Is it just me, or do you too find yourself stuck in a love/hate relationship with your backline when it comes to NRL Fantasy?
Arguably the most crucial spots in determining the success of your squad throughout the season will come from your backline.
The dominant halves quickly become Fantasy guns, the notoriously tricky centre position makes or breaks even the most veteran of coaches, while the wingers and fullbacks often prove the difference when deciding a head-to-head matchup.
Here are some of the Sharks potential buys, to suit every price range.
Josh Dugan - $605,000
Sure, we haven’t seen how Duges performs in the black, white and blue just yet, but what we do know is he’s likely to line-up at centre, and comes with the handy ‘dual position’ status in Fantasy.
Dugan played a critical role in the Kangaroos World Cup campaign, continually making good metres and always rock-solid in defence.
Josh is a destructive ball-runner who performed better in his three full games at centre in 2017 (scoring 62, 50 & 42) than he did across the rest of the season.
He’s capable of a massive score if a few things fall his way, and with his availability in both centre and the wing/fullback position there’s plenty to like.
Although it’s somewhat of a gamble picking up Dugan, there’s every chance his fresh start in the Shire is just what the doctor ordered. One to consider.
Chad Townsend - $524,000
As I said before, dominant halves quickly become Fantasy guns, scoring well through kick metres, try assists, tries, goals, tackles and now, forced drop-outs.
Like many of his teammates it was always going to be a challenge for Chaddy to reach the highs of the premiership winning year of 2016, but his durability, developing maturity and playmaking ability again proved a definite asset to the team in 2017.
With James Maloney off to the Panthers, 2018 could be the year Chaddy stakes his claim as an NRL Fantasy gun.
Throw in the chance that Townsend takes on the goal kicking duties this season and the only way for his Fantasy average to go is up!
Kurt Capewell - $494,000
Kurt’s a perfect example of just how handy dual position players can be. Generally, the best Fantasy centres don’t actually play centre at all.
If you can jag a player like Kurt, who could spend a fair amount of time in the back-row, they’ll get through a lot of work in both attack and defence, providing you with the points boost needed for your squad to dominate.
Capes showed his versatility in 2017. He started the year off playing on the wing in the World Club Challenge, then got thrown in the centres, often slotted into the back row, and came off the bench whenever and wherever he was needed.
The key thing that sticks out to me though, is that he always played to a high level and even though he never tied down a spot in the starting 17, he still got on the field for 16 games.
In the round 15 win over the Tigers, Capewell gave Fantasy coaches a reason to take note.
He played in the centres for the full 80 minutes, scored two tries, took 22 runs for 251 metres, made four line breaks and had one try assist.
Still just 24 years of age, with his best football in front of him, Capes is definitely one to watch for Fantasy coaches.
The only question is, where, when and how will Flanagan use him in 2018?
Aaron Gray - $360,000
Aaron Gray could be a great pick up for Fantasy coaches in 2018.
He wants to play centre, but he knows that there are two internationals in Leutele and Dugan ahead of him. Throw young gun Jesse Ramien into the mix and there’s plenty of competition.
If Gray was to get a spot come Round 1, it’s likely he’d be wearing the number 5 jersey, playing outside an in-form Josh Dugan.
Stop and think about what Val did during the World Cup outside Dugan…
Sure, a lot of that was individual brilliance, but at the same time, a lot of it was finishing off what his inside men had started.
We all remember what Gray did during the 2016 City v Country Origin clash. Named in the centres but forced onto the wing due to an injury, he scored four tries in the 44-30 victory.
Of the 17 tries he scored over three years at the Rabbitohs, five of them came as a centre.
It will be interesting to see if he locks down the wing spot for the Sharks Round 1 clash in Townsville, and if he does, I’ll be watching with a lot of interest.
2018 Fantasy Sharks player prices – The backs
Josh Dugan: WFB, CTR, $605,000
Valentine Holmes: WFB, $526,000
Chad Townsend: HLF, $524,000
Matt Moylan: WFB, HLF, $501,000
Kurt Capewell: 2RF, CTR, $494,000
Ricky Leutele: CTR, $442,000
Sosaia Feki: WFB, $374,000
Jesse Ramien: CTR, $365,000
Aaron Gray: WFB, CTR, $360,000
Edrick Lee: WFB, $339,000
Briton Nikora: 2RF, CTR, $212,000