With the growing importance of dual position eligibility and the shortage of value in the MID position, Tevita Pangai Jr is a popular option at around 16% ownership. This has no doubt also been inflated by the scoring changes rewarding offloading, but is it warranted at his price point? Lets find out…
Prior to 2021, Tevita had 21 starts at back row of more than 40 minutes, with an average of 46.5 in 69 (nice) minutes, at 0.67PPM, which would have increased to around 49.5 with his high frequency of TO tackles. There is an interesting pattern in the samples when you dig into the year by year stats too..
Now it must be said that this sample size is pretty small, being 8, 6, 7 and 10 games respectively, but it looks to me as though this is a man getting used to playing big minutes, and learning when to attack. For me, there is some upside here defensively to get back to that 0.4 tackles per minute, and keep shifting the metres per minute up back to that 1.85 mark. If he can put it all together in 2022, this pushes his base stat projection out to look something like this:
|32 (0.8 T/O PG)||145||-10||40|
As you can see, there is nothing unreasonable here. TPJ is an elite back rower, and his numbers here are almost identical to Angus Crichton, who averaged slightly better at 33/145/-8 in 2021, so we know it is doable. I expect with a full preseason to build combinations, an upcoming team and the match fitness to go the distance, TPJ can establish this sort of base as a fantasy asset.
That said, we all know we aren’t looking at TPJ for his base stat prowess. So what do we expect from TPJ on the left edge of the Bulldogs, playing outside Matt Burton and inside Josh Addo-Carr? In short, offloads.
If (and this is a big if) Trent Barrett has any understanding of how his team needs to play, Pangai is going to be given a license to offload at will. In 2021, his totals were around 3 per game, which is very much on the cards in 2022 as a baseline. He also averages about 3.5 tackle busts per game, and a 25% try scoring rate. I would expect something like this:
|4||3||25%||2-3 PPG||18-23 PPG|
Now, this ends up pushing Tevita to a very healthy average of 60.5 points per game, which is clearly the high side projection. To look at the good, you also need to make room for the idea that the season could go bad, which would be the base at around 35-36 and the attack being at the low side projection instead of the middle, which pushes out an average of 53.
Add to that, you also need to make room that the season could become a disaster. Tevita is on his 3rd club in under 12 months, and has a coloured history of sin binnings and suspensions, injuries, not to mention the occasional bone headed off field incident. Every time you select a player like TPJ, you accept a higher than normal level of risk that he will get suspended for 5 games for shoulder charging someone, or get caught hanging out in a barber shop owned by a bikie gang.
Do I think TPJ is a value? Absolutely.
Will I start with him? Before I wrote this, I thought no. After writing this, perhaps I will as I do believe that Tevita has matured as a player and a person. That said, it is only a personal belief, and to be frank – between Trent Barrett/Phil Gould, the whole Bulldogs organisation, and TPJ himself, you can come up with a whole bunch of reasons to look elsewhere and I would not blame you for going to a “safer” pick in the mid category.