So week 1 is in the books and we were treated to some great games. All of the first 5 games were settled by a max of 7 points, and we managed to avoid an Aussie derby snore-fest – result !! the Sunwolves and Stormers seem to have forgotten we were starting this week, but with the Lions finishing up the week looking strong, plenty to ponder for the fantasy manager.
Those used to reading this column from Fox days will know we highlight plenty of players to buy, sell or hold (i.e. keep an eye on). We tend not to state the obvious though, so if one of your guys goes down with a long term injury, CLEARY, you should transfer him out. Given the @TheRugbyMag policy on transfers – 1 free a week, with additional costing 20 points – you need to make sure you’re careful with those precious transfers. Clearly if you’re plugging holes you’ve little chance to take advantage of bringing in players for match-ups such as the Sunwolves this week, but hopefully the below will help both those managers plugging week 1 injury holes – think Pocock, Toni Pulu – and those lucky enough to be tweaking their squad for the weeks ahead. It’s also important NOT TO PANIC!! You picked your team based on largely season long views; just because Mo’unga laid an egg the size of the North Island with 4 points, doesn’t mean you immediately ditch him.
In a change of format though, we’re going to call out the top 3 trades, and then have a longer look by position, and because it’s week 1, it’s a big one. But before we start, some basics to keep top of mind:
Teams on a BYE: Rebels.
Teams with Tough Match-ups: Hurricanes, Crusaders, Brumbies
Teams with Easy Match-ups: Sharks, Tahs, Highlanders, Jags
1. BUY Jed Holloway
Utility player starting at lock is the holy grail of RugbyMag. He’s on a bye after this week, but great utility over the season, very cheap, and up against the Sunwolves this week. Big points, and I work around the bye next week.
2. BUY Jackson Hemopo
Back at lock this week. That should translate into points for the big man who had a great actual performance the week just gone.
3. SELL Ricky Ricciteli
Got 40 minutes before being pulled for Coles. Still in 26% of teams. Unless Coles gets injured ship Ricci out and spend your money elsewhere.
PROPS & HOOKERS
In a low scoring position – prop and hooker are down there with SH as traditionally a lower scoring position – it’s all about playing minutes. If you think that few props or hookers average much above 20 points, then getting 4 points for playing the 60mins is like gold-dust. Week 1 gave us some insight into who the starting combos might be.
BUY (ENGAGE): Not wanting to blow our own trumpet but a number of our preseason picks got serious game-time, and gave good performances – Lomax, HJH, Dylan Smith – all great value picks, look like they’re not only starting hookers but in with a chance of getting 60+ on a weekly basis. I still think Beast is too expensive, but he too was getting game-time and points. Marx and Akker were 2 of the 3 top pre-season picks, both got 80 and racked up points. If you don’t have them I prioritize getting them in.
SELL (DON’T TOUCH): I only wish I listened to my own advice. Right up until about 1 hour before kick-off I was taking Lomax or HJH. I then flipped into Ricciteli, and we saw what we all thought would happen. Him and Coles splitting game-time. Whilst they both have the potential to have a good half every now and again, I think you need to switch out quick. Ricky is the 2nd most selected prop/hooker, and whilst I love his dual position, 40 mins a game will kill him. Franks is also in 7% of teams, that’s like 253 teams. WHAT ARE YOU DOING !! He’s $300k+ and didn’t even make 60. Get rid.
HOLD (PAUSE): There’s then a host of either big name players, or value picks, who didn’t get decent game-time week 1, either coming off the bench, or only getting 50 ish minutes – Miller, Tuinukaufe, Laulala, Tu’ungafasi, Ta’avao, Brits, Rangi, Makalio, Bregvadze. I keep an eye on all of those over the next couple of weeks. Obviously Brit’s came off due to that calf injury, so watch that injury news.
