Top 10 Data Set: A Forward Line Story
Something interested me recently, so I put Statty Matty on the case, about what the top 10 looked like for each position over the last 5 years. I requested this data set because I felt like there wasn’t a lot of quality this year in the forward line as blatantly as there has been in the past.
We no longer have Brett Deledio or Luke Dahlhaus as safe options, the former retiring, and the latter fading into obscurity at Geelong. Yeo, Billings, Menegola, Dangerfield and Marshall, who rose to fame over the last few seasons, have been filed into their “correct” positions, so we no longer have any “gifts” either other than Dustin Martin and Lachie Whitfield.
So what sorts of players do you select? Well, if you’re going off total points you want someone who can average at least 87. Not a very high average for someone you’re aiming to keep, but a high averaging player in the forward line more often than not doesn’t always play 22 games.
Brett Deledio was the top averaging forward in 2015 with 111.8, but Luke Dahlhaus was the top player by total points with 2409 for the year (averaging 104.7), Deledio played 17 out of a possible 22 games, versus Dahlhaus who played every game.
You probably would’ve wanted both, but in a game where durability and trading go hand in hand, maybe you could’ve sat Deledio on the shelf to go for cheaper options who would be more durable, like a Shaun Higgins who was ranked 8th for total points but only averaged 94.3 in 2015, while only missing one game.
Moving to a more recent year like the one that just passed, 2019, of the top 10 available to us this year, only 1 of them is still a forward, and that player is Michael Walters.
If you’re like me, you like to select based on the previous years results but the forward line doesn’t present that opportunity as obviously to us this year so we have to get creative, which is why all these mid-priced options like Christian Petracca, Chad Wingard, Darcy MacPherson, Hugh Greenwood, and Andrew Brayshaw are so attractive to us because there’s nobody else to really look at.
So who should you select this year? What this data tells me is you need to find a bit of balance between someone who will play 22 games, and someone who will average a high amount and who fits these criteria might be hard to find.
Christian Petracca has only missed 1 game over the last three seasons and looks fit as a fiddle and has regularly threatened to launch an assault on the competition. Andrew Brayshaw looks set for more midfield time but does that mean a better average? The only games he’s missed are through no fault of his own and then you get Chad Wingard who regularly battles calf and hamstring complaints, and Hugh Greenwood, who couldn’t nail down a regular spot in the Adelaide side since that nightmare of a Grand Final appearance, is now at the Gold Coast.
All these players should average somewhere in the 85-95 range all going to plan, but will they be the top averaging forwards? No. Probably not.
Who will be the top averaging forward? Top averaging doesn’t always mean durable enough to play 22 games.
Any time I pick a GWS player, I’m always worried about the clubs strength and conditioning team because a one week injury can turn into six despite being “in the mix” for all six weeks they are out, but Whitfield for all money should be the top averaging forward, in theory, Will he be? I’m undecided. For the amount you’re paying you want to be confident that he’s the top averaging forward and will play 22 games. Dustin Martin is cheaper and unfortunately more likely to miss games through suspension than injury, but less likely to miss games than Whitfield overall. Neither GWS or Tigers look like teams going backwards so I think both of these players are a good chance to finish 1 & 2, but that doesn’t mean I recommend selecting both. Purely due to track record, I have Dustin Martin as the safer top selection ahead of Whitfield.
To summarise, the idea for the article came from me asking “Have the forward options been this bad every year or have we gotten a worse bunch this season?” and what I learned was yes, this year appears that the options available to us are worse than usual, but we only need whoever we select to average 87 and play 22 games to be a chance to finish as a top 10 forward.
I’ll let you all have access to the data that Statty Matty slaved tirelessly to conjure up for me, because even if this article didn’t help you make a decision, maybe the data set might still be interesting.
The Data Set has two sets of data, the top 10 by average, and the top 10 by total points. A funny highlight is that Trent McKenzie was last year’s top averaging defender with 110 despite only playing 1 game for the entire year.
Download the Data Set HERE