It’s one of the most important decisions you’ll make at the start of the 2018 NRL Fantasy season if you want to hit the big scores.
You’ll shape your whole squad around hooker choices, second rowers will provide you with plenty of points if you pick them wisely, and the big boppers up front will be punching out some solid base stats to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
When it comes to the Sharks pack there’s no shortage of metre-eaters, but who should you be looking at before Round 1? Here’s some of your options.
Paul Gallen - $860,000
Who could argue with the stats Gal managed to produce last year? The only man to beat him in terms of metres was Jason Taumalolo, some 12 years his junior.
Hanging up the boots on his representative career gave those who got in early a big payout. Gal averaged 59 points per game, playing all 24 of the regular season and sat on top of the Fantasy scoreboard when all was said and done.
There’s absolutely no denying Gal is a gun, but if you want him in your pack in 2018 he’s going to cost you. At a hefty $860,000 he’s the most expensive Shark you could own.
Only time will tell if he’s worth the cash. I know I’ll be splashing it.
Andrew Fifita - $798,000
Another of our metre-eaters is Andrew Fifita. One of the most explosive Props in both the NRL and Fantasy, Fifita is capable of knocking out some big attacking bonuses to go with a very tidy sum of base stats.
Our tackle-breaking monster is a consistent scorer in Fantasy, last year averaging over 50 points per game. He played 23 regular season matches in 2017, missing just one game through injury and one while on NSW State of Origin duty.
At $798,000 he will certainly put a slight dent in the budget but his line breaking ability with a handful of offloads, plenty of tackles and the occasional try thrown in there will more than make up for it.
Fifita, who starred for Tonga in their run into the World Cup semi-finals, had arthroscopic surgery late last year to correct some on-going issues, so I haven’t seen much of him this pre-season.
What I have seen though suggests he will definitely be in the mix to keep his Fantasy gun status intact.
The Value buy
Matt Prior - $506,000
Matt Prior has really impressed me during pre-season. Returning from his break he looked to have bulked up a bit and is still as fit as ever.
Sharks fans know what he’s capable of when they cast their minds back to our 2016 run into the finals. He was at his barnstorming best against the Raiders, looking sharp, strong and unstoppable when we needed someone to step up.
Although 2017 was a little on the quiet side for ‘Prizza’, I see nothing but a return to his best in 2018 based on what I’m seeing so far.
At just $506,000 he’s significantly cheaper than Fifita and could prove to be a great point of difference within your squad.
I’ve pencilled him in.
Billy Magoulias - $212,000
A lock with a high work rate and impressive ball skills, Billy Magoulias, will be one to watch in 2018.
Named in the NYC team of the Year and an integral part of the Sharks Holden Cup squad in 2017, Magoulias has graduated into full time NRL training and is now learning from the best in the business when it comes to Fantasy, in skipper Paul Gallen.
Touted as a long-term replacement for Gal, Magoulias will be pushing for an NRL debut in 2018, and having been named in our 21-man squad on a number of occasions last season, this could be the year Billy gets his shot.
His stats from the 2017 Holden Cup season make for great reading for Fantasy coaches.
In his 25 appearances Magoulias ran for a whopping 3419 metres, made 924 tackles, 68 offloads and scored 10 tries. But what impresses me most is that he made just 11 errors all season.
If he runs out on to the field in 2018 he’s sure to work tirelessly for his team, as he does every week at training.
2018 Fantasy Sharks player prices – The forwards
Paul Gallen: 2RF, $860,000
Andrew Fifita: FRF, $798,000
Wade Graham: 2RF, $632,000
Luke Lewis: 2RF, $539,000
Jayden Brailey: HOK, $528,000
Jayson Bukuya: 2RF, $517,000
Matt Prior: FRF, $506,000
Kurt Capewell: 2RF, CTR, $494,000
Ava Seumanufagai: FRF, $482,000
James Segeyaro: HOK, $379,000
Joseph Paulo: 2RF, $228,000
Scott Sorensen: 2RF, $228,000
Braden Uele: FRF, $228,000
Kurt Dillon: FRF, $212,000
Billy Magoulias: 2RF, $212,000
Briton Nikora: 2RF, CTR, $212,000