There’s an unfamiliar face among the top 20 Ultimate Footy standings after three rounds of AFL action. Slotting into 19th position, just ahead of Brendon Goddard, Trent Cotchin and Dayne Beams is the unassuming Essendon number 20, Jackson Merrett.
Drafted in 2011 in the second round, Merrett is a prototype for the modern winger/half forward. 187cm tall, athletic yet lanky, a smooth mover around the ground. Like so many quality footballers before him, Merrett has shown this season that he has one attribute that many can’t be taught – he can find the footy.
Merrett has started 2014 in sensational form, and this has translated to fantasy results. He’s averaged 112 fantasy points over the opening three rounds – elite by anyone’s standards not named Ablett or Swan. He’s comfortably outscored the latter, defying his lowly preseason ranking.
Against Carlton on Sunday night, Merrett was unstoppable, racking up 35 disposals and 10 marks. Not that anyone from the Blues paid him any attention. Merrett lined up on the wing for centre bounces, time and time again, by himself. The Bombers would win the clearance, and Merrett would be in space, providing the link up and run.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Merrett is a product of the now-fabled football factory, the Geelong Falcons. Ablett, Hodge, Bartel and Jack Steven are just a few of the modern day greats who can trace their roots to the Falcons during their TAC Cup tenure. It’s still early, but Merrett is on the path to adding his name to that vaunted list.
With 336 fantasy points this season to date, the young Bomber sits behind only veterans Paul Chapman and Nick Riewoldt among forward-eligible players. It’s a lofty ranking, but one that offers a glimpse of what he might be able to achieve over the next 10 years.
2014 is his third year in the system, and the season in which young players tend to see a spike in their performance. However with the expansion clubs looting the majority of the young talent over the past four years, Merrett has flown under the radar. He was allowed to develop in the VFL. Having completed his apprenticeship, he’s now showing he was what it takes to perform at AFL level.
This week Merrett will travel west to take on last year’s runners up, Fremantle. The Bombers are flying up in 2014, and a clash with the heavyweight Dockers in Perth will be the ultimate test of Merrett’s short career.
One thing is for sure. If the Dockers allow him as much time and space as Carlton did, then the footy will again find its way into the deft hands of the number 20.
Article supplied by Footy Prophet (www.footyprophet.com) – football analysis and opinion with a fantasy focus. Be a part of the game.