Fremantle's premiership tilt received an unexpected boost yesterday when Port Adelaide surrendered top spot on the ladder.
Buoyed by their seven-point victory over West Coast on Saturday - their sixth in succession to improve to 10 wins and four losses - the Dockers were still fourth last night, but only one win plus percentage off top spot after Adelaide shut down the Power by 23 points in front of more than 50,000 supporters at Adelaide Oval.
The Power's defeat was their second in three games and saw them replaced at the head of the ladder by Hawthorn.
Importantly for the Dockers, who will start raging favourites against Melbourne in Darwin on Saturday night, they play both the Hawks and Power at home in rounds 21 and 23.
Fremantle entered round 15 on the third line of premiership betting at $4.40 with the TAB, but have shortened to $4.25.
Sydney are the $3.20 favourites, with Hawthorn at $3.40. Port Adelaide ($5.75) are the only other side in single figures.
In a further boost for the Dockers, courageous utility player Matt de Boer emerged unscathed in his return from a knee injury with Peel and key defender Luke McPharlin (knee) is expected to be available for selection against the Demons.
While the Dockers move closer to a top-two finish, West Coast are all but out of the finals race and must front up to the most daunting forward line in the competition in Sunday's home match against Sydney.
Shannon Hurn has urged selectors to leave Jeremy McGovern up forward despite Sydney's wealth of talls in attack, notably Lance Franklin and Kurt Tippett, even though the Eagles' defence is seriously undermanned with Darren Glass' retirement and Mitch Brown sustaining another knee injury.
Brown is expected to require a second reconstruction after his right leg buckled as he landed awkwardly during the third quarter on Saturday.
Scan results today are expected to confirm the worst.
The hits to West Coast's personnel leave them desperately short of experienced tall defenders to quell the fearsome combination of Franklin, Tippett, Adam Goodes and Sam Reid.
Franklin's form, in particular, has been imposing, with 26 goals in his past six matches.
Eagles coach Adam Simpson said he would consider swinging McGovern to the back line to plug a hole, but Hurn said they needed him more within scoring range.
"The most important thing is kicking goals, so I don't think you want to take away from that," Hurn said.
"He might go back, but I don't think he would because you need to kick goals to win.
"They do have their four talls, so we might have to have a bit of a swingman at some stage.
"Footy is full of good luck and bad luck. It (Brown's injury) is just a bit of bad luck.
"What Glassy did for the club was excellent. Browny has been in great form this year as well.
"You take away two good players, it does hurt.
"But I think the steps that we have in place, I think our younger players are developing and understand what it's about now."