Koby Stevens – Deck of Dream Team 2013
Koby Stevens was a bust in 2012, frustratingly finding himself on the outer of a settled midfield division at the Eagles. He’s since left for greener pastures at the Bulldogs, but will his increased midfield time offset his new price-tag?
Name: Koby Stevens
Club: Western Bulldogs
Assistant Coach 2013 Price: $204,800
Bye Round: 11
2012 Average: 39.8
2012 Games Played: 4
Predicted Average: 73
Why should I pick him?
If you read last year’s Deck of DT article I wrote on him, then you know I rate the guy. The Eagles do too, with list manager Craig Vozzo declaring “Koby is a young player with terrific attributes” and that losing him would be “extremely disappointing because we saw him as an important player in a developing midfield”. Obviously, the Western Bulldogs are fans themselves. As much as I loved Koby at the Eagles and hated that a player with such potential left us, getting a new start at a rebuilding club where he will be offered more opportunity only pleases me from a fantasy perspective.
The best thing about Koby is that he’s scored significantly below his capabilities over the last two seasons, due to a combination of lack of opportunity and the sub rule. In fact, he’s has been substituted in 5 of the 6 games he’s played since the rule was introduced. Stevens averaged just 39.8 per game this season in four outings, but in his only full match (Round 3 versus GWS), he collected 19 disposals to go with 7 marks and 3 tackles to total 83 DT points. To me, that’s much more indicative of his scoring potential than 11 stunted games over three seasons for West Coast.
So the question is, what can he do with unrestricted playing time? Unfortunately, it’s hard to know how far along Koby is in his development because we’ve seen so little from him. However, his form for East Fremantle in 2012 placed him in the infamous club of players who dominate at WAFL level but can’t get a regular game for the Eagles, like Swift and Dalzeill before him.
What he does have is job security, a massive rig from years in the system and a healthy appreciation for taking your chances when they come. He has all the tools to put together a season like Dustin Martin’s 2010 (21 games, 71.4 avg) or even Luke Shuey’s 2011 (22 games, 83.5 avg); two inside midfielders who’ve had solid seasons amongst young midfields.
Why shouldn’t I pick him?
His main deterrent is price. At $204,800, he’s basically twice as expensive as last year for a similar expected return. It also makes him $20k dearer than the priciest rookie in Lachie Whitfield, and almost $100k more expensive than the surest bet we have in Jaeger O’Meara. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that he won’t score twice as much as these basement priced rookies, so it all comes down to this: Is Koby’s seemingly strong job security worth the extra cash?
There’s always been a question mark over his durability, with knee injuries and osteitis pubis plaguing his first couple of seasons in the system. However, 2012 was essentially injury-free (ignoring a concussion), which is encouraging, even if it doesn’t erase any doubt completely.
One nagging concern I have is that Koby may still be 2nd-string in the midfield rotations. With Boyd, Griffen and Cross guaranteed midfield time, it means that Koby will have to compete with fellow up-and-coming midfielders like Clay Smith, Liberatore, Wallis and Hrovat for significant time spent in the guts (not to mention part-timers in Higgins and Dalhaus). He should be fine… But then again, he could easily end up playing a high-half forward role which he suffered in at the Eagles; or worse, the vest.
Deck of DT Rating.
JACK – If he does get the extra midfield time he’s been seeking, then I can see him approaching his 2012 WAFL stats of 21 disposals, 4 marks and 3 tackles a game, where he averaged 88 for the year. But as much l love the guy and I think he has all the talent in the world, his price is a massive hurdle for me. His NAB Cup form will go a long way in convincing me of his job security, role and scoring ability, but if there are enough promising rookie-priced midfielders playing in Round 1, overlooking him will be a no-brainer.
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