The pre season is upon us! In the lead up to round one i'll be covering one player from each team that you may have otherwise not given a second thought to for your squad in 2017. Any fantasy coach can pick an established elite, but it's 'the other guys' that will inevitably decide your team's fate. Today we focus our fantasy thoughts on...
He's been touted by Geelong club insiders and coach Chris Scott as the most likely replacement for the recently retired Corey Enright. Thurlow, taken with pick number 16 in the 2012 AFL National Draft is almost a carbon copy of 6 the 6 time All Australian and Geelong club games record holder, Enight. Cats fans will be hoping it's a quick rise to the top for the 22 year old Thurlow, who made a name for himself as a running half back flanker in 2015 before having his 2016 campign ruined before it even started with an ACL injury in the NAB Cup pre season matches.
Almost a year on from his knee injury, all reports coming from the Cattery are pointing at a fitter, stronger and mentally more mature Thurlow that is ready to take the next step in his development as a key member of the Geelong back six. This spells good news for fantasy coaches, as his season off means a 30% discount on his 2015 average of 66.7 which should price him around the $280,000 range. That's still cheap considering he's moving into his fourth year, in a team that should push for a top four position and will hopefully play a role that was similar to Enright's - so we could potentially be seeing a 75 season average as a minimum from the Tasmanian bred young gun.
If we rewind back to his 2015, a year in which Thurlow finally cemented his position in a Geelong team that was still brimming with premiership talent, you can understand why coach Scott values the defender so much as a vital cog in their line up. In that year he averaged 17.3 disposals per game, 4.4 marks and 2.2 tackles across a career high 19 matches for the season. Although he tailed off at the end of that 2015 season in terms of his fantasy output, his first 6 games after breaking into the team in round 3 demonstrated he is capable of some consistent fantasy scoring. He went for scores of 90, 52, 71, 109, 100 and 74 for a 6 round average of 82.6. So you can see if he manages to play that attacking defender role, he's a capable scorer that should at the very least net you some cash as your D4 or 5 before trading up to an elite scoring defender.
The worry here on Thurlow is new recruit Zach Tuohy and wondering whether or not Chris Scott has got him in specifically for the reason of replacing Enright's role. Other types in the Geelong team that will be fighting for the same position include Tom Ruggles, Jed Bews, Mackie, Cowan and potentially Cockatoo. Though, with the exception of Mackie due to his experience, I would still place Thurlow ahead of all those players just so long he shows it during the pre season matches. He's done the hard work over the pre season, got his rehab right and put his best foot forward (he just took out their most recent 1.2km time trial) - now it's just a matter of producing in the heat of battle to secure his place in the team once again.
There aren't a whole lot of genuine fantasy options around Thurlow's price tag who are anymore reliable, names such as McKenzie $285k, Scharenberg $234k and Hampton $204k spring to mind - though they are still as much of a risk as someone coming off an ACL. Provided he is able to get some pre season games under his belt and move up the defender ranks at Geelong so not to be bunkered down in a lock down role, Thurlow presents as excellent value for coaches in 2017 in the hope of trading up after the bye rounds.
Is Jackson Thurlow on your fantasy radar in 2017? Leave a comment below.