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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Turner

NRL Fantasy's Best Centres for 2024

NRL Fantasy Tiers: It's that exciting time of the year again when we delve into the realm of fantasy footy! In the third blog of this series, we will be looking at one of the toughest positions to navigate: the centres! We'll take a deep dive into the elite players from 2023, identify potential breakout candidates, and assess the older players who might be showing signs of slowing down. Get ready as we break down the centre position into tiers for the upcoming 2024 NRL season!


You may see some acronyms in this blog that you may not have come across before. Please feel free to see what they mean under this link - GameDay Squad's 2024 Rugby League - Classic Competition Strategy. Also, you will see the terminology base stats, attacking stats and demerits used. Base stats are points that a player scores through run metres and tackles. Attacking stats are points that a player scores through tries, try assists, line breaks, line break assists, tackle breaks and offloads. Demerits are points that a player loses through missed tackles, errors, and penalties.

There are so many good centres to select from and there isn't a lot separating the top 10 at this position. With the boom or bust nature of the position, we can often see the top averaging centre finish outside the top 10 scoring centres on any given week. Most of this comes down to the centre's matchup that they have from week to week. If you want to see which teams were or were not good matchups for centres in 2023, check out Breaking Down GameDay Squad's 2024 Rugby League Strength of Schedule.


When I looked back at the 2023 averages at this position, I found out the following.


  • The league average was 35.1 points

  • The league average in base points was 26.1

  • The league average in attacking points was 19.6

  • The league average in points lost through demerits was 12.1

Being aware of these averages is just another data point that may help you when it comes to selecting your starting centres. All the above averages are based on centres playing the full 80 minutes.


https://www.gamedaysquad.com.au/

Tier 1


Dane Gagai - 2023 AVG of 51 points, Positional Rank 1st

Valentine Holmes - 2023 AVG of 49 points, Positional Rank 2nd


Gagai turned back the clock last season and was the best centre in GDS. I'll even go as far as saying that it was his best season in fantasy terms. He had six scores of 60+ points and he finished as the CTR1 on five occasions. Gagai offered coaches an average of 34 points through base stats, 35 points through attacking stats and 18 points in demerits.

Going into this season he will have a different winger outside of him after the departure of Dominic Young. That winger is likely to be Tom Jenkins, and this is a downgrade from Young. Due to this I think we will see the number of line break assists and try assists decrease for Gagai. He might decide to hold onto the ball more and this could lead onto more points scored through tackle breaks, line breaks and tries. My real concern for Gagai is the number of points he loses through demerits. If we don't see him improve in this area, we may not see him reach the heights he did in 2023 and fall out of this tier.


Holmes was the second-best centre in 2023 but if he wasn't the Cowboys goal kicker, he wouldn't be in this tier. He had seven scores of 60+ points and he finished as the CTR1 on three occasions. Holmes offered coaches an average of 25 points through base stats, 26 points through attacking stats,12 points in demerits and 12 points through goal kicking. Most centres have similar scores in home and away games but for Holmes there was a considerable difference. In Townsville he averaged 63 points and away from Townsville he averaged 41 points. I have Holmes ranked as the number one centre this season as I think we will see an improved Cowboys team. If this narrative comes to fruition, Holmes will see an uptick in attacking stats and more points scored through his boot.


Tier 2


Herbie Farnworth - 2023 AVG of 49 points, Positional Rank 3rd

Izack Tago - 2023 AVG of 46 points, Positional Rank 6th

Joseph Manu - 2023 AVG of 44 points, Positional Rank 10th


All the players mentioned in this tier are fantasy-relevant players that can do a decent job for your squad. Some weeks they may have a more favourable matchup than the players in tier 1 and become your preferred starter. Everyone in this tier should be able to average 45+ points.


Herbie had a great 2023 season in a very good Broncos team. This season we will see him at the Dolphins and the big question is, can he live up to the form he showed last season! I believe he can as he is solid on defence and is a strong ball carrier that knows how to find the try line. Last season, Herbie had four scores of 60+ points but didn't have one CTR1 finish. However, he didn't have the floor most centres can produce from week to week and only had two scores of less than 30 points. Herbie offered coaches an average of 28 points through base stats, 25 points through attacking stats and 7 points in demerits. After watching him play against the Titans in the Dolphins first preseason game, it seems like he will be able to produce GDS coaches with some good scores in 2024.


Tago had a solid season for the Panthers in 2023 and I think there is a better season on the cards for 2024. Last season he had six scores of 60+ points and he finished as the CTR1 on four occasions. Tago offered coaches an average of 31 points through base stats, 29 points through attacking stats and 12 points in demerits. Out of all the centres mentioned in this blog, I have Tago as my breakout centre, and this is because Stephen Crichton is no longer at the Panthers. I'm aware that this is only a small sample from last season but in games without Crichton at centre, Tago had scores of 62, 65 and 97 points. He won't have scores like this every week but there is every chance he will see more ball go his way and average 50+ points this season.


Manu was one of the most frustrating centres in my opinion last season. He is a very talented footballer that can also either play in the halves or at fullback. In the past we had seen him rack up some massive scores while playing out of position, but this wasn't the case in 2023. We did see him have a run of seven games at centre in the back end of the season and over these games he averaged 48 points. Manu had six scores of 60+ points and he finished as the CTR1 on three occasions. He offered coaches an average of 31 points through base stats, 32 points through attacking stats and 22 points in demerits. Manu is my bounce back centre this season as I think he can return to the form he has historically shown. Also, I think the Roosters will be a lot better this year and believe that they will be one of the top four teams going into the finals. Manu has the talent to be in tier 1 and I think he will end up there by the end of the season. My real concern for Manu is the number of points he loses through demerits. If we don't see him improve in this area, Manu will likely frustrate coaches again this season.


