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NRL Fantasy awards & Team of the Season

We've come to an end of one of the toughest seasons in NRL Fantasy history, with the shortened COVID-19 affected season bringing with it a faster game and bigger scores but also a huge number of injuries to key players.

In what turned out to be a battle of attrition, even the overall winner couldn't field a full 17 in the final round of the year.

Meanwhile on the field a new No.1 Fantasy player emerged, the Titans unearthed an absolute bargain, a Broncos star went backwards fast and James Tedesco remained as popular as ever.

2020 NRL Fantasy awards

Player of the year: Nathan Cleary

The departure of James Maloney from Penrith at the end of 2019 made the Panthers Cleary's team, and not only did his playmaking workload go up but his game took a leap as well.

Cleary's renowned right boot earned him the most kick metres, 40/20 kicks and field goals in the league, and the third-most goals, but he was a weapon with ball in hand as well – engaging the defensive line more than any other player in 2020.

That led to tries, assists and tackle busts, and helped him to a league-high 72.6 Fantasy points per game – just pipping Cameron McInnes (72.5) and Payne Haas (72.2).

Cleary also finished with the most total points of any player, despite missing a couple of matches, with his tally of 1306 pipping McInnes by a single point.

Moneymaker of the year: Jamal Fogarty

The reigning Intrust Super Cup player of the year for the Burleigh Bears, Fogarty was a revelation in the halves for the Titans this season.

He may have had only a couple of NRL appearances to his name but at 26 years old he was no wide-eyed rookie, producing a couple of half-decent scores early on before taking the reigns as the team's chief playmaker and piling on the points in the second half of the season.

Along the way his price tag jumped by a whopping $480k up to $708k by the end of the season, eclipsing the rises of superstar rookie Harry Grant (+$461k), Panthers pivot Jarome Luai (+$419k) and reserve Raiders rake Tom Starling (+$396k).

Flop of the year: Anthony Milford

There's no need to dwell on the negatives at this time of the season but the numbers don't lie and the biggest drop in value belonged to Broncos playmaker Anthony Milford, who started the season valued at $785k (and actually went up after round one) but finished at $378k – a hefty $407k loss over the course of the season.

The fact injury kept him to 13 appearances didn't help things either. On the plus side, he should be good value if Brisbane are big improvers under their new coach in 2021.

His price drop dwarfed those of the two next biggest decreases, Gavin Cooper (-$292k) and Luke Brooks (-$289k) while Jai Arrow (-$282k) could be good value if he returns to his 2019 form at Souths next year. 

Most popular player: James Tedesco

Tedesco pipped breakout centre Zac Lomax, fellow fullback superstar Kalyn Ponga and Fantasy giants Payne Haas and Cleary to be in the most number of teams by the end of round 20 with 36.99% ownership.

Tedesco remained the No.1 winger/fullback in the game, ahead of Kalyn Ponga and rising star AJ Brimson, and is sure to be among the first players picked by Fantasy coaches once again at the start of 2021.

NRL Fantasy Team of the Season

(By average score)
Hooker: Cameron McInnes (vc)
Front-rowers: Payne Haas, Pat Carrigan
Second-rowers: Angus Crichton, Jason Taumalolo, Ryan Matterson
Halves: Nathan Cleary (c), Daly Cherry-Evans
Centres: Zac Lomax, Bradman Best
Wingers/fullbacks: James Tedesco, Kalyn Ponga, AJ Brimson
Bench: Damien Cook, Cameron Smith, Harry Grant, Tohu Harris

NRL Fantasy Best Value Team of the Season

(By value gained)
Hooker: Harry Grant (vc)
Front-rowers: Pat Carrigan, Toby Rudolf
Second-rowers: Siosifa Talakai, Tino Fa'asuamaleaui, Eliesa Katoa
Halves: Jamal Fogarty (c), Jarome Luai
Centres: Zac Lomax, Bradman Best
Wingers/fullbacks: Campbell Graham, Stephen Crichton, Young Tonumaipea
Bench: Tom Starling, Kurt Mann, Reuben Cotter, Jaimin Jolliffe 

Winning team 

(Tom Vaughan's 'I Like This Ray Stone', after round 20)
Hooker: Damian Cook
Front-rowers: Payne Haas (c), Pat Carrigan (vc)
Second-rowers: Jake Trbojevic, Cameron Murray, Isaah Yeo
Halves: Nathan Cleary, Mitchell Moses
Centres: Kotoni Staggs, Zac Lomax
Wingers/fullbacks: James Tedesco, Kalyn Ponga, Dylan Edwards
Bench: Cameron McInnes, Mitchell Pearce, Tom Starling, Martin Taupau