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2018 NRL Fantasy guide: Raiders

NRL Fantasy 2018

Arguably the most entertaining team in the Telstra Premiership, the Canberra Raiders missed out on finals footy in 2017 and have been hit with an early blow leading into next season with Josh Hodgson injured on World Cup duty for England. But it's hard to deny the talent at Ricky Stuart's disposal. With brilliant outside backs and a monster forward pack the Green Machine could once again become one of the most popular clubs for NRL Fantasy coaches is they can recapture their 2016 form.

Fantasy gun: Jordan Rapana

It's always a bit risky to consider a winger a "gun" in NRL Fantasy, because they rely so heavily on big attacking plays to score well, but it's becoming increasingly clear Rapana is not your usual winger. The Kiwi speedster scored 23 tries in a breakout season alongside Joey Leilua in 2016 and still managed 21 tries in an otherwise disappointing 2017. He's ranked in the top five for tries, line breaks and tackle breaks and will probably match that haul again in 2018, making him that rare winger who can average 50 Fantasy points a game over an entire season.

Value buy: Craig Garvey

An ACL injury to star England hooker Josh Hodgson during the Rugby League World Cup was just the news Canberra Raiders fans didn't want to hear, but it does present an opportunity for an unsung rake in the starting role for the first chunk of the season. With Kurt Baptiste out the exit door for the Super League, new signing Garvey is likely to get first shot at the No.9 jersey ahead of ex-Dragons rake Siliva Havili. At $228,000, Garvey is very cheap for a starting hooker in NRL Fantasy – even if he doesn't play the full 80 minutes.

Canberra Raiders centre Joey Leilua takes on the Panthers defence.
Canberra Raiders centre Joey Leilua takes on the Panthers defence. ©Keegan Carroll/NRL Photos/NRL Photos

Wildcards: Joey Leilua and Jarrod Croker

The Raiders centres were genuine Fantasy keepers in 2016 as Canberra stunned the NRL to finish second in the league, but both dropped back to the pack last season. The more consistent Croker makes fewer errors and kicks goals so remained a solid performer with about 38 points a game in 2017, but the erratic Leilua had a season to forget with a 33-point average. You want 40 points a game from your centres in Fantasy, but if the Green Machine gets its groove back these two could become undervalued gems once again.

2018 NRL Fantasy player prices

Jordan Rapana: WFB, $726,000

Josh Papalii: 2RF, FRF, $726,000

Josh Hodgson: HOK, $635,000

Elliott Whitehead: 2RF, $604,000

Junior Paulo: FRF, $602,000

Nick Cotric: CTR, WFB, $560,000

Jarrod Croker: CTR, $553,000

Joseph Tapine: 2RF, $551,000

Blake Austin: HLF, $541,000

Sia Soliola: 2RF, $533,000

Jack Wighton: WFB, $521,000

Joseph Leilua: CTR, $486,000

Shannon Boyd: FRF, $435,000

Luke Bateman: 2RF, $420,000

Aidan Sezer: HLF, $397,000

Charlie Gubb: FRF, $327,000

Sam Williams: HLF, $298,000

Sitiveni Moceidreke: WFB, $289,000

Michael Oldfield: WFB, $284,000

Brad Abbey: WFB, $237,000

Craig Garvey: HOK, $228,000

Royce Hunt: FRF, 2RF, $228,000

Liam Knight: 2RF, $228,000

Siliva Havili: HOK, $228,000

Dunamis Lui: FRF, $217,000

Brent Naden: CTR, $212,000

Makahesi Makatoa: 2RF, FRF, $212,000

Bill Cullen: 2RF,FRF, $212,000

*2018 salary cap: 9.4m. Fantasy squad size: 21

Acknowledgement of Country

Canberra Raiders respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.