South Sydney star Sam Burgess takes on the Storm.

How to play NRL Fantasy

So you've got the basics of how NRL Fantasy works, now it's time to sort out your game plan for the season.

It's all about the bargains

Picking high-scoring players is only part of the skill in being a successful NRL Fantasy coach. The key strategy for putting together a strong squad is making the most of your salary cap.

That's for two reasons. Firstly, if you can fit more high scorers into your starting squad you'll obviously score more points. For that reason you're also best off spending the vast majority of your salary cap on players in your starting 17, and try to save as much as possible with cheapies filling out the rest of your squad.

The second reason to look for value is that player prices in Fantasy start changing from round one, depending on how they perform – so if you have a bunch of under-priced players in your team at the start of the season your actual salary cap will grow significantly during the year, allowing you to put together a star-studded team by the end of the campaign.

Melbourne Storm captain Cameron Smith after the 2017 NRL Grand Final.
Melbourne Storm captain Cameron Smith after the 2017 NRL Grand Final. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

The skipper

You want value for money with pretty much every player that makes your squad. The exception is your captain, who will receive double points. That guy is going to be expensive, but cough up the cash for someone you think will be amongst the very best scorers in the game. (The simplest option? Pick NRL Fantasy king Cameron Smith, put the (c) next to him and leave him in your squad all year.

You also want a strong vice-captain, who gets double points if your captain doesn't play, but every other player should have at least the potential to make money when player prices start moving.

The cheapies

The temptation may be to start loading up on stars when you start selecting your squad, but once you've got a captain selected you're probably better off turning to the cheapest guys in the game. Take a look over the rookies or low-priced options and pick anyone you expect to get decent minutes from the start of the year.

Fantasy Jargon Buster – Cash Cows: Players who rise in value quickly with a few good scores are referred to as 'Cash Cows', and they're the guys you really want in your starting squad.

Once your cash cows hit peak price you can trade them out for a cheap player, and use the spare cash to upgrade another mid-range player in your team to a star. Getting the right cash cows early on can be the difference between making the finals of your head-to-head league or missing the cut.

I'll have an article highlighting some of the game's best cash cows in articles in the lead-up to the start of the season on NRL.com.

Depth and flexibility – utility players

Players can have one or two positions in NRL Fantasy, and those dual position players can be vital when trying to cover for injuries and suspensions throughout the season. That's especially true in 2018 with squad sizes dropping from 25 players to 21.

Having players who can cover both centre and wing/fullback, or both front and second-row, or hooker or half, means you'll have less to worry about when one of your starters goes down with a short-term injury. If you're stuck choosing between a few similar players at the start of the year, opt for the guy who can play two positions.

Fantasy Jargon Buster – DPP: Players who cover two positions are known as ‘DPP’; dual-position players.