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The Mercato - Open Sesame

And welcome back to The Mercato, a long-form series from Talking League. In this edition, we have a look at the opening of NRL Fantasy game for 2024.

At the time of writing, the NRL Fantasy game hasn’t officially opened (yet). However, by the time you read this it probably will have. Once open for business, you will be able to start assembling your 21-man squad before the inevitable 6,839 changes before the first rolling lockout. Like in previous years, you will need to start on the web version before the app becomes available in late January 2024.

Game Structure

There was some discourse about some possible changes to the structure of NRL Fantasy for 2024, but per NRL Fantasy:

“2023 was a tough season of NRL Fantasy, so we've changed nothing significant for 2024, other than making a few tweaks to Draft”

I feel like maintaining the game structure from 2023 is a fantastic idea, enabling coaches to take the learnings from 2023 and apply them into 2024. I have plenty to take from 2023 which I went through in detail here and some of the key learnings were:

  • Run with the pack

  • Chase the cash cows early

  • Don’t be afraid to cut bait

  • Ride the waves

  • Don’t rush the bye planning

  • Be careful of oversubscription in the major byes

  • Respect the Minor Bye

With the game remaining the same, coaches will face these conditions in 2024:

  • Initial Salary Cap of $10m for 21 players (Starting 13, positionless bench)

  • 36 trades to use up to round 19, further 8 from round 20

  • Standalone Bye in Rounds 1-12, 15, 18, 21-27

  • Major Bye Rounds (5 games only) in Rounds 13, 16 and 19

  • Minor Bye Rounds (7 games only) in Rounds 14, 17 and 20

  • DPP updates post-TLT on Rounds 1, 7, 14 and 21

Player Pricing

As mentioned in my previous piece, the magic number for most players pricing in 2024 is $13.75k with some notable exceptions that we covered last time. The magic number over the past four years has been as follows:

  • 2024 - $13.75k

  • 2023 - $14.3k

  • 2022 - $12.9k (lower number to react to the 2021 PVL-ball fantasy scoring)

  • 2021 - $13.4k

With no change in salary cap and a reduction in magic number, in theory it should be easier to build a team for 2024 compared to 2023. Whether that comes to fruition is something that we’ll need to wait and see on as we are always subject to over-performing players. We may have a few J’Maine Hopgood types this season, or we may not. Either way, finding out the answer will be fun and a discussion we’ll have on the poddy over the pre-season.

It's worth noting that Connelly Lemuelu’s profile has been updated. Instead of being a $474k EDG/CTR like he was proposed in the leaks, he’s lost the CTR DPP and is priced per the magic number at $575k. To quote Andy again, it always seemed like a bit of an anomaly that Lemuelu retained an unrealistic DPP and had his price dropped. So the fact that it won’t be the case makes complete sense.

Where some may argue that complete sense doesn’t come to the party is the pricing of the “new and returning players” that are either coming to/back from the UK or re-entering the rugby league arena. The following players fit into those categories

  • Will Pryce (NEW, $400k, HLF/WFB, [29])

  • Kai Pearce-Paul (NEW, $520k, EDG, [38])

  • Morgan Smithies (CAN, $520k, EDG, [38])

  • Bronson Xerri (CBY, $450k, CTR, [33])

  • Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (WAR, $619k, WFB, [45])

  • Chanel Harris-Tavita (WAR, $350k, HLF, [26])

  • Aiden Sezer (WST, $477k, HLF, [35])

Like the players that we spoke about last time that had their prices adjusted, I have no issue with any of these prices. If these players came in at bottom dollar, I imagine all bar CHT would feature in almost every coach’s round 1 team so increasing the challenge level a little is something that I will always support. KPP and Smithies will be very interesting discussion points across the pre-season, as there’s no clear indicator as to whether they will thrive or hardly survive in the NRL.

And the discussions across the pre-season are something that we look forward to bringing to you on the podcast, as well as interacting with you on the socials. Echoing TK’s sentiments from the last early fantasy preview; a big thank you to everyone in the Talking League Community who has contributed towards having a fun and enjoyable NRL Fantasy community. However you choose to spend it, have a fantastic festive period and we’ll catch you in 2024 for more NRL Fantasy content!




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