeks shows just how good he is. Walters has bagged 19 goals for the season thus far and drives the footy inside forward 50 for Fremantle regularly. Coupled with Bradley Hill's damaging run along the wing, the Dockers now sit on the cusp of the top eight with a 6-5 record.
Jeremy Cameron (GWS): Admittedly the Coleman Medal leader is getting great service from his elite midfield but his searching long leads and ability to read the play provides headaches for any opponent. Cameron can find different avenues to goal and is the prototype mobile key forward in this era.
Gary Ablett (Geelong): He's has had his critics in recent times but Ablett's brilliant form has reminded the footy world of the class and poise this future Hall of Famer has. He doesn't need high disposal numbers to have a critical impact on results and has been terrific for the flag favourites playing closer to goal and with a current goal tally of 20.
Brodie Grundy (Collingwood): An All-Australian last season, I feel that Grundy's start to the season has earned him the starting ruckman position in this side. Around the ground, his influence is prominent in games and provides so much drive to a Collingwood midfield dripping in talent.
Patrick Dangerfield (Geelong): As an elite footballer still at the peak of his powers, Dangerfield is relishing the depth through Geelong midfield. It allows Scott to play him forward and his explosive leads are a nightmare for medium defenders. Crucially, his ball winning ability around the contest is always exemplary averaging 28 disposals.
Stephen Coniglio (GWS): The extremely consistent GWS leader has hurt opposition teams with his spread from the contest and creativity. He sets up scoring shots but also hits the scoreboard and will be a key driver for the finals-bound Giants.
Scott Pendlebury (Collingwood): Top 10 for disposals in the league and top five for score involvements this season puts Pendlebury in contention for All-Australian again this year. The evergreen leader is nearing 300 games for the Magpies and will be looking to take his side deep again this September.
Josh Kelly (GWS): Whenever the ball is in Kelly's hands, things turn to gold. Kelly and Lachie Whitfield simply do not waste their disposal as they carve up opposition defensive structures. Kelly has perfected the inside and outside balance and has shown a willingness to put physical pressure on his opponents, averaging six tackles per game along with 30 disposals.
Nat Fyfe (Fremantle): Whether he is influencing at ground level in congestion or competing in the air, Fyfe is one of the most difficult players to contain. He is averaging eight clearances a game and ranks third in the competition for contested possession - a big reason why Fremantle have had some strong results to the half-way point of the season.
Ben Cunnington (North Melbourne): Super tough in the clinches, Cunnington is finally being heralded for the work he does week in week out. North Melbourne thrive upon Cunnington's ability to extract the ball with clean hands and set up the outside run and carry.
Chris Scott (Geelong): Starting the year with a very tough draw, Geelong has now established themselves as the flag-favourites. It was evident that in moving the magnets, Scott found a vital balance of experience and youthful exuberance across the field. The Cats show depth through their midfield and a consistent, reliable defensive unit. They have also relished the injection of pace and pressure inside forward 50.