Losing top young midfield talent such as Dom Tyson, Anthony Miles and Taylor Adams in successive years would be enough to bring almost any club to it’s knees. When that is followed by the departure of an elite talent such as Adam Treloar, you would find it hard to believe any club would be able to bounce back. Not so with the Giants, however, as just like the Hydra in ancient Greek mythology, when one head is chopped off, another replaces it – and in this case the new head is in the form of Josh Kelly.
Kelly was the number one midfielder selected in the 2013 National Draft after a stellar junior year that saw him comfortably in the All-Australian Under-18 squad. After a promising under-age year where he averaged 19 disposals in the Sandringham midfield, he exploded in his final year gathering 29 possessions, five tackles and five Inside 50s per game for a big fantasy average of 112. This form was amplified at the Under-18 Championships, where his average of 27 possessions, five marks and four tackles across the short format games saw him score at a colossal rate of 1.4 points per minute. This no doubt came as little surprise to some, considering many clubs had him ahead of Jesse Hogan and Brad Crouch in that year’s crop of talent.
After joining the Giants with pick two in the 2013 National Draft, Kelly has had to bide his time at senior level and due to the sheer amount of midfield talent that has been ahead of him, a lot of his footy has been played at half-forward. That being said, he still made his senior debut in Round 2 of his first year and has managed 18 appearances in both seasons so far. Fantasy coaches didn’t have to wait too long to see what he could offer either. In Round 21 of his debut season he showed exactly why he could be fantasy gold this year, with a dominant and classy display in the middle against the Demons. Kelly finished with 27 possessions, nine marks, seven tackles and 140 fantasy points – not to mention a pretty impressive highlight reel.
This was no fluke performance either, as his NEAFL form in the centre confirm. In his one game in 2014 he finished with 44 disposals and 187 points, and in 2015 he averaged 37 disposals and 156 points across four appearances. There’s no denying it, Kelly has third year breakout written all over him.
Despite the big numbers at the lower level, the biggest string in Kelly’s bow is no doubt his running. While he may not be the quickest, he has elite endurance and a supremely accurate damaging left foot. There is no denying that his inside game is not at the level of Treloar but he can easily match his running ability, and with endurance players set to emerge as premium talents with the interchange cap, he will slot seamlessly into the engine room this year. In fact, there are a lot of similarities between Kelly and West Coast’s Andrew Gaff, and if he can come anywhere near replicating his fantasy output then he will be an absolute bargain in all forms of fantasy this year.