Any mug could point out that Israel Folau, Beauden Barrett and Dane Coles will be three of Super Rugby’s leading performers by the end of season 2017.
The problem is that producers of Fantasy Rugby games know it too – and they make you pay to acquire talent like that.
The real trick to beating your mates week-in, week-out, is to maximise value on the little guys.
That’s where we come in.
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Blue Chippers – Toby Smith, Rebels ($247k); Reggie Goodes, Hurricanes ($285k); James Slipper, Reds ($278k)
Let’s be honest; if you’re paying above $200k for a prop who might average 20 points on a good day, you’re going to miss out on some class down the business end.
The key to your front row is to find a cheap, consistent starters who can last into the final quarter of the match.
The easiest way to find them is to locate your All Blacks, Wallabies, Springboks and Jaguares props at the bottom of the list – they’re there, trust me.
All Blacks tighthead Owen Franks (Crusaders, $112k) and Wallabies tighthead Sekope Kepu (Waratahs, $112k) are a great place to start.
All Blacks Wyatt Crockett (Crusaders) and Kane Hames (Chiefs) are also mired in the minimum-wage section with Argentine Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro (Jaguares).
At $120k you’ll find Allan Alaalatoa (Wallabies, Brumbies) who should see more minutes than he did in 2016 and thus more points.
If you’re tempted by the Reds’ Tongan Thor at $200k, hold your horses, because rival tighthead Sam Talakai has been named Vice-Captain of the side and will likely start, relegating Tupou to a super-sub role for now.
Blue Chippers – Dane Coles, Hurricanes ($554k); Augustin Creevy, Jaguares ($490k); Stephen Moore, Reds ($479k); Codie Taylor, Crusaders ($454k)
If there’s a position worth splashing on it’s probably at hooker.
With so many set-piece points on offer, both a dynamic and a grinding hooker with good fundamentals will carry you all the way to the pool room.
Creevy has been the undisputed king of Fantasy for quite some time, though Dane Coles has threatened his dominance at the top – you can’t go wrong with either – but you’ll need someone to accompany them on bye weeks, and the field is less packed towards the bottom.
Chiefs hooker Hika Elliot is a cheap option at $112k with an average of 16.31 while Saia Fainga’a (Brumbies, $114k) isn’t bad either with an average of 13.
In my mind, a mid-range priced hooker is the wise choice for backup.
Tolu Latu ($154k) at the Waratahs has edged ahead of rival Hugh Roach and should play the bulk of the Tah’s minutes in the jersey.
The Sunwolves’ Shota Horie averages 30 pts per game with an attractive price tag of $247k also – if you have cash to burn at the end of this process, pick Horie.
Blue Chippers – Peter-Steph du Toit, Stormers ($566k); Eben Etzebeth, Stormers ($415k); Jed Holloway, Waratahs ($384k)
No position offers less value for cash than the locks.
If you believe Jed Holloway can return from injury to the same form as before (like Bernard Foley does), he might be worth splashing your cash on – but it’s a high-risk, high-reward play, especially considering the rise of Jack Dempsey who will cannibalise some of Holloway’s fantasy points.
Hurricanes lock Michael Fatialofa punches above his $195k weight with a 22 pt average, while 2015 Springbok of the year Lodewyck de Jager (Bulls) is available for the eye-catching sum of $131k.
Ask any Canberran who the next John Eales will be and they’ll tell you Tom Staniforth before you can finish your sentence – he’s available at $132k and should partner Rory Arnold in the second row.
Young NSW Country NRC lock Ned Hanigan (Waratahs, $112k) is a real prospect who will almost certainly find his way into a starting spot this year, while ex-Tah Sam Lousi ($112k) is expected to a perform a standard depart-Australia-become-superstar transformation at the Hurricanes.
Blue Chippers – Jaco Kriel, Lions ($564k); Steven Luatua, Blues ($501k); Ardie Savea, Hurricanes ($427k); Sean McMahon, Rebels ($416k)
We’ve made it this far; you’ve skimped and you’ve saved, but rest assured – it’s time to splash that hard earned cash.
First on your list, Ardie Savea. THE must have player in Fantasy Super Rugby.
Sean McMahon and Michael Hooper are similarly priced with high 30s-low 40s averages, though the former is unavailable for the first month of competition through injury.
Fantasy darling Hendrik Tui (Queensland Reds, $330k) comes at an attractive price tag but without a guaranteed starting spot, and with the added competition of Scott Higginbotham to cannibalise his points.
Crusaders captain Keiran Read ($335k) won’t strain the budget coming off a rare down-year, while teammate Jordan Taufua ($393k) burst onto the scene in 2016.
But this is a poor man’s guide.
Mullet-rocking Highlander Liam Squire ($198k) is as good as they come for this money, with Hurricane Blade Thompson not far behind ($181k).
In the minimum wage section, former Queensland Reds No.8 Lolo Fakaosilea ($112k) will likely fill the Ita Vaea sized hole in the Brumbies backrow.
Brisbane City standout Isiraeli Naisarani ($112k) will add some punch to the Western Force backrow for a penny, but comes with a risk of limited minutes in the early stages.
Namibian captain Renaldo Bothma (Bulls) is proving popular at $112k with an eye-catching average over four games in 2016.
