Yes, the time has come to tinker relentlessly with your teams ahead of the big kick-off.
Getting off to a fantasy flyer is absolutely key, so a strong selection from the off is needed, but where are you best placed to invest your precious 240-star budget?
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Here are five names that are well worth looking at as strong fantasy assets that will get you off to a flying start in your fantasy point scoring!
The French squad is blessed with talent throughout, despite injuries and the temporary loss of a certain Antoine Dupont; however there is one name who has stood out above all others from a fantasy perspective over the last 12 months.
At the top of the price range at 20 stars (but worth every star!), Damian Penaud was the top try-scorer in the 2023 Six Nations and the second highest try-scorer at the Rugby World Cup. He also racked up 406m worth of carries and beat 25 defenders in the 2023 campaign.
He’s also in serious form: top try-scorer this season in both the Top 14 (with 7 tries in 6 appearances) and the European Champions Cup with 4 tries. As close to a “set it and forget it” option as you can find, he’s worth selecting alone for avoiding the FOMO generated when everyone else in your league has him!
Another “fixture-proof” Back 3 option is Duhan van der Merwe (18 stars). Recording the most defenders beaten by quite some distance in the 2023 Six Nations Championship (35 defenders beaten, 10 more than second place Damian Penaud with 25), the Edinburgh winger is a constant threat, no matter where he receives the ball (as fans of England will forever be trying to forget).
Last year he crossed over for 3 tries and also assisted 2 more, and like Penaud he enters the 2024 in top form at club level, again with the highest number of Defenders beaten in the URC and 5th equal in Metres Carried.
Back to France and a genuine triple threat for tries, attacking metrics and goals kicked is Thomas Ramos (18 stars). A genuinely world class goal kicker, Ramos topped the points scored at the 2023 Six Nations, scored the highest number of conversions at the 2023 Rugby World Cup, and sits at the top of the points scored in this season’s Champions Cup.
However, the kicking stats are just half the story, he’s also a threat with ball in hand, carrying for 504m in last year’s Six Nations, one of only 3 players to carry for over 500m over the course of the tournament. He also chipped in with 3 tries and 2 try assists last year, so it is absolutely no surprise that he will feature prominently in many fantasy teams over the course of the tournament.
Moving away from the backs, there will be big fantasy selection dilemmas at Hooker where there are many fantasy relevant options in the likes of Peato Mauvaka, Dan Sheehan and Scotland’s try scoring phenomenon Johnny Matthews.
However, one highly established name to also throw into the mix is England’s new captain, Jamie George (12 stars). An established try scoring presence with 13 international tries to his name, George can often be found at the end of an English rolling maul try and is also a deceptive threat carrying in the loose.
In the modern game it is rare to see the Hooker stay on the field far past the 60th minute, but Jamie George is the exception, often on the field until the very dying stages, and on 3 occasions in last year’s Six Nations, playing the full 80. With this in mind, he offers huge value and a constant try threat.
Finally, another forward worth strongly considering is Ireland’s dynamic second row, James Ryan (17 stars). Often the second row can be a low-scoring position from a fantasy perspective, but Ryan most definitely bucks this trend. One look at last year’s stats reinforces this point.
Ryan led the way for lineout steals (5 steals, 3 more than his nearest challenger) and turnovers won (5, equalled only by his Ireland team-mate Caelan Doris and Scotland’s Jamie Ritchie), was one of the top carriers in the forwards with 235m carried, had two tries to his name and played every minute of Ireland’s Grand Slam campaign.