Safe to ride this Horse?
Following the departure of Adam Elliott, minutes have opened in the middle of the field for Corey Horsburgh, who looks set to obtain his first ever full time starting gig. Will that push him to fantasy relevance?
Horsburgh starts quite expensive already after a significant role off the bench, coming into the 2023 season at $590k (BE of about 41). He played 43 minutes off the bench last year for an average of 41.4 (0.96PPM), so how is he likely to perform with starter minutes?
We actually have a strong sample of 40+ minute games for Horsburgh, so lets start there…
|MATCHES OF 40+ MINS (2020-2022 INCLUSIVE)||22 MATCHES|
|AVERAGE MINUTES PER GAME IN THESE GAMES||49.9 MINUTES|
|AVERAGE FANTASY POINTS PER GAME||48.5 POINTS|
|REDUCED SAMPLE 45-65 MINS ONLY SAME TIME||20 MATCHES|
|AVERAGE MINUTES PER GAME IN THOSE GAMES||50.7 MINUTES|
|AVERAGE FANTASY POINTS PER GAME||48.6 POINTS|
This sample likely shows us a “floor” for Horsburgh. In 2022, Adam Elliott from the starting lock position was playing 54 minutes per game, and didn’t play under 48 minutes from that position from round 13 onwards, which is about the same time Tapine was unleashed.
With Josh Papali’i (30) and Elliott Whitehead (33) on the wrong side of their career peaks, it will likely be left to Horsburgh and Tapine to play the big minutes, with Whitehead playing under 60 minutes for 4 consecutive games last year (rounds 19-22) and Papali’i slowly reducing his minutes consistently over the last 5 years (67, 54, 53, 52, 48). This leaves CHN, Guler and Mooney to fill the gaps in minutes, all of which who are a class below Horsburgh.
What we likely see from Horsburgh is a weekly floor of 45ish minutes, and a ceiling of 60+ minutes in any given week, likely averaging out in the low 50s minutes per week. He is also unlikely to be an origin player, with a number of other QLD forwards stepping up in recent years. Papali’i missing time through this period will only boost Horsburgh, before you upgrade him in his round 20 bye for a player who has completed origin duties.
For Fantasy, what this means is something like this in the likely scenario of low 50s mins:
|SUB 40 POINTS||0%|
|AVERAGE MINS PER GAME||51-55|
|AVERAGE POINTS PER GAME||48.9-52.8|
What is great about this sample is the extremely high floor, with not a single match going under the 40 point threshold in a 20 game sample of 45+ minute games. The 40-49 line is a lot higher percentage than we would like, but this really shows me there is room for improvement in terms of output in longer minutes, as Horsburghs PPM in sub 45 minute games rises to a very impressive 1.023 in 30-45 minute games with only a 4% try rate. Honestly, it wouldn’t shock me if that rose to 50%/40% on the 40s and 50s split, which would push his average even higher again and make him a potential season long keeper.
Now for the rub. It wouldn’t be fair for me to do a Raiders article without highlighting the inconsistent nature of the way Ricky Stuart does his rotations. It is entirely possible that, for patches of the season at least, we see Corey Harawira-Naera become the lock, or move to an edge pushing Whitehead to the middle. This would obviously be bad news for Horsburgh, and I would forgive anyone for leaving the obvious value in Horsburgh on the shelf for the sake of their own mental health. Fantasy is hard enough without actively choosing players who play for the lime green and the stress that it causes.
In summary – BUY with CAUTION, and don’t complain if it goes sideways.