Christmas Wishlist – Jack Billings

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When a player has a strong finish to the season it is a great indication that he will take his game to the next level the following year. Jack Billings averaged more than 115 fantasy points (110 SuperCoach) across his final four games of 2017. This coupled with the fact that he was a high draft pick and has four seasons under his belt already will have many punters excited for what next year will hold.

Though the 22-year-old has improved upon almost every statistical facet of the game year on year, the biggest of these has most certainly been his scoreboard impact. He kicked 23 goals himself this year, up from six, but more importantly, he’s bringing other players into the game. He’s an excellent user of the ball and dished it off left, right and centre in 2017 as St Kilda tried to establish a Finals berth. He ranks inside the top 10 in the competition for goal assists and without Nick Riewoldt in the forward line, this trend will need to continue if the Saints are to be successful.

Like Isaac Heeney, he’ll spend more and more time in up the ground as his career continues but unlike Heeney, his inside/outside balance is far more skewed to the outside. The smooth mover will split his time between the forward line and wing as St Kilda continue to develop strength at the coalface through Jack Steele, Luke Dustan and draftee Hunter Clark. Rather than a knock on his game, this is brilliant news for fantasy coaches, especially those in keeper/dynasty leagues, who should see Billings retain his DPP status for years to come, much like the Bulldogs’ Luke Dahlhaus.

He finished the year with a fantasy average of 94.6 which is perhaps a touch lower than it should be due to a poor start to the season but still sees him ranked third among forwards based on their 2017 output behind only Sam Menegola and Michael Barlow. Sure Lance Franklin, Luke Dahlhaus and Robbie Gray will challenge and Isaac Heeney may well take the mantle as the number one forward but Billings will be right up there. I’d expect to see him push his scoring into triple figures in 2018.

You’re not going to get a bargain with Billings in draft formats this year but in an up-and-coming St Kilda side, he won’t disappoint, he’ll finish the year as a top 5 forward and should be drafted as such.

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