The 2015 premiers remain one of the league's most powerful teams, with Johnathan Thurston pulling the strings and the exit of James Tamou creating an opportunity for a new Fantasy prospect in the front row.
Johnathan Thurston (HLF, $458,000): Thurston is coming off a reasonably quiet season in Fantasy terms. He scored a solid 48 points a game – 10th among regular halves – but the season prior he had been sensational, laying on tries at will and finishing as the highest-scoring half in Fantasy. He may be the game's best player but he's not the strongest defender, meaning he relies on attacking stats to score well in Fantasy – and with fellow playmakers Michael Morgan, Jake Granville and Lachlan Coote sharing more of the creative duties last year Thurston isn't the reliable Fantasy powerhouse he once was. Still, he's not a bad option by any stretch and will start the new season cheaper than the likes of Mitchell Pearce, Daly Cherry-Evans and Shaun Johnson.
Ethan Lowe (2RF, $468,000): An 80-minute forward who gets through a lot of tackles, can score the occasional try and even kicks goals when needed, Lowe appears to be the perfect Fantasy player in the old Corey Parker mould. But consistency is the issue for him in Fantasy. He was the only forward to make two scores of 70 or more last season and two scores below 25. Remarkably, those scores came in two runs of three games, back to back (from Round 16 he struggled with scores of 24, 39 and 23, then exploded with scores of 70, 67 and 70). On his day he can be a Fantasy world beater, but is he worth taking the risk on?
Jason Taumalolo (2RF, $468,000): Unlike Lowe, Taumalolo doesn't have many quiet games. But he doesn't get through Lowe's big tackle counts either. The Cowboys lock shared the Dally M Medal last year thanks to his rampaging running game, which earned him enough run metres and tackle breaks to score close to 50 points a game. He was consistent, with a season-low score of 37, but with just the one score above 70 he wasn't quite effective enough to be a true Fantasy gun in 2016. He can improve, but how many players improve on a Dally M-winning season?
John Asiata/Pat Kaufusi/Ben Spina/Sam Hoare: The departure of James Tamou to Penrith leaves a big hole in the front row for North Queensland, particularly after Ben Hannant's retirement. That means a new face will wear the No.10 for the Cowboys in Round 1 and that player is likely to be good value in NRL Fantasy. None of Asiata, Kaufusi, Spina and Hoare scored more than 20 points a game last season (Hoare didn't actually play a game) so if one of those four come into the starting side and score even 30 points a game they should rise in value.
2017 NRL Fantasy prices
Ethan Lowe (2RF, $468,000)
Jason Taumalolo (2RF, $468,000)
Johnathan Thurston (HLF, $458,000)
Gavin Cooper (2RF, $418,000)
Michael Morgan (HLF, $385,000)
Matthew Scott (FRF, $345,000)
Javid Bowen (CTR, WFB, $337,000)
Jake Granville (HOK, $333,000)
Scott Bolton (2RF, $323,000)
Justin O'Neill (CTR, $289,000)
Lachlan Coote (WFB, $280,000)
Antonio Winterstein (WFB, $272,000)
Kane Linnett (CTR, $269,000)
Coen Hess (2RF, $267,000)
Ray Thompson (HLF, HOK, $265,000)
Kyle Feldt (WFB, $250,000)
Josh Chudleigh (HOK, $236,000)
John Asiata (2RF, $186,000)
Patrick Kaufusi (FRF, $167,000)
Ben Hampton (HLF, $156,000)
Sam Hoare (FRF, $151,000)
Kalyn Ponga (WFB, $148,000)
Ben Spina (FRF, $143,000)
Carlin Anderson (WFB, $138,000)
Gideon Gela-Mosby (WFB, $138,000)