Super Saturday is almost upon us, which means you have one final chance to tweak your fantasy line-up and secure bragging rights over your friends, family and colleagues.
Below is the latest edition of the Fantasy Forum between the three rugby journalists from Sportsbeat – Luke Baker, Charlie Talbot-Smith and Paul Eddison – as they discuss all the big talking points from Week 4 of the championship and look forward to Week 5.
Luke, Paul and Charlie will be letting you know who they think you should pick and where the value is ahead of last weekend of the 2018 NatWest 6 Nations.
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What’s the main talking point after Week 4?
Charlie Talbot-Smith: In the front row, the big news from a fantasy point of view would have to be Guilhem Guirado and his injury – a staple of almost everyone’s fantasy team, a points-scoring, man-of-the-match winning, captaining legend of a revived French team. It’s looks like you are going to have to look elsewhere. Now, Adrien Pelissie came off the bench in Le Crunch, Camille Chat is also there, they’ve also called up Pierre Bourgarit, but Pelissie is only 11.35, which is pretty cheap for a hooker. The only other hooker I was thinking about is Fraser Brown, who had his first game back in Ireland, where the scrum went well when he came back on, and he’s only nine stars.
Paul Eddison: Bourgarit is a long shot to be involved, but keep an eye on him if he does. He has a habit of going on massive runs, and scored a try from 70 metres in the Top 14 a fortnight ago, so could be a really impact player off the bench.
Luke Baker: The only hooker I had to add is Ken Owens, who I think will start for Wales again. Gatland made ten changes for Sunday’s game and he did that with the six-day turnaround in mind. This time he intimated in his press conference after that there are going to be big changes, as well as the guys did against Italy, so I expect Ken Owens to come back in and there will be some value there if you think they will beat France.
CTS: These front-rowers are interesting, especially if you can get someone who is single figures in stars, like Gordon Reid who is 9.5 and has started the last two, or Jefferson Poirot.
LB: Yeah, 9.85 for Poirot, which is super cheap.
CTS: He’s really good over the ball as well. I mean England made all the French side look good over the ball, but he offers more than just your set-piece stuff.
LB: Call it a bit of a hunch, but I think WP Nel might get a start for Scotland. He’s 11.55 and coming back from injury, we know what a good player he is and he has a couple of tries in his relatively short international career. Reid started well, [Simon] Berghan has had a good Championship, but they travel to Italy as well who are looking for that first win of the Championship. I think WP Nel may be the one, though.
CTS: It’s cynical, but it’s probably time to be looking at some Scots to slide in there, isn’t it?
Who’s the best value ahead of the final weekend?
CTS: In the second row there’s a real standout for me in Paul Gabrillagues at 10.8. He has taken his opportunity that has come his way through a variety of factors and looks to the manor born – he was absolutely superb on Saturday and 10.8 is incredibly cheap. I think there is about five English locks more expensive than that, but France haven’t won in Cardiff since 2010, so you may be a week late if you’re parachuting him in. [Aaron] Shingler, we say him every week and he is still at 13 so he’ll be back.
LB: On a similar note, you have flagged up Sebastian Negri before and he’s still only 8.5 stars. The most interesting stat I saw about him was that he has beaten 11 defenders in this Championship – only three players have beaten more – and he has looked a class apart in that Italian back row and Scotland have been Jekyll and Hyde in this Championship. Italy, traditionally, much stronger at Stadio Olimpico, they didn’t show much against Wales at the weekend, but they could cause Scotland a few problems.
CTS: The only other one I had in the second row was Cory Hill, the only guy to keep his place in the pack, he has started every game in this championship. He’s still only 11.4 and seems to have really blossomed and maybe that trip to New Zealand on the Lions tour brought him out of his shell. He scored a lovely try this weekend and he’s got serious work rate. Again, 11.4 is seriously cheap for someone who is starting every single game.
PE: Hill is a very good shout. I’d also have a look at Grant Gilchrist. At 13 stars, he’s not that cheap, but still good value for a starter, and he has looked to be in the form of his life for Scotland so far.
Which player is worth taking a punt on for Week 5?
LB: For me, I think the Irish back row is where you need to look this week. England’s breakdown issues have been well-documented, which I think puts the Irish back-rowers in with a great shout of getting a cheeky man-of-the-match as you can see a Dan Leavy at 13.4 or CJ Stander at 15.5 ending with three turnovers. They are going to be in there at every breakdown, they are going to be visible and I just think they could end up man of the match. Equally, Stockdale could score a hat-trick and that could be that.
CTS: I like that and another one I think I flagged up a couple of weeks ago and he didn’t get in the matchday squad, but he did get in the matchday squad last week, is Jordi Murphy. He was very good when he came off the bench and Joe Schmidt singled him out for particular praise post-match and he sort of forced his way into that shake-up. Sean O’Brien limped off for Leinster, so possibly the Grand Slam game in Twickenham might come too soon for him, and 9.45 is really cheap for a back-rower so he might be someone worth punting on. Marco Tauleigne is 10.7 and he really does look like an international No.8, handing off players like rag dolls at the Stade de France on Saturday, looked like the Louis Picamoles of old. He looks like he could be a fixture at the back of the scrum for France for a long time to come, he’s very highly rated and he finally appears to be filling that large potential. One of my players of the Championship so far, Yacouba Camara, is cheaper than Dan Leavy at 13.25. Again, how you think France will go in Cardiff is contingent on how many Frenchman you decide to crowbar in to your team.
LB: And then on the other side of that game in Cardiff, I can’t quite work out post-match, which way Gatland was leaning in terms of how he makes up his back-row, but obviously [Taulupe] Faletau captained at the weekend, made 40 metres and looked good on his return at 14.05 stars. But actually, I thought their best back-rower was Justin Tipuric. He played very well at six, got himself a try in the corner and was very good at the breakdown. I’d be very surprised if he gets dropped, maybe he moves to seven if Shingler comes in at six. He’s 14.6 stars and I like Tipuric, but any of those Welsh backrowers would be good.
CTS: I’d be surprised to see Faletau fall out of the 23 now he’s back as captain and played pretty well. He’s obviously an incredible back-rower in that he normally only plays eight, but he can do the job at six or seven, so maybe he might be your bench option and that would be interesting to see as [Josh] Navidi has done nothing wrong.
PE: It’s such a tricky decision for Gatland, we’ve not even mentioned Ross Moriarty, who could slot in at either six or eight but may miss out altogether. Going back to the Scots, Dave Denton may well start after Ryan Wilson picked up a knock in Dublin, and you could certainly see him making an impact in Rome. He looks to be back to his best and is only 12.60 stars.