Blue Chippers – Faf du Klerk, Lions ($251k), Piet van Zyl, Cheetahs ($240k), Martin Landajo, Jaguares ($212k)
You can’t do any real damage to yourself in the scrumhalves, so pick whoever you think will have the strongest team to feed passes to in order to rack up linebreak and try assists while opening up room to snipe.
There are several good cheap options here – Tawera Kerr-Barlow ($112k) has emerged as the Chiefs only quality halfback after Brad Weber’s season ending injury sustained at the Brisbane 10s.
In Australia, Brumbies halfback Tomas Cubelli has also found himself out for the season, pushing former NRC star Joe Powell ($112k) into the starting lineup.
South African-born Ryan Louwrens ($112k) helped lead the Perth Spirit into an NRC Grand Final with a strong running game and should start for the Western Force.
Blue Chippers – Pat Lambie, Sharks ($319k); Elton Jantjies, Lions ($386); Richie Mo’unga, Crusaders ($442k); Bernard Foley, Waratahs ($398k); Beauden Barrett, Hurricanes ($331k); Aaron Cruden, Chiefs ($343k).
There are quite a few blue chip options to choose from here.
Aaron Cruden is the only option who doesn’t kick his own goals, Mo’unga struggles in the missed tackles column, Barrett’s goal-kicking accuracy costs him points, Jantjies is unlikely to repeat a stellar 2016.
You can nitpick holes in all the blue chips but Beauden Barret at $331k is a tantalising prospect while not blowing the bank.
Again, this is the poor man’s guide and unfortunately there is a limited selection in the cheaper section – when Brumbies rookie flyhalf Wharenui Hawera is added to the list at $112k he should be your pick.
Juan Martin Fernandez ($112k) at the Jaguares is probably the best cheap option at the moment, while David Horwitz ($125k) at the Waratahs will be worth it provided coach Gibson leaves Irae Simone on the bench (unlikely).
Brumbies centre Kyle Godwin ($261k) and Rebels flyhalf Jack Debreczeni ($240k) are mid-ranged options, though Ex-Waratah and Crusaders Ben Volavola ($129k) might prove better value after getting the starting nod ahead of JDeb at the Brisbane 10s.
Blue Chippers – Samu Kerevi, Reds ($693k); Charlie Ngatai, Chiefs ($544k); Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Lions ($481k); Ryan Crotty, Crusaders ($470k)
Samu Kerevi emerges as the most valuable player in Super Rugby, but at $693k it’s a risky purchase, especially when his average test form is taken into account.
Likewise Charlie Ngatai has played precious little rugby since dominating the early season in 2016, making his $544k pricetag a reach.
From $300k-$400k there are some excellent options who should average into the high 30s and 40s.
Sonny-Bill Williams is priced his lowest yet with a $400k value assigned, while Blues team-mates Rieko Ioane ($427k) and George Moala ($315k) are poised to have big years playing outside the offload master.
However, it’s not recommended to use two players from the same team in your centres – after all, with just one replacement available in the bye week you’ll cost yourself big points.
Malakai Fekitoa ($323k), Francois Venter ($342k), Damian de Allende ($384k) and Seta Tamanivalu ($387) offer great production consistently.
Hurricanes centre Matt Proctor ($259) is expected to start at 13.
In the cheapies, ex-Gloucester man Bill Meakes ($112k) is a physical workman in the Western Force backline who should not miss many minutes while teammate Chance Peni ($112k) will add some attacking spark to the Force backline.
Reds centre Duncan Paia’aua ($167k) is predicted to play every minute of the Reds 2017 season.
Blue Chippers – Melani Nanai, Blues ($628k); Israel Folau, Waratahs ($625k); Dane Haylett-Petty, Force ($508k);
Some exciting newbies ($112k) make the outside backs a gamble you might like to take, especially if your heart is set on a killer backrow and centres.
Though your Damian McKenzie’s, Israel Folau’s and Ben Smith’s of the world are available, give some thought to picking up Digby Ioane (Crusaders), Reece Robinson (Waratahs), Marika Koribete (Rebels) and Seabelo Senatla (Stormers) for the minimum wage.
Hurricane Julian Savea is tantalising priced at $249k while back-three-mate Nehe Milner-Shudder’s $369k opens up some freedom elsewhere also.
Giant Waratah Taqele Naiyaravoro offers excellent bang for his buck with a $179k price tag yielding 24 points on average.
Goal-kicking Force flyhalf Jono Lance has been mis-positioned as an $194k outside back.
Electric Puma’s outside backs Manuel Montero and Joaquin Tuculet are both available for under $200k.
NRC superstar Izaia Perese should start on one Queensland Reds wing.
Scrooge McDuck’s First XV ($1.7M)
1. Owen Franks ($112k), Crusaders
2. Hika Elliot ($112k), Chiefs
3. Sekope Kepu ($112k), Waratahs
4. Tom Staniforth ($132k), Brumbies
5. Ned Hanigan ($112k), Waratahs
6. Lolo Fakaosilea ($112k), Brumbies
7. Renaldo Bothma ($112k), Bulls
8. Isi Naisarani ($112k), Force
9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow ($112k), Chiefs
10. Wharenui Hawera ($112k), Brumbies
11. Digby Ioane ($112k), Crusaders
12. Bill Meakes ($112k), Force
13. Chance Peni ($112k), Force
14. Marika Koroibete ($112k), Rebels
15. Seabelo Senatla ($112k), Stormers