In Round 22 we saw the Blues lose the unlosable game, the Swans end Collingwood's hot run of form, and another suitor emerge for the signature of free agent coach extraordinaire Alastair Clarkson.
Our footy experts cast their eye over the week's action to find out whose stocks are up -- whether it's a coaching masterstroke or a player having a blinder -- and whose are down. Every club features, so jump ahead to your team below (desktop only).
Stocks up: Darcy Fogarty's emergence in the second half of the season is certainly something for the Crow to hang his hat on at the end of the 2022 campaign. The maligned forward kicked another four goals on Saturday, for the second time in two weeks, and took his streak to 11 consecutive games with a major. With his tally now at 30, after missing a large chunk of the early-year fixtures, it's been a terrific season for the 25-year-old.
Stocks down: With the Bombers losing to the Power, and the Crows notching a third straight win, the Crows' chances of finishing in the bottom four are tumbling! Still, they'll benefit from the 'bottom six' draw in 2023, and will have a relatively high draft pick to offer the Suns for Izak Rankine... but all in all, it's been an encouraging finish to 2022.
Stocks up: With the game against the Saints slipping away, the Lions needed a hero, and up stepped Cam Rayner. Brisbane's X-factor had 18 disposals and 10 contested possessions on the night, but kicked four goals (all after halftime) to lift his side to a big win and all but end St Kilda's season. Keep an eye on Cam this finals series.
Stocks down: As finals approach, Brisbane's inability to kill teams is really concerning. Yes, they banked eight points with wins over the Blues and Saints, but the last three games have seen some serious fadeouts which will concern coach Chris Fagan and all Lions fans around the country. When the momentum is with you, take advantage and put your opposition away. It could come back to bite them in September...
Stocks up: The Blues were left heartbroken and there were many admirable performance across the park, but perhaps none more so than the efforts of key defender Lewis Young, who has had to hold the fort for most of the season. Young was terrific on Saturday night, out-marking and spoiling Ben Brown in almost every contest the pair had, and finishing with 18 touches (15 effective), nine marks and 12 intercepts. If Carlton does reach September, the former Dog will be crucial to their success.
Stocks down: You almost don't know where to look, given the Blues were only moments away from locking a first finals series since 2013 when Charlie Curnow put them in front by eight points with under three minutes remaining. When that time ticks down to 50 seconds though, Matt Owies, and your team is in possession, you MUST execute the most basic of skills, and shanking a 15m pass to Adam Saad to force him to rush a long pass forward, which resulted in Melbourne's final surge, you have to be disappointed...
Stocks up: Josh Daicos' terrific season continued in Collingwood's win streak-ending loss to the Swans, finishing with 25 disposals, seven clearances, seven score involvements and a goal. He was clearly Craig McRae's best player, and has probably been the Pies' most consistent for a number of weeks. All-Australian smokey? He'd have to be a chance...
Stocks down: Collingwood's finals prospects, especially if critical midfielders Taylor Adams and Jordan De Grey can't get up for week one, seriously dropped after their lacklustre effort at the SCG. They were smashed in most areas and, to be honest, the final margin flattered them.
Stocks up: That display at Marvel Stadium was every bit a disgrace, so let's look elsewhere. Michael Hurley getting through another VFL match unscathed -- collecting 14 touches and eight marks against Werribee -- puts him in the AFL selection frame for Round 23. Would be an incredible comeback for the injury-riddled Bomber. They need him, too.
Stocks down: We have to remember, it's Ben Rutten's game plan that isn't working. Could Essendon swoop in late and snatch Alastair Clarkson from under North Melbourne's nose? They HAVE to ask the question, surely, and now that president Paul Brasher is on the way out, and Rutten's tenure is being reported as over, the move must be made.
Stocks up: Fremantle ruck Sean Darcy was simply dominant in the derby, picking up 16 disposals, an enormous 56 hitouts and even hitting the scoreboard to earn a much-deserved Glendinning-Allan Medal. An epic performance from a ruck in the wet.
