ESPN's Top 20 Must-Watch AFL Players for 2021: 20-11

Who are the players you just love watching? You know, not necessarily favourites from the team you support, but the players from across the league who stop you in your tracks and make you tune in anytime, anywhere?

Welcome to ESPN's third annual Top 20 Must-Watch Players list.

This isn't just a countdown of the competition's biggest names, but a ranking of the players we simply can't wait to watch in action in 2021. It's a mix of the game's superstars, big names who have switched clubs, young guns who look ready to explode, top draftees or basically anyone we will be watching with interest in 2021.

This is the players ranked 20 to 11. The top 10 will be revealed on Monday.

Click here to look at the 2020 edition.

Click here to look at the 2019 edition.

20. Patrick Cripps

Watching Cripps play sometimes reminds you of the physically dominant kid playing against an agegroup one or two years beneath them. Cripps is a clearance-winning machine and his size and strength make him an almost unstoppable force at the coalface. He is also a huge threat one-out up forward, although Blues fans will be desperate for him to clean up his goalkicking skills.

19. Jordan De Goey

Can De Goey 'do a Petracca' this year? Much like Melbourne's Christian Petracca last year, it's about time the electrifying Magpie adds consistency to his ad-hoc match-winning efforts because he has all the tools to become one of the AFL's best dual-threat players. His power and speed can create havoc in the midfield and up forward, and there's no doubt the whole Collingwood team lifts when De Goey gets in the mood.

18. Isaac Heeney

There's something smooth and graceful about the way Heeney goes about his football. He is no doubt powerful and attacks the footy in Kamikaze fashion, but the Swan glides across the turf, more often than not with a smile on his face, as he impacts games across the field. Oh, Heeney can take a decent grab, too.

17. Lance Franklin

You don't have to be a Sydney fan to be desperately hoping for a 'Buddy' ... ahem ... swansong before he hangs up the boots. He missed all of last season through injury and is just 56 goals away from the magic 1000-goal mark. He's a once-in-a-generation talent, a mix of barely-believable athleticism, skills and 'I'm the man' match-winning mentality. Hopefully his body allows him to produce one or two more audacious moments before it's too late.

16. Nic Naitanui

There's not many better sights in footy than Naitanui launching into the sky to either soar above a pack for a contested mark, or jump over the top of a rival ruckman to win a tap. The big Eagle was back to his best last season after several injury-interrupted years, winning his second All-Australian guernsey. Naitanui would almost have to be the AFL's highest-impact-per-possession player, and he's a joy to watch.

15. Ben Brown

Brown's crossing from the Kangaroos to the Demons was one of the most intriguing of the 2020 offseason. How he bounces back from the ignominy of being dropped like a hot potato -- despite booting 60+ goals from 2017-19 -- will be fascinating to watch. Unfortunately, the 28-year-old has suffered a knee injury which could impact the early stages of 2021, but when he does grace the field in red and blue, it'll be appointment viewing.

14. Christian Petracca

Isn't it a joy to watch when an athlete with untapped potential finally finds a way to harness their incredible talent? That's what Petracca did last year as he stormed to a third-place Brownlow finish. No longer just an occasional threat up forward, the immensely powerful Demon consistently broke games open as a midfielder, and you get the feeling he has a few more levels to reach before the end of his career.

13. Jaidyn Stephenson

The Stephenson story could go so many ways from here. Now in blue and white stripes, can he rediscover the form that took him to the 2018 Rising Star Award on the back of an electric 34-goal debut season? Or will his recent on-and-off field struggles continue, leaving North Melbourne with a big contract to handle and major questions over Stephenson's career? Everything about Stephenson's upcoming season is intriguing.

12. Toby Greene

It doesn't matter if he's forward, in the midfield, or mopping up in defence, Greene is one of the competition's biggest stars, and is just about worth the price of admission on his own. The Giants struggled last year, and if they're to jump back into finals calculations, they'll need to rely on Greene having a stellar year.

11. Patrick Dangerfield

Can a must-watch list not feature 'Danger'? After a disappointing Grand Final, in which he tallied just 12 touches and a goal, there's no doubt the Brownlow medallist will be hell-bent on helping the Cats potentially go one better in 2021. He's a man scorned, so the rest of the AFL should be on notice...