Your last chance to show you really know your footy is here, with Holden NRL Dream Team Finals kicking off this weekend with a $3000 first prize up for grabs.
You get $3 million of salary cap space to purchase 13 players, with prices based on the performances of each player so far this season. Sounds simple, right? Well, there are a few tips to keep in mind when finalising your squad for Friday night.
One big difference between Holden NRL Dream Team Finals and regular Dream Team is the value of the captains – your captain will receive triple points, and your vice captain gets double points. That means it's probably wise to snap up a couple of genuine big guns to make the most out of these bonus points.
Of the players involved in the finals, the top Dream Team scorers over the final five rounds of the NRL regular season were Cameron Smith, Paul Gallen, Andrew Fifita, Jarrod Mullen and Johnathan Thurston. Smith (who costs a whopping $402,700 in Dream Team Finals) and Fifita ($370,900) have been huge scorers all year but Gallen ($317,200), Mullen ($298,800) and Thurston ($283,900) are all in high-scoring form – their recent scores are better than their season average – so if that form continues they are good value in Dream Team Finals.
Other options for captain based on recent form are Issac Luke (who averaged 62 points over his past three games and at $256,500 is significantly cheaper than Cameron Smith), Sonny Bill Williams ($286,500), Sam Burgess ($283,300), Josh Reynolds ($245,900) and Adam Reynolds ($296,600).
If you are going to fit some expensive captains in your Dream Team, you're going to have to squeeze in some cheapies as well. There are no cash cows in the finals so the trick instead is to find undervalued players who have the potential to score big. The best place to find these kinds of players is in the outside backs, where player prices are generally lower.
Here you need to find some quality attacking players who could find the tryline once or twice this weekend, or at least bust a few tackles and create the odd line break. Will Chambers, Ben Barba, Daniel Tupou, David Williams, Joseph Leilua, Darius Boyd and Matt Bowen are all in good form at the moment and are available for less than $200,000 in finals Dream Team.
A key factor in Dream Team Finals is the opposition each player will face. You're buying players for one week only (there are unlimited trades so you can overhaul your team next week) so keep an eye on which team each player will come up against this week.
The general rule is that backline players (or attacking players in general) will score well when their team wins, while tackle-hungry forwards will score well in close games even if their team loses.
The fact that all four games this week are tough ones to pick doesn't make things much easier, but it's still something to keep in mind. If you reckon the Rabbitohs will thump Melbourne in Sydney, then snap up Greg Inglis and Adam Reynolds. If you think the Roosters-Manly game will be a low-scoring arm wrestle, then take a look at Jake Friend or Matt Ballin. If you think the Bulldogs are too good for the Knights, consider Ben Barba and Josh Reynolds.
Go with your gut
The most important thing to keep in mind when picking your finals team is that anything can happen. If you've got a hunch that Roger Tuivasa-Sheck will score a hat-trick against Manly, then grab him. If you think Issac Luke will outplay Cameron Smith on Friday night, make him your captain. There is no "ideal" team for Dream Team Finals on any given week, and it's those left-field decisions that could well make you stand out from the pack and win you $3000 in a few weeks time.
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