After a season to forget the Roosters will be desperate to bounce back into finals contention in 2017, and that should be good news for their NRL Fantasy prospects.
Mitchell Pearce (HLF, $502,000): Pearce's 2016 campaign was dominated by off-field headlines for obvious reasons, but his on-field performances were actually pretty strong from a Fantasy perspective at least. With old halves partner James Maloney gone, Pearce dominated his team's kicking game when he returned to the Roosters side in the second half of the season. That – plus a return of 12 line-break assists and 11 try assists in 12 matches – earned him 53 Fantasy points a game, a record as good as any half in NRL Fantasy.
Jake Friend (HOK, $559,000): Friend made more tackles than any other NRL player last season, with 53 per game – six more than the next-best in that stat, Simon Mannering. Unsurprisingly Friend had a lot of tackling to do when the Roosters were losing games badly in the first 10 rounds of the season while Pearce, Boyd Cordner and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves were sidelined. He averaged a massive 69 points a game in that stretch, but once the Roosters returned to full strength Friend's scores dropped down to 53. That arguably makes him overpriced at the start of 2017, with cheaper options and the unmatched Cameron Smith also available at hooker.
Mitchell Aubusson (2RF, CTR, $355,000): Those who have been reading my Fantasy advice for a few years know I have a Mitchell Aubusson Rule ("Never buy Mitchell Aubusson"). I've got nothing against the guy – he's a good player, and a versatile one at that. Unfortunately in NRL Fantasy that versatility is his problem. Available in the second row or the centres in Fantasy, Aubusson looks like a steal every year considering he generally plays in the forward pack – where he scores more than 40 points a game (he actually had three scores above 60 last season). Unfortunately, when the Roosters lose a backline player to injury, Aubusson is inevitably the man asked to shift to centre, where his Fantasy scores plummet. Last season he averaged just 26 across the seven games in which he started at centre. For mine he's not worth the stress, but if you're willing to take the punt he's certainly cheaper than the elite NRL Fantasy centres out there.
Nat Butcher (2RF, $173,000): The young Roosters lock scored 25 points in 28 minutes in his only NRL game of 2016, but has an incredible record in the Holden Cup. Butcher can play 80 minutes and averaged 43 tackles, 188 metres and four tackle breaks a game in the under-20s last season, while also making 44 offloads and scoring seven tries. Those numbers would have earned him around 60 points a game in NRL Fantasy. He won't be at that level yet, but if he can manage to get decent game time he should earn some quality price rises.
2017 NRL Fantasy prices
Jake Friend (HOK, $559,000)
Boyd Cordner (2RF, $516,000)
Mitchell Pearce (HLF, $502,000)
Jackson Hastings (HLF, $429,000)
Sio Siua Taukeiaho (2RF, $429,000)
Dylan Napa (FRF, $417,000)
Aidan Guerra (2RF, $416,000)
Shaun Kenny-Dowall (CTR, WFB, $388,000)
Mitchell Aubusson (2RF, CTR, $355,000)
Blake Ferguson (WFB, CTR, $336,000)
Paul Carter (2RF, $335,000)
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (FRF, $330,000)
Isaac Liu (FRF, 2RF, $322,000)
Michael Gordon (WFB, $318,000)
Daniel Tupou (WFB, $310,000)
Kane Evans (FRF, $308,000)
Latrell Mitchell (WFB, $308,000)
Luke Keary (HLF, $305,000)
Ryan Matterson (HLF, $304,000)
Connor Watson (HLF, $259,000)
Mitchell Cornish (HLF, $214,000)
Dale Copley (WFB, $206,000)
Joseph Manu (WFB, $195,000)
Eloni Vunakece (FRF, $183,000)
Jayden Nikorima (HLF, $181,000)
Nat Butcher (2RF, $173,000)
Liam Knight (2RF, $143,000)
Chris Smith (2RF, $143,000)
Zane Tetevano (FRF, $143,000)
Brock Gray (FRF, 2RF, $138,000)