Some Fantasy teams will be flying high while others are in tatters (even though you were sure that this was your year!), but it’s time to pick ourselves up for Round 2.
Looking at Round 1, what did we learn? Italy are certainly no pushovers, Ireland look to be the team to beat with Fantasy talent all over the park, the big guns like Damian Penaud and Duhan van der Merwe will rack up tries... no matter the opposition (and are well worth the big investment!), SuperSub is tougher than ever to get right and finally, the new points scoring model has really shaken things up and has led fantasy managers to pause for thought and really rethink their strategy.
As always, my top bit of advice is to make sure you wait until the squads are announced before selecting your teams (you can use the helpful Green flags by the players on the fantasy game interface to guide you), and also keep an eye on the Six Nations social channels for team news, the late withdrawals of Ange Capuozzo and Ellis Genge after the original team announcements last week caught many out so stay alert and make sure you’re ready to make a switch if needed!
So, who to back in Round 2?
This week we have two matches on the Saturday; Scotland v France, followed by England v Wales. Then on Sunday Ireland and Italy wrap up proceedings in Dublin.
Running through the likely fantasy candidates from each match, starting with Scotland v France.
France make two changes, both highly fantasy relevant. Cameron Woki and Louis Bielle-Biarrey both come in. Woki is a highly athletic option in the second row who should bring high lineout and tackle points to his owners, he’s well positioned with the new scoring model. Those who saw Bielle-Biarrey at the Rugby World Cup will know what they are getting, a prolific try scorer with electric pace, and also a great value budget option into the France back line. Elsewhere, Damian Penaud will be in many teams as usual. His fantasy score in Round 1 may not have been the highest, but he still crossed over to score yet again, and you can expect him to bring more of the same against Scotland on Saturday. Another name in many team sheets will be Grégory Alldritt. France’s captain was their top scorer against Ireland with 31 points, made up of 16 tackles, 3 defenders beaten, 57m carried and one breakdown steal. Always a consistent fantasy scorer, he’s well worth the investment. Elsewhere Thomas Ramos, Mathieu Jalibert, Charles Ollivon and Peato Mauvaka remain strong fantasy options.
For Scotland, after their games of two halves against Wales, they will be looking for a more consistent performance at Murrayfield. One player who is always consistent is Duhan van der Merwe. Racking up a huge 38 points in a performance that included 2 tries and 95m carried, he’s as fixture proof a fantasy option as they come. Scotland’s top scorer against Wales was Finn Russell with 47 points. While his play is unpredictable, his fantasy performance remains consistently high, and his steadiness with the boot will constantly reward fantasy managers. In a try scoring performance and with over an hour on the field, Pierre Schoeman was top of the props in Round 1, and he will be a safe bet as a prop selection for most of the tournament. Other notable strong fantasy options for Round 2 are Huw Jones and the returning Rory Darge and Jack Dempsey.
On Saturday England will welcome Wales to Twickenham. In a rare occurrence under the management of Steve Borthwick, England are totally unchanged. Many new faces made a massive impact and there will be a lot of faith from fantasy managers put on their two top scorers from Round 1, Ethan Roots and Tommy Freeman. Roots was England’s top fantasy scorer with 37 points following a Player of the Match performance that included 8 tackles, 62m carried, 2 defenders beaten and a breakdown steal. Freeman brought an edge in attack that England fans have been craving and scored 27 points in a performance that included 97m carried and 4 defenders beaten as well as a try assist. Elsewhere Ben Earl was his reliable self, scoring 24 points and George Ford and Alex Mitchell both impressed. All are excellent choices for Round 2. In addition, Chandler Cunningham-South made a big impact off the bench and could be an excellent choice for Supersub.
Wales had a game of incredible drama against Scotland, and several of their second half sub heroes have made it into the starting XV at Twickenham. Aaron Wainwright led the way for Wales in Round 1 with a huge 56 points, in a performance that included 12 tackles, 5 defenders beaten, 97m carried, a try and a player of the match award. All eyes on him in Round 2. Elsewhere, fantasy managers will be looking to the likes of Rio Dyer, Tommy Reffell, Tomos Williams and Dafydd Jenkins to back up their great perfomances against Scotland in Round 2!
In the final match of the weekend, Ireland, fresh off the back of a huge win in France, play their first home game. Italy visit the Aviva, and many are expecting a tough afternoon for Italy, especially following the injury to Lorenzo Cannone. However, the likes of Michele Lamaro (playing at number 8), Ange Capuozzo and Paolo Garbisi are worth fantasy consideration.
Ireland once again are stacked with fantasy talent, and the hardest decision will be on which 4 to select. Their back 3 are all great options: James Lowe had a quiet game against France by his standards but he will undoubtedly be at the top of many players captain lists. Calvin Nash got on the scoresheet against France and was Ireland’s highest scoring back 3 player with 23 points. Hugo Keenan remains an exceptional fantasy prospect, and he has a great international record against Italy. Tough decisions to be made. Jack Crowley made a great first impression stepping into Jonny Sexton’s boots in Paris, and had a great kicking performance. He should get plenty more kicking opportunities against Italy. There are fantasy options everywhere: from Dan Sheehan to Player of the Match against France, Joe McCarthy, to Caelan Doris to Jack Conan to Stuart McCloskey. And if that isn’t already hard enough, their bench is full of Supersub talent, including Josh van der Flier, Ronan Kelleher and Jordan Larmour. Which four will you go with?
Good luck, and make sure you don’t miss the first match deadline on Saturday afternoon!
Fantasy Rugby Geek top picks for Round 2
Back Three: Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland), Damian Penaud (France), James Lowe (Ireland), Hugo Keenan (Ireland)
Centre: Huw Jones (Scotland), Stuart McCloskey (Ireland), Fraser Dingwall (England)
Fly-half: Finn Russell (Scotland), Jack Crowley (Ireland)
Scrum half: Alex Mitchell (England), Craig Casey (Ireland)
Back row: Ben Earl (England), Caelan Doris (Ireland), Grégory Alldritt (France), Jack Conan (Ireland)
Second row: Joe McCarthy (Ireland), Dafydd Jenkins (Wales), Ollie Chssum (England)
Prop: Pierre Schoeman (Scotland), Andrew Porter (Ireland), Cyrill Baille (France)
Hooker: Jamie George (England), Dan Sheehan (Ireland)
Supersub: Josh van der Flier (Ireland), Ronan Kelleher (Ireland)
Captain Pick: James Lowe (Ireland)