Draft positional breakdown: Front-row

The SC Spy takes an in-depth look at the tricky front-row position, and provides a selection strategy come Draft day.

Draft Breakdown Pre Season

Front-row selection is always important to lock in consistent point scoring, outside of the high ceiling backs in your team.

But looking at the below, there is some seriously good options, so don’t jump too early. I personally think there is not a lot between any of the top 7 guys, so don’t go to early on someone like David Klemmer, because you can get similar value (for mine) getting someone like Marty Taupau or Sio Siua Taukeiaho later in the Draft.

I also would want to lock in higher scoring backs or a hooker before grabbing front-rowers. This is a general guide of course and will change depending on your league settings.

Let’s take a look at my breakdown below to see exactly what I think of the top line guys.

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ELITE TIER

1. PAYNE HAAS

Enough said. Haas is the best FRF by a mile, averaging 78PPG in 64 minutes last year as a young man.

The gap to the next guy is substantial based on last year, so you will need to spend a high pick if you want him.

Haas is probably a top 5 pick, but he may slip down slightly if you’re lucky.

If you can’t get him and want to lock in another key position, then there are options below to compliment a high-scoring outside back or hooker.

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NEXT TIER

2. JAMES FISHER-HARRIS

JFH scored at an average of 0.87PPM last year, which equates to a tick under 70PPG when playing the full 80-minutes, which he did for the majority of the year.

There is the risk that he gets less minutes at random intervals, but based on last year, Cleary likes what he offers and tends to play him big minutes.

Consensus – A stud and a rock solid option with huge base stats. The only risk is if his minutes ever dipped, in which case he would still do a good job for you, but maybe not at the elite level.

3. JOSH PAPALII

Ricky Stuart used him in a slightly more explosive roll last year, cutting Papa’s minutes back to 53 per game.

Papalii is that good however that this did not affect his output one bit, he went on to average 65PPG.

There is slightly more risk given his new role, as it relies a little on attacking stats due to lower minutes, but Papalii is simply that good that he will find his points.

I would expect similar to last year, so you know what you are buying here.

Consensus – Rock solid! Papalii averaged between 63-66PPG for four straight years. The key stat is that Papalii averaged 76PPG over the final 10 rounds last season due to an increase in tries, linebreaks, and more importantly offloads.

So is there increased upside heading into 2020? Based on that form, and the fact he may be firing again come finals time in your Draft league, I like him a lot.

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4. ADDIN FONUA-BLAKE

It was a breakout season in 2019 for the now 24-year-old. AFB is an absolute powerhouse, but the major concern is how long he will miss with his injury.

For me, don’t look too much into this as the season is long and he can help you a lot.

As well as this, his injury may scare some people off, so he may potentially drop a little lower for you.

He averaged 66PPG last year after only 48PPG the season before. I would be backing Des Hasler to use him in a similar manner and any uptick in minutes could see him have massive, massive value.

It is noted that he played 77 and 80 minutes across two games at the back end of 2019.

Hopefully you can pick him up a little lower than usual given his injury and reap the rewards when he is fully fit.

Consensus – I like him a lot for those who like a little bit of risk for potential reward.

The other risk is the fact that he has only had one top SuperCoach season, so it’s a small sample, but I’m not too worried about that as he should only get better as a player.

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5. SIO SIUA TAUKEIAHO

Providing he can get the kicking duties after taking over during the World Club Challenge, this could see him boost his average of 58PPG into the mid-to-high 60s.

It is noted that he is coming off 47MPG, so he won’t be on the field to take every kick.

But perhaps he can add in 6PPG at an estimate. The risk of course is that Kyle Flanagan takes the duties.

Either way though, you still have a solid scorer with potential upside whether he goal-kicks or increases his minutes (see below).

Key numbers:

SST was hit with some mid-game injuries on a couple of occasions last year, and the last of those really impacted his minutes over the final five games he played.

Prior to this in non-injury affected matches, he was averaging 54.3MPG. He also averaged 63PPG up until Round 15 when he got hurt again.

Across the season he scored at 1.24PPG. Breaking this down, if he could stay healthy he could realistically (in a best case scenario) average 67PPG based on these numbers from last year.

And that is without goal-kicking!!! The more I write here the more excited I get. Can he keep up the PPM? Will he kick? 

Consensus – SST is a huge target in the middle rounds. He will either be solid or could end up becoming one of the picks of the Draft!

I have him above Klemmer in value due to the fact the Knights prop will generally go early in the Draft based off last year’s average. Big target for me!

