To the casual SuperCoach fan or *gasp* those who don’t play, putting in weeks or even months of effort into a side that is basically irrelevant until the first team lists are announced is madness. But to us diehards who live and breathe our feats of imaginary sporting heroism, it’s the lifeblood of our pre-season. It may not seem relevant until the hallowed Team List Tuesday, but all this planning serves many important purposes. It’s about getting your team structure right. It’s about tinkering with the ratios of
I have been playing fantasy sports for the last decade-and-a-half—mainly NBA draft—and was only introduced to SuperCoach four years ago by a ragtag group of die-hard footy mates who invited me to join their Draft league. Being a Draft player before having even touched Classic is quite rare I’ve found, though I maintain to this day that draft day with my friends is the highlight of the year. It wasn’t until 2016 that I tried Classic, though it was a very poor newbie result out of the gates. Towards the end of that season I stumbled across a little community called NRL SuperCoach Talk and I haven’t looked back. I soared the lofty heights of the top 1000 in my second season (860th in 2017), though was standin’ on the outside lookin’ in for 2018 (1137th overall) so my aim is to surge back into theoretical keyring territory.
I thought myself lucky to have pulled the post TLT team reveal slot, but with so much happening I don’t think I’ve even begun to process the implications to many players in my side. But if you feel TLT gave you a headache, spare a though for my Draft team which consisted of Villiame Kikau, Isaiah Papali’i, Matt Eisenhuth, Ben Hampton, David Nofoaluma and Angus Crichton… #prayforstiles
But I digress. Enjoy fan day at ‘The Turnstiles’ for season 2019. Unlike Gus and his on-again-off-again Twitter account, I am very open to questions and comments at the end.
Life in the Feef-Lane: Traditionally a slow starter, Andrew Fifita has looked like a mid-season monster in pre-season action. He should take on an even greater share of work with an inexperienced pack and should soon be priced well out of contention not unlike the lead up to Origin last year, when a knee injury unfortunately struck him down. Shaun Lane looks set to be a huge beneficiary of Manu Mau’s injury and scratching of Peni Terepo. The giant should get close to 80 minutes on an edge and has the frame to offload at will over smaller defenders, making him a terrifying prospect who I can swap around with Slammin’ Sam Burgess, who I feel is under-priced due to some injury-affected games last season and will switch back to his best SuperCoach position.
Guns and Arrows: Early on, I’d locked myself into a decision between two of Angus Crichton, Jason Taumalolo, Jai Arrow and Jake Trbojevic. Up until four hours ago at time of writing, one of those positions had been won by Mighty Angus, who I felt would reach an even loftier heights running off Cooper Cronk and being used primarily as a decoy runner last season. But now Gussy is coming off the bench and other cap issues prevented Jurbo so the big unit from up north has won the position for now. His partner Jai Arrow doesn’t need much explanation. He’s extremely undervalued and by all reports he is healthy due to key lifestyle changes. The man averaged over 70PPG in games where he played 60 or more minutes and churns through work.
White Lightning Strikes: Even before writing my Michael Morgan player of interest article, he’s not left my side. ‘Morgo’ averaged 67PPG without Thurston in 2017 and should produce close to the same as the head wrangler at the Cowboys. Plus, as Catfish and Bear discussed on the Champions Podcast, if Cleary and Morgan both average 60PPG from the outset they will be within $25k of each other by round six. It’s a risk I’m willing to take to free up $168k to bolster the rest of my squad, although Cleary versing the Eels in round one is a terrifying prospect to miss…
Take the Bate(man): A $400k forward playing in the centres with a favourable opening and playing in the first bye? Yes please. He is still a reasonable POD at 11.1% ownership at time of writing but that could change now that he has officially been named as the starting lock in the Green Machine. He possesses a very SuperCoach friendly game that will hopefully translate to the NRL.
Te-best-co and the Pong: You might not have heard of James Tedesco, but he’s pretty good. Averages greater than 70PPG for a half-decade and can easily be captained each week. Ponga is more of the fear of not owning him outweighing concerns about his positional switch. If we value a trade at $100k, I simply don’t feel he drops enough cash for it to be worthwhile to start without him and I cannot have him running around a field without knowing I’m accruing those points.
The Risky Picks
Red light district: The hooker position is a mess this season. I’m scared, I’m confused, and the options are worse than a midnight stroll through King’s Cross. But what a time to be alive that a centre in real life is a viable backup hooker. As the Holland-truthers preach, he is under-priced due to his starts of the bench and has also gained the kicking duties for the Bulldogs. Due to my positional flexibility, I can easily get him into the centres and trade up for a hooker should a few things fall into place. Cook was a mainstay in my side for many an iteration of my pre-season side, but in the back of my mind he was always the one to go if I struggled for funds and unfortunately, this is the reality in which I find myself. Jake Friend started last season slowly after carrying niggling injuries but pumped out regular 80-minute performances after the byes and put in the full effort in the World Cup Challenge. I see some value here and Friend-Holland gives me a first and second bye option at the position assuming Friend doesn’t get called up for Origin.
Footloose: One of the few universal mantras of SuperCoach is for your halves to kick goals and I’ve broken it at both positions. But I have a very good reason for doing so. I’ve discussed Morgan already, so let’s focus on mega-POD Cody Walker, who has been chosen as my gun half over the likes of Johnson and Cleary. Have you seen the viable halves available in round one? Walker is going to be a must have to get you through that round anyway, so why not lock him in from the get go? With Souths’ opening draw Walker is one of the few PODs who I genuinely believe can come out of the gates stronger than the more popular players. I believe Bennett will only further open up his attack, given he plays next to an organising half with a strong kicking game in Reynolds, which should allow Walker to chime in wherever he feels like when Milford was running off Ben Hunt and averaging 70PPG in the process.
Gun control: I’ve opted to run no gun CTWs in favour of one favourably-priced backrower along with a rough looking bunch of cheapies. As much angst as it causes me, I feel this is my best path to cash generation in the early rounds with so few viable forward cheapies. There could still be tinkering done in this space as I don’t fully trust Opacic or Simonsson, but they are in there for now.
Superchargers not Turbos: Against my better judgement and completely contrary to my previous season, neither Trbojevic is currently in my team. I’m hoping that I can flip Jo Ofahengaue to Jake sooner rather than later but that remains to be seen. He could also become Taupau to get me through the first bye round. Tommy Trbo is very much a wait and see for me as he will be coming back from injury in a tough stretch for the Sea Eagles.
Kitchen Closed: Despite the sleepless nights it will likely cause, I’ve shelved Cook for the opener. I knew I couldn’t afford Cook, Tedesco, Taumalolo AND Ponga, so I chose the three options that are slightly more salary-cap friendly though it doesn’t feel good.
Cloudy weather: Speaking of the halves, I won’t be seeing Cleary for round one after having him in my team since the outset. Not only has his pre-season been impacted from a rehab point of view, but the Panthers have had a world of distractions. As mentioned previously, I’m hoping Morgan can become Cleary by approximately round six.
If I had Josh Dugan’s Medical Budget…
Oh, to be that rich. As with most of us on this site, a Dugan-sized budget would see me with far more guns at CTW to avoid the cheapie roulette. Base-stat machine Esan Marsters would be first in, followed closely by the ghost of Jarrod Croker, who I feel could capitalise on the Raiders’ opening draw and nets me another number for the first bye.
I’d also try to sneak in Nathan Brown. The guy loves an injury due to his face-first, cannonball style of play but with the Eels’ pack thinning by the day he should get close to 80 minutes in the early rounds and pump out more base the a Commodore in Ipswich.