It truly is a case of now or never for all Fantasy Six Nations managers.

A huge weekend lies ahead whether you are looking to maintain your top spot or make a charge up the rankings.

Looking at Round 3, what did we learn? Firstly, never write off Duhan van der Merwe (especially against England!), Dan Sheehan remains heads and shoulders above all other options in the Hooker position, Damian Penaud remains disappointing (but don’t forget that form is temporary and class is permanent!) and finally, look to the outliers in each position to build a solid foundation in your fantasy teams.

Moving into Round 4, it’s worth considering your strategy around whether to load up with the popular options or going with some differential choices. Ultimately if you are sat at the top of your mini leagues, it’s best to play it safe and go with the more popular picks. However, if you are currently mid-table and need to make an upwards march, it’s best to go all-or-nothing and make a handful of bold differential choices.

The big question: where to invest your all-important stars for this crucial round?

This week we have two matches on the Saturday; Italy v Scotland, followed by England v Ireland. Then on Sunday, Wales and France wrap up proceedings in Cardiff.

Running through the likely fantasy candidates from each match, starting with Italy v Scotland.

Firstly, looking at Scotland. You can’t talk about them without looking at the runaway top performer in Round 3, Duhan van der Merwe. With a hat-trick, player of the match, 112m carried and 6 defenders beaten, he scored a huge 68 points, comfortably the highest score of any player in the tournament so far. He has a strong record against Italy historically and it would take a very brave individual to bet against him for Round 4. A very safe captain pick.

Against England, Huw Jones continued his excellent form with a 28-point haul. Averaging 24.3 points per game, Jones is one of the top Centres in the game and should carry on delivering for managers in Round 4. Sandwiched between Jones and Van der Merwe in terms of average fantasy points is Finn Russell (averaging 31.3 points per game). The magician in the 10 shirt should take the opportunity to load up on kicking points against Italy and is worth considering despite his hefty price tag. Away from the backs, up front Pierre Schoeman remains the highest-scoring prop in the game, and is a very reliable and safe choice in the typically low-scoring prop position. Scotland also have great depth in the back row, and leading the way from a fantasy perspective is Rory Darge, who has recorded 28 tackles, 60m carried and a breakdown steal in his 2 appearances. Worth noting that Scotland have named a 6-2 bench, so it could be worth looking at Kyle Rowe as a Supersub option.

Italy have named one of their strongest possible squads. They have plenty of talent that could cause Scotland some headaches, not least in Ange Capuozzo, who against France started to show some of the form that we know he is capable of. Capuozzo racked up 30 points in a game that saw him score a try, carry for 85 metres and beat 2 defenders. With a home crowd behind him, he’ll be looking to keep this up against Scotland. Tommaso Menoncello also matched Capuozzo’s points tally, but now he has slotted back into the Centres his points scoring potential may have slightly reduced. Paolo Garbisi retains the 10 shirt and remains Italy’s most consistent fantasy points scorer, averaging 25.3 points per game. Finally, keep an eye out for international debutant Louis Lynagh, available for just 10.4 stars. As Harlequins fans will attest, he is capable of generating something from nothing. As for Supersubs, the explosive Lorenzo Cannone makes his return to the match day squad after his Round 1 injury, and is capable of providing a big return from the bench.

Wrapping up proceedings on Saturday will be England hosting Ireland at Twickenham, where Ireland will be looking to move one step closer to retaining the Grand Slam. Ireland have once again named a stacked team full of fantasy points potential, whether it is the prolific try-scoring Hooker Dan Sheehan (averaging 28.7 points per game), the metronomic Jack Crowley at fly-half (averaging 32 points per game), the always dangerous James Lowe (averaging 28.3 points per game) or arguably the most dangerous lock in the game, Tadhg Beirne (averaging 42.5 points per game), you are spoilt for choice everywhere.

Top of the points for Round 3 was Bundee Aki, who hauled 48 points in a performance that included 119m carried, 4 defenders beaten, 10 tackles, a breakdown steal and a player of the match performance. Aki is a lock now in most fantasy players teams. In addition, both Ronan Kelleher and Ryan Baird delivered off the bench and both remain top Supersub choices.

