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Are this year's most popular cheapies the real deal, bad buys or something in between? NRL.com's Lone Scout evaluates the prospects of 10 of the best ahead of round one.

This year's cash cows

Jarome Luai

Pros: A cheap, starting five-eighth at $249k who needs about 27 points per game to jump around $150k in value, Luai averaged 16 points in 38 minutes per game last season and should be capable of doubling both those numbers in his new role.

Cons: He's not going to be a great scorer alongside Nathan Cleary, who will take over pretty much all the kicking in general play after the exit of James Maloney. Even if Luai gets a spot in your squad you may be best off putting him in your reserves (18-21).

Zac Lomax

Pros: He's a 20-year-old player with a big future, a big contract, and a bigger role this season with the No.1 jersey on his back and the goal-kicking duties at the Dragons. He's priced as a 27-point player based on his average last year (spent primarily on the wing, at centre or on the interchange) and scored 35 in his only game at fullback. Add a few goals and it's easy to see him scoring close to 40. Also available at both centre and winger/fullback in Fantasy.

Cons: Lomax was kept very quiet in the Charity Shield against Souths, with the available stats equating to a score of just 12 Fantasy points from 71 minutes (opposite number Latrell Mitchell scored 32 in 41 minutes). Even with the goal-kicking he'll need to add more run metres and tackle busts to produce consistent Fantasy scores.

Episode 2 - Michael Morgan

Billy Magoulias

Pros: He's very cheap, he's a middle forward, and he's got the skill to set up last-minute match-winning tries in grand finals twice last year for Newtown (in the Canterbury Cup NSW decider and the NRL State Championship). The absence of Sharks middle forwards Paul Gallen and Matt Prior will create some opportunities in the Cronulla pack in 2020. The low price tag makes him a fairly risk-free option.

Cons: Will he get enough game time to be Fantasy-relevant? Jack Williams (see below) is more likely to win the No.13 jersey at the Sharks, with Magoulias likely to be used more as a bench utility. If he spends time at hooker he'll probably make some tackles but not many run metres, and if he plays less than 30 minutes a game he's unlikely to earn many price rises.

Blayke Brailey

Pros: He's a first-choice hooker with a price tag of $400k and a break even of 28, with the Sharks showing plenty of faith in the young gun after letting his big brother Jayden leave for Newcastle. Blayke scored 40 in his only start at hooker last year (playing 80 minutes) and will work towards a regular 80-minute role even if he is given a breather in the early rounds.

Cons: Wouldn't it be nicer if he was priced as an 18-point player, which was his average score last season? Those scores came when playing 30 minutes per game, so if he maintains that scoring rate his average would jump to 48 over 80 minutes but just 30 over 50 minutes. There's a good chance Brailey spends some time on the bench in the early rounds, and if he scores low 30s rather than 40 his price will only climb slowly.

2020 NRL Fantasy point scoring system

Apisai Koroisau

Pros: Koroisau left Manly for Penrith for the opportunity to lock down a starting role at hooker, and he's likely to play 80 minutes after playing just 45 per game last season. If that's the case his average is likely to jump from 34 to around 50, and his price could climb by around $200,000.

Cons: He didn't play a single 80-minute game last year (although he played several the year before). That's it. Koroisau should really be in your team.

Scott Drinkwater

Pros: An attacking weapon playing in an improved Cowboys side, Drinkwater was named the player of the tournament at this year's NRL Nines and is likely to get the five-eighth role alongside Michael Morgan for round one. He's priced at just 28, is available at HLF or WFB, scored 60 (with a try) in his only NRL game at halfback and has the potential to be a tackle-busting pivot in the Cameron Munster mould.

Cons: In 11 NRL games Drinkwater has only five scores above 30 and four of them included tries. The positional switch to the halves should help, but there are no guarantees – players like Kalyn Ponga have scored fewer points when shifted from fullback to the halves in the past, and Drinkwater isn't expected to get too many kick metres alongside Morgan. He also has competition for the No.6 jersey from young gun Jake Clifford.

Billy Walters

Pros: A half who's (almost) as cheap as it gets who is expected to start at hooker for the Tigers in round one, it's easy to see Walters scoring 35 points a game even without 80 minutes and earning some quick price rises.

Cons: Job security is a big concern here, with utility men Moses Mbye and Josh Reynolds capable of playing at dummy half and the Tigers still reportedly chasing Melbourne rake Harry Grant. If Walters loses his starting spot his value as a cash cow will disappear.

Top Fantasy buys: Front-rowers

Jack Williams

Pros: Paul Gallen's retirement leaves a big hole in the Sharks pack and Williams is the man to replace him, having averaged 32.4 Fantasy points from 38 minutes per game in 2019. Assuming he plays 50 minutes Williams should score around 42 points per game.

Cons: His game time is a little unclear, and if he spits the minutes 40-40 with someone like Magoulias Williams may not score enough points to earn significant price rises.

Pat Carrigan

Pros: One of Brisbane's rising stars in the forward pack, Carrigan has rocketed into captaincy considerations and is set to start at lock in round one after primarily being a bench prop last season. He averaged 34 minutes and 30 points last year, so should hit mid-40s if he gets 50 minutes (the typical game time for an NRL lock last season).

Cons: Job security is probably the only real concern if he has a slow start to the year, with the likes of Joe Ofahengaue, Tevita Pangai jnr and Tom Flegler capable of taking minutes off Carrigan in the middle.

Jaydn Su'A

Pros: A chance of starting in a big-minute edge forward role at Souths after the retirements of Sam Burgess and John Sutton, Su'A is priced at 28 but averages 40.5 when playing more than 70 minutes.

Cons: Ethan Lowe could beat Su'A to the starting spot (Cameron Murray will have the other second row spot, with Liam Knight at lock). Su'A also needs close to 80 minutes to deliver decent scores, so if he splits game time with a bench forward his price rises would be minimal.