There’s no need to dwell on the heartbreaking mistakes of my World Cup fantasy campaign. I’m all about picking Max Malins over Henry Arundell with five tries for England’s resounding win over Chile. Looking for Shannon Frizell, who picked up an early yellow card, in place of Ardie Savea ahead of the final? Totally forgotten.
A new Six Nations brings with it another official fantasy game, slightly different from the one that had me tearing my hair out in France. Why, oh why was I captained by Matthieu Jalibert instead of Damian Penaud for the hosts’ defeat of Namibia? No matter, here are some tips for the Six Nations.
How to select players
Users are given a budget of 240 stars to choose a starting lineup from all six teams. The most expensive players, James Lowe and Damian Penaud, cost twenty stars, and they are all categorized by position. You need three back three players, two centres, a fly-half and a scrum-half in the back line. At the front, the pack should consist of three back rowers, a pair of locks, two props and a hooker. Don’t get stuck with tighthead and loosehead props if you don’t want to. There doesn’t have to be one of each.
As far as bonus roles go, the captain tag does what it has done in most fantasy games in various sports over the years; it doubles that player’s score. A very interesting feature of this Six Nations game, which adds an element of strategy, is the ‘super sub’ chip. This triples the points of an additional player coming off the bench. However, if that player starts, he only gets back half of the points he earns.
How to score points
The Six Nations game is more stripped down than the World Cup game. That said, in addition to stats such as tries, assists, tackles and turnovers, the scoring index includes kicks of 50:22, which are worth a significant boost of seven points. Line-out steals are worth the same. Most valuable, however, are the coveted Player-of-the-match awards. These give you no less than 15 points. As always, tickets cost the most. Yellow sets you back three points, with an exclusion carrying a penalty of six points.
Choose Damian and/or Duhan
Don’t try to be too smart and hesitate about the price of premium wings. Penaud now rates 19.4 stars, down from its initial high of 20 after a forgettable night in Marseille. On Friday he still recorded 17 points. Each defeated defender scores more than two points. Penaud slides past opponents at will. He finished the last championship as top try scorer and is also an effective link man who will be surrounded by Bordeaux colleagues. Keep the faith.
Duhan van der Merwe (18.3 stars) throws tackles for fun. He returned 38 points from the Cardiff thriller, collecting 95 meters on his way to two tries.
Support yourself with newbies
A scan of the scoresheets suggests that relatively unproven internationals are cheap. Joe McCarthy and Tommy Freeman were at 11 and 8 stars respectively before the first round started. They immediately turned out to be worthwhile bargains. McCarthy scored 33 points, boosted by his player of the match award. Freeman scored 27 points himself. Prices change up and down, just like Fantasy Premier League (FPL), so be quick. McCarthy is now at 12.1 stars, with Freeman at 9.1. Ethan Roots has moved up to 9.7 starts thanks to his 37 points in Rome.
Just as Fantasy Premier League (FPL) players search databases for midfielders labeled as defenders or forwards placed in the midfielder category, rugby offers similar opportunities. Tommaso Menoncello (now 12.1 stars) is eliminated as a three-player. The explosive Italian star played exclusively at center for Benetton this season, creating excellent gaps against England before later moving to the wing. He registered 35 points in the loss.
Finn Russell will kick on goal for Scotland and will certainly continue to put himself in the frame for more points with try assists. He’s also quite productive when it comes to 50:22s, a seven-point performance that could make your week. Russell started the championship with a round 40 as Scotland defeated Wales.
With break steals worth five and line-out steals worth seven, disruptors like Maro Itoje (16.1 stars), Tadhg Beirne (17 stars) and Tommy Reffell (13.1 stars) will be tempting. Beirne collected 44 points at Stade Vélodrome, while Reffell struggled to take an impressive 34.
Super sub options
One name immediately comes to mind when I think of the ‘super sub’ bonus; that of Nolan le Garrec (9.2 stars). The running scrum-half has plundered six tries for Racing 92 in the Top 14. He added the spark when replacing Maxime Lucu against Ireland and introduced himself with a jackal turnover to score 5 points. His returns will certainly improve as France does this as a collective.
Keep an eye out for updates
Le Garrec could very well be promoted to Murrayfield’s starting line-up, so keep an eye out for announcements towards the end of the matchweeks. Unlike FPL, Six Nations fantasy teams can be changed mid-round as long as the players’ teams have not yet taken the field. That means that if you are alert enough, you can intervene to pull back those who have retreated into real life. For example, it would have been a shame if anyone had kept Ellis Genge in their team after the England loosehead had to abandon the match in Italy with a foot injury.
One point per tackle, as opposed to one per five tackles as other rugby games have awarded, makes the defensive grafters more valuable. Michele Lamaro (11.2 stars) is worth considering here. The Italy captain completed 19 tackles against England and scored well enough to increase his value despite a trip to the sin bin late on. Grégory Alldritt’s output (17.5 stars) is also consistently huge, and is unlikely to diminish as France captain.
Appearances are deceiving
Alldritt is a good place to end. Most would probably suggest he was beaten by Caelan Doris (17 stars) on Friday. However, he took home 31 points. Doris landed 20. The difference? Time spent on defense. Alldritt made 16 tackles and forced a Jackal turnover, while Doris completed eight tackles and was not credited with any steals.
A surprising pace setter?
Wild, chaotic matches produced huge individual scores and Aaron Wainwright became the first man to surpass half-century this season. A try and 97 running metres, with five defenders beaten and a player off the match gong despite finishing on the losing side, all yielded 56 points. Next stop; Twickenham.