The traditional version of the NRL Fantasy – Classic – isn't the only way to play the game. If you're brand new to the game, want more control over your league or just want another way to win prizes, make sure you don't miss these alternative to Classic this season.
What is it?
A simplified version of Fantasy, for one-off mini-games. Pick just six players – one for each position (winger/fullback, centre, half, front row, second row, hooker), name a captain who will earn triple points and a vice captain who will earn double points. Top score wins.
When is it?
Every Thursday night game of the 2017 Telstra Premiership season will be a Match Day round in Fantasy – so pick a six-side from the two teams involved in Thursday night footy (there's no restriction on how many players you can choose from each team) and you could win. The top 10 Match Day teams each Thursday receive an annual NRL Live Pass subscription, valued at $90, allowing you to watch any game of the NRL live on your phone or tablet.
Then there's Test Match Day for the mid-year Australia v New Zealand Test, with a $750 prize going to the winner. And then there's Origin Match Day, with prizes of $750 for the winner of each of the three games plus $250 prizes for second place.
The final Match Day game will run across the NRL Finals series, with games for each finals match. The overall winner at the end of the finals will win a $2,000 prize.
What is it?
Draft is all about taking on and beating your mates – and it's an entirely different way of playing Fantasy compared with Classic.
In a way, it's simpler. There are no player prices, or salary cap. Instead, the league starts with a live draft, and a simple premise – one player, one team. So each Fantasy coach takes turns picking an NRL player until each squad is full. (My first tip? Grab Cameron Smith if you're lucky enough to get first pick.)
The best part of the game is arguably the draft itself. Not only is it a nerve-wracking experience as you watch the clock tick down as you make your selections (and pray that your rivals don't snap up that player you want), but draft night also doubles as a great way to sledge your mates as you gather round with pizzas and a few drinks.
Once the live draft is completed, you can start trading players as you wish. Want to trade three of your players for two of another team's players? Put in an offer. Need some injury cover for a certain position? Jump into the free agents pool and snap up an unselected player.
You'll need footy smarts, but also some street smarts in spotting a good deal. Keep trading throughout the season as you face off against a different league rival each week, leading up to a finals series.
When is it?
Whenever you like. Fantasy Draft is customisable in a way other Fantasy games can't be. Start the league when you like, finish it when you like, pick how many teams you want in the league, how many players you want in a team, how the live draft works, how trades are approved – you name it.
But there's good reason to at least set up a league early – even if it doesn't start in Round 1. The first 1,000 Fantasy coaches who create a full 16-team Draft league before Round 1 will win a free NRL Live Pass subscription.
The game is simpler and easier to play than ever this year, with a new design that allows you to seamlessly assess the best player options on draft night and keeps you updated with what trades are taking place throughout your league.
Draft is the form of the game that currently dominates American fantasy sports and is rapidly growing in popularity in Australia as well. Give it a try if you haven't already.