Name: Koby Stevens
Team: St. Kilda
AFL Fantasy: $517,000
Bye Round: 11
2016 Average: 85.7
2016 Games Played: 12
Predicted Average: 99.5
Why should I pick him?
Personally, I think Koby is the real wild card of this year’s Deck but I wouldn’t have it any other way. If you read any of my articles last season, you may remember I do enjoy finding the diamonds in the rough and Koby is shining bright.
Priced at 87.17, I see this ex-Doggy as a poor-man’s Dusty Martin but one that kept his forward status and has a bit more of a warning label attached! The “high-risk, high-reward” strategy comes into play here but the reward could genuinely be reminiscent of Zach Merrett’s breakout season last year.
Koby has been the recipient of a bit of bad luck so far throughout his career. Starting out as pick #23 at the Eagles in 2009, Stevens struggled to get a game in a star-studded midfield containing the likes of Kerr, Priddis, Embley and Selwood, just to name a few. The combination of other talent and injury kept Koby out of their midfield until a trade in 2012 to the Bulldogs. There Koby was forced to play up forward for much of the first two seasons at the dogs. It was in 2015 that Koby finally got a chance to shine, playing 12 games in a row at an average of 83.2 before a stress fracture and bruised lung ended his season prematurely. Take out the injury-effected 23 and that average jumps up to 88.7. Similarly, in 2016 Koby made his way sporadically through the season, notching up 12 games in between a few small injuries and apparently being the weakest link of a strong doggies’ midfield to eventually average 85.7. Now, two seasons at a mid-80’s average isn’t much to scoff at, and everything points to improvement especially if Koby can stay healthy.
The one huge factor in considering Stevens is the trade to St. Kilda at the end of last season. Now, I think we can all agree that St. Kilda comfortably has the worse of the three midfields mentioned above, meaning Koby is almost guaranteed to start in the guts, and certainly on the wing if not. The only player I believe who is guaranteed to start in the middle over him is Jack Steven who is arguably the Saints best player and certainly their best midfielder. From there it’s a bit of a scrap for midfield spots with about 6 players fighting it out to start in those positions. However, Koby does have one thing in his favour that only fellow new-recruit Jack Steele can match; versatility. Stevens can play on the ball, both inside and outside, on the wing and on the forward flanks. In 2016 he averaged 8 contested possessions, 15 uncontested, 3 inside 50’s, 1 rebound 50, 2.5 clearances and 5 tackles per game, not to mention he averages 80% time on ground. Now, not only does this make it much more likely that there will be a spot for Koby in the Saints’ first 22 but, no matter where he plays on the field he WILL score. Couple the above stats with his 2016 disposal average of 22 and a career 1:1.25 kick to handball ratio, plus the fact that he should improve this year and I just can’t see why you wouldn’t pick him!
Why shouldn’t I pick him?
So, I may have lied slightly, I can see two reasons why you wouldn’t pick Koby; injuries and the “new-team” factor.
Averaging 10 games per year over a 7-year career isn’t pretty. Neither is 24 games in the last two seasons. Remove his first 3 seasons at the star-studded Eagles and just take his bulldogs career into account and things start looking up a little, increasing his average to almost 16 games per year over 4 seasons. Still, if you’re making a risky move at the start of a season, a player who has missed almost half his possible games in the last two seasons does make alarm bells ring a bit louder than one would like. The good news is that Koby hasn’t had any injuries that will linger and won’t heal fully (eg. An ACL injury). The bad news is that Koby’s injuries tend to come about through his playing style, getting injured by going hard at the ball and not protecting himself properly. Fingers crossed he survives a full season because he truly is an exciting player, especially when he’s ton-ing up in your Fantasy forward line.
The “new-team” factor is always a bit of an unknown and I personally think it will be so interesting to watch the Saints this year and see how they gel with all their new personnel. They should be able to make the 8 with the team they’ve got but you never know how new players are going to fit into the team setting. Same goes, on a much smaller scale, with Koby and how he will fit into the team. Maybe he will fit in perfectly and average 110+, he’s certainly capable of it if the cards play out. Or maybe he’ll play up forward constantly and average 60, or even worse, not play at all. You just never know until the season has begun, and that makes starting with Stevens a lot riskier.
Deck of DT Rating.
QUEEN – High risk, high reward. Koby has the full potential to be an ace and can genuinely score in the 110’s+ on a regular basis WHEN he is healthy. Position hasn’t been a problem for him scoring wise, so long as he gets on (and stays on) the field he will put up decent numbers. I personally think Stevens will be the Lachie Hunter of this year, with that added DPP (dual-position player) bonus. Imagine last year if you not only started with Lachie Hunter but he was available in the forward line. Think about it.
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