The Fantasy King: On Dugan

Filed in Uncategorized by on August 9, 2013

By Mick 'the King' Adams

Last week I wrote about the effect of blowouts on fantasy scores. As it turned out it was very prescient, with round 21 being one of the more uneven in terms of scorelines. In all, four of the eight games were blowouts by the criteria I laid out in last week’s column (30+ points scored; margin of 20+), with victories by the Bulldogs (39-20) and Cowboys (30-12) falling just short of the mark.

And looking at the Supercoach scores from the week bore out my findings- there were 14 Supercoach centurions for the round, far and away the most in any week of football this year (James Maloney leading the way with an extraordinary 181). 12 of those 14 scores came from those six games, with only Broncos Corey Parker (123) and Josh McGuire (105) making the cut from the other two games.

However, of those twelve scores, one was not like the others. I refer of course to Josh Dugan’s 133, the third highest score for the round. The difference of course is that Dugan was playing in a losing side. I was there at Kogarah, standing on the hill battling a bitter August wind as Dugan went about his business. It was a funny old game, with a great fifteen minutes for the Dragons either side of halftime bookended by the ineptness and spinelessness we Red V fans have come to expect this year.

Dugan did all he could to put the other sixteen Dragons on his back and carry them home to victory, instrumental in three of the four tries put on by the home team (crossing for two himself). It didn’t stop there, with eleven tackle breaks, four offloads, a linebreak and linebreak assist also on his fantasy stat sheet for the night.

Dugan has been having a monster year since his switch from the Raiders, and has skipped ahead of Billy Slater and Greg Inglis to top the fantasy averages at fullback. Encouragingly, he has also been more or less injury-free since his Saints debut in round ten, which was always one of his biggest red flags from a fantasy perspective (it’s not too hard to work out the other major red flag – more on that later).

Dugan was consistently up to the task against the Dogs. His second try was particularly brilliant, chipping for himself to pull six points out of nowhere and giving the Dragons a 10-8 halftime lead which had seemed most unlikely not ten minutes earlier.

It was the type of feat which had me remembering the run another fullback had a few years ago, and a semi-final try by that player, also at Kogarah, which sucked the spirit out of my minor premiership-winning Dragons back in 2009. I refer of course to Jarryd Hayne, who lit up the NRL for a Dally-M winning half a season, becoming one of the best fantasy prospects in the competition for a spell before injury, indifference and above all the incompetence of his diabolically awful Eels pulled at his shiny fluoro football boots and brought him back to the field.

Watching Dugan on Monday night, it was worrying to see how reliant the other Dragons were on him in attack, seemingly throwing it to him anywhere near the line without any plan or tactical strategy in place. That more than anything else gave me flashbacks to Hayne. Hayne’s fantasy worth remained high in 2010, largely possibly because of that reliance, but he has been a shadow of that since, and will start 2014 as a very risky draft pick.

Dugan on the other hand should fare better, and I daresay could even be picked ahead of Slater and Inglis. The Dragons may be too dependent on their fullback, but it has not been a one man show, nor is this a problem exclusive to the red and whites. In fact, Dugan has been involved (via try or assist) in 28.57% of the Dragons tries since joining the club. That’s only good for 13th in the competition over that same period. For the record, Todd Carney is leading this statistical category by some distance- playing a role in a staggering 39.39% of the Sharks’ tries since Round 10.

Furthermore, unlike the Eels, who have a roster not even close to being up to NRL standard and cannot seem to attract anybody to join them (English recruit Gareth Hock being the latest to see the light and pull out of his deal), the future is bright at St George. Gareth Widdop in particular is unlikely to become another ex-Storm player to regress (hi Adam) after leaving Bellamy’s stable. Widdop was having a career season before going down with a hip injury, at times even outshining the hall-of-famers joining him in the Melbourne spine. In fact, during the period from rounds 10 to 15 (the game in which he copped that injury) Widdop had the Carney-esque record of playing a part in 35.29% of Melbourne tries. By way of comparison, Cronk is at an even 25% since round 10. Widdop was becoming a very useful fantasy five-eighth too, losing some of the inconsistency which had dogged him in previous years.

His addition, along with that of Mike Cooper, Joel Thompson, Sam Williams and Dylan Farrell, has me quite confident about the Dragons’ chances for improvement in 2014. Unlike Hayne at the Eels, Dugan will have the support around him necessary to play his natural game without being over-burdened by the inadequacy of those around him. With all of this in place, I feel Dugan is primed to become the undisputed fantasy fullback of 2014, sustaining or improving on his current season average of 72.


Dugan remains a world class fuckwit, and his complete lack of maturity and foresight is incredibly troubling. His career arc to date has played out remarkably similarly to the aforementioned Carney, and we know that the latter’s redemption has not been a linear progress. Of Carney, I don’t know whether he has matured or just finally learned to keep his dickheadery in-house, but he has seemingly found his home at the Sharks, playing some great footy and going on a PB streak of keeping his headlines in the sport section.

Dugan is yet to learn that lesson, and it would not surprise to see him involved in yet another incident. That he felt it important to keep up his social media presence to “protect the brand” is a clear sign that he has not the faintest clue about marketing and brand recognition. I hate to break it to you Duges, but your brand is beyond broken. This is the other major difference between Dugan and Carney – while the latter was an essentially decent guy whose tolerance for the drink was not up to his enjoyment of it, Dugan, at face value at least, comes across as an arrogant turdburger.

The man at the helm of the Dragons also has me worried. I have been a staunch defender of Steve Price in the past, but am beginning to doubt that he is capable of righting the ship. In my view, the best sign of how well a coach is controlling his charges can be found in their attitude to defence. The Dragons have been contemptible, rarely worse than in that Bulldogs loss the other night. It demonstrates a lack of respect towards the coach and a sign that he has not won over the dressing room. Such a coach is not in a strong position to rein in wayward characters like Dugan.

With all this in mind, if Dugan is on my draft board next year in the second round will I take a chance? Absolutely. The difference about the careers of Carney and Dugan is that Carney (like Hayne in 2009) took his team to a grand final after making the change. That all went pear shaped in the end of course, but we all know that Carney was THE cheapie fantasy buy of 2010, owned by well over half of all Supercoach players and good for 70+ points on a weekly basis. That Roosters team was better than this Dragons team, but about on par with what the Dragons will have at their disposal next year. If Dugan can manage to get through the off-season unscathed, I predict big things, in fantasy and otherwise.

That’s a massive, massive if mind you…         


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