Scout Report: Rating the popular Fantasy buys
We're only days away from the start of the 2016 NRL Telstra Premiership season, so are Fantasy coaches on the right track with their squad selections? NRL.com's Lone Scout has his say on the 20 most picked players in this year's NRL Fantasy competition.
1. Ben Henry (Warriors, $134,000): I can see the appeal. He's cheap at $134,000, he's a familiar name with NRL experience, and he's a dual position second-rower/centre. But he's cheap for a reason, having averaged less than 18 points a game in his four games last season, is coming back from injury and is stuck in the pecking order behind three Warriors back-rowers who can all play 80 minutes. He's in the majority of Fantasy teams right now but if he doesn't make the Warriors team list on Tuesday, trade him out.
2. Jackson Hastings (Roosters, $134,000): Cheap, guaranteed job security and a good chance of being a decent Fantasy scorer to boot. If you haven't got him yet, get him now.
3. Sam Burgess (Rabbitohs, $492,000): Will he be South Sydney's returning hero or an overhyped flop? There are obvious reasons why Burgess is a popular buy for Fantasy coaches but as one of the cheapest genuine big guns available he's not a bad option for your front or back row.
4. Clinton Gutherson (Eels, $134,000): A bit of a left-field one to be this high, but the new Eels winger is a $134,000 cheapie with a bit of NRL experience behind him playing on the end of one of the most star-studded backlines in the league. Is the back-up fullback and goal-kicker at Parramatta behind Michael Gordon too.
5. Jayden Nikorima (Roosters, $130,000): Will partner Hastings in the halves for the Roosters until Mitchell Pearce comes back. A rookie price, dual position player also available at hooker, Nikorima should be a good cash cow.
6. Ashley Taylor (Titans, $134,000): An even safer option than Nikorima, considering a spot in the Titans halves is his for the taking all year following a season-ending ACL injury to Kane Elgey.
7. Kirisome Auva'a (Rabbitohs, $139,000): Was ordinary in his four games for Souths last season but looks a bargain at $139,000 – if he can secure a place in the Rabbitohs centres.
8. Latrell Mitchell (Roosters, $130,000): Was impressive in the Roosters' World Club Series win, has been compared to Greg Inglis, and now looks a genuine chance of starting in the Tricolours backline in Round 1. Unlikely to play in his preferred fullback position for a while but not a bad cash cow option.
9. Michael Chee-Kam (Wests Tigers, $134,000): Seen as a bit of a Fantasy myth after being much-hyped for years but barely sighted in NRL circles, Chee-Kam didn't make much of an impression for Manly last season but could (maybe) get his shot at the Wests Tigers.
10. Dale Copley (Broncos, $171,000): Michael Jennings' exit to the Eels opened up a slot in the centres at the Roosters, and they snapped up Broncos youngster Copley to fill the role. Costs just $171,000 and should make cash, although could also face competition for a spot in the Roosters backline from Latrell Mitchell or Joe Burgess. Dual position status is a bonus.
11. Corey Parker (Broncos, $559,000): Rivals Cameron Smith as the best NRL Fantasy player around, and although age is sure to catch up with him eventually it hasn't shown signs of happening yet. A rock solid captaincy option in the back row, even if he is no longer an 80-minute player.
12. Blake Ferguson (Roosters, $308,000): Ferguson's move from centre to fullback has a lot of Fantasy coaches excited, and he does have the running game to capitalise on the extra space he'll be afforded at the back. But will he be solid enough under the high ball to thrive in the position?
13. Pauli Pauli (Knights, $168,000): The new Knights forward is cheap and available in both the front and second row, but is likely to play off the bench, making his game time a bit of a lottery.
14. Ben Barba (Sharks, $178,000): If he wears the No.1 for the Sharks – and holds the spot despite the presence of fellow fullback contenders Jack Bird and Valentine Holmes – he'll be very good value. If he is a bench player again, his scores won't improve and he'll be one to avoid.
15. Shaun Johnson (Warriors, $477,000): The Warriors superstar is one of the best halves in Fantasy and should only get more chances to score and set up tries alongside Issac Luke and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
16. Cameron Smith (Storm, $548,000): The best player in NRL Fantasy. If you want a captaincy option you don't have to worry about, he's your man.
17. James Roberts (Broncos, $356,000): Will Roberts' move from the Gold Coast to Brisbane mean more attacking chances at a stronger team, or fewer chances now that he's not the main man in the backline? In any case, a 40-point centre who is also a dual position player is always a solid option.
18. Russell Packer (Dragons, $211,000): He's finally getting his second chance at an NRL career, he's been impressive in the pre-season, and he's very cheap. On the other hand, he wasn't much of a Fantasy scorer during his time at the Warriors. Fantasy coaches will hope he gets a starting spot, and good minutes.
19. Matt Parcell (Sea Eagles, $165,000): The former Ipswich Jets star is a quality attacking dummy-half and the cash cow of choice in the hooker position, but with his minutes a mystery in a role he'll split with Apisaia Koroisau there's the risk he won't make enough cash to fund an upgrade to a gun hooker later in the year.
20. Johnathan Thurston (Cowboys, $528,000): The best half in NRL Fantasy last year, and the best player in the world. Not a bad option.