As we begin looking through the many players and noting down those to consider, it’s common we toss up between two players. The versus series brings you the most popular player comparisons and assists in helping make your final decision.
First up we compare newly assigned dual-position player Taylor Adams with the standout Bulldog Jason Johannisen.
2015 Average: 97.9 (18 games)
2016 Average: 97.0 (14 games)
Bye Round: 13
As a SuperCoach fanatic, one of the biggest wishes is for some quality dual-position players. Unfortunately for 2017 we haven’t been blessed in that department, barring Collingwood youngster Taylor Adams.
Adams was surprisingly granted dual-position status despite the large percentage of time he has spent through the midfield in his first three seasons with the Magpies. With a lack of experienced and quality options coming off half-back, Nathan Buckley looked to Adams to fix his side’s defensive woes, therefore it can be assumed Adams’ minor stint down back has influenced the addition of ‘defender status’ to his arsenal.
While a 97-point average in his last two seasons isn’t a disappointing feat for any player, many expected Adams to have a breakout season in 2016, however, a season interrupted by injury and a change in role restricted Adams’ capability to take his game to another level. It’s exactly that, injury, and the odd suspension here and there that has been a major downside in Adams’ game throughout his career.
Not once has Adams managed more than 18 games in a season. Taking that into account on top of just 14 games in 2016, the durability and sometimes uncontrolled anger are certainly some genuine worrying signs surrounding the 23-year-old Magpie. However, in saying this, Adams’ troubled ankles and hamstrings appear to be in good nick up until this point of the pre-season and don’t appear to be bothering his preparation for a big 2017.
Despite knocking Adams on his weaknesses he is still a player with tremendous upside, and a serious price of just under $529k is evidence of that. Despite the 14 games in 2016, Adams still produced solid scores with SuperCoach tons in 50% of his outings to go along with three scores in the 90-100 point range.
Heading into the prime of his career, Adams is certainly equipped to showcase his real potential extremely soon. Flashes of individual brilliance in his last couple of seasons with Collingwood help warrant the high expectation, which is also backed up by the club’s elevation of Adams to their leadership group.
If Adams can get through the year mostly unscathed and play at least 20 home and away games, along with a continued abundance of time spent through the middle of the ground then there is no reason why he shouldn’t find his way into your team at some point of the season, however, given his past it’s a massive ‘if’.
2015 Average: 77.5 (20 games)
2016 Average: 94.4 (13 games)
Bye Round: 11
Do yourself a favour and rewatch the 2016 AFL Grand Final – watch the Bulldogs’ number 39 and take note of how damaging and influential he was in getting the Bulldogs over the line.
Jason Johannisen was named the Norm Smith medallist in last year’s Grand Final despite not arguably being the game’s best player. However, Johannisen’s ability to break the lines with his speed and quick change of direction was unbelievable in that game and a highlight of his entire season. Often his disposal efficiency was equally as impressive throughout the year (77.5% average) even despite it being a slight downside of his game in that drought-breaking Grand Final win.
An impressive pre-season in early 2016 convinced some to jump on the Johannisen bandwagon at the beginning but it wasn’t until a couple of quality scores for everyone to be given evidence of Johannisen’s potential. A 130-point and a 123-point display to begin the season were arguably two of Johannisen’s best for the year, along with his 31-disposal, 12-mark performance against the Bombers in Round 20.
However, like Adams, Johannisen has a very similar downside and 13 home and away appearances is clear evidence of that. A very up and down 13 games in terms of consistency may also be a concern but a severe hamstring injury is certainly understood as a reasonable excuse. Johannisen’s lowest home and away score barring two 60-point scores in two of his first three games after returning from injury was just a 75 in a game where he still managed 22 possessions and seven marks. To put Johannisen’s SuperCoach consistency into perspective – he produced just five hundreds from the 13 games, plus four scores under the 80-point mark.
At 24 years of age, Johannisen joins Adams in heading into the prime age of his career. A breakout year barring injury came for Johannisen last year but that doesn’t mean he can’t take his game to another level. A premiership-winning performance in last year’s Grand Final will no doubt give Johannisen a tremendous amount of confidence in his craft, which is a major commodity that separates him from Adams heading into 2017. Much like established SuperCoach star Heath Shaw, Johannisen loves to dispose by foot and use his run off half-back to gather a majority of his possessions, and there’s no doubting he could be as good if not better than Shaw as a SuperCoach prospect.
A consistent run without injury will certainly benefit Johannisen in 2017 and given the attributes he entails he has the ability to become an outstanding SuperCoach player.
Ultimately, picking both Adams and Johannisen would be a luxury but it’s not a preferred solution for everyone given the makeup of the remainder of their team.
Personally, I would select Jason Johannisen if one.
While Adams’ dual-position status is very tempting, there’s just something from last year’s final series about Johannisen that makes selecting him more intriguing. Johannisen will undoubtedly take a huge amount of confidence out of his individual performances later on in the season, which should carry over to more consistency in 2017. That’s something that Adams lacks and until Collingwood begins to get going I can’t see Adams averaging much more than 100 SuperCoach points.
Johannisen’s speed and slingshot run off half-back are arguably the most important part of the Bulldogs’ back-to-back premiership run. Given these attributes they should equate to Johannisen becoming a top three SuperCoach defender by year’s end and you should have every reason to believe he will do that in 2017.