Worth a punt: Will Hopoate. Photo: SuppliedUltimate League: Click here to sign up for our Fantasy NRL game
So the draft is around the corner and you need to starting finalising players for your Ultimate League team. With that comes the endless list of questions that keep fantasy coaches across the country locked to their keyboard for hours searching for the right answers.
What players should I buy? How many halfbacks should I carry in my squad? Can I fit all my favourites in the starting team?
To help you build your championship-winning squad, here is a position-by-position guide that may turn that maybe into a yes, a yes into a no and, more importantly, a good team into a great team.
The fullback/winger slots are key positions in fantasy football for the simple fact both can generate huge attacking statistics. Fullbacks will be in high demand in the draft and are valid captain choices when it comes to the likes of Greg Inglis and Jarryd Hayne. Teams that secure three fullbacks in the draft will be ahead of the game. With wingers, look for flankers who get their hands on the ball and are not just there to finish off back-line moves. The guns: Sam Tomkins, Jarryd Hayne, Billy Slater, Greg Inglis, Josh Dugan. Keep an eye on: Gerard Beale, Pat Richards, Will Hopoate, James Tedesco. The rookies: Kyle Feldt, Ben Hampton. The bolter: Semi Radradra.
This is arguably the most contentious position in Ultimate League. My advice is to target back-rowers who are named in the centre category, such as Luke Lewis and Simon Mannering. If not, avoid high-profile centres high in the draft because they have a tendency to drift in and out of games. The obvious exception is Jamie Lyon, who is also a goal kicker, which is a good thing to have in your team. The guns: Jamie Lyon, Simon Mannering, Luke Lewis, Alex Glenn. Keep an eye on: Joel Thompson, Dean Whare, Jack Wighton, Dane Gagai. The rookies: John Folau, Curtis Rona. The bolter: Dylan Walker.
This is a position that probably has the most point fluctuations week in, week out. When a team is winning, the halves are usually a big part of the success and this equals big point gains for fantasy fans. I like to pick and stick with halves because you know at some stage they will fire. The interesting player here is Hayne who may be a good buy for the halves, allowing an extra fullback to be played. The guns: Daly Cherry-Evans, James Maloney, John Sutton, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk. Keep an eye on: Robert Lui, Mitchell Pearce, Shaun Johnson, Chris Sandow, Anthony Milford. The rookies: Luke Brooks, Kodi Nikorima. The bolter: Sam Williams.
The engine room is vital for every NRL team, and fantasy is no different. What you look for in front-rowers is consistency, minutes on the field and an ability to create attacking statistics. The chance to pick a second-rower in the front row is an attractive option as they are more likely to play 80 minutes. In the past this position has thrown up a diamond in the rough that you can base your team around, so look for bargain buys. The guns: Andrew Fifita, Aaron Woods, James Graham, Josh McGuire, Sam Thaiday. Keep an eye on: Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Lee Mossop, Nigel Plum, Martin Kennedy. The rookies: Pauli Pauli, Kane Evans. The bolter: Darcy Lussick.
Outside the big three of Cameron Smith, Robbie Farah and Issac Luke, there are still lots of hookers for your Ultimate League team. Again, the 80-minute rakes are in high demand but don’t discount players such as Jake Friend and James Segeyaro, who thrived with reduced minutes last year. The guns: Cameron Smith, Robbie Farah, Isaac Luke, Jake Friend, James Segeyaro. Keep an eye on: Kurt Gidley, Nathan Peats, Ray Thompson, Mitch Rein. The rookies: Michael Lichaa, Kaysa Pritchard. The bolter: Anthony Mitchell.
Second-rowers are blue-chip players. More than likely they will occupy most of the top 10 draft picks as they are proven point getters. Keep in mind the workhorses who can rack up 50 tackles in a heartbeat or forwards who can offload or break the line. There is no such thing as too many back-rowers, so look for multi-position forwards to maximise your output. The guns: Paul Gallen, Corey Parker, Trent Merrin, Shaun Fensom, Sonny Bill Williams, Sam Burgess. Keep an eye on: Liam Fulton, Boyd Cordner, Gavin Cooper, Wade Graham. The rookies: Brenden Santi, Lachlan Burr. The bolter: Jayson Bukuya.
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