NRL Fantasy opened early this year, with coaches getting a peek at player prices and the new scoring system just before Christmas.
But for those who haven't spent their summer scouring the site for changes, here's a handy one-stop shop for everything that's changed ahead of what will be a massive 2022 season.
There have been a number of scoring updates with a couple of new metrics making their way into Fantasy along with a few balance changes which should even things out a bit. Note that 2022 player prices have been scaled to account for the following changes.
In-goal escapes added (+2)
A player deemed to have escaped from his in-goal under pressure from the opposition and saved his team from conceding a line drop-out will now be awarded two points in Fantasy. What is an 'escape' versus a regulation play of collecting the ball and running back to the field of play will be left to the official NRL stats-keepers but essentially will boil down to whether a line drop-out looked likely but for the actions of the ball carrier. With two points awarded for a line drop-out forced, it seemed only fair to allocate the same amount to a player who averts that outcome.
Rule changes: Six-again and in-goal escapes
Six-again infringements added (-1)
Players who give away a fresh set of six under the recently-introduced six-again rule will now be docked a point in Fantasy. Once the rule came in, former penalty-farms were getting off scot-free with their ruck infringements no longer penalised in Fantasy. This grand injustice has now been corrected, while a full penalty conceded remains at -2.
Tackle busts reduced by one (from -3 to -2)
It's been pretty obvious for a while that three points for a tackle bust is overpowered relative to other stats. The other points changes this year mean busts can now be reduced without pushing certain positions (eg wingers) too far from relevance. It does mean the days of a David Fifita type player crabbing across field for an 18-point run without going anywhere are over, although the truly destructive runners such as Fifita will remain among Fantasy's best players.
Kick metres reduced by a third (from 1 point per 20m to 1 point per 30m)
No doubt some will see this change purely as an attempt to nerf Panthers star Nathan Cleary but plenty of players were racking up a free 20 to 25 points per game simply by being the designated kicker. While Cleary is the most affected, dropping nine points per game based off 2021 averages for his 549 kick metres per week, he would still net a huge 18 points per match just through kicks. Plenty of other players such as Mitch Moses, Shaun Johnson, Daly Cherry-Evans and Chad Townsend will lose an average of six or seven points per match under the change. All kickers are already duly rewarded for getting outcomes from their kicks such as through repeat sets and try assists.
Offloads to hand increased by two points (from 2 to 4)
There has never before been a scoring difference between 'good' and 'bad' offloads, with a player shovelling the ball out the back onto the ground and costing his side metres or potentially possession given the same +2 offload score as a neat offload to a support runner who gains an additional 10 metres. Offloads will now be split into whether they go to hand or ground, with offloads to hand granted an additional two points.
New rule change and game day policy amendments
Most coaches, including yours truly, felt the wrath of the 2021 injury curse with most squads racked by absences from very early on in the year and many coaches making two trades for many weeks in a row just to try and field 17 players per week.
Whether this is a by-product of the increased pace of the game and likely to continue or just a freakish one-off season, the regular loss of players dampened the enjoyment so changes have been made to hopefully mitigate those losses if similar occurs in 2022.
As a result, total season trades have been increased by two, up to 36 this year. Four of those trades will be locked until after round 19 – that is, coaches will have access to 32 trades from the start of the season through to round 19. The additional four will be added from round 20.
The one further tweak to this is that extra trade rounds through the Origin period have been done away with. Instead, coaches will be able to use two trades per week – as usual – from the start of the year until the rep period commences in round 13 and from that point on, will be able to use up to four trades every week, if they wish.
The Fantasy salary cap has been scaled down to $9.4 million, in line with the actual NRL salary cap, with player prices scaled accordingly.
Updated prizes are in for 2022, which you can check here. This now includes a DoorDash voucher for the top 1000 scoring coaches every round along with plenty of other great prizes. Please note the majority of these are fulfilled via the registered email address associated with each account.
For more on the 2022 need-to-know info check out the Game Guidelines in the Help section.