Now that our Ultimate Pre-Season Guide v 2.0 is up and running, I decided to have a tinker with a few statistics to uncover the best ball-winners of the pre-season competition so far. Today I’m looking at those who have played both NAB Challenge matches (using the ‘Played 2 Games’ sheet) and sorting the players by the last column, ‘DISP/TOG’ in an attempt to identify who has been finding the pill the most with respect to their time spend on ground. Who is attracting the footy most per minute of game time over the first two matches, I hear you ask?
Let’s find out:
1. Lachie Neale ($468,900, MID) I can remember watching Lachie in his debut season and thinking, this kid is going to find his way into my SuperCoach team as a premium at some stage in his career. Heading into his fourth year, he may not have reached premium status yet (averaging 87.1 ppg in 2014), but he’s well on his way if this pre-season is anything to go by. Not only has he touched the footy more than anyone else in the NAB Challenge (61 times in two games!), but he’s leading the way in disposals per time on ground as well. In just 73% TOG in NAB 2, Neale racked up 33 disposals and was reported to have been admitted to the Royal Perth Hospital with a severe case of leather poisoning. Winning the Ross Glendinning Medal in the R7 derby last year, and averaging 31.5 disposals in the AFL Finals Series last year, Lachie has what it takes to stand up in big games. Big breakout potential, but can he average well enough to be worth a precious spot in midfield? Another big game against the Eagles on Sunday will have him penciled in for a lot of coaches. Definitely look out for him in your Draft competitions if nothing else.
2. Jack Steven ($455,900, MID) You may have been dismayed by Jack’s first NAB Challenge display of just 10 disposals and 40 SuperCoach points. I’m hear to tell you to dismiss those thoughts, because a little over one third of the match (35%). A second showing of 22 disposals and 124 points, albeit against the topped up Bombers, came from just 56% TOG! Steven is an absolute ball-magnet when he’s on the field and should definitely remain in high consideration for your side. Averaging 110 in 2013, we’ve seen what he’s capable of before. Turning 25 years old on the Eve of the AFL season, he’s got a lot to give the Saints and SuperCoaches this year. Again, trickier because he’s got to be very good to justify handing him a midfield spot, but you’re saving a truckload of cash.
3. Josh Kennedy ($612,200, MID) Flying under the radar this pre-season, JPK has not featured in as many RMTs as he should be given credit for. This could be due to the relative burn he administered to coaches in 2013, averaging 105.5 after 119.6 the previous year and again in 2014 when he pulled his hamstring for a measly 39 points in our League Semi-Finals. He’s the 2nd highest disposal winner this pre-season after Lachie Neale with 55 touches of the leather. A bone fide premium option in good form for your midfield.
4. Jimmy Bartel ($549,000, FWD) He may be getting older, but his footy smarts seem to be getting wiser, if that’s at all possible. It’s as if Jimmy has a leather detected on-field, because he just knows where to go to find the football time and time again. Whether that be forward, back or in midfield, there’s no doubting he’s a class act. Bartel played just 72% game time for his 26 disposals and 148 SC in NAB 1. He’ll be a bit of a POD this year with all the other premium options to choose from in the forward line.
5. Dayne Beams ($621,000, MID) It hasn’t taken long for the former Pie to settle into his new home up north, racking up the numbers in the packed out Lions midfield. Would you believe it, his 19 disposals came from just 51% TOG last week! You can’t argue with that if you’re a Beams doubter. Another super premium that could be a POD with the uncertainty that still surrounds his season output at the Lions.
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