THE “JOHNSON EFFECT”

Two of the more recent In Focus articles that dropped this past week were on POD mid range edge players Eliesa Katoa & Briton Nikora. In those two articles, we highlighted that Katoa has the potential to become a keeper but is likely a very solid mid range cash cow with about 10-12 points of value and in our opinion is deserving of higher ownership (which may increase on TLT). The latter we summarised has the potential to average in the low 50s this year providing about 8 points of value and at worst looks a very handy sleeper pick in draft formats. However, there’s one specific thing these two have in common when projecting averages and that is the “Johnson effect”.

For three seasons, Shaun Johnson played inside Nikora on that Sharks right hand edge and now it appears with Johnson’s move back to the Warriors, Katoa will be his new “right hand man”, so to speak. My initial assumption was that this would be good for Katoa, having spent his first grade appearances thus far being rotated through a revolving door of different halves options, now getting an experienced top flight half who knows how to create a try assist, can only be good. In the same way I thought it was good for Nikora who, as we saw in the Bulldogs trial, can be a very good line runner and can find the try line when a half feeds him.

After a conversation with a friend, I was prompted to test this assumption, after all a big part of fantasy analysis is trying to remove yourself from your own preconceived bias and narratives. Needless to say, I was fairly surprised at the results. From 2019 to 2021, Nikora played a total of 56 games on an edge with 60+ minutes averaging 47.2 (adjusted for new scoring), with 36 of those appearances featuring Johnson and 20 without. In the 36 games with Johnson, Nikora only averaged 45.9 while in the 20 games without he posted an average of 50.8, a massive 4.9 point difference. So where did these extra points come from? Well all of the base stats are about the same with run metres and negatives being equal, only 1 extra tackle and 1 point from extra turnover tackles and a try saver. This leaves a 2.9 point gap which is made up entirely of extra attacking stats. These came in the form of 1.8 points from additional offloads, tackle busts, try and line break assists, while the big difference was an increase in his try scoring and linebreak rates. Nikora’s try scoring increased from 26% with Johnson to 35% without, while his linebreak rate increased 7% as well from 38% to 45%. equating to a difference of 1.1 points per game. Meanwhile, Sione Katoa, the Sharks right winger for the majority of Johnson’s time, averaged 38pts with Johnson and only 34.8 without during the same span, while Jesse Ramien’s average stayed similar.

It seems the main beneficiary from the “Johnson effect” is his winger and not the edge backrower. What does this mean for Eliesa Katoa? Well the luxury of being a backrower priced at only 34 points is as long as you’re on the field for 60+ minutes, you’ll usually accrue enough in base stats to make enough money and I don’t think that will be an issue here. Though we may need to tamper expectations of him being keeper and expect a mid 40s average in a 65+ minute role. Meanwhile in the shire, this could be another positive in the pro-Nikora column with Hynes feeding him which furthers my belief he has the ability to push into the low 50s this season.

-Ryan

Published by Fantasy Amateurs

Just guys providing Fantasy Football Content. Maybe we know what we are talking about, maybe we don't. You will need to work out if the name is ironic.

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