With Dylan Shiel and Tom Scully both departing in the off-season, Tim Taranto is poised for a large role in the Giants engine room this season.
Will he be able to build upon his development in 2018 and break into the upper echelon of elite midfielders this season?
Player: Tim Taranto
Team: Greater Western Sydney
Games played in 2018: 21
2018 average: 88.7
100+ scores: 7
80+ scores: 15
In only his second year in the AFL system, Taranto showed significant improvement. He averaged over 20 disposals a game and ranked elite for tackles with an average of 6.1 per game (ranking him No.1 at the Giants).
This helped increase Taranto’s SuperCoach average from 66.5 in his first season, to a solid 88.7; ranking him in the top 25 forwards at the end of 2018.
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With another pre-season under the belt, Taranto should only get better and continue on his upward trajectory.
From all reports he’s also had a great off-season and coach Leon Cameron already has him earmarked for a larger midfield role, even stating that “He’ll definitely get more midfield time”.
Even though Taranto was expected to get more midfield time with Shiel and Scully leaving, it’s great to hear the head coach come out publicly and back in the young gun.
With a significant role in the midfield, we should see Taranto pump out big scores on a more regular basis; similar to the start of 2018 when Josh Kelly was injured (He scored three tons from the Giants first three games).
We got an early taste of Taranto’s potential, in GWS’ recent practice match against the Swans. He was named best on ground, and according to Twitter user JM, he racked up 26 disposals, 11 tackles and attended twelve centre bounces.
Although GWS’s star quartet (Kelly, Coniglio, Ward and Whitfield) were absent from the practice match, I can’t see their return impacting his midfield role too severely.
The two clear downsides with Taranto are his price and position.
At $481,600, Taranto falls into that awkward price bracket between a fallen premium such as Zach Merrett and a mid-pricer such as Tom Liberatore. This makes it rather difficult to fit him in your side, since you either have to sacrifice value or sacrifice cash to trade up from a mid-pricer.
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On top of this, Taranto has lost his DPP status as a MID/FWD for 2019.
Therefore, if you are going to pick him, you’ll have to weigh up:
A) Whether he’ll average enough to be a keeper
Or B) Whether he’ll make enough cash to provide a stepping-stone to a top 8 midfielder.
Throughout last season, Taranto also spent extended periods up forward for the Giants. This hurt his scoring severely and resulted in low scores such as 49, 53 and 61.
With more midfield time on the cards, this shouldn’t be as big an issue for Taranto, but for coaches it’s worth keeping in mind. If Taranto doesn’t increase his impact while resting up forward, it may hamper his chances of catapulting into the ‘elite’ category.
If everything goes according to plan, Taranto will be a prime example of the ‘third year breakout’.
With more midfield time, Taranto’s average will only increase, and I could easily see him averaging between 100-105.
The question is whether it’s worth sacrificing a value pick so you can fit Taranto into your midfield. Hopefully JLT will provide the answer.
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