With the start of the Rugby Championship this weekend brings a new edition of Fantasy Rugby with RugbyPass. With a salary cap of $150 million to spend on a squad of 25 players, here are some of the best buys and undercover value picks.
Beware of halfbacks like Aaron Smith ($7m) who are world-class at the position but may not bear much fruit in fantasy. The system values running halfbacks who will clock up more carries, line breaks and offloads.
That means Faf de Klerk ($6.3m) and Will Genia ($6.5m) are high value buys at a reasonable cost. Genia in particular is coming off one his best Super Rugby seasons and shapes as a key player for the Wallabies.
Beauden Barrett ($8m) has retained his All Blacks starting position but based on his cost, is overvalued for Rugby Championship Fantasy. His form in Super Rugby took a dip which lead to calls for Richie Mounga to start.
Based on Super Rugby form, both Mounga and Damian McKenzie averaged significantly more fantasy points than Barrett so if he is rested for either one, they could prove a smart pickup. McKenzie could start at fullback at any time during the season so is worth picking up as your backup flyhalf for $6.5m.
You need to find a quality starter so Bernard Foley and Nicolas Sanchez are both affordable and goalkickers who are likely to score just as well as Barrett in fantasy. Neither player has any real competition for their position so will be reliable starters every week.
Willemse ($4.8m) is a dirt-cheap bargain if he is given the 10 jersey at any stage. His electric running game will rack up plenty of fantasy points and will be a great short-term buy.
Jack Goodhue ($5m) is the buy of the season at such a low cost with high fantasy scoring potential. Goodhue averaged in the top five in fantasy scoring for any centre in Super Rugby. He has just been named to start in the opening test so is a must-have addition to your midfield.
Ryan Crotty ($6.8m) is a reliable buy that will partner Goodhue this weekend and will likely start most of the All Blacks matches. If you are looking for one midfielder who will consistently play, lock down Crotty. Avoid picking Sonny Bill Williams ($7m) who will miss the opening couple of weeks with injury.
Wallaby Reece Hodge ($5.6m) is a cheap buy that will likely see a lot of game time on the wing or as a makeshift centre. Whilst Kurtley Beale will play nearly every game at 12, he is overvalued at $7.8m.
There is insane fantasy value with the Springboks, with cheap players that scored very well in Super Rugby. Lukanyo Am ($4.6m), Andre Esterhuizen ($4m) and Damian de Allende ($5.4m) are worth looking at, but much will depend on Rassie’s selections. With two games first up against Argentina, a number of these cheap buys could start.
With most teams likely to run a variety of midfield combinations during the Rugby Championship, you will too. Manage the cost and pick guys from the bargain bin, rotating in and out each week.
South Africa – Jesse Kriel (6 starts), Jan Serfontein (6 starts)
New Zealand – Sonny Bill Williams (6 starts), Ryan Crotty (4 starts), Anton Lienert-Brown (2 starts)
Wallabies – Tevita Kuridrani (5 starts), Samu Kerevi (1 start), Kurtley Beale (6 starts)
Argentina – Jeronimo De La Fuente (5 starts), Matias Orlando (5 starts)
Rieko Ioane ($8m) is the splash buy in a solid group of wingers. The All Black is worth the dough, however, with strong Super Rugby numbers coming into the Rugby Championship. At the end of a backline where he will no doubt flourish, Ioane is a great addition.
Waisake Naholo ($7.2m) has been named to start and will be a force when in the team, but could lose time to Ben Smith in the rotation. The Wallabies Dane Haylett-Petty ($6.2m) shapes as a reliable starter but with questions over the Wallabies backline, Marika Koroibete ($7.1m) could be a risk.
The Springbok trio of Aphiwe Dyantyi ($6.4m), Makazole Mapimpi ($5.3m), Lwazi Mvovo ($5.8m) are all game breakers that could bag loads of fantasy points, but who stays in the lineup the most is uncertain.
The best value buy is Argentinian Emiliano Boffelli ($5.8m) who started all six games last year for the Pumas. Boffelli is a fantasy winner, coming off a big Super Rugby season he will score higher than average points each week and be a valued backline addition.
South Africa – Courtnall Skosan (6 starts), Dillyn Leds (2 starts), Francois Hougaard (2 starts),
New Zealand – Rieko Ioane (6 starts), Waisake Naholo (4 starts), Ben Smith (2 starts), Nehe Milner-Skudder
Wallabies – Henry Speight (4 starts), Curtis Rona (1 start), Dane Haylett-Petty (1 start), Marika Koreibete (2 starts), Reece Hodge (4 starts)
Argentina –Emiliano Boffelli (6 starts), Ramiro Moyano (3 starts), Santiago Cordero (1 start), Matias Moroni (4 starts)
Wallaby superstar Israel Folau ($8.5m) headlines the fullback selection pool but he comes with the most expensive price tag in the competition. He is a proven fantasy workhorse though, and if you have the cash then you can feel safe making this buy.
If you don’t have quite as much salary cap left, South Africa’s Willie Le Roux ($7.1m) is a touch cheaper but will provide similar quality, as will Ben Smith ($7.0m) who will either play fullback or wing.
Tom Banks won’t likely see any game time unless Folau is injured, while Jordie Barrett has already been left out of the first test. Warrick Gelant ($4.8m) is a value buy as a substitute provided he is used when Le Roux is rested.