In 4 weeks time it will be Round 1 TLT-Eve (a veritable Christmas Eve for Fantasy die-hards).
At this point I'm not super-keen on going Draft-crazy - so much can change in the 4 weeks leading up to Round 1 and I find that it just promotes a fixation on finding midrangers with "decent" upsides - and this year there seems to be a lot of them.
Nevertheless, I couldn't help chucking a team together - which I don't mind the balance of at this point (with some Basement-priced placeholders etc).
My main focus right now is deciding who my likely guns are - probably 4 of the following:
Cook - Started last season slow (44 & 45) before the rule changes, and seemingly on a directive to "not run so much". The biggest question here is probably more around value options available at HOK -> Brailey, Liddle, Egan, Watson etc
Not really considering anyone else at this point. McInnes - new coach actively looking for a new HOK. Grant - uncertainty around Storm squad (CS9) - Cheese grumblings about playing HOK etc. Koro - unlikely to keep up last years scoring.
In past years I've at times suffered going cheap in the halves - there's an outside chance I may run two guns here.
Cleary - The obvious choice. Last year was the first time in the last 7 years where a HLF has been in the top 5 scorers (and both him and DCE made it). Seems unlikely to top the table again, but should be there or there-abouts.
DCE - The clear alternative, 100K cheaper and the second half to crack into the top 5 scoring. Unlike with Cleary, make-up of the Manly spine and who plays 5/8 is less certain. At this point, it's probably enough for me to pass.
Moses - I hear Andrew Johns is back helping the Eels halves - should give him a confidence boost. Averaged close to 480KM per game in the regular season last year (excluding the INJ game). So should be good for a 40 point floor when combined with other base stats.
Munster - lots of positive talk around extra KM, more attack and maybe even Goal Kicking. I'm not 100% convinced and will wait to see confirmation around CS9's movements etc.
Crichton - Bit more of a gut feel, and still some risk of him being used as a make-shift Centre (no Aubu any more). Should get at least a couple of months before Cordner returns, but feel we haven't seen him at his best (my smokey for top scorer for 2021 - so may get injured early!). Handy DPP and likely for me to use him at MID or as a benchie to start.
Matterson - Such a great 50 point floor. Either won't play Origin, or will be doing so well that he's a must for Origin - either way seems a win. Not particularly concerned about Head injury record.
Taumalolo - Coach Payten doesn't worry me too much - will have him fit and should play decent minutes if Tohu Harris last year is any clue. No real bye advantage having him early this year as plays R17.
Tedesco - Despite the odd slow R1/R2 starts - there really isn't a better time to grab him. He MAY lose $50K-$100Kish, but then it costs a trade to draft him in (and lets face it - at his price it's still difficult to get him in without two trades). Tends to lose matches over the middle of the year, so the best value is from the get-go.
Tommy Trbojevic (#5 gun) - Essentially a cut priced gun, and IF he can make it to the starting block he will be an automatic selection - despite making it on to my "never-again" Blacklist last year - heavy selection mitigates risk.
Other than that, gradually shortening a long list of players from the end of last year / preseason - into a small list of possibles to fit around those TLT suprises.