Every year they light up the Pre-season, get us excited enough to pick them in our Supercoach teams, and then they flop in Round 1.
They are the JLT pretenders.
Here’s a painful example for you: If you have a weak disposition you may need to look away!
In the 2016 pre-season Jesse Lonergan scored at 1.74 points per minute and Tommy Sheridan scored at 1.06 points per minute. At that rate they should have scored over 100 points per match in the regular season.
But they didn’t, did they?
Now, I am not saying every player who performs in the preseason should be ignored, just look twice before selecting them.
Maybe that’s what the “JLT” stands for in JLT Community Series: Just Look Twice. Or should that be: Just Lock Them?
So who are some JLT Pretenders, or Heroes, this season?
- Jack Steele (StK) $347,100 MID-FWD
The man of Steele pumped out a combined 319 points or 106.3 points per match across his 3 preseason matches. Amazingly he only spent an average of 61% time on ground meaning he scored at a rate of 1.64 points per minute. Most players average approximately 100 minutes in a regular season match so at that rate Steele would score 165 points per week.
I know that is not going to happen, but entering his third year Steele has the ball winning ability to break-out in his third year. The move from the star-studded Giants to St Kilda can only help!
- Zach Tuohy (GEE) $443,200 DEF
With every big JLT score, the chorus of coaches calling Tuohy the natural successor to Corey Enright grew. His team mates looked to give him the ball at every opportunity and he pretty much ran around with his own Sherrin in the first two JLT matches, scoring 130 and 127. Dangerfield and Selwood cranked up their effort in JLT3 and Tuohy didn’t use the ball as well and his score dropped to 76 points. He did still rack up 25 possessions in that third match, up from his 2016 average of 21.
That gave him an average of 111 points from 92% time on ground that equals 1.09 points per minute, well above his 2016 average of 81 points.
Playing for Geelong will make Tuohy’s life easier but he has never scored consistently across an entire season. After 7 seasons, can he break out?
- Aaron Hall (GC) $519,800
Burn me once, fool on you! Burn me twice, fool on me!
Hall can score in Supercoach but Rocket seems to resent his hyper-offensive game style. As he did in the 2016 preseason when he averaged 1.79 points per minute, Hall showcased his ball winning ability in the JLT series. In two matches he scored 124.5 points per match in 81% time on ground which is the equivalent of 1.38 points per match.
Can we trust him in 2017, especially without forward eligibility?
- Josh Kelly (GWS) $473,800 MID
Kelly is soon to be an absolute elite player of the AFL. He can win the ball on the inside and use it well on the outside. With so much talent on the Giants’ list we would expect him to be squeezed out of the midfield but now that Coniglio is injured…
He scored 113 points per match in the JLT Series which works out to be 1.46 points per minute.
I don’t need to tell you how impressive that is, but is 2017 his year to break-out to the elite level?
- Clayton Oliver (Mel) $382,500 MID
Second year break-outs: How often do they happen?
If Oliver continues his JLT series form into the regular season, he could be one of the few to achieve that feat. He scored at 1.41 points per minute in the preseason and scored 101, 103 and 122 points in his three outings.
Oliver is a natural inside mid playing for an improving side, so can he break-out ahead of schedule or is it a year too soon?
- Shaun Higgins (NM) $426,400 FWD
The paper-mache man played all three matches and scored at 1.42 points per minute. That included scores of 100, 123 and 68 in half a match.
That is huge!
There is room in the midfield at Arden Street and Higgins is a classy ball user so could he become relevant in Supercoach again?
I promise this is the last time I plug Higgins!!!!
- Jack Billings (StK) $407,700 MID-FWD
Billings wandered around the ground through the pre-season, gathering the ball at will. He didn’t attend centre bounces but still scored at 1.13 points per match from scores of 83, 132 and 70.
Entering his fourth year, Billings is expected to break-out sooner rather than later, but durability issues may hold him back.
Is 2017 his year or is he another preseason pretender?
- Zak Jones (Syd) $307,000 DEF
All the talk about Sydney has concerned Heeney and Mills but Zak Jones also spent plenty of time in the midfield in the JLT series. He scored 1.01 point per minute across 3 matches with scores of 114, 54 and 103.
The biggest concern for Jones and Mills was the roles of Kennedy, Hannebery and Parker in the JLT series, with all three spending a large portion of game time outside the midfield. That won’t happen in Round 1.
However we all know there is room in the midfield with the departure of Mitchell and Heeney’s illness, so will Jones receive enough midfield time to improve his average significantly in 2017?
- Callum Mills (Syd) $420,000
As mentioned above, John Longmire seems intent to blood Jones, Heeney and Mills in the midfield in 2017. With the increased midfield time in the preseason, Mills averaged 1.14 points per match with scores of 111, 89 and 38 (from a half of football).
The best and worst part of Mills’s ability is that he is such a great intercepting defender that he may be forced to spend a lot of time behind the ball.
So will Mills become a keeper or is he just another JLT trap?
- George Horlin-Smith (Gee) $234,000
Ever the VFL star, Horlin-Smith capitalized on the departure of Caddy to play a mid-forward role in the JLT series. And he did it pretty damn well!
In two matches he scored 119 and 80 points for an average of 1.46 points per minute. Priced at only $234,000 that makes him a valuable rookie option if he’s selected.
If he’s selected…
Let me know which Pre-season Heroes or Pretenders you are considering and who I’ve missed.
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