It's arguably the toughest position to fill this season, but at least one player is almost certain to produce massive NRL Fantasy scores in the front row in 2020.
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Haas went from cash cow to king last year, producing probably the most stunning individual Fantasy season ever with an outrageous 67.8 points per game (after starting at close to bargain basement price). He's no longer cheap – in fact his $999k price tag is the highest in Fantasy history – but he outscored the next best prop last year by 13 points a game and is the simplest and safest choice for Fantasy captain this year.
One front-rower who stands taller and is younger than Haas is Melbourne monster Faasuamaleaui, a highly-rated big man who is so in demand he's already signed a three-year deal with the Titans starting next year. That hurts his chances of getting more than a brief role (if any) on the Storm bench early in 2020 so the smart move will probably be to look elsewhere for bargains.
Knight is ready to take a leap this season as a starter in the Rabbitohs' pack, having come off the bench in most of his appearances last season. With George Burgess, Sam Burgess and John Sutton gone there are minutes up for grabs at Souths and Knight could be the man to take them. With a break even of 39, he averaged 45.4 as a starter last year and scored 50, 57 and 51 when playing more than 50 minutes.
CNK picks his NRL Fantasy team
The safe bets
They don't come safer than Haas, but Klemmer was the next-best performer among Fantasy front-rowers last year, taking a big leap in his Fantasy scoring in his first season as a Knights player. He was always a big metre-eater, even at Origin level, but his game time and tackle counts rose under Nathan Brown. Even under a new coach he should continue to score well but he doesn't look like having the value of other players on this list.
A perennial mid-50s scorer these days, Taupau's game time actually dropped a little under Des Hasler last year but he still managed 53.5 points a game. Previously available in the second row as well, he's lost his dual-position flexibility for now which makes him a less valuable option in 2020.
An 80-minute middle forward who gets through more than 40 tackles per game, Fisher-Harris is one of the reliable props out there and is one of the few guns available as either a front- or second-rower at the start of the season. You won't necessarily get a ton of improvement on his 2019 performances but you should get reliable scores in the mid-50s.
NRL Fantasy player in focus - Moeaki Fotuaika
A knee injury late in the season saw Fifita's scores dip (notwithstanding an excellent 72 against the Warriors in round 23) and the fact he's been ruled out of the All Stars game is a concern. But on the upside, last year's 53 average – while still very solid – was his worst return in the past seven years (he averaged more than 60 in 2014-16 and scored almost 58 points a game in 2018). With Paul Gallen and Matt Prior having left Cronulla there are points up for grabs in the Sharks pack and it won't be a surprise if Fifita gets back to high 50s this year.
A prop on the rise at the Titans, Fotuaika had six scores above 50 last season but averaged 40 for the season. He can play upwards of 55 minutes (and once played the full 80 last year) so if he gets quality game time in a forward pack that will again be missing the injured Ryan James he could become a handy money-maker or cut-price keeper.
One of a number of impressive young forwards for Brisbane, Carrigan's best path to Fantasy success this year would be to land the No.13 jersey for round one – and keep it. That's no easy feat but he did start at lock at the end of last season (for scores of 37 and 46) after spending the bulk of the season coming off the bench. He did get a couple of mid-50s scores in the middle of the year and with a break even of 30 a few of those early in 2020 could net him some quick price rises.