It is an inevitable fact of life that there’s simply never enough money to go round. You get all excited for pay day, make big plans about how you’re going to treat yourself to something you’ve had your eye on for a while whilst also putting a little aside for a rainy day then boom – a takeaway and a bus ticket later and you’re googling how much you could get for your kidney and eyeing up the dog a little too hungrily.
Well, as in life, so in Fantasy League. So we went rooting through the bargain bin to find five high performing players you could add to your team with whatever loose change you find down the back of the sofa.
Ross Harrison (Prop, Sale Sharks)
There was nobody else we could start this list with. The Sale prop may not have been a big name going into the Gallagher Premiership season (indeed, he doesn’t even have a picture on the Fantasy League database), but he’s absolutely blown away all competition this year in the battle for the starting loosehead jersey.
Not only is Harrison’s total of 26.4 points way out in front of his nearest competitor, he’s also got the most impressive average points-per-game of any prop with 5.69. For reference, second-placed Nathan Catt is on 5.32 and costs half a million more than Harrison.
Indeed, whilst Harrison might be topping the charts in terms of points (both average and total), you have to scroll all the way down to 50th (!) position to find his name if you sort props by price. The most expensive prop in the league is Joe Marler, valued at 6.1m, but with an average points-per-game of only 3.53 it’ll be interesting to see whether his recent international retirement enables him to justify his worth in the domestic game.
Ted Hill (Lock, Worcester Warriors)
Having only played once so far this season Ted Hill’s inclusion might seem to be something of a punt, but for just 3m it might just be one worth taking. Hill’s only run out this campaign came in Worcester’s dramatic win over Leicester at Welford Road this weekend, with his bench appearance enough for him to make our Team of the Week. In 64 minutes, Hill managed to rack up an astonishing 16.8 points, thanks largely to scoring two tries and making a very impressive 11 tackles.
Admittedly, he may be unlikely to be popping up on the scoresheet many more times this season, but with the likes of George Kruis and James Horwill costing double Hill’s salary (or more) for returns of 7.29 and 6.05 average points respectively, you might wish to take a paraphrased page out of Kate Bush’s book and go running after Hill. (You’re fired – Ed.)
Jake Polledri (Flanker, Gloucester)
Averaging 8.6 tackles and 9.4 carries a game, Gloucester’s Polledri is second only to Thomas Young when it comes to the average points per game, with a very respectable 10.32 (Young has 10.72, Nizaam Carr in third has 8.63). In terms of total points, Polledri is also up there, with only Mark Wilson (55.9) ahead of him (50.8). There’s not much daylight between Polledri and third placed Sam Simmonds however, with the Exeter Chief on 50.5 points and consistently one of the top performers in the league.
Nevertheless, with Simmonds commanding a salary of 6.5m and a further 50 players more expensive than Polledri in the league, the Italian flanker is perhaps the biggest bargain of the season so far.
By planning your spending wisely on a few high performing players you can maximise your points return whilst leaving plenty of your budget available for the superstars you want in your team. Or alternatively, you’ll have enough players bringing in the points that you can afford to bring in a player you don’t like purely for the satisfaction of dropping them next week – otherwise known as “doing an Eddie Jones”.
Next week we’ll take a look at the best bargain backs available, and I’ll be trying to shoehorn in yet another reference to a 1980s avant-garde pop icon for no discernible reason.
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