Nobody questions his scoring ability. But his durability over his career has been the cause for concern. Can Josh Kelly play every game in 2020?
Name: Josh Kelly
Club: GWS Giants
2019 Highest Score:
148 Vs North Melbourne (AFLFantasy)
124 Vs West Coast (SuperCoach)
SuperCoach Price: $637,700
AFLFantasy Price: $860,000
AFLDreamTeam Price: $838,100
WHY IS HE RELEVANT?
Josh Kelly is the complete package. A strong inside the contest, damaging on the outside. Whether it’s dancing around players at stoppages or using his silky skills on the outside to finish the game off, he is one of the modern-day greats in the AFL.
Last season from the 14 games he averaged 28 possessions, 11 of those were contested. On average he’d win five clearances, four inside ’50s, five tackles per game and nearly a goal per game.
In AFLFantasy/DreamTeam he is the highest priced midfielder available as he has the top average from the 2019 season. Last year his seasonal average of 115.9 was made up of 12 scores of 100 or more. Seven of them were over 120m, and between round 9-15, his lowest score was 120. And only twice last year did he fail to reach triple figures
His SuperCoach numbers were very similar. A seasonal average of 117 consisted of 11 tons, with six of them 120 or higher. His lowest score was 82, and he failed to register the ton in only three games.
GWS Giants failed at the final hurdle last year in the Grand Final but look set yet again to challenge for the Premiership. The positive for prospective Kelly owners is that when the Giants win it has a substantial impact on his scoring. In AFLFantasy/DreamTeam he averages 123.8 in wins as opposed to a very healthy 105.5 in losses. That’s a differential of 18.3. It’s similar in SUperCoach with an average of 124.3 when the giants win as opposed to 108.3 if they lose. That’s a gap of 15.9 points per game.
In the two seasons prior he played 36 of a possible 44 games. In that time for AFLFantasy/DreamTeam, he averaged 111 while for SuperCoach it was 113. Across all formats of the game, he posted 23 scores over 100 in those seasons combined which is a ton every 63% of games.
The concern isn’t around his scoring potential. The query is around games played. While those concerns are valid (and we’ll talk about them soon), he is in the rare territory of midfield premiums that has shown multiple years averaging well over 110 in the past three seasons.Embed from Getty Images
Nobody would question that Josh Kelly is one of the elite midfielders in the AFL. Nor would anyone challenge if he’s a genuine uber premium in SuperCoach or AFLFantasy. What makes people uncertain about him is the fact that only twice in his six AFL seasons has he played 20 twenty games or more.
Those that do pick Kelly need to factor in based on the previous history the high likelihood that he will not play 22 games. The past gives us an understanding that he and the club are yet to get his body cherry ripe. The thing is that history doesn’t always repeat itself with these ‘injury-prone’ players.
Before last year, Brad Crouch had struggled to play a full season and yet was able to for the Crows and for the fantasy coaches that selected him. Before the 2018 season, Devon Smith had never played a full season but didn’t miss a game in 2018. The same thing happened to Taylor Adams in 2017, after never played more than 18 games in a year he played all 22 that year.
History shows, 22 games could be unlikely it’s far from a guarantee. We’ve seen plenty of examples of players overcoming history, learning how to manage themselves to play out a full season.
Unlike other GWS Giants we’ve spoken about in the 50 Most Relevant, I have zero concern on the scoring impact on Josh of a fully fit midfield. He’s too good of a player not to be the centrepiece of their midfield. He is equally as damaging when on the inside or outside of the contest.
A players ownership percentage should never be the only factor for selecting a player. Still, currently, across formats, Kelly is criminally low given what his potential is if you’ve found yourself split between him and another premium midfielder it could be the determining factor in picking him.
One thing is sure, he’s going to average enough top be a top tier midfielder, but will he play enough games for you?
He’s an M1, but I’m seeing him slide into the second round with his games played the reason for concern. Whether that’s a wise decision or not, it’s an excellent move for coaches who have a late first-rounder that can select him either there or on the turn into the second.
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