Fantasy Rugby: Guide to Squad Building

Our fantasy rugby game is a rich and immersive experience, and to the uninitiated it can at first seem daunting; but fear not! Our guide to squad building will help set you on the path to fantasy glory.


By Edward Kerr
30th August 2018
By Edward Kerr
30th August 2018

Our fantasy rugby game is a rich and immersive experience, and to the uninitiated it can at first seem daunting; but fear not! Our guide to squad building will help set you on the path to fantasy glory.

In the beginning…

When you first land on the squad screen, you’re presented with a short intro into the core rules of the game. No less than 28 players in a squad, and 1 free transfer a week; the rest is up to you.

It’s worth noting that your squad and your team are two separate entities; you choose your squad of 28 players, from which you then choose the 23 players you wish to start for a given game week. This puts a lot of emphasis on getting the right balance to your squad before the season starts. 

This isn’t a ‘set and forget’ sort of game; it rewards those that take time and effort, and have a good understanding of rugby. Don’t let that put you off though, a lot of the fun in fantasy is building your knowledge of a competition.

From here, it’s up to you whether you are comfortable selecting your own players from the off, or whether you would like to auto-pick your squad. We recommend auto-picking if you are new to the game, as it will give you a feel for how everything works.

Otherwise, have a read of the below and then jump to the players screen and start choosing your squad for the campaign…

Early considerations

We’ve set the game up to balance out the accrual of points across all players. There will certainly be performances that drive a player’s points up, but for the main, no one position will drastically outscore another. This ensures that your salary budget can be evenly spent across your entire squad, without certain positions being glossed over because they don’t contribute as much as others.

At this stage, it is certainly worth at least a glance over how players earn their points. This will give you a better understanding of the type of player you require for a given position. This game isn’t all about tries, it’s about defence too, and you only get kicking points for your designated kicker, so no point in filling your backline with kickers who don’t run anywhere.

Jump to the help page and open ‘Player Scoring’ to see a list of how players earn their points: https://therugbymagazine.com/fantasy/help

Another early and perhaps one of the most important aspects to consider, is player value. Don’t be fooled into believing that high salary players are the best, or that a salary of a player necessarily represents their overall value to your fantasy squad.

Another point worth noting: this game rewards early adopters of players. Should a player burst onto the scene, his value will rise, not only as his form improves, but also as more users include him in their squads. This is another key aspect of the game; while your budget at the outset might seem limiting, with focus you can increase it to a substantial enough level to bring in higher value (or more) players. There is no limit on the amount of players you can have in your squad, which means you can have sufficient backup to cover even the greatest injury crisis.

Important Attributes

Having considered the positional balance of your squad, next up is finding the right players. 

It’s easy to jump onto the game and pick the players who have had earned the most points in the previous season, but of course this doesn’t take into account those players who have been injured, or have missed games for whatever reason. Equally, a player who was first choice last season, won’t necessarily be first choice this season.

The key here again, is finding value. Assessing how much of an impact a player had on the field is better than defaulting to a base number such as points accrued, which could have come from having played many more matches than a similar player. Equally, their points could be misleading in as much as they may contain a large number of points kicked at goal; if this particular player is not your goal kicker, then how much is he contributing to your team?

Part of our pro features is a breakdown of a player’s performance into 16 different attributes, as well as an overall recommendation. This is great for visibility on how a player compares to his associates; does he earn more points in attack or defence; how does his discipline compare? Does his club have a high rotation of players? Is he a fringe player who is not expected to play too often?

Answering these questions might be the difference between going into round three or four and being able to field a team without making any transfers. Points win prizes at the end of the day.

Tactics

In terms of outright points generation, the stature of a club means remarkably little; given the ability for players to rack up points in defensive situations, if a club maintains a solid defence and misses few tackles, those players are in a position to outscore their opponents.

That said, if they spend a lot of time kicking away possession and never getting their hands on the ball, they aren’t going to earn many attacking points. This does then put a lot of emphasis on the style of rugby a particular team plays, but again, don’t be fooled into thinking that those teams who are predicted to come top necessarily contain those players who will top the points scoring lists.

This is about individual performances within the structure of a club’s game. You can suggest that those teams at the top of the table probably have higher scoring players, but it is not an absolute certainty that this will be the case.

Consider too then, what type of game a particular player plays. If a player plays 10 and his role is simply to pass the ball on or kick for touch, he will struggle to deliver high points scoring values for your team. If on the other hand, the player is a prop known for his bullocking runs in a possession hungry team, he is in a great position to contribute heavily to your cause over the season.

Versatility

One of the key features of our game are the number of positions a player can play in. For example, Israel Folau spent the front end of last season at centre before switching to full back. Rather than constrain a player to an arbitrary position, we have allowed each player to fulfil the same positions they do in real life. If you want Folau at fullback in your team and he is playing in the centre come game day, you can have him there.

Further to this however, is the flexibility it gives you in building your squad. There are fantastic players who only play in one position, but they won’t be able to fill in elsewhere should injuries or byes take a player out of your side. Use this wisely, and you can ensure you do not need to start using extra transfers that cost you game week points.

Weather Conditions

Perhaps something that over the course of the season will be more important for your choice of team rather than squad, weather conditions can have a big influence on the way a team plays and subsequently the type of performance a player delivers. 

If a side is used to running rugby, but finds itself drenched with rain, the promise of that bullocking prop racking up the points is somewhat dampened. It might also lead to more scrum penalties and handling errors, all of which have a negative impact on a player’s score.

The scouting department upgrade delivers weather reports for upcoming matches, and gives you a good indication of what to expect for upcoming fixtures. Combine that with difficulty ratings, and you should begin to get a good picture of which players are capable of performing in given situations, helping you get a solid return at game time.

Summary

There are a lot of factors that will dictate the outcome of your season, but having the right balance and setup to your squad at the outset can prove incredibly beneficial. There are players in the top ten of our Premiership fantasy who have so far managed to avoid making more than one transfer a week, such is the quality of their squads.

With the right forethought, focus, and research with the available tools, there is no reason why you cannot build a squad capable of crushing your friends and cruising on top of your custom league.

The Rugby Magazine

Filed under: Gallagher Premiership, The Scout
Written by: Edward Kerr
Follow: @edwardrkerr · @therugbymag

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