In my eyes Taylor Adams is my Most Relevant player for 2017, while many wouldn’t question his relevance the fact that he’s number one may surprise some.
Name: Taylor Adams
Club: Collingwood Magpies
2016 Highest Scores
123 Vs West Coast, Round 19 (SuperCoach)
140 Vs West Coast, Round 19 (AFLDreamTeam/AFLFantasy)
Personal Best Scores
143 Vs Port Adelaide, Round 15, 2015 (SuperCoach)
146 Vs GWS Giants, Round 11, 2015 (DreamTeam/AFLFantasy)
Why Is He Relevant?
Last year Taylor was played out of position. He’s a pure midfielder who thrives on winning the contested footy, but with Collingwood lacking leadership inside their defensive 50 due to injuries to players like Matt Scharnberg & Jackson Ramsey the Pies needed to move Adams to play in the half back flank. Despite playing in a new position that he’d barely trained for he was influential in Collingwood’s attacking drives and still was able to post a number of hundreds, even though it lacked the ‘ceiling’ of his midfield 2015 scores.
Last year he posted 9 DreamTeam/AFLFantasy hundreds including a 140 against the Eagles in Round 19 and if you’d started him despite getting injured you would’ve been happy with his scoring over the opening 5 weeks as his lowest score was 95. For SuperCoach last year he posted 7 tons with 4 of them over 110. While these aren’t ‘staggeringly amazing numbers’ the fact that he was played out of his natural position only points to his huge points scoring potential.
In 2015 he started the year off early as a tagger, but as the year progressed, he became released fully to become an attacking ball winner in the Collingwood side. That year he averaged 97 in SuperCoach and posted 9 hundreds and 4 of those scores were over 120. In his final 11 games of the year he averaged 111 in DreamTeam/AFLFantasy and 106 in SuperCoach and that included an injury affected score in the 40’s. If you remove that he’s full game average was 119 for DreamTeam/AFLFantasy and 113 in SuperCoach.
The positive about him spending a lot of time down back is it’s enabled him to gain defensive eligibility for fantasy coaches. We really are getting a pure midfield premium in our defensive lines. The return from injury for Matt Scharenberg is especially a key not only for Collingwood as they attempt to make their way back into Top 8 but also in the freeing of Taylor Adams. Scharenberg is a high quality ball user he posses elite decision making and his ability to read the ball in the air is of the highest standard.
Over his career, he does have a history of missing some games through injury and suspension, but what I see with Taylor Adams is a lot of similarities to Luke Hodge when he was a defender in 2015. That year, Hodge averaged 111 in DreamTeam/AFLFantasy and 108 in SuperCoach and despite missing some games he was averaging on another level to most other defenders. Even in the games he missed where you had to utilize your bench cover you were still further ahead on total points compared to most other coaches who had a premium that played all 22 games. I see the same parallels between Hodge’s 2015 and what Adams could do in 2017.
I don’t think anyone would consider Taylor Adams irrelevant or would even question him even being on the list at all. What some may question is the placement of him as the #1 on the list. Firstly, it’s personally subjective list so of course you’re well within your reason to disagree and that’s absolutely fine, let me explain why for me I have him at #1.
The main reason he’s at #1 is simply because I do not believe we have another defender who can match his scoring potential across DreamTeam, AFLFantasy & SuperCoach. In all other lines I could quite easily build a case for someone passing Nick Riewoldt as the #1 forward, or Max Gawn having another Ruckman ‘match’ him or any of 15 other midfielders take the #1 scoring mantle from Patrick Dangerfield in the midfield. However, personally I’ve tried to do the same in the backline and every time I do, I cannot make as compelling a case across the formats combined for a Defender to be close enough to matching what Taylor Adams could do.
As highlighted above, when he’s allowed to play as a pure midfielder a 110 average is comfortably achievable (and I’m being conservative) and while Sam Docherty & Heath Shaw are notable candidates for being the #1 defender this year for me, I have Taylor Adams as a pure goal kicking inside midfielder ahead of them and cannot see them getting near that. Again, this is factoring in SuperCoach, AFLFantasy & DreamTeam. Now this purely a personal opinion, which by the way is the premise is this whole series.
Now let’s get to the big elephant in the room, his ‘injury concerns.’ Before I get into these in full let’s be clear, just because of someone’s past it doesn’t equal the future. If they are fit and deemed available to play by trained medical professionals that’s enough confidence to start them in my book, Could they get injured again though? Certainly. But everyone in this sport is one bad turn or a strong tackle away from serious injury.
Adams did have a history, especially last season of injury (Knee Ligament Round 5, Hamstring round 10 and Shin Round 21) it’s certainly not as far fetched throughout his career as others may say. In 2015 he played 18 of a possible 22 games, and while he did miss some games with injury, 2 of them were due to suspension. A similar trend appears in the entirety of his career where he would miss games with an injury, but also found himself in trouble with the MRP and as a result miss multiple games. So while injuries have been a reason for him missing games, they were not the sole reason. For the record, here’s what injuries he has had in his AFL career: Finger, Hip, Back, Foot, Hamstring, Toe, Knee and ankle.
Does he poses an injury risk? Sure, but is not selecting him a risk also? Yes! So which risk is greater? The risk of passing on him and missing out on his proven points scoring potential? Or the risk of picking him and having to use a trade if injured? I would argue the case strongly that missing Taylor Adams scoring is much more likely to cost you the chance at winning the overall rankings than owning him and having to trade him out mid season.
Simply put, for me Taylor Adams is a must have. We are getting a pure midfielder who actually has the potential to be the #1 scoring player especially in DreamTeam/AFLFantasy. Even for SuperCoach I think he needs to be picked, his ability to win the contested ball, is evident, last year he improved his use of the ball and I can only see his natural development continues with his defensive pressure.
In a draft league many will approach this year with a different strategy. Some will want to lock away one of the big rucks early while others will play a more ‘traditional’ approach and lock in midfielders in the opening round. Taylor Adams should be among the first defenders picked and will certainly be going inside the opening 2 rounds of the draft. While I wouldn’t pick him in the opening round of a draft if I had a top 5 pick I’d certainly consider it especially I I had a pick towards the end before the end of the round.
Thank You to every single person who’s read, listened and joined in the conversation this preseason throughout the 50 Most Relevant series. I love doing these every single year and hope they are insightful and helpful for you in your preseason planning.
A special ‘Thank You’ to fellow Panelists in Kane, Fish, Rids, Cooper, Hammer, Fox, Ben, Jimmy, Tim, Rainman & Tooler. All have made a valuable addition to this series and have helped me either in podcasts, by being a sounding board for conversation and in creating this series for you.
Plenty more articles till to come over the next few weeks during the JLT Series in the lead up to round 1! Footy’s Back!