LOCKS & BACKROW
BUY: So there were two players starting lock who you could have started on the flank to get more locks in your team. I went for Luke Jones, as I fondly recalled that season he was a monster. I picked him over Jed Holloway. Starting at lock, but able to play flank and 8, and an absolute steal at $169k, he’s the pick this week – just be careful the Tahs are on a bye next week. The other guy I’m seeing if I can get in is Pete Samu. Great first game for the Brumbies, trying to impress for the world-cup. Both this guys got mega points without scoring a try. There were a few other premium names I wasn’t sure on before the season that put worries to rest – Naisarani, Ardie, Luke Whitelock – all more expensive, but guys you might want to work in as well.
SELL: In positions that did well across week 1 there weren’t many “big” names who under-performed. 14% of you have Tarfua, who is a few years away from his best. I think there are much better options out there – see above.
HOLD: This is a big bucket, but the guys that concern me the most are Hemopo and Pieter-Steph. Pieter-Steph because the Stormers were SO bad, but lets see what week 2 is like. Hemopo because whilst he had a good on field game, it didn’t translate. He was one of last seasons top performers, but that was from lock, and he’s starting at flank now, so will get less points. Keep an eye on these two they’re on the amber list to potentially sell. Ardron and Dan Du Preez both had good weeks, but largely due to scoring tries. Monitor these big names over the next couple of weeks.
***Update, Hemopo is back at Lock since we first wrote this so he’s back in the winners circle***
Both Highlander locks – Pari-Pari & Josh Dickson – were superb. I wanna see one more game like that and then they’re in. Tuipulotou was at his best again, but he flashed like this pretty often and then goes missing, or gets a yellow. I just don’t trust him in that blues team yet. Schoeman was busy stealing my captain, Marx’s, tries. If I’m the Lions I play him 7 when Kwagga’s back, but just watch the team sheet. Without 3 tries, 22 is decent, just don’t get blinded by those 52 points. However, if he does keep his starting spot, and his place at the back of that rolling maul, he’s a must.
SHs and FHs
BUY: Genia and TJ came out of the gate as expected, the class of the SH pack, but you’re paying a lot of money for them. If you can afford them great, if not Jake Gordon is worth a look, especially considering the Tahs have the sunwolves up next. If Weber’s out and I need SH help in the short term this is where I’m looking.
If you do need help at FH, then Josh Ioane looks a great value utility payer covering FH, CE, FB and seems to have the 10 jersey. If you missed the boat pre-season then get on the Jordie bandwagon, great utility, and I like that he’s starting at FB for the canes.
SELL: FH and SH is a thin position, so if you’ve made an investment, stick with it, just keep an eye on the weber injury news in case you’re enforced a SH sub.
HOLD: Nothing to report on the SH front but keep an eye on the three big names who had poor week 1 outings – Mo’Unga, Willemse, Tuculet – to make sure it’s a blip and not a trend. My biggest concern of the 3 is Willemse.
CENTRES, WINGS, FULL BACKS
BUY: Leinart-Brown was excellent for the Chiefs. For a long time he was average for the chiefs and then came to life for the ABs. This year he doesn’t look like he’s mucking around. $259k isn’t that expensive, and whilst he can only cover CE, great investment. Ennor lived up the pre-season hype, and at only $107k, he’s the much cheaper alternative and great squad filler as long as Goodhue doesn’t bump him in the short term. Am is only owned in 6% of leagues, but looks to have started this year off in a similar vein to last year. Difficult one as he too can only cover CE, so it’s a toss up between him and LB. Lastly, Folau is only owned by 30% of managers. He was last years 6th highest scoring, seems to be back at FB, and is playing the sunwolves this week. For the love of all things Super Rugby get him involved in your team.
SELL: Clearly sell the injured Ranger (9%), but also Banks (13%) and Aso (13%)have got plenty of selections and I just think there are better, more consistent options at the position.
HOLD: A few big names with quiet weeks – Reiko, Dyantyi, Gelant, Rob Thompson. Monitor this group to make sure nothings up, but you picked them for a reason, keep the faith.
Conversely, some big performers in week 1, but I want to see 2 great games before I pull the trigger. Kriel and Speckman are close to getting a call up, but away at the Jags will be the real test of this Bulls team. Maddocks likewise had a great week 1, but the problem with the Brumbies is one week it’s Banks, than Maddocks, then someone else. Don’t get sucked in too quickly by the big week 1 numbers.