50 Most Relevant, Preseason 2021

#15 Most Relevant | Josh Dunkley

During the trade period, Josh Dunkley attempted to move to Essendon to play more through the midfield. However, after staying at the Bulldogs could this son of a gun still get his wish?

PLAYER PROFILE

Name: Josh Dunkey
Age: 24
Club: Western Bulldogs
Position: MID/FWD

2020 Highest Score: 
108 Vs St Kilda (AFLFantasy)
151 Vs West Coast (SuperCoach)

Career Highest Score: 
189 Vs Melbourne | AFLFantasy (2019)
202 Vs Melbourne | SuperCoach (2019)

2020 Average: 
77.7 (AFLFantasy) | 97.1 (Adjusted Average)
104.2 (SuperCoach)

SuperCoach Price: $560,200
AFLFantasy Price: 
$741,000
AFLDreamTeam Price: 
$717,700

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WHY IS HE RELEVANT?

2020 was a crazy year for Josh Dunkley. He could find himself playing as a defensive forward from an on-field perspective, then a ball winning midfielder and even as a pinch hitting ruckman. While off-field it was the on again, off again trade to Essendon which eventually fell through.

With the constant change and the shorter quarters it ultimately impacted his possession count for the year. It dropped by 10 per game to 18, but his tackle count (average 6.1) and goals (average 0.5) held. He ranked 4th for tackles per game across the league, 4th for tackles inside 50 per game and 20th for handballs per game.

Despite the role rollercoaster ride of his role his SuperCoach season as a whole held strong. He opened the season with a three game average of 108 including two scores over 128. However, from then until round 10 Dunks was sidelined with a serious ankle injury.

Upon his return, he played the remaining 8 games, scored 3 tons including a 151 and delivered the lowest score of 87. From a seasonal perspective, he ended the year averaging 104. Not bad for a guy who’s role would change constantly. The positive for SuperCoachers is that regardless of the role he’s asked to execute, Josh finds a way to score well.

In AFLFantasy and DreamTeam the scoring highs and lows were more pronounced and yet he still scored three tons and an additional score over 80.

2019 saw us with a similar theme. That being that of Josh’s role being fluid within the team. Over the opening six weeks of the season, Dunkley spent his time primarily as a forward.  From a fantasy footy perspective, he was averaging 77 in AFLFantasy/DreamTeam and 85 in SuperCoach.

Across all formats, he failed to raise the ton during this time. Thankfully it didn’t stay this way for the whole year. From round seven onwards he was released into the midfield and with stunning scoring results.

In AFLFantasy/DreamTeam DT over the final sixteen matches, he scores 14 tons, 9 of them were above 120, and 4 over 140 and an average of 123 after the move.

It was an even stronger return in SuperCoach. From the final 16 matches after the midfield move he posted 14 tons, eight were over 120 and four over 150. One of these was when Dunks joined the elite SuperCoach history with his score of 202. He had only two scores below 100, with his lowest 88. In terms of average, he went at 127 after the move.

I don’t even need to go into his 2018 data trends, because you get the idea. When given ample midfield time Josh Dunkley has the potential to end the season as the #1 fantasy football forward in all formats of the game.

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MY TAKE

One of the things that helped the Dogs win them the premiership in 2016 was versatility and flexibility. The negative for fantasy coaches is that when players are used unpredictably in multiple roles, it can be challenging to have confidence in selecting a player, especially if one of those secondary roles isn’t fantasy-friendly.

Throughout the 50 Most Relevant series I’ve spoken at length about what the addition of Adam Treloar might add to the Bulldogs mix. And which if any players will have a subsequent fantasy football scoring decrease.

Even if Dunkley is one of the midfielders with a rotation or two impacted, his ability to add forward pressure and convert on the scoreboard makes him a damaging option when needed inside forward 50. Just look back at his debut season of 2016. He posted 8 scores north of 8 including 4 tons in AFLFantasy and 5 times scoring 80+ including a 99 in SuperCoach. I think regardless of the role he is needed to fill; Josh will score well.

Dunkley offers something that Treloar, Macrae, Smith and Bont don’t. As an individual, he boasts a high end defensive workrate, but not at the cost of ball winning. No other Bulldogs midfielder has that skill combination of Josh.

The fact Josh Dunkley didn’t just recover from that syndesmosis injury in his left ankle but played in a variety of roles is incredible. How? Ask anyone connected to the kennel; Dunks is the most focussed, professional and hardworking player at the club. If he can come back from that injury and deliver a sold back half of the season. Imagine what he can do with a full preseason under his belt? One thing is certain; he’s desperate to highlight his worth this season to current and potential future suitors.

Selecting Josh, or any other player for that matter has an element of risk in the selection. And like any risk, it can be viewed from both perspectives. One angle pf viewing the risk is that given the bounty of midfield options the Bulldogs have you find yourself with zero confidence in his role, and thus his scoring variation could yo-yo weekly. Why choose the potential chaos of variation when you can just be safe and lock in someone like a Dustin Martin instead?

The 180-degree perspective is that if Josh Dunkley does have enough midfield minutes, he’s got the scoring ceiling to match it with the best in the game. After 3-5 rounds of him going 125-140, you’d have to adjust strategies to bring him in drastically. Otherwise, he could do something similar that Lachie Neale did in 2020 and take the season away from you quickly.

What do you need to see in the AAMI community series to pick him or pass on him? Ultimately whatever your pre-existing view is already, then it will likely confirm your existing perspective. Because if he plays midfield, you’ll either be further convinced of that being his role or think it’s Luke Beveridge just spinning the magnets in a game that doesn’t matter.

I’m starting him everywhere. I think the risk of him failing as a selection is as real as the potential of him smashing it. For me, I’d rather lean on the side of the ceiling upside with the knowledge that his downside isn’t as catastrophic as many believe.

Others, however, will be different and see the same things but take a different conclusion. And that’s what I love about fantasy footy. We can all see the same data but justifiably come to different conclusions. That’s what the preseason is about, starting a conversation, looking at possibilities and then backing your gut and do what you believe is right for you.

DRAFT DECISION

The drafting range of Josh Dunkley is fascinating to me. In some leagues, he’s a later first round selection. Others believe the risk of insufficient midfield time isn’t worth jumping inside the first five rounds.

Generally, the truth is somewhere in the middle. And given the lack of top end forwards I genuinely believe Dunkley will depart somewhere between the second and third rounds.

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