The Round 1 team lists are officially in, which means there's plenty of last minute selection headaches for Fantasy coaches.
Some players look set for reduced roles than what we'd expected; others might have come from the clouds to now feature prominently in your side for Round 1.
Be what it may for your team, the importance of getting those selections right in the opening few rounds could make the difference in your run to the finals later on in the year so it's imperative to make the tough calls as early as you can.
With several surprises in Wests Tigers 21-man squad to face the Dragons this Sunday, several players might have seen their Fantasy stocks rise and fall as a result, with others still firming as we'd expected for the year ahead.
It's not too late to sign up for your official NRL Fantasy team in 2020 — visit fantasy.nrl.com to pick your team for the year ahead!
FANTASY STOCK UP
Billy Walters (HLF/HOK, $246K) – Walters has run the race to the number nine jumper for now and looks set for several big prices to start the year as a result of increased playing time and role. Josh Reynolds has been named on the bench so don't expect to see the former Storm playmaker role out for 80 minutes in his first game for the club, but he's still definitely worth getting in that price — particularly given his dual position flexibility. How long he remains in your side is the tricky one to judge, particularly when Moses Mbye returns from injury or the potential swap deal mooted with Melbourne's Harry Grant goes through, but there's more than enough to suggest that Walters should definitely be in your Round 1 side.
Luciano Leilua (2RF, $503K) — Priced on his numbers coming off the bench for the Dragons last year, Leilua starts against his old club in Round 1 and could be a real money-maker for Fantasy coaches early in the season. The Samoan international has plenty of attacking ability — particularly on what's shaping as a very dangerous right edge for Wests Tigers — and could be set for big minutes with only Chris Lawrence (primarily a left edge back row forward) named on the bench.
Zane Musgrove (FRF, $246K) — Musgrove starts at an extremely cheap price after his extended break and looms as a real cash cow this year, and potentially more if his minutes are consistent each week. The former South Sydney Rabbitoh was amongst the best Wests Tigers forwards in both the Panthers and Warriors trial, and will be determined to make an impact in his new colours early on. At worst, he's a slow money-making option for coaches to upgrade later in the season; at best, he's a potential keeper that is available for near bottom-dollar value in Round 1.
AS WE'D EXPECTED
Joey Leilua (CTR, $500K) — Selected in just over five percent of teams to start 2020, Leilua could become a real point-of-difference early in the season as he looks to stamp his authority in his new colours. The Samoan international looked to have formed an instant combination with David Nofoaluma in the trials with two assists and a linebreak of his own, while playing outside Benji Marshall should only mean good things for Leilua's potential attacking input this season.
Brooks puts it through for Garner
Luke Garner (2RF, $685K) — A risky option for Fantasy coaches to start the season, but if Luke Garner starts 2020 the way he started 2019 — or indeed finished the year — then there's an extremely high ceiling to be found. Garner scored tries in each of his last four games, and averaged a try every two games for the club in what was his first full season in first-grade. With a dynamic and creative centre in Adam Doueihi outside him and an ever-growing Luke Brooks calling the shots on that side of the field, Garner's ability is certainly able to rack up a large score on any given week and will look to dominate in a friendly draw early on.
FANTASY STOCK DOWN
Thomas Mikaele (FRF, $384K) — After starting in the trial matches, Thomas Mikaele was looking like a potential steal at $384K for Fantasy coaches but his move back to the bench means we'll have to wait and see how his minutes pan out before making the purchase. When it comes to props, there's not necessarily any major difference between starting and off the bench — the key is in the minutes — so the smart move is to wait and see before jumping on the young tyro.
Michael Chee Kam (2RF/CTR, $431K) — Not named in the 17 for Round 1, Michael Chee Kam is again on the watch list for now as he's capable of producing points for Fantasy coaches when he does make it in to the side. The positional flexibility is also helpful and the Samoan international might prove to be a very helpful downgrade option for an underperforming big name for Fantasy coaches.
Paul Momirovski (CTR, $602K) — Momirovski is another one not named as he recovers from an ankle injury picked up the NRL Nines, instead listed amongst the reserves to put a hold on any selections to start the year. With Mbye injured, had Momirovski been selected with the upside of goal-kicking, he'd have certainly been an option — particularly given he scored 26 points (that's NRL, not Fantasy) in his side's last outing against their Round 1 opponents in the Dragons. Another one to watch and see how the season unfolds but certainly not out of the picture given the numbers he produced in the back half of 2019 with consistent game time.