Stocks down: In-form key forward Rory Lobb being subbed out with a shoulder injury at this stage of the season is far from ideal, and he's even in doubt for next week. Fingers crossed it's nothing major!
Stocks up: Geelong's premiership chances were already through the roof, but this team is just humming along brilliantly at the moment. There's no weakness, and make no mistake, this is their flag to lose. Looking ahead though, and there's a slim chance they could face either Melbourne or Collingwood at the MCG in the first week of the finals, and as we all know, it won't be at GMHBA Stadium but at the MCG - home to both the Pies and Dees...
Stocks down: There's nothing worse than copping an injury at this stage of the season, particularly when you're playing for a premiership contender. It's exactly what Geelong ruckman Rhys Stanley is facing after being subbed out of the win against the Suns with a "low grade" adductor strain. He won't line up against the Eagles next week, but with the Cats thin in that area of the ground, it's fair to say anything more than a one-week injury could be catastrophic.
Stocks up: Death, taxes, and an inspirational effort from the uncompromising Touk Miller, who'll refuse to give in no matter the circumstances. Even in a 60-point drubbing at the hands of Geelong, the Gold Coast hard-nut and Brownlow Medal smokey collected 36 possessions, eight marks, seven inside 50s, six rebound 50s and five clearances. Fair old game!
Stocks down: Gold Coast's final stretch of the season cannot go like this, not after showing so much promise. They've been well in the finals hunt for the majority of the season and had three weeks to notch their best ever win tally in a home-and-away campaign, but with back-to-back losses, a third in a row to close out 2022 would be ultra disappointing.
Stocks up: That Giants midfield really took it up to the Dogs on Saturday. Josh Kelly's 35 disposals, Stephen Coniglio's 31, Lachie Whiitfield's 29 (and 13 marks), and Callan Ward's 29 and a goal all but caused the upset that would've locked in the top eight for 2022. It was an admirable effort from GWS who won most key areas except for the scoreboard.
Stocks down: You never want to see concussions on the footy field, and Tanner Bruhn copped a nasty one at the hands of Zaine Cordy. Fingers crossed Bruhn pulls up okay. Expect Cordy to cop a suspension for the hit.
Stocks up: James Sicily in the midfield? Would like to see more of that! The Hawks used the usual key defender in the midfield in the first half and he excelled, before being swung back to defence with Richmond's Tom Lynch being let off the leash. Sicily ended up with a season-high 30 possessions, nine marks and a goal, and his versatility could be a real weapon for Sam Mitchell moving forward.
Stocks down: The Hawks' midfield was smashed by the Tigers, who finished +14 for hitouts, +12 for clearances (+6 at centre bounces) and +13 for contested ball. The Hawks somehow came close to matching the Tigers for total inside 50s, but their efficiency in the forward line was sorely lacking, scoring form just 40% of entries - well down on their average of 46%.
Stocks up: A true unlikely hero, Jake Melksham stood up when Melbourne needed him to on Saturday night. A fringe Demon who missed last year's Grand Final win and has been in and out of the side all season, Melksham's influence was huge in the MCG thriller, booting four goals (including one after taking a brilliant contested mark to get the Dees back to within a kick late in the game) and taking seven marks from 15 possessions.
Stocks down: There might be a few things the Dees would like to clean up, but one of those needs to be the undisciplined down-field free kicks, of which many were given away to give the Blues numerous forward forays and shots on goal. In September, that's going to be way too costly.
Stocks up: Ben Cunnington played his first AFL game in over a year, making an emotional and inspirational comeback after recovering form two bouts of testicular cancer. You couldn't help but smile in the pregame when he went out to the middle of Adelaide Oval to soak it all up before the crowds arrived, and later, when he ran onto the ground with his family, you could see just what footy and his family means to him. His performance wasn't shabby either - the 31-year-old finishing with 17 touches against the Crows.
