Below is my early list of the top 10 halfbacks heading into the 2020 Draft season.
The position is split into two obvious tiers. Tier 1 being the big four and tier 2 being a much larger collection of guys.
See below for a critical breakdown of each key player and full strategy analysis for halfback selection come Draft day.
The rankings will be based on a mixture of value as well as overall ability.
*Scroll down to the bottom of the page for a key on all SuperCoach relevant abbreviations and an explanation of tiers in Draft.
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1. NATHAN CLEARY
The clear number one HFB for mine heading into the 2020
season is Nathan Cleary.
The departure of Jimmy Maloney to the other side of the
world is massive for Cleary who will see more touches in play and take over the
majority of the last tackle duties.
This will likely lead to more runs (and therefore offloads
and tackle busts), try & linebreak assist opportunities and importantly
repeat sets which Cleary is particularly good at when allowed the chance.
Without Maloney in 2019 Cleary notched up scores of 63 &
139 (The latter against Cronulla, nonetheless with 3x forced drop outs).
In 2018 he again played two games without Maloney for an
average of 70PPG and critically those two games accounted for four of his six
forced drop outs for the entire season.
Essentially he scores go way up without Jimmy on this stat
alone. Additionally, his ability to offload is top class.
There are games when Cleary will kick three from three,
offload three times and make 16 tackles which accounts for 40 SC points before
you even begin counting the rest.
Oh yeah, and he scored 186 in the last round of last season
so there is just a little of late season form to work with there.
Consensus – Clear number 1 halfback, so take him high. He is great with Maloney but should be even better now.
2 & 3. DALY
CHERRY-EVANS AND MITCH MOSES
This pair are very hard to split having both averaged 62PPG
There are two ways to look at it. Cherry-Evans has
consistently been among the top halves from a SuperCoach perspective so you can
safely lock him in and reap the benefits.
Whereas Moses has a stack of upside but is more of a risk.
The reason I say this is because he has had periods of dominance in the past
mixed in with some absolute stinkers.
But last year he really came of age and also owns the goal-kicking
duties which is important, especially if the Eels can continue to improve and
score more points.
I have no major preference. If you prefer the safe option
lock in Cherry or if you prefer a bit more of a rollercoaster combined with
risk but a heap of upside, then go with Mitch as your man and enjoy the ride. I
honestly wouldn’t care who I landed if given the option.
Consensus – It may be wise to check which week your Draft finals fall on (different week for different league settings) and let each players opposition decide for you. That’s what I will do.
4. SHAUN JOHNSON
Read this carefully. SJ has always been an absolute SuperCoach
gun. His average over the past five years of: 63, 64, 72, 69 and 71 make him
seem like a sure bet.
The issue is twofold. Firstly he has only ever played more
than 18 games once in those five years (he played 18 and 17 games every year
outside of 2016).
That’s consistently around eight or nine games missed which
is costly in Draft as you can’t afford to sell him unlike in Classic mode.
That’s eight or nine games relying on a backup half. Perhaps
locking in a semi solid low-end half late in the Draft who will average 40-45 or
there abouts as your first bench spot is the best approach here if you want to
punt on SJ.
The second issue I have is that his speed is starting to
take a hit in the last couple of years and continuous injuries have not helped
my man here.
That doesn’t bode well for his scores as his runs, tackle breaks
and tries all fall away as he looks to pass and kick more as he gets older (think
the reinvention of Benji).
As you can see above his scores have tailed off from the 70s
to lower-mid 60s the last two years.
Okay, so where do we land with SJ?
He may well end up the second best averaging half as long as he can hold the goal-kicking duties year-round (I think he will), but there is a huge risk on the amount of games played and whether his older body can produce the scores we need for a top end half.
I’d prefer to take Cherry/Moses or wait until later in the Draft to lock in one of the solid contributors to follow.
In saying all of this, feel free to take the punt if you’re
that way inclined. It could be a title winning move if he can stay healthy.
Especially given he averaged 80+ to finish last season after
getting benched late in a game last year. (Caveat – SJ is basically in my top
three favourite players of all time, so if I’m wary you probably should be too.)
Consensus – If you want to punt on him do it in Classic, but I’d advise avoiding in Draft.
5. BEN HUNT
Another mainstay here. Hunt is quite versatile in real life when
it comes to positions but regardless you have a SuperCoach scorer at your
In my opinion Ben Hunt is one of the most talented little
fellas in the competition, with a killer running game who occasionally can make
a poor decision at a critical time.
But that doesn’t matter for us (unless you’re a Saints fan)
as all we want is SuperCoach points and Benny provides that in spades.
With previous year averages of 59, 51, 58, 56 & 64 he is
a good bet anywhere in the 5-10 range when it comes to halfbacks.
6. BRODIE CROFT
At a new club and being given more control of the side Croft
has major upside.
There have been multiples games in the past two years where
Croft has delivered big numbers. Importantly these were without a dominant
In 2019 Cam Munster missed Rounds 16, 18 & 25. In these
games Croft averaged 77.3!
In the previous seasons in two games without Munster he
averaged 89.5PPG. It’s a small sample but it’s very impressive.
