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Dragons lock Jack de Belin.

The St George Illawarra Dragons became one of the most popular teams for NRL Fantasy buys in 2017, thanks largely to one of the most effective packs in the competition.

Cameron McInnes was the game's busiest defender while Jack de Belin and Paul Vaughan were huge performers up front. James Graham and Ben Hunt are two star signings that have been NRL Fantasy guns while Gareth Widdop could be set for a massive season after a string of dominant displays for England at the World Cup.

Fantasy gun: Jack de Belin

Already the kind of tackle-hungry lock that tends to thrive in NRL Fantasy, de Belin took his running game into the elite ranks, joining the game's very best scorers. With a ton of run metres and plenty of offloads, de Belin can pass 50 points in base stats alone and his season average of 58.8 ranked him among the top five Fantasy scorers of the season. He's a potential captaincy option if you don't want to splash the cash on Cameron Smith.

St George Illawarra fullback Jai Field gets a pass away.
St George Illawarra fullback Jai Field gets a pass away. ©Paul Barkley/ NRL Photos/NRL Photos

Value buy: Jai Field

Field caught the eye with some spectacular long-range tries at the 2017 NRL Nines, but the Dragons speedster didn't get much of a chance to shine in the Telstra Premiership season with just three games off the bench. He's added plenty of size since then – bulking up from 72kg to 85kg since the start of last season – but will remain a back-up option for now with Matt Dufty likely to secure the fullback spot and Ben Hunt the team's new first-choice halfback.

Wildcard: Ben Hunt

Hunt has been an NRL Fantasy gun but his scoring dipped a little in 2017 due to some time spent at dummy-half – usually an 80-minute halfback, Hunt spent time on the bench half a dozen times in his 21 regular-season games for Brisbane last season. He scored less than 40 in four of those games, dragging his season average below 50 (and making him arguably an under-priced player at the start of 2018). How he combines with Dragons five-eighth and England World Cup star Gareth Widdop is the big unknown in NRL Fantasy terms – if they split the playmaking duties evenly then both could score just below the 50 points a game you want from a starting Fantasy half.

2018 NRL Fantasy player prices

Jack de Belin: 2RF, $861,000

Cameron McInnes: HOK, $811,000

Paul Vaughan: FRF, $799,000

Ben Hunt: HLF, $688,000

James Graham: FRF, $671,000

Joel Thompson: 2RF, $667,000

Gareth Widdop: HLF, $666,000

Tyson Frizell: 2RF, $656,000

Leeson Ah Mau: FRF, $627,000

Timoteo Lafai: CTR, $603,000

Euan Aitken: CTR, $567,000

Tariq Sims: 2RF, $561,000

Jason Nightingale: WFB, $545,000

Matthew Dufty: WFB, $525,000

Nene Macdonald: WFB, CTR, $512,000

Kurt Mann: WFB, HLF, $510,000

Jacob Host: FRF, 2RF, $327,000

Jeremy Latimore: FRF, $303,000

Hame Sele: 2RF, FRF, $267,000

Blake Lawrie: FRF, $228,000

Jai Field: HLF, $228,000

Luciano Leilua: 2RF, $228,000

Mitchell Allgood: FRF,2RF, $228,000

Darren Nicholls: HLF, $212,000

Josh Kerr: FRF, $212,000

Patrick Herbert: CTR,WFB, $212,000

Reece Robson: HOK, $212,000

Reuben Garrick: CTR, $212,000

Jordan Pereira: CTR,WFB, $212,000

Steven Marsters: WFB, $212,000

Tristan Sailor: WFB,HLF, $212,000

Zac Lomax: CTR,WFB, $212,000

*2018 salary cap: 9.4m. Fantasy squad size: 21

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