Eyecatchers Round 1 – Matt Taberner

ustin Westhoff of the Power competes with Matt Taberner of the Dockers during the 2018 AFL round 01 match between the Port Adelaide Power and the Fremantle Dockers at Adelaide Oval on March 24, 2018 in Adelaide, Australia. (March 23, 2018 - Source: James Elsby/AFL Media/Getty Images AsiaPac)

Source: James Elsby/AFL Media/Getty Images AsiaPac

As is usually the case in Round 1 of a new season, there were a number of ‘eyecatching’ performances by younger players hoping to cement a spot in their respective sides early on in 2018.

The season kicked off on Thursday with Dan Butler, Jack Graham, Charlie Curnow and Caleb Marchbank all producing fantasy scores over 85, while on Friday both James Stewart and mature age recruit Tom Doedee were both impressive.

Young Lion’s Jarrod Berry and Nick Roberson continued the trend on Saturday, with both registering 100 plus scores against the Saints, which was followed by Port Adelaide’s Riley Bonner picking up 31 disposals to register his first fantasy ton in only his fourth senior appearance for the Crows.

While any of these players would be worthy recipients of Footy Prophet’s inaugural Eyecatcher for 2018, most, if not all would have already been snapped up in the majority of Ultimate Footy leagues.

One who hasn’t and is still available in 39 percent of leagues is Fremantle’s Matthew Taberner, who picked up 20 disposals and pulled in nine marks on his way to a pretty impressive fantasy score of 90.

At 24, Taberner isn’t a rookie by any stretch, having clocked up 53 games over the previous four seasons. In that time, he has shown glimpses of what he is capable of producing, however his inconsistency – and perhaps a perceived lack of job security, may have scared off many potential owners.

In his eight appearances at senior level in 2017, Taberner produced one score over 100 and two over 90, however in his other five games his highest score was 65, while in the other four he failed to reach 50.

Yet, it is more common than not for big men to take longer to mature, and turning 25 in June, this could be the year Taberner announces himself on the fantasy stage.

Taberner played in both of the Docker’s JLT fixtures, producing scores of 89 against the Crows and a very impressive 128 against West Coast. Add those scores to the 90 he racked up in Round 1, and he is averaging 102.3 from his three matches so far in 2018. Of all tall forwards who have made three appearances so far this season, only Lance Franklin has produced a better average.

Given the dearth of quality premium fantasy forwards in 2018, Matthew Taberner very well could be that point of difference Ultimate Footy coaches are looking for, and making him an even more attractive option is his role as second ruck to either Sandilands or Darcy.

Taberner had five hit outs against Port Adelaide in Round 1 and eight of his 20 disposals were gathered in the Docker’s back half, making him a legitimate chance at gaining DPP as a ruckman at some stage of the season.

While as a tall forward Taberner will no doubt still produce the odd below par performance, his consistency so far this season cannot be questioned. Against Port he had a very quiet first half, with only 30 odd points to his name, yet came back in the second to finish with 90, in a sign perhaps those sub-par performances will be fewer and further between in 2018.

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