NRL Fantasy player watch: Cooper Cronk
Cooper Cronk, HLF, $588,000
The biggest signing of the season, Kangaroos No.7 and Melbourne Storm legend Cooper Cronk, will wear the red, white and blue in 2018 as the go-to man at the centre of a star-studded Roosters backline. But that doesn't necessarily mean he'll be an NRL Fantasy gun…
Scoring potential: 4/5
Traditionally, Cooper Cronk has fallen into the bracket of great players whose skills don't completely translate to NRL Fantasy. In the last five years he has never averaged 50 points in a season, and he scored just 40 points a game in 2017 (by comparison, Shaun Johnson, Mitchell Pearce and Nathan Cleary all scored in the mid-50s).
That's largely due to the quality of the players around him – hooker and Kangaroos captain Cameron Smith always has a large playmaking role at Melbourne and did his fair share of long-range kicking, fellow members of the spine Cameron Munster and Billy Slater were attacking weapons all season, and the Storm dominated contests to the extent that Cronk rarely had to make 20 tackles in a game.
While the halfback's new team could be equally dominant in 2018, Cronk will be the Roosters' go-to man in attack and will at the very least be expected to add to the 275 kick metres per game he made last season.
At the Storm, fellow playmakers Cameron Smith and Cameron Munster contributed a combined 210 kick metres a game, while their Roosters counterparts and Cronk's new teammates made just 110 per game. If Cronk makes up the difference this year that's an extra five Fantasy points a week from kick metres alone.
Even if he doesn't become a 50-point player, Cronk should at least produce consistent scores all season. Having retired from representative football, he won't miss a game over the Origin period, and while he can produce the occasional low score (he made less than 30 a couple of times in 2017) his base stats should improve without Fantasy guns Smith and Munster playing beside him.
It's a bit of a case of all or nothing when considering Cronk as a Fantasy buy this season – if he makes 50 points a game he'll be a genuine keeper and a steal at $588,000, but if he falls short of that he won't really qualify as a keeper or a cash cow. He does seem very underpriced at first glance considering he's the Kangaroos halfback but only the 15th most expensive half in Fantasy, but he remains a bigger gamble than the top-line Fantasy halves and doesn't appear to have the money-making potential of the genuine cheapies.