As we count down to the start of the 2020 NRL Fantasy season, we reveal the starting player prices and preview the key players from all 16 NRL clubs.
New faces and a contender for Fantasy centre of the year highlight Canterbury's best early buy options for 2020.
Centre, winger/fullback, $621,000
Centre is a notoriously tough position to fill in NRL Fantasy. Averaging about 28 points a game, centres don't generally run the ball as much as fullbacks or wingers, don't get the defensive workload of forwards, and don't get the kick and assist numbers that halves do. That's not the case for Hopoate, whose workrate was the best of all genuine centres last season – finishing the year ranked fifth among all players for total runs (with no other full-time centres in the top 30).
With an average score of almost 43, Hopoate has a genuine chance of climbing from fifth to first in the Fantasy centre rankings in 2020 – the top two John Bateman and Briton Nikora have lost their dual position status and are only available in the back row next season, while Latrell Mitchell will lose goal-kicking duties after moving to Souths and Jack Bird is returning from injury.
Stimson loomed as a potential cash cow last year, having broken into the Melbourne Storm's starting side in late 2018, but instead lost his spot to Kenny Bromwich and eventually left the club. Now a Bulldogs recruit, Stimson brings grand final experience with one of the dominant forces in the NRL to a club that has been starved of success of late – but that doesn't mean he'll have a clear run to a spot in the starting 13. An edge back-rower, Stimson could struggle to beat the likes of Josh Jackson, Corey Harawaera-Naera, Raymond Faitala-Mariner and Adam Elliott to a starting spot in the Bulldogs' back row and will probably need to start the year on the bench.
But if he does earn the No.11 or No.12 jersey he looks terrific value. Last year he averaged 26.2 points in 33 minutes per game. He's capable of playing the full 80 – and if he maintained last year's scoring rate that would equal a monstrous 63.5 Fantasy average. A 40-point average is more likely (again, if he gets a starting spot) but that would be more than enough points to result in a big price rise in the early part of the season.
A signing from Penrith who played in the Tonga side that stunned Australia in November, Katoa only played 40 minutes a game last season and could see that game time rise to 60 or even 80 minutes in 2020. That would obviously have an effect on his scoring potential; he scored just 21.6 points a game last year but could hit around 40 if he grabs the No.9 jersey at the Bulldogs.
Katoa played more than 50 minutes four times last year, for scores of 44 (in 69 minutes), 38 (71 minutes), 19 (59 minutes) and 44 (69 minutes). That's still a fairly sketchy record for a starting hooker, and he's definitely more of a ball-runner than the kind of defensive workhorse that tends to prosper in Fantasy.
Still, even if he'll never become a genuine Fantasy gun, an increase in game time in the middle of the park would make Katoa undervalued at the start of the new season – the only question is by how much.
Bulldogs starting prices in 2020
|Will Hopoate||$621,000||CTR, WFB|
|Jeremy Marshall-King||$544,000||HOK, HLF|
|Ofahiki Ogden||$407,000||2RF, FRF|
|Sauaso Sue||$397,000||FRF, 2RF|
|Marcelo Montoya||$354,000||WFB, CTR|
|Renouf Toomaga||$300,000||2RF, FRF|