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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Turner

GameDay Squad's 2024 Rugby League Squad Strategy

If you are new to GDS or an experienced GDS coach, you should be able to find some takeaways from this blog. Unlike other rugby league fantasy platforms where you build your team from scratch every season, GDS is a dynasty platform, and this means you can keep the cards that are in your squad for this season forever. In this blog we will cover how to build your squad for this season and for the future.


Dynasty Strategy

A few coaches might be thinking what does dynasty mean in fantasy sports. Basically, it means that the players in your squad for the 2024 season are yours to keep forever or until you want to either trade or sell them on the Transfer Market.

GDS coaches should have an eye on the future for their squad. Most squads are ready to compete now but might not have much depth in young talent. Coaches that have squads like this may want to check out the Transfer Market and see if they can build up the young talent within their squads.

Some coaches may turn their nose up at veteran players due to their age. However, there is still room in GDS for these players. The likes of Shaun Johnson, Damien Cook, James Tedesco, Dane Gagai and Daly Cherry-Evans all made the GDS All Star Squad for 2023. None of these players are under the age of 30 but they are still some of the best in the game. The key is knowing when the best time is to move them on from your squad. There is no right or wrong time to do this, it really depends on the makeup of your squad.

2024 Season Strategy

Squad depth

Collect as many cards as you can across all positions to provide your squad with great depth. We all know that Cleary, Hynes and Haas are some of the most sought-after players in GDS and for good reason as they are the best in their positions. However, these players might be on a bye round, rep duties or unavailable due to injury. This is where good depth can really help coaches if they are in a spot bother when it comes to squad selection.

Good squad depth can also assist you when it comes to other rugby league competitions like NSW vs QLD. For competitions like this, it's a good idea to be a step ahead of your competition by acquiring players that are likely to play for NSW or QLD. Last year we saw Tom Trbojevic and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow lineup in the centres for their respective teams. In GDS, these two players carry a fullback position designation which made slim pickings at the centre position for the 2023 NSW vs QLD competition.

The Bench

The new bench feature is a game changer for 2024 and it's going to be interesting seeing how coaches fill these new scoring spots. There is no right or wrong way to fill the bench as it really depends on each coach's strategy. Let's say one strategy might be wanting to win a round. The coach may want to start players with more boom potential on their bench. Another strategy could be playing for overall. The coach may want to take a more conservative approach and start a player that offers a higher floor but has less boom potential.

After looking into the 2023 stats, I've found out the following.

Excluding the highest averaging HOK, three MIDs and two EDGs, there were ten forwards that averaged over 50 points. Eight of these forwards were MIDs. Being aware of this I believe it would be wise to fill one of the forward bench spots with a MID. The other forward bench spot is more match up dependent and will likely be a coin flip between HOK and EDG most weeks.

At this stage, I have Cleary and Hynes as my top two halves. In the next tier down, I have DCE, SJ and Moses. Most weeks it's going to be a coin flip between these three players on who will start in the bench half spot. Like many of these 50/50 decisions, it will come down to the inform player and which team they are playing against.

I believe playing a FLB in one of the benches back spots is a must. Selecting the other back for the bench, might just be one of the toughest decisions each week to make. Excluding FLBs and the highest averaging two CTRs and two WNGs, there were fourteen backs that averaged over 40 points. Seven of these backs were CTRs and seven of these backs were WNGs. When selecting either a CTR or WNG for the last bench spot, it really comes down to the form the player is in and which team they come up against. Check out the Strength of Schedule blog for a deeper dive into positional matchups.

Squad Selection

It all depends on the cards you have to select from and the matchups those players have. Some positions are more matchup dependent than others. Below, we will go through each position and what to look for in a player when making your selection each week.

Hooker - Over the last couple of seasons we have seen that a lot of teams now like to run with a utility player on the bench. Quite often this player may spend time in the hooker role throughout the game and because of this, the number of 80-minute hookers are slowly decreasing. When selecting your hooker, you should firstly look at players that play either the full 80 minutes or close enough to. It's important to consider hookers that offer a high tackle count, running game, kicking upside and a low missed tackle count. Hookers don't score too many points through attacking stats and the league average for 2023 through attacking stats was 8 points. Favourable matchups aren't too important at this position but if you have a 50/50 decision, a player with a favourable matchup may be the better option.

Middle Forward - At this position it's important to select big minute playing forwards that offer a high points per minute (PPM). Middle forwards score most of their points through base stats like tackles and running metres. Like hookers, middle forwards aren't heavily reliant on favourable matchups as they don't score a lot of points through attacking stats. However, some teams aren't as defensively strong as others through the middle and allow a higher PPM to this position. This may mean that middle forwards may score more points through running metres, tackle breaks and offloads in these matchups.

Edge Forward - Like the other two forward positions, it's important to select players that offer coaches a high floor through base stats and avoid players that lose a lot of points through demerits. Edge forwards score more points through attacking stats compared to the other forward positions and it's a good idea to select players that have a favourable match up. Being aware that a team has a strong or weak defence on the left or right may be crucial when making your selections at his position.

Halves - At this position it's important to select players from teams that score a lot of points. This is because the player is more likely to score points through try assists, line breaks and line break assists. Most teams have a dominant half, and these players are likely to be ones selected by GDS coaches for their starting squads. Another important part of the selection process is selecting halves that offer a high floor in base points through tackles, running metres and kicking metres. It's also wise to select a half that has the goal kicking duties as three points are awarded for every goal kicked. Try to avoid players that miss a lot of tackles as they will lose three points for every missed tackle. The predicted weather can be a factor. If it's going to be a wet weather game, the scores are likely to be lower than usual and halves might not score as many points through attacking stats. When it comes to matchups, consider starting halves that are playing against teams that allow plenty of points to be scored against them.

Centre - The first thing to look for in a centre is, do they run for a lot of metres and do they make a lot of tackles. This offers coaches a steady floor of points at this position. If the player is a good tackle breaker, that's an added bonus. Try to avoid players that miss a lot of tackles and make a lot of errors.

Winger - There are many great options at this position and the players to look towards are the ones that score plenty of tries. It's also important to consider players that score points through running metres and tackle breaks.

Fullback - Selecting which fullback to start each week might be one of the biggest selection headaches this year. There are so many great options at this position but they all can't fit into your starting squad. I tend to start fullbacks that like to get their hands on the ball. You will see that a number of fullbacks in the NRL like to hover around the play of the ball on occasions and actively look to be more involved on attack. This can lead to more points being scored for that player.

On top of what I have already mentioned for centres, wingers and fullbacks, the following applies to all these positions. It's important to consider players that play in good teams, they offer a higher ceiling as they are more likely to score points through attacking stats. Avoid players that play in teams that don't score a lot of points as their ceiling is limited. Look to avoid players that are up against good teams as they are likely not to have as many attacking opportunities and may lose more points through demerits in these games. The predicted weather can be a factor. If it's going to be a wet weather game, the scores are likely to be lower than usual and players might not score as many points through attacking stats. Some players have their teams goal kicking duties, and these players offer additional upside.

Lastly, it's important to have a plan B when selecting players that are playing in the last couple of games in the round. This is because the player might be a late omission from the team's starting thirteen and you don't want to be scrabbling round last minute to find a replacement.


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