6. DAVID KLEMMER

Klem scored at a very nice 1.09PPM last season, which led to a season average of 66PPG.

You would think his minutes remain similar, but with a new coach who knows?

Will a new game plan/style of play effect his work rate at all? That’s the only risk here, and given Klem only averaged high 50’s per game in three previous seasons, it is hard to say.

Personally, I’d back him to do a top job for you however, and hope to replicate or go close to last year’s average. He also tends to be durable with no major injuries of late.

Consensus – It’s hard to split with the above guys, but I’ve got him at six due to his lower upside. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with him however.

7. MARTY TAUPAU

I agree with our man Dez Creek that Big Marty may not have been fully fit last season.

Potentially, this contributed to the minor drop off in numbers. In saying that, he only played an average of 1 minute less than the year before and his PPG went from 1.27 to 1.24.

Not a major drop, but enough to see his average fall from 64.7 to 61.5PPG.

He would be every chance to get back to mid-60s if he can return to busting a few extra tackles and hopefully offloading a little more if his contact can improve.

Consensus – Either way, you can grab Marty after the real studs are off the board and know that he will do a job for your side.

He has always been durable and I’m not against having him at all. What I do like is that you can get him much later than Klemmer for example and potentially get a similar output.

I’m happy to wait on Marty and scoop him up when the time is right!

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8. Liam Knight

Averaged 47PPG in only 41 minutes last season. Looking set for a starting position this season. If he can get up to 60 or so minutes there is no reason he can’t average high 60s.

9. ANDREW FIFITA

This is purely down to health. Fifita has past averages since 2015 of 73, 72, 64, 68, and 60PPG last season.

The history shows that he is an absolute stud, but his knee appears shot. So the question is, how many games will he play and when he does get on the park, how will his minutes look?

They took a hit from 57 per game to 49 last year, or 51MPG if you take out his injury affected 7 minutes against Gold Coast in Round 9 when the Spy here captained him in Classic mode. He was on 19 by that stage as well with three offloads. SIGH!

Consensus – Without this game he would still have averaged 62PPG, so don’t right him off, just be aware of what you may be purchasing.

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THIRD TIER

10. PAUL VAUGHAN

The blockbusting front-rower. Coming off an average of 60PPG with averages in the previous two years of 53 and 68PPG you can see it’s not as consistent as the above guys, but the scoring potential is there.

Consensus – A pretty decent guy to lock in if you miss out on the above.

11. TEVITA PANGAI JNR

There is a risk in Pangai’s minutes and durability, his upside however is phenomenal. He is such a talent and is coming off averages of 58 and 53PPG in 60 & 50MPG respectively.  

Consensus –  He has had some pretty dodgy hammies in recent years and is also a hot head to a degree.

At this stage of the Draft it depends on your line up. If you are selecting your last starting front-rower then he is probably worth the punt, especially now that Matt Lodge (ACL) may be gone for a while.

Just be aware the Broncos have a lot of good young forwards, so playing time could be an issue and his injury history is a concern.

12. AIDEN TOLMAN

Tolman is a pretty boring type from a SuperCoach perspective, but he rolls up week after week and get through his work.

Dean Pay’s forward rotation is a concern, but he does love Aiden!

Tolman has averaged between 56-61PPG in four of the last five years and averaged 60MPG last year under Pay for 60 points.

Consensus – I know one bloke in my league who will pick him up well before he should due to his undying love affair with the big fella.

But in any other league he may well be available down the line due to the above factors and to be honest you could do far worse.

The risk for me is minutes and whether Pay wants to try some younger props to add some extra bite into the side, rather than relying on the dependable but less dangerous Tolman.   

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FLYERS

AARON WOODS AND TRENT MERRIN

Can Woods/Merrin return to their glory days which were not that long ago?

Woodsy has been a 60+ PPG player only two years ago, while Merrin’s history is covered in a separate player profile on this site, but there is some serious pedigree.

OTHERS

Junior Paulo, JWH, Alex Twal, James Tamou, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Jesse Bromwich, Jordan McLean and more.

These are all the guys that can do some sort of job for your team if you are still chasing front-rowers late on.

Happy drafting!

WHAT ARE TIERS IN SUPERCOACH DRAFT?

When referencing a tier of players this simply means a grouping of players of a particular SuperCoach ability.

The top 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.

The 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.

Scenario – 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 Johnson.

The second 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 tackles)

POD = Point of difference

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