It's arguably the most crucial time in the NRL Fantasy season: get your 21-man starting squad right and you'll be set up for glory, get it wrong and you'll be burning trades to catch up.
There are some big questions for Fantasy coaches ahead of round one, so here are the answers.
This week's big questions
Is it a bad idea to have emergency players in your team that are picked at reserves? eg. Billy Magoulias, Staford To'a, etc.
From Trent Dalziel
Yep, you're better off ensuring all 21 players in your squad are playing in round one. Players don't increase in value if they don't play, and those two guys in particular are no guarantee of getting a game any time soon.
Top buys: Hooker
The hooker predicament is huge, more so than normal. Can you quantify who will play more minutes: Api, JMK, Egan, B.Brailey, Walters, Levi and Friend?
From Harry Rasheed
Api Koroisau is the only one of that bunch I'm confident will play 80 minutes. Jake Friend is also a decent chance, although Sam Verrills will get game time whenever he's included on the bench. Marshall-King should play 60-70 minutes at least with Kerrod Holland likely to play around 15 minutes (unless there's an injury in the backline), Blayke Brailey could play 80 later in the season but will build up to it, and Wayde Egan and Billy Walters could play as little as 40-50 minutes depending on how the bench utilities are used.
At this stage Koroisau looks the best bet, Friend could be the best scorer of that lot, and Brailey and Walters both look like quality cash cows (assuming Walters keeps a starting spot at the Tigers – that is, the club doesn't sign Harry Grant from Melbourne in the coming weeks).
Thoughts on JMK? A bench that suits him but he averages 47.1 playing 60 minutes. He’s priced at 37 so he should make his 10 points you’d think it’s a safe bet?
From Bilent Peel
Pretty safe bet, yep. I rate him below Koroisau and Brailey in terms of cash cow hookers but like them he's also capable of jumping $150k on his starting price.
What do we reckon about Flegler as a Fantasy player… he surely is gonna take Lodge's position right? Very few forwards on the Broncos bench also.
From Tom Pulsford
The presence of hooker Andrew McCullough and back Jamayne Isaako is good news for all Brisbane's starting big men this week, but there's no guarantee Flegler keeps a starting spot when club captain Alex Glenn returns as soon as next week. Glenn will start in the second row, which could shift Tevita Pangai jnr – who played the bulk of last year starting at prop or lock – into the front row at Flegler's expense. Alternatively, Pangai or Fantasy favourite David Fifita could go back to the bench. There's also Joe Ofahengaue due back from a club-imposed suspension in a couple of weeks. It all makes Flegler a little risky – plus he didn't produce huge scores even when starting last year.
Lisone starting for Titans: decent cash cow you think or no job security? Depends when Fotuaika is back I guess? And do you think Brayden Wiliame can hold the centre spot over Aitken... A cheapie starting centre is massive!
Lisone is certainly cheap but his job security isn't great with Fotuaika likely to bump him out of the starting side next week.
Wiliame is a much more promising option. He's won the spot over Aitken on merit so as long as he plays well enough he'll stay there. His Fantasy pedigree is not great (he averaged low 20s in his time at Manly and Parramatta) but if he can improve to a 30-point player he'll be a bargain.
Top buys: Winger-fullback
What is the likelihood that Liam Knight holds the lock spot? Will he score well?
From Ben Lewis
Knight appears to have the No.13 at Souths locked up, but that doesn't necessarily make him a Fantasy gun – his scoring potential probably relies on how the Rabbitohs use Cameron Murray in his new edge forward role. Knight scores very well when on the field but with a break even of 39 you probably want at least 50 minutes per game out of him to be a worthwhile buy. He could get that, but beware he has only played more than 51 minutes once in three NRL seasons, and if Murray switches from the edge to the middle during the first half of games Knight could go back to the front-row rotation and retain a 40-minute role (with Ethan Lowe replacing Murray on an edge for 50-60 minutes).
Knight has been in and out of my team but may just miss out before round one.
How many mins will Harry Grant play, you think?
From Tiiziie Kore
At the Storm? Not many. He really needs to switch to the Tigers to get significant game time this season, unless Cameron Smith suffers a very, very rare serious injury.
Top buys: Cheapies
Hess or J Williams?
I prefer Jack Williams after being put off by Hess's scoring slump last season, but with both promoted to starting roles in the back row this season at the Sharks and Cowboys respectively there's definitely a chance both get big increases in value in the opening six rounds.