Shaun Johnson is finally home where he belongs at the Warriors after a stint on the mainland, but does he belong in your fantasy team?
The short answer to the question I think is an emphatic no, but lets look at why.
First off, Shaun Johnson is now 31 years old. While this may not have been a problem for fantasy production for guys like dinner suit Cam Smith, Shaun Johnson relies on attacking stats. Looking at his 70+ minute games in the halves, his key stats look like:
|YEAR||TRY %||METRES||TBS||KICK MTR|
As you can see above, we have seen a steady decline in the try scoring rate, followed by a sharp drop off in the tackle busts, which were consistently in the 2.3-2.6 region, despite the run metres holding strong. What this indicates to me is a player who is aware of his body and how he needs to play the game. Realistically, we can’t expect the old tackle busting, try scoring Shaun Johnson anymore. That player is gone.
That said, in his 8x 70+ minute halves performances in 2021 he managed to average 52 points, and starts the year with a break even of 44. If we have a look at the components of that scoring, we find the below:
There are a few numbers that stand out in the above, being the goals and tackles (low) and the kick metres (high). Johnsons career numbers are about 5.4 points per game in goals, which increases to about 6.5 points per game when he actually attempts a goal kick. He also averages about 16 tackles per game, I suspect the new rules are to thank for the low count so with the wind back I would be happy to put that back to 16 points.
The issue is the kick metres here, as we see both Kodi Nikorima and Chanel Harris-Tavita average around 200 kick metres per game in the halves, not to mention Reece Walsh chipping in with 120 metres per game. When we spoke on Nico Hynes, we nominated about 500 kick metres per game on average. Now I do not expect Walsh and whoever the #6 is to soak up over 300 metres per game, but I do expect them to take 200-250 kick metres on average, leaving the 250-300 kick metre balance for our man Shaun, which fits 5/7 of the years (more or less) that we tracked for him since 2015.
So, for 2022 we have a projection that looks roughly like:
This represents what I would consider to be the best case scenario for Shaun, and it only shows about 2 points of value. There is a world where the Warriors decide not to add the burden of goal kicking for Shaun, as Reece Walsh is a very capable goal kicker and about 10 years younger. There is also the reality where Shaun goes back closer to 250 kick metres, where he loses another 2 points, and we are now sitting in the high 30s, which would be an unmitigated disaster for Johnson managers.
Even if you believe that Johnson goes back to a 20% try scoring rate and adds another 1.5 tackle busts, combined with the high side projection above, you just can’t get him anywhere near the projection you need to warrant bringing him into your team.
From a footy perspective, I have no doubt that Johnson is going to be fantastic for the Warriors in 2022, but you just cannot start with him in fantasy.