As for England, they have a huge challenge to surmount, but they still have plenty of fantasy talent to consider. One of the most exciting selections is Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, who has earnt a starting spot after an impressive appearance off the bench against Scotland. Ben Earl remains England’s top fantasy performer, averaging 33.7 fantasy per match so far, including 31 points against Scotland in a match that he put in 15 tackles, 4 defenders beaten and 80m carried. Even against tough opposition he will still be pulling in those fantasy points.

Also returning to the starting line-up is Alex Mitchell. Despite missing Round 3, he still remains one of the top-scoring scrum-halves in the game and will be a good option for Round 4. England have some strong supersub options in Chandler Cunningham-South and Alex Dombrandt. Providing they get a good period of time off the bench, they are well worth consideration.

For the final game of Round 4 on Sunday, Wales welcome France to the Principality, both looking to get their Six Nations campaigns back on track. Wales have three players who have been highly consistent fantasy scorers throughout the tournament and should again deliver in this Round. Tommy Reffell (averaging 31 points per game) has made more breakdown steals than any other player in the Six Nations this year and has also the second highest number of tackles and is a name that should be in many fantasy teams.

Aaron Wainwright (averaging 27.7 points) has remained a picture of consistency throughout the tournament and Rio Dyer (averaging 25.3) has scored well no matter the opposition, with the equal highest number of defenders beaten of all players in the Six Nations this year. All three should be looked at for selection. Worth also mentioning Dafydd Jenkins who has been moved into the back row for the visit of France and so should get more carry opportunities off the fringes of the scrum. Off the bench, keep an eye on Alex Mann, who already has one big Supersub performance under his belt and could do the same again this week.

Finally, France have made some big changes for Round 4, many with a big fantasy impact. The most notable is the return of Grégory Alldritt. Averaging 29.5 in the first two rounds, he’s a genuinely premium fantasy option in the back row and should make an immediate impact. Thomas Ramos moves from fullback to fly-half, and while this may reduce his options to carry the ball in space, at club level this season he has been outstanding when lining up at 10. Also returning to the starting line-up is Thibaud Flament, Julien Marchand and Emmanuel Meafou, who are all strong fantasy options. Nolann Le Garrec has a big opportunity with a starting spot in this round, and having scored 10 tries in 16 club appearances this season, he has high scoring potential.

Lastly it is important to flag Damian Penaud. By his standards it has been a very disappointing tournament, where he has averaged just 17 points per game. However, don’t forget that Penaud was the top tryscorer in the 2023 Six Nations, the second highest tryscorer at the 2023 Rugby World Cup, is top tryscorer this season in the Top 14 (with 7 tries in 6 appearances) and has also scored 4 tries in the European Champions Cup this season. He is still capable of huge points hauls, and sooner or later, it will come.

Good luck, and make sure you don’t miss the first match deadline on Saturday afternoon!

Fantasy Rugby Geek top picks for Round 4

Back Three: Duhan Van Der Merwe (Scotland), Rio Dyer (Wales), Damian Penaud (France), James Lowe (Ireland),

Centre: Huw Jones (Scotland), Bundee Aki (Ireland), Gael Fickou (France)

Fly-half: Finn Russell (Scotland), Jack Crowley (Ireland)

Scrum-half: Nolann Le Garrec (France), Alex Mitchell (England)

Back-row: Ben Earl (England), Gregory Alldritt (France), Tommy Reffell (Wales), Rory Darge (Scotland)

Second row: Joe McCarthy (Ireland), Tadhg Beirne (Ireland), Thibaud Flament (France)

Prop: Pierre Schoeman (Scotland), Andrew Porter (Ireland), Danilo Fischetti (Italy)

Hooker: Dan Sheehan (Ireland), George Turner (Scotland)

Supersub: Lorenzo Cannone (Italy), Ronan Kelleher (Ireland)

Captain Pick: Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland)

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