Shaun Johnson (HLF): NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS

Surely not…

Look, I know what you are thinking…. “Mark, go home, you are drunk”. While this is accurate, we need to have a look at former fantasy god Shaun Johnson and see if he might just be a buy.

Thanks to Rugby League Fantasy Pro, we can see his historical average on the new scoring looks like…

20182019202020212022
GAMES222014820
POINTS47.347.350.744.840.8
KICK METRES275280305437355
“BASE”24.621.723.720.521.1
ATTACK14.717.3159.511.5
GOAL PTS6.64.57.34.51.4
BASE IS TACKLES AND RUN METRES IN THIS PARTICULAR INSTANCE

The reasons why we are looking at Johnson…

  1. With a spine of Egan, Johnson, CNK and Te Maire Martin, we likely see Johnson take the massive majority of the kick metres,
  2. The goal kicking which was taken by Reece Walsh last year.
  3. Coming back from the injury in 2021, Johnson could increase his attacking output

Before we go any further down the rabbit hole, lets look at his key numbers for “dynamicness”, as he is an older guy…

20182019202020212022
TRY RATE13.6%35%14.3%12.5%15%
RUN METRES6974767151
TACKLE BUSTS2.42.30.80.81.1
OFFLOADS0.70.70.50.50.4
TACKLES18.11516.413.816.2
MISSED TACKLES3.72.12.432.1

In short, we can see here that most of what happened in the “decline” of Shaun Johnson had nothing to do with his dynamicness outside of his running of the footy, which would make sense given the more “hands on” nature of Walsh and Nikorima/CHT. With Johnson as the clear spine leader, we should see him running the show with his legs and his boot.

After a tough run with injuries in 2020/21, Johnson played 20 of 24 possible matches, missing rounds 2 and 3 and then the final 1.5 rounds, exiting round 24 with an injury. We expect him to recover further from his injuries, particularly given that team mates say he is “training the house down” and “in the best shape of his career” – lol but there is some science in the 2nd year achilles/acl gear.

Hear me out here – 2022 Johnson full game points + 10 metres + 0.5 tackle busts + 90 kick metres + goal kicking = about 8 points per game increased in all fairly predictable stats. Johnsons career high (since 2015) in points from goals would push this to a 10.5 point bump. Johnson also gets a handsome discount on his score thanks to his ONLY INJURY AFFECTED SCORE IN 2022, and is priced at 39 even though his “true” average was just under 41. In closing, there is absolutely no reason he can’t replicate (or improve on) the 2020 average of 50.7 points, where he only took 58% of the kick metres and scored tries at a lower clip than he did in 2022.

This is further backed up by his 2022 stats, where he averaged 53 points in games where he took at least 70% of the kick metres, and only scored 1 try in those 7 appearances (when you extend to the 12 game sample of games of 300+ kick metres it goes to 49.5 with only 2.2 points per game in goals in that sample). This seems like a given for SJ, and this is something we as a fantasy community have completely overlooked.

I set out writing this article to disprove that Johnson is a buy, but the more I write the more I convince myself. I am going to do the exercise again when sober, but god help me – Shaun Johnson is not only a “caution”, but a straight up “buy” heading into 2023.

AMATEUR MARK

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