The Guinness Six Nations is upon us again and for fantasy players around the world that is music to the ears.
With a bumper 2019 on the menu, Guinness Six Nations Fantasy Rugby 2019 is going to be bigger and better than ever – with the world’s best players set for a five-week feast of rugby.
England are, as ever, set to play a huge part – both in the destination of the Championship and who rules fantasy land, with Eddie Jones’ players set to be some of the most in-demand.
So here is a guide on who to pick from the six-time champions.
Since becoming England head coach in 2015, Jones has rarely had a full squad to choose from with injuries regularly taking their toll.
But this year is different. Instead of an injury list as long as his arm, Jones instead has close to a full deck of cards to play.
Billy Vunipola, so influential in England’s 2016 Grand Slam win, is back while the likes of Joe Launchbury, Jonathan Joseph, Nathan Hughes and Jack Nowell are all fit just at the right time.
Add in rejuvenated duo Dan Cole and Mike Brown, veterans of successful Guinness Six Nations campaigns, and you can see Jones’ beaming smile wherever he goes.
Dylan Hartley is the one notable absentee for next weekend’s curtain-raiser against Ireland but he’s expected to play a part later in the Championship.
For fantasy players, there have rarely been more options in white.
WHAT’S THE SCHEDULE?
Jones and his men have been thrown right into the thick of it this year, with a trip to Grand Slam winners and defending champions Ireland first on the menu.
England last won in Dublin six years ago thanks to Owen Farrell’s accuracy off the tee and the captain will be vital again, both in attack and defence.
France visit Twickenham a week later, no doubt with fire in their bellies at the prospect of bloodying England’s nose, before a trip to Cardiff awaits in round three.
England finish with back-to-back home matches, first against an intriguing Italy and then Scotland in the final match of the Championship – where a Guinness Six Nations trophy could be on the line.
An England Guinness Six Nations squad is always brimming with talent and this year is no different. Like a kid in a sweet shop, there are almost too many to choose from.
Savvy shopping is the name of the game, balancing between big-priced superstars and low-cost bargains. England provide both in spades.
For Jones, it will be hard to resist chucking Billy Vunipola straight back into the starting XV in what is expected to be a physical contest in Ireland next week.
Fantasy players should seriously consider doing the same. Vunipola showed he still packs a mean punch against Glasgow Warriors last weekend, scoring a try and making a menace of himself for club side Saracens.
At 15 stars, the 26-year-old is expensive but with points awarded for metres made, tackles and defenders beaten he is sure to be a points machine throughout.
Elsewhere, England have been among the Championship’s three top try-scorers for the last five years and, with the backs they have at their disposal, are likely to be so once again.
Therefore, Jonny May is a good tip to bag a few scores despite costing a high 15 stars.
Then there is Elliot Daly. The Wasps man started on the wing in last year’s Championship but has been utilised at full-back since.
However, with Brown back amongst it, the versatile back could be shifted back to the wing, while centre remains an option.
Wherever he plays, Daly is a must-have. The playmaker is a born try-scorer and boasts a hell of a left foot from the tee.
In 2019, you no longer need to designate your kicker – meaning Daly is sure to earn you some extra points.
Finding value in Guinness Six Nations Fantasy Rugby 2019 sounds tough but there are several bargains buys.
For England, new scrum-half Dan Robson is certainly worth checking out. At nine stars, he is the cheapest scrum-half on the game and his explosive pace will surely stretch defences late in matches.
Flanker Mark Wilson is also a great deal at ten stars following his superb autumn. The Newcastle Falcons star is a tackle machine and runs as hard as any.
But perhaps the best bargain in the entire game is Tom Curry at a paltry nine stars. The flanker is expected to take the starting seven jersey and excelled in the summer against South Africa.
With Sam Underhill ruled out, the seven jersey is Curry’s to win. Expect him to grasp it with both hands and see your points tally bulge while he does.