Disgraced former NRL star Jarryd Hayne has been jailed for at least three years and eight months for attacking a young woman in her bedroom on the night of the 2018 NRL grand final.
1. Payne Haas
The leading contender to be crowned the fantasy king for 2021, Payne Haas is looking at another monster season for a struggling squad.
The load is firmly placed on his shoulders to carry this team out of mediocrity. A new coach will aim to inspire the best from the big man, who comes into this year as a guaranteed point machine. He has everything you want out of a number one player, averaging a whopping 72.2 points per week in 2020.
He’s the perfect high floor and high ceiling player. His lowest score across all weeks was 52 and a high score of 93. He looks to be primed for another dominant fantasy season. A must-have.
2. Nathan Cleary
Another superstar looking to repeat from his stellar year. 2020’s league leader in average points per week with 72.6 will be looking to improve upon his success from a year ago.
A sure-fire game-winner, he is the be-all and end-all for the Panthers as they continue their trot to the mountaintop. The man with the best chin in the game has no holes in his game and will only get better, a scary prospect for the rest of the competition.
Look for him to be more of a creative runner with the ball this year, which will increase his linebreak and try assist numbers. A good bet to be the best player in fantasy once again.
3. Damien Cook
The man who puts the GOAT in goatee is primed and ready to go for a big year. With Cameron Smith departing, Cook is ready to take the mantle as the best hooker in the game.
Speed kills, and his skirmishes from the base of the ruck will prove vital in him improving on his 2020 weekly average of 63.9. A high score last year of 103 shows his firepower and with the improved reinforcements filling the South Sydney ranks, Cook is my dark horse pick to finish the year as number one.
The hooker position is filled with talent this year, but there isn’t anyone else in the game with the class and expertise of Cook.
4. Jason Taumalolo
The big man had a down year, by his standards, in 2020 – this will be a bounce back. While he averaged a healthy 62 points weekly for the year, this was boosted by three weeks of above 80 scores.
He finished the year with a paltry (for him) last five-week average of 48. His team is not strong across the park, so much will be expected of him to carry the load.
His talent is undeniable. A big bounce back to his Dally M days will be what is required for this Cowboys squad to even dream about finals football. On his day, no one in the comp can match him for dominance.
5. Daly Cherry-Evans
Consistency is key when it comes to Cherry-Evans, the mothership for a talented Sea Eagles squad. With Tom Trbojeviccoming back, Daly’s creative juices will be flowing.
Look for him to put his talent to the test, but it will be hard improving on his average of 64.6 last year.
He is rarely flustered on the park and his fantasy performances are the same. This pick is as safe as houses, you could do a lot worse than having DCE plugged into your halfback spot.
6. Harry Grant
If Narcos has taught me anything, it’s that it’s not easy taking over from the king. It’s been said time and again, but the loss of Cameron Smith will impact the Storm like nothing they have known before, but Grant is primed and ready to try to take on the challenge.
Continuing a long line of top blokes with two first names, the young rake will look to improve upon his stellar 2020 with the Tigers where he averaged a solid 61.7 points per week.
When he returns from injury, he has as much upside as anyone in the competition, and as his lowest score last year of 47 shows, he won’t let you down.
7. James Tedesco
There are two reasons they call this man Teddy: the first is obvious, the second is how cozy and comfortable he makes you feel when you have him in your fantasy squad. A proven matchwinner, a creative force and a tackle-busting lothario, this man does not disappoint.
Coming off a season that ended up being slightly undercooked by his standards, the fullback/weapon will be looking to improve his 2020 weekly average of 63.4 points. He’s backed up by a loaded squad and there will be more playmaking duties thrust on him due to the departure of Kyle Flanagan to Belmore.
With the potential to soar to fantasy heights this year, filling that WFB position with Teddy will leave you sleeping soundly in your bed.
8. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
An underwhelming season for both the Warriors and Tuivasa-Sheck left a lot more to be desired. The man is a competitive freak and he will want to leave the Warriors organisation on a high.
Often trying to do too much in 2020, hitting the ball up like an extra forward and being the only creative outlet for a squad depleted of playmakers, 2021 should see Sheck returning to his best, with some massive forwards recruited, he can run off their shoulder for offloads and line breaks.
In 2020, he gave us an average of 46.7. It wouldn’t be a shock to see him push for scores of 60+ each week in the reloaded Warriors attack.
9. David Fifita
If ever there was a man who needed to prove himself, this is he. The beast could well be unleashed this year as the marquee signing for the Titans looks to establish himself as one of the best forwards in the competition.
Coming off a difficult year in which he still averaged 54.6 with a high of 76, there are high expectations of Fifita as he tries to take the Titans to the promised land. They have the talent and he has the raw skill and power to be a force this year.
10. Kalyn Ponga
As he continues his rise to superstardom, Ponga has all the weapons to be a fantasy godsend as the season progresses. With a top 2020 score of 108, there is genuine belief that Ponga could finish the season as the number one fantasy player in the game.
As Bradman Best continues to develop alongside him, Ponga will increase his try assist and linebreak assist numbers in a big way in 2021.
His average of 60 from 2020 will be challenged this year, as long as he can improve his week-to-week consistency, with one poor score of 17 in 2020 really holding him back.