NRL Fantasy is now open for the 2019 Telstra Premiership season. Here is all the info you need to play the game and beat your mates, whether you're a complete beginner to fantasy footy or a seasoned pro.
What is NRL Fantasy?
Pick a team of NRL players, and if they play well on the field, your team does well in the game. There are two ways you can play:
What is it: Every NRL player is lined up against the wall, and you and your mates take turns picking one player each from your team.
Winning strategy: Scoop up underrated players in the live draft, then during the season grab the breakout stars from the free agents list before your mates do. Also tricking your mates into lopsided trades doesn't hurt.
What is it: Like a real NRL club, you've got a $9.6 million salary cap to work with, and every NRL player has an asking price. Pick the best team that fits under the cap, and make use of 34 trades throughout the season to win your league (and prizes).
Winning strategy: Find undervalued players ("cash cows"). Player prices change every round based on their performances, so buy players when their prices are low and sell them when they've peaked in order to stretch your spending power during the season – resulting in a stacked superteam by the end of the season.
What prizes can you win?
This year's winner will win $10,000 plus a trip for two to the International Nines tournament, with three night's accommodation, while there are cash prizes for 2nd ($4000), 3rd ($3000), 4th ($2000) and 5th place ($1000). There will be 16 prizes for the best-performing Fantasy team from each club's fanbase.
New in 2019, the Fantasy team with the highest value at the end of the season will win $500 for their coach.
Every week there will be prizes for the five best-scoring classic Fantasy teams (1st - $500, 2nd - $250, 3rd - $45 KFC voucher, 4th - $30 KFC voucher, 5th - $15 KFC voucher).
And every person who starts their own league with 16 or more players also goes into a draw to win a VIP trip for two to the NRL grand final.
What's new in 2019?
The price change predictor
A new introduction to Coach in 2019 is the price predictor. Expecting one of your players to score 40 points this week? Enter '40' into the price predictor and Coach will tell you how much his price is likely to change next week, and the next couple of weeks. It's the key addition to a Coach product that offers users more data in 2019.
New & improved Draft
Fantasy Draft looks better than ever in 2019 after getting an overhaul in the off-season, and is the best version of Draft fantasy footy around.
The salary cap in Fantasy classic has been bumped up to $9.6 million, the android app has been reworked for better performance, and more data is available in Coach.
What's a good score for a player?
The basic rule is you want 50 points a game from your forwards and halves, and 40 points a game from your outside backs. Here's a more detailed position-by-position breakdown.
Hookers – Aim for busy 80-minute players. Elite scorers get 55+ a week. Last year's best: Damien Cook 65 points a game; Cameron Smith 60; Cameron McInnes 56, Robbie Farah 55.
Front-rowers – You want tackle-busting ball-runners who also get through a lot of defence. Last year's best: Andrew Fifita 58 points a game; Martin Taupau 57; Ryan James 53; Daniel Alvaro 51.
Second-rowers – Either all-action locks or 80-minute second-rowers who are dangerous ball-runners. Last year's best: Jake Trbojevic 58 points a game; Taupau 57; Jason Taumalolo 55; Angus Crichton 55; Nathan Brown 54.
Halves – Get dominant playmakers who make a lot of kick metres and aren't a liability in defence. Last year's best: Daly Cherry-Evans 55; Shaun Johnson 52; Nathan Cleary 52; Anthony Milford 51.
Centres – Tackle-breaking ball-runners who get a lot of run metres and/or tries. Last year's best: Latrell Mitchell 45; Blake Ferguson 44; Will Hopoate 43; Esan Marsters 41; Waqa Blake 41.
Wingers/fullbacks – It's all about attacking stats, meaning tries, line breaks, tackle breaks and run metres. Last year's best: James Tedesco 53; Kalyn Ponga 52; Tom Trbojevic 49; Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 44.
I'll have articles on NRL.com every week of the Telstra Premiership season, detailing each round's winners and losers on Monday, the big team list news on Tuesday, and answering your questions on Thursday. Plus NRL.com will publish Fantasy advice videos featuring fellow Fantasy guru Chris Kennedy, plays of the week highlights, and not one but two NRL Fantasy Podcast episodes every round in 2019.
For pre-season advice, check out my club guides below and stay tuned for more hits articles and profiles on some of the year's most promising cash cows.
NRL Fantasy club season guides