Tier 3


Stephen Crichton - 2023 AVG of 44 points, Positional Rank 11th

Matthew Timoko - 2023 AVG of 42 points, Positional Rank 12th

Zac Lomax - 2023 AVG of 42 points, Positional Rank 14th

Will Penisini - 2023 AVG of 41 points, Positional Rank 15th

Bradman Best - 2023 AVG of 38 points, Positional Rank 20th

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck - 2023 AVG N/A, Positional Rank N/A


In tier 3 we have players that are more boom or bust starting options. They all have the upside of finishing as a CTR1 in any given week, but they also have a higher chance than the tier 1 and 2 players of scoring outside the top ten centres.  Everyone in this tier should be able to average 40+ points.


After winning three premierships in row with the Panthers, Crichton has moved across to the Bulldogs for 2024 and beyond. Crichton had six scores of 60+ points and he finished as the CTR1 on three occasions. He offered coaches an average of 25 points through base stats, 27 points through attacking stats and 12 points in demerits. Crichton seems to be a very popular centre for GDS coaches as there is an expectation of him playing at fullback for the Bulldogs. This is yet to be determined but if he does play at fullback, he could be a very good asset for your squad. He has also had goal kicking duties in the past and this may happen at some stage throughout the season. There has been talk that he will line up on the Bulldogs left edge to start the season and he'll link up with old teammates Matt Burton and Viliame Kikau if he does. This will make the move to the Bulldogs more seamless, and we may see Crichton fast out of the blocks. If everything goes right for Crichton this season, we may see him average 50+ points and move into tier 1.


Timoko had a breakout season in 2023 and I'm expecting to keep on improving throughout the 2024 season. He had five scores of 60+ points and he finished as the CTR1 on three occasions. Timoko offered coaches an average of 28 points through base stats, 26 points through attacking stats and 10 points in demerits. Personally, I find that Timoko is one of the more inconsistent centres as he can offer a very low floor. Last season he had seven scores of less than 30 points and three of these were less than 10 points. Timoko is a very much matchup dependent centre, but his card will be a good one to have in your squad. There will likely be opportunities where he has a positive matchup, and he can start in your squad for that week.


Lomax is a very talented player but with the Dragons not being all that great in the last few seasons, I don't think we have seen his potential just yet. Last season he had three scores of 60+ points and he finished as the CTR1 twice. Lomax offered coaches an average of 30 points through base stats, 17 points through attacking stats, 14 points in demerits and 9 points through goal kicking. With Shane Flanagan now coach of the Dragons, there is some uncertainty to where we see Lomax play. Ideally, it's at fullback but I can't see that happening unless there is an injury to Tyrell Sloan. If he remains in the centres and the Dragons attack improves, I can see him averaging 45+ points. Lomax is a player that offers huge upside if everything breaks right for him. He could comfortably end up in tier 1 by the end of the season.


Penisini is a talented young footballer that has a bright future. The Eels weren't at their best last season on attack but I'm expecting them to improve in this area in 2024. This will likely give Penisini a bump in attacking stats and he may feature in more GDS coaches starting squads. Last season he had four scores of 60+ points and he finished as the CTR1 once. Penisini offered coaches an average of 30 points through base stats, 22 points through attacking stats and 12 points in demerits.


Best had a great 2023 and his NRL performances earned him an NSW callup. He had three scores of 60+ points and he finished as the CTR1 twice. Best offered coaches an average of 28 points through base stats, 22 points through attacking stats and 10 points in demerits. Over the first 12 rounds last season he averaged 37 points but after Ponga moved to fullback, we saw him average 43 points. When Ponga had the ball in hand, he would often attack down the Knights left edge and this was the main contributor to Best's increased scoring. I don't see any reason why Ponga won't continue his sniping runs down the left edge with Best and Marzhew outside him, especially when Dominic Young is no longer on the right wing. Like many of the centres in this tier, Best will have some positive matchups and will be a great POD on occasions.


RTS is back baby!!! There is a lot of excitement in the GDS community with him having a centre position designation. RTS has spent the last couple of seasons playing rugby union and over this time he spent it in the centres. Before his move to union, RTS was one of the elite fullbacks in the NRL and was a gun in fantasy. The big question for all coaches is, how is the transition back to NRL going to go and how will he perform in the centres! Personally, I think he will hit the ground running and be a great asset to any coaches GDS squad. If Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad is to miss anytime, it's likely that we see RTS move back to fullback. Having a player with a centre position designation playing at fullback is what all GDS coaches love to see. I think we will see RTS average a minimum of 40 points, but he could quite easily average 50+ points. He is one of the most sought-after cards in GDS and I'd be trying to acquire him as soon as possible.


It’s worth keeping an eye on the below players as they are all situational and match-up dependent.

Euan Aitken - 2023 AVG of 40 points, Positional Rank 19th (EDG position designation in 2023)

Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii - 2023 AVG of 38 points, Positional Rank 21st

Billy Smith - 2023 AVG of 37 points, Positional Rank 22nd

Siosifa Talakai - 2023 AVG of 37 points, Positional Rank 23rd