On the fast track of Suncorp every two weeks and with a
serious running game Croft could be the pick of the second tier come season’s
The downside is that he averaged 45PPG the last two seasons. The decision you have to make is how much this will differ with the change of scenery and new line-up.
7. JAHROME HUGHES
I love Hughes as a player. The assumption is that he will
play in the halves for Melbourne alongside Munster. If so then he is a very
reasonable SuperCoach scorer.
The last two years he has averaged 56 & 51PPG and will
look to improve on that in 2020.
Four games in the halves last year yielded an average of 71PPG
although one was a big ton against the Gold Coast.
The risk is if Melbourne play poorly for a period (this
seems unlikely under the Bellamy/Smith regime) that a reshuffle could happen and
Hughes be dropped.
That’s a big maybe but I’m just flagging it as there are
rumours that Smith could even shift to halfback at some stage to allow Brandon
Smith a crack at starting number 9.
That’s why I have him eighth on the list behind guys like Hunt
and Croft. He may fly under the radar though so be ready to swoop.
8. LUKE BROOKS
A very safe selection once the big guns are off the board
considering he is the undisputed half of the Tigers squad.
He appears to be improving his footy each year and his
average of 58PPG in 2019 is nothing to be scoffed at.
As mentioned already it is critical in Draft to get players
that play as many games as possible. Luke Brooks fits that mould. (This is less important in the later rounds
when you can take more of a punt on a player with upside and cut them for a
similar player on the wire if necessary).
The downside is that Brooks averaged under 50PPG in every year previous. Will his surge continue?
9. KYLE FLANAGAN
Goal-kicking and slotting into a star-studded Roosters team
reads very well for Kyle Flanagan. Looking at last year Flanagan averaged just
a touch under 55PPG in seven starting matches.
Add in further goal-kicking duties and the star cast of teammates
at his disposal and that average could potentially jump quite a lot.
Let’s take a punt and say he will average low-to-mid 60s. I
would be looking to take him above everyone to follow in this list purely due
to his upside and the fact that he now plays for Easts.
Caveat – He is only kicking at 61% in his short career but his record in lower grades and juniors is quite good and the hope would be that he will start to knock them over consistently and ensure he keeps the duties.
Flanagan has lost the goal-kicking duties following the World Club Challenge. Therefore he comes with much more risk and my prediction of a possible average in the 60s could drop to around 50 best case if he doesn’t kick or doesn’t kick often. This being the case I am knocking Flanagan back to 10th on my list as it stands.
AVOID – ADAM REYNOLDS
Simply too risky in Draft. He unfortunately missed
games and has gone off early a bit in the past. Although the last three years
Reynolds has played a majority of matches so perhaps the glass body is a bit of
Even so, he is also at risk of giving up the kicking duties
to Latrell to rest the body a little more. Whilst this may not happen, all in
all there are too many guys who will average a similar amount to Reynolds. Unless
you can nab him in the latter rounds, stay away is my tip.
BOUNCE BACK YEAR – MICHAEL MORGAN
I can’t not write about Michael Morgan. Before his injury
affected 2018 Morgan averaged 59PPG in three straight years.
If you are that way inclined you could take a flyer on him to
get back to career best form and realistically average higher than any of the
second tier guys.
Obviously the bounce back may not happen but even last year’s
average of 51PPM is okay if you aren’t taking him up with the big guns.
Chad Townsend / Mitch Pearce / Dylan Brown / George Williams / Jarome Luai and others are all decent halves to take. You are not limited in options for this position if you stack the rest of your squad first.
THE TAKE AWAY
The important take away from all of this is that if you miss
out one of the top tier guys don’t panic and feel as though you have to
immediately take a halfback just to fill the position.
There are so many guys who will likely average in the 50-60PPG
range that you can grab later in the Draft and allow yourself to stock up on
other key positions earlier.
My tip is to write down the names of halfbacks you want and
put a line through them as they come off the board.
Once you get near the last couple of names on the list it’s
time to swoop and lock one into your side before you get stuck with someone who
contributes very little.
This is not likely to occur until late in the Draft however
depending on your league settings, so when it comes to halfbacks there is no
need to panic.
The only pressure will be to get one of the top 3-4 guys.
Once they are gone perhaps look to stack other positions first.
WHAT ARE TIERS IN
referencing a tier of players this simply means a grouping of players of a
particular SuperCoach ability.
tier is the elite. The second tier are those players who are not projected to
be quite as good as the top tier. Whilst, the third or fourth tiers are getting
to those players of less and less value.
standard of players in each tier will differ depending on each position. Some
positions may have some lower tier players who could contribute whilst other
positions may be void of options once you get to the third or fourth tier. Each
article will make this clear.
– The top tier is a group of players considered to be the best. For Halfbacks
the top tier is projected to be Cleary, Cherry-Evans, Mitch Moses and Shaun
tier are players like Ben Hunt, Luke Brooks, Jahrome Hughes etc. who are
valuable but simply are not as good as the top tier guys, whilst a lower tier
player may be someone like Ryley Jacks who has limited value due to not
generally being a starting player.
SUPERCOACH TERMINOLOGY KEY
MPG = Minutes per game
PPG = Points per game
PPM = Points per minute
BPG = Base per game (point accrued in tackles + runs + missed