Strategy for NRL fantasty in 2018

Walter Penninger Roar Guru

By Walter Penninger, Walter Penninger is a Roar Guru

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    For those of you who haven’t been tempted by NRL fantasy in the past, 2018 offers something new, although the NRL have been rather limited in the detail they have provided to date.

    The salary cap for your team reflects reality, rising to $9.4 million, but player prices have risen considerably by 40 to 50 per cent and whether this price rise reflects reality is anyone’s guess.

    Squad size is a departure from reality, dropping to 21 from 25 previously, just as NRL squads start to swell.

    This last change is probably the most significant, eliminating four additional cash cows. The dynamics of the game have changed and only time will tell whether this is for better or worse.

    The reduction to 21 also means fewer replacements, probably one front row, one half, one centre and one winger less than 2017.

    In the absence of something better to do in the off-season, I have tried to put together a fantasy team based on the reveal prices which have been published by the NRL. It is just as hard as 2017 to come up with a good team despite the increased salary cap and reduced squad size.

    How the reduction of cash cows will affect the strategy remains to be seen, but my guess is a selection of cheap mid-level players who can turn into keepers rather than relying on cash cows to buy keepers may be important.

    There is no suggestion at the moment the number of trades will be increased to accommodate the reduction in squad size, so selecting potential keepers at the start may be more important than ever.

    Selection of dual position players also looks more important than ever.

    This year there is a good crop of front rowers to choose from some at very cheap prices. Amongst those that come to mind are the experienced Jordan McLean (FRF, $525,000), World Cup player Viliame Kikau (FRF, $228,000) new Bronco Matt Lodge (FRF, $365,000) new Warrior Agnatius Paasi (FRF, 2RF, $371,000), his teammate Albert Vete (FRF, $305,000) and, with the departure of McLean, his replacement Nelson Asofa-Solomona (2RF, FRF, $481,000)

    There are many more that will make selecting two starting front rowers and only one replacement a difficult job.

    There is also a reasonable selection of good quality fullbacks and wingers available around $500,0000-$600,000, including Kalyn Ponga (WFB, $552,000), Bevan French (WFB, $474,000), Greg Inglis (WFB, $503,000) and Latrell Mitchell (WFB, CTR, $556,000), who look like bargains with the 2018 pricing.

    Captains and vice-captains will be expensive, with the most expensive being Cameron Smith (HOK, $917,000) and last year’s rookie Angus Crichton coming in at $880,000.

    Team selection is expected to open late January and, of course, there is no need to finalise your squad until Round 1 teams are announced in March.

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