Player Radar 2018 – Luke Parker

I love a fallen premium as much as anyone and for the upcoming 2018 season, we appear to be spoilt with an abundance of them. But with such an array of options, we can only pick so many.

Should we be looking at Luke Parker to lock into one of our treasured premium midfield spots? Let’s explore the possibility.

Player: Luke Parker
Team: Sydney
Age: 25
Price: $546,000
Position: Midfielder
Games played 2017: 22
2017 average: 99.3
100+ scores: 11
90+ scores: 4

PROS

Parker’s 2017 season, despite winning a second Bob Skilton medal, was well below his usually lofty standards as he has been a proven scorer for a few seasons now. Parker broke out as a mid-forward in 2014 with an average of 108.5 from 22 games. He followed that up with a less-inspiring average of 99.7 in 2015 (although it was impacted by an injury-effected 49) before producing a career-best year in 2016 where he averaged 111.9 and finished second in the Brownlow.

Parker has been able to score at a high level as he is such a dynamic player. Few players are able to match his impressive blend of ball winning, contested marking and goal kicking.

Since 2013, only Dangerfield and Martin have kicked more goals of any permanent midfielder than Parker. Additionally within the same timeframe, the only permanent midfielders to take more contested marks than Parker are Dangerfield and Fyfe. That is some pretty elite company!

Parker’s 2017 average of 99.3 looks poor on the surface but when delving deeper, there are underlying positives that are encouraging.

The Swans were uncharacteristically in disarray at the beginning of the season, with all of their proven stars performing well below their usual output, including Parker. Once the Swans’ season was back on track, Parker went on to average 107.1 points post-bye over the last 12 games. I think this is the Parker we can expect more of this 2018 season.

Parker also has the capacity to be a unique captain option, posting 27 scores of 120+ over the past four seasons. Three of those are 150+ and a further 2 are 160+ which highlights his high ceiling.

While Parker can score big, he is also very durable. Parker has played all 22 games in 4 of the last 5 seasons since cementing his spot in the Swans’ lineup, with the other season returning a respectable 19 games. One of the key attributes we want in our premium midfielders is that they’ll be on the park for the whole year. Parker is as close of a guarantee to produce this as anyone.

CONS

There are very few cons that come attached with Parker as he is a well-rounded player who’s proven to be durable and consistent. It is more a query of whether he can establish himself as a top 10 midfielder.

What might make this hard is the fact that he shares a midfield with Kennedy, Hannebery and at times, Heeney, who all earn a lot of points which ultimately means less for Parker.

The departure of Tom Mitchell was meant to open up more points for Parker, but the team’s slow start to the season, a slump in form and the emergence of Heeney offset that possibility. Parker alternatively had a drop off in disposals, tackles and goals which have been hallmarks of his SuperCoach scoring in recent seasons.

Despite this, he is still only 25 and just entering his prime so I see no reason why he can’t improve those numbers and return back to his 2016 form, if not surpass it.

Parker, Hannebery and Kennedy have shown they can all perform in the same team, as seen in the 2016 season where they all averaged in excess off 111 points (Mitchell also averaged 104).

Parker can also be susceptible to a tag but it is not too much of a concern as Sydney have multiple players that teams like to target so he often gets off the chain. Even when he does receive a tag, his contested style of play still allows him to stay involved in the game so his scoring doesn’t take too much of a hit.

Parker also shares the horrid round 14 bye with other premiums such as Dangerfield, Martin, Fyfe, Crouch, Sloance, etc. Starting too many of these players would be detrimental to your side, meaning it may be difficult to start Parker.

As Kennedy and Hannebery are around the same price as Parker, we would want him to be the best the scorer of the three. The Swans share the bye with the aforementioned players above, which means there may only be room for one of the key Swans in our midfields. Starting the best scorer of the three would be crucial and there is no guarantee that it will be Parker.

Summary: Parker is a talented player who has established himself in the top echelon of midfielders in the competition and is still well within his prime at the age of 25. He is a proven scorer who can win his own ball, rack up tackles, take contested marks and kick goals. He has shown that he is a durable player and can score big to provide a captain option. We are not often blessed with too many players that are capable of averaging 110+ for under $550k. Is he too good to pass up?

Verdict: Parker presents solid value, but the question remains; will he be a top 10 midfielder? Along with other fallen premiums around his price, some will reach those heights while others won’t. I think his durability compounded with his scoring potential puts him ahead of a few other options, although his bye could be hostile. Strongly consider.


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