The Six Nations is back in town, and with it comes another chance to prove your rugby knowledge in the fantasy rugby stakes. This year we’ll once again be hosting our league on the excellent SuperBru fantasy Six Nations game, so get yourself signed up, then follow our handy guide below to picking your team.
A quick recap of the rules: you can tinker with your team as much as you like before the tournament starts, whereafter there are a maximum of four transfers per round. Similarly, you are only allowed four players per nation in your squad, so be sure to think hard about how you can maximise your points with the players from the top teams.
You can find all the details about our league here – join up, have a read of the below, and get picking your team!
We’re going to do this in reverse order, for the simple reason that the outside backs are the most valuable players in your fantasy team. In general they score the most points, and they should be the positions that you look to fill first.
Considering style of play, which teams like to throw the ball around to their wingers a lot? Scotland’s new style under Vern Cotter has seen them do more of that, and Stuart Hogg was the second top points scorer in last season’s game. Somewhat surprisingly, given their dire general form, the French back three all scored highly for average points per game.
In terms of who to steer clear of, the Italians scored consistently poorly in this area – as did champions Ireland, whose reliance on kick-chase meant their back three rarely had chances to attack. After their failure at the World Cup, however, that may change in 2016.
Some more general advice – fullbacks can often be sensible selections (and there’s no need to pick just one; you can pick all fullbacks and no wingers as your outside backs, if you so choose) as they often have a lot of empty field to run into when returning poor kicks, which gives them great points for metres made.
Given that the best way to score points in the backs is through metres made, defenders beaten and clean breaks, it is worth trying to pick centres that are going to excel in those areas. For example, last season’s top scoring centres were the likes of Jonathan Joseph and Jared Payne – players that like an outside break – rather than Jamie Roberts or Luther Burrell – players in the ‘bosher’ mould.
That said, Robbie Henshaw was near the top of the list for last season, and while he did impress in attack he scored many of his points through his tackle stats, which were consistently high.
A wildcard but advisable pick this season (should he make the team) would be Elliot Daly – a man with electric pace who loves an outside break, and has been tearing it up for Wasps. He looks like a man tailor-made to score big points in the fantasy game.
Your half-backs will be vital to the overall success of your fantasy team for one reason: this is likely to be where your kicker comes from. Most teams – barring Scotland and probably France – will have their kicker at fly-half, and as there are loads of points on offer for conversions and penalties, think about who will end up with a high kick success percentage.
Johnny Sexton is always a popular pick but last year’s top scorer was actually George Ford, who may well have had a lower kick percentage but played in a much more attacking team. Ford’s stats for metres made and defenders beaten dwarfed Sexton. Of course, Ford may well find himself on the bench for this year’s tournament, such is the form of Owen Farrell, but it is worth picking a player that you think will combine a good kicking percentage with a decent running game (if you can find one!)
There are two approaches to picking your back-row players – go for the work-horses, who will likely rack up the tackles, or pick the headline-stealing carriers. Ironically, one of each type of player topped the stats in 2015 – Chris Robshaw firmly falls into the former category, and he came second to Billy Vunipola, who carried strongly and bagged a couple of tries.
Of course, the holy grail is someone that transcends both groups. Taulupe Faletau fits that bill on paper, but had a quiet 2015 tournament. Sean O’Brien could well be your man – he’s ferocious in defence and also gets his hands on the ball to carry a lot.
Your locks might seem like a fairly irrelevant part of the team when it comes to fantasy points, but there are actually some decent points on offer here. Remember, your whole pack gets points for performance in the scrum and lineout, so it’s worth steering clear of teams that have a shaky set piece (Scotland spring to mind).
There are points on offer for a player that steals a lineout, so those that are regularly lifted (Devin Toner, Luke Charteris et al) are worth a punt, but really the most points are generally won by the guys that put in an 80 minute, high intensity shift: Alun Wyn Jones was last year’s top points scorer, for example.
Your front row picks are all about who will be winning the set piece. Most people use the front row to pick players from sides they expect to perform poorly, and while there are undoubtedly other areas to prioritise, it’s worth trying to get one or two guys in that might perform well. Last season, English and Irish front row forwards finished atop the pile, after both teams enjoyed strong campaigns at the set piece.
Dylan Hartley was comfortably the highest scoring hooker in last year’s tournament – now galvanised by the captaincy, can he step it up another notch this year? He may well be a very good pick (unless he gets sent off, of course…).
THE RUGBY BLOG LEAGUE
Disagree with me? Think you know better? Join our league and prove it! Follow the link to head to our SuperBru league, and start picking your team now.
Photos by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images