Stocks down: It was another disappointing showing from young Jaidyn Stephenson, who could only manage nine disposals in Round 22. It's been an up and down season for the maligned Roo, but as a player we know has uber talent, fingers crossed he can get back to his best and have a consistent Round 23, and 2023.
Stocks up: There were starring performances everywhere you turned during Port Adelaide's demolition of the Bombers on Sunday afternoon, but Zak Butters was one player who seemed from another stratosphere. The Power gun was sublime kicking three majors from 25 touches, while he also had six clearances and 10 score involvements. His foot was all the way down on the pedal for four entire quarters and although he wasn't alone, he deserves a huge amount of praise.
Stocks down: Where was this Power all season long? Port will look back on this season as one of missed opportunities, having lost eight games by 12 points or fewer. Could easily be playing in September.
Stocks up: Richmond spearhead Tom Lynch kicked an equal career-best eight majors against the Hawks - the first time a player has kicked eight goals at the MCG in the 18-team era! It was an incredible game from the Richmond spearhead, who also had 18 possessions for the match and took a game-high 12 marks, monstering Hawthorn's fragile defence all afternoon.
Stocks down: When one forward fires as well as Lynch did, sometimes the others are happy to take a backseat, and on Sunday, it was Jack Riewoldt, who finished goalless for just his second match this season. Not that we think he would mind, given the result!
Stocks up: The Saints have found one in young Marcus Windhager. After doing jobs on Tim Kelly, Jai Newcombe and Cameron Guthrie, Windhager stepped it up, keeping Brownlow Medal favourite Lachie Neale to just 16 disposals, while getting 21 of his own, including five clearances. At just 19 years of age, there's a massive amount of potential.
Stocks down: It's season over for the Saints but that doesn't mean Max King should spend every single day of the off-season taking practising his set shot routine. Zero goals and five behinds, on a night where St Kilda had to win to stay alive, is simply not good enough from the club's spearhead. Yes,. he's young and still developing, but you've just got to be better. Speaking of being better, what was wrong with skipper Jack Steele? Just the 13 touches, when, again, it's do or die stuff, gee, not a good night...
Stocks up: Sydney absolutely bullied Collingwood's undermanned midfield, and a lot of that was led by hard-nut Callum Mills' 29 disposals and seven tackles. He was a brut in congestion, but he was also well supported by teammates Luke Parker (26 possessions, eight tackles), James Rowbottom (24 and eight) and Chad Warner (25 and a goal), who ensured the Swans could be on the front foot for most of the contest. A much-deserved top four berth awaits them.
Stocks down: Somewhere, Sydney's doubters are now hiding. This is an incredibly well-oiled machine definitely capable of going all the way in season 2022.
Stocks up: Can the All-Australian full back really come from one of the two worst sides of the year? Tom Barrass is looming large, and after a strong second half to the year, he could be in with a shot. He notched a career-high nine intercept marks against the Dockers (12 total) to go with his 20 disposals. He's a gun, and wouldn't look out of place with an AA blazer over his shoulders...
Stocks down: It's tough to watch when your direct opponent wins the medal for best on ground, because it means you were well beaten - and that's the case for Nic Naitanui. He had 24 hitouts, but only found the pill nine times as the Eagles finished with -34 and -12 in hitouts and clearances. Naitanui's fitness remains an issue for the Eagles; he spent the second most time on the bench of anyone not subbed on or off.
Stocks up: It mightn't have been pretty at times, but the Dogs just did enough to stay in the hunt - and that's important with one game to go. The win over the Giants means if the Dogs can beat the Hawks in Launceston in Round 23 by any margin more than about six points (and the Blues lose to the Magpies by a point or more), they'll Bradbury their way into the eight. Gotta be in it to win it, right?
Stocks down: With a must-win clash looming against the Hawks this week, losing anyone isn't ideal, and Zaine Cordy will have to face the AFL Tribunal after laying a hard bump on Tanner Bruhn, which left the young Giant concussed.