The Fantasy King: Out of the Blue

Filed in Uncategorized by on May 23, 2013

By Mick 'the King' Adams

The Fantasy King: Out of the Blue

This week’s Fantasy King is dedicated to the Penrith Panthers, who annihilated the Warriors with a scoreline that had me questioning the accuracy of my iPhone app as I checked it on Saturday night. Yes it was against the Warriors, a team who have shown a troubling lack of heart in the last couple of years, but it was an astounding margin of victory regardless. I don’t think even Phil Gould, a man who has written glowing columns on his team following twenty point losses, could have imagined his plucky group of spare parts and castoffs pulling off a feat like that. With that in mind, I’m counting down the ten most “Where did that come from?” moments in fantasy in 2013.

10. Adam Cuthbertson, 100 points round 4.

Amended season average: 58

Next highest score: 71

50+ games: 7 of 8

Cuthbertson has been a sneakily good fantasy buy this year, especially for those who own him in draft leagues, where a forward averaging 63, particularly one available well into the middle rounds, is an invaluable asset. And yet I still feel shock when I see a score like this against his name. His 100 was helped in no small part to the two tries he scored in that game, a tally he hasn’t added to in the six matches since. Cuthbertson typically runs hard, slips out the odd offload and does little else. His stats show that he takes it relatively easy in defence, which is always a troubling sign for a fantasy forward. Amazingly however he only has one error and one penalty against his name for the year. I had to suffer through a mercifully brief Cuthbertson era at the Dragons, so I find this statistic astounding, and cannot possibly trust it to be maintained. That being said, I would LOVE a player posting Cuthbertson’s numbers in my struggling fantasy outfit at the moment.

9. Anthony Milford, 108 points in round 10

Amended season average: 30

Next highest score: 60

50+ games: 2 of 4

It’s tempting to dismiss Milford’s big score against the Sharks on the basis that almost half of those points came off the back of two tries and an assist, stats which can’t be relied upon every game. By focusing on that other half however we can paint a different picture. Milford had a great game however you look at it, and is building towards something judging by the 60 he put on the week before. His production was up in a couple of key fantasy stat categories, tackles and tackle breaks, while his playing time has also increased, up to 64 minutes from 20 just two games before. We’ve seen the effect James Segeyaro has had in fantasy as a bench utility, Milford could be on track to post some similar numbers.

8. Justin Horo, 89 points round 6.

Amended season average: 45

Next highest score: 67

50+ games: 4 of 10

Horo was much talked about in fantasy season previews following his off-season move to Manly, and while he has by no means been a bust he hasn’t really done anything to stand out apart from this round 6 effort against the Sharks. His last five games have been a lot better than his first five however, and in a great sign for Horo owners he has played a full game in all but one of those matches, playing 65 minutes in round 7. His average points-per-minute has increased from 0.51 in rounds 1-5 to 0.78 in rounds 6-10. He had a season high tackle count of 39 against the Storm on Monday night. All in all, I’d say Horo is definitely poised to post a few more big scores, although the dearth of attacking stats is a concern.

7. Andrew McCullough, 105 points round 5.

Amended season average: 44

Next highest score: 57

50+ games: 3 of 10

In the preseason I had written that this could be a breakout fantasy year for McCullough, and while I remain impressed by his play in reality, it hasn’t really panned out in fantasy. He makes a lot of tackles, and has a pretty good hit up rate for a hooker, but has done little else to trouble the fantasy scorekeepers this year. Worryingly, his kicking game, which was a handy addition to the Broncos attack last season, seems to have gone off a little, with McCullough yet to post a 40/20 and having only one forced dropout to his name. His kicking game was one of the main things I felt he had in his favour for a fantasy jump; without it I feel he is destined to remain about where he is- a point above Michael Ennis as the seventh most valuable fantasy hooker so far.

6. Jamal Idris, 144 points round 8.

Amended season average: 52

Next highest score: 76

50+ games: 6 of 10

It’s amazing how far Idris has fallen since making his lone State of Origin appearance in just his second year of first grade. It seems like his name hasn’t even come up for consideration for a NSW recall since. In that Origin year, 2010, Idris was a pretty decent fantasy player, albeit inconsistent, but he has been rubbish in the last few seasons. After stringing together three very handy scores on the trot however the stats would indicate he is on his way back. Encouragingly, some of his biggest scores have come in Titans losses, including that massive 144, and over the last month there has been a marked increase in line breaks, tackle busts and offloads. To me this suggests a return to that dynamic play which saw him become a prized signing for the Titans a couple of years ago. If he could just find his winger a bit more and increase his assist rate (currently at 0.3 per game), Idris might once again be a valuable fantasy acquisition.

5. Bryson Goodwin, 97 points in Round 9

Amended season average: 36

Next highest score: 66

50+ games: 2 of 9

Goodwin’s fantasy stature has suffered by the fact that he plays on the non-favoured side of the Rabbitohs attack. He made the most of that round 9 match against the Cowboys however, and far from getting his points from a bagful of tries, he only scored one in the match. It was the most involved he has been so far this season, with his highest hit up count and one of his highest tackle counts coming from that encounter, along with multiple line breaks. Before and after however his attacking stats have been sparse, and that 36 seems a better representation of his fantasy worth. Against opposition with a particularly miserly left edge might be his best chance of replicating the fate.

4. Chris Sandow, 107 points round 1.

 Amended season average: 46

Next highest score: 80

50+ games: 6 of 10

Sandow has actually been pretty good all season, ranking 6th among fantasy halfbacks that actually wear the number 7 in reality. There have been some dips along the way, which is to be expected when playing for a lowly team like Parramatta. The real surprise is that in 2012 he was woeful, notching just 4 50+ scores from 23 attempts at an average of 36. Right out of the gates he put on a performance to show he might be getting back to the glory of his Souths days, where he was inconsistent but capable of big fantasy scores, and followed it with an 80 in round 2. Since then he hasn’t really come close to fantasy form like that 1-2 punch, but he has been far from terrible.

3. Tim Lafai, 116 points round 8.

Amended season average: 33

Next highest score: 38

50+ games: 1 of 5

A look at Lafai’s fantasy stats for 2013 reveal a spreadsheet full of duck eggs, but his numbers in that round 8 match were everything you want from a fantasy back. There were tries, assists, line breaks, tackle busts etc. etc., and he registered a season high in 7 fantasy stat categories. The caveat? He was playing the Tigers. The Dogs don’t play the Tigers again this season, meaning this was probably Lafai’s lone opportunity to break 40.

2. Steve Matai, 117 points round 1.

Amended season average: 25

Next highest score: 68

50+ games: 3 of 9

There are an awful lot of points subtractions in Matai’s fantasy stats as ever, although in an unprecedented display of discipline he is yet to give away more than a single penalty in any game this year. Well done Steve. His error and missed tackle counts remain as lofty as usual however. He crossed for two tries in that round one ton, and has scored singles in three other games in 2013. On two of those occasions the 17 points he received for the try made up more than half his total score. He has been on the wane for a couple of years now and this is not likely to stop. I strongly doubt we will see another 100+ game from Matai.

1. John Morris, 103 points round 3.

Amended season average: 42

Next highest score: 56

50+ games: 3 of 10

It seems like a century ago that Andrew Johns was anointing his then-teammate as a superstar of the future, hype by no means justified, but I like having John Morris around. He’s one of those players destined to end up a “Can you name this face?” trivia question in Rugby League Week in twenty years, leading to a wave of nostalgia as middle aged rugby league tragics sit back and think “Oh yeah, I remember that guy never doing anything ever”. That round 4 century is his best career fantasy score by 19 points, and will probably remain so. 


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