By popular demand, we are going to have a look at some players who have been… heartily debated within our social media channels to determine if perhaps the Amateurs ourselves have been impacted by what we call “player goggles” – where you formulate an opinion and despite being given evidence to the contrary but refuse to shift your viewpoint.
The argument against Welch is fairly straight forward as I understand it – he averaged about 52 minutes per game in 2022, and this is unlikely to increase significantly enough to represent sufficient value. The other argument in the piece is that Welch does miss a higher % of tackles compared to some other middle forwards.
It is fair to say that the Melbourne Storm middle forward stocks are decimated, for a wide variety of reasons:
– Nelson Asofa-Solomona (Vaccination Status)
– Tui Kamikamika (Off Field Incident)
– Dale Finucane (Left)
We also have Brandon Smith on his way out of the club having signed with the Roosters in 2023, Felise Kaufusi on his way to the Dolphins in 2023, and Jesse Bromwich well on the wrong side of 30. We do have reports of Josh King “training the house down” and guys like Jordan Grant and Tepai Moeroa on the books, but realistically these are supplementary pieces and Welch is the new cornerstone workhorse middle forward for the Storm.
One important factor to note with Welch is his workload of minutes and PPM when Dale Finucane is available v when he is unavailable. In 2021 it looks like this:
Finucane Available: Welch 50.4 minutes at 0.80PPM for 40.5 average (9 game sample)
Finucane Missing: Welch 53.2 minutes at 0.93PPM for 49.5 average (9 game sample)
The other factor to look at with Welch is the impact of the new scoring, where Welch averaged only 1.1 tackle bust but 2.4 offloads per game, meaning he is likely to actually get a roughly 2 point per game bump with the new rules. This would have put him at about 0.97PPM with Finucane missing and about 0.84PPM with him available.
We also need to take into account that Welch also had about 8.5 points per game more against non-top 6 sides (40.8 (0.85PPM) v top sides v 49.3 (0.89PPM) against others) and we see the Storm avoid the other three top 4 sides (they play the Eels and Rabbitohs who both look weaker in 2022) all the way through until round 11 against the Panthers, meaning we can probably round up his scoring a bit more in the first 10 weeks due to the softer schedule.
A realistic projection for Welch I feel is about 55 minutes per game given the shortage of troops, and at 0.97PPM that places Welch at around 53.5 points per game with the small amount of rounding due to the soft schedule. At a break even of 47, this gives Welch at least 5 points of value as an underpriced keeper, with upside to 6.5-7 points of value. This is by no means the ceiling for Welch, who is more than capable of playing closer to 60 minutes or even more in a game if needed as a once off due to injuries.
Welch will be a moral for State of Origin duties in 2022 barring injury, so he becomes an easy upgrade to a Mcinnes type player at this point once he has gained the $75k or so and given you some fantastic early season scores in a tough middle position.
I hope I have swayed you on Christian Welch, but if I haven’t then that is fine. I have been wrong before, and I will be wrong again. Ultimately, the Amateurs encourage you to use your own analysis and decision making process to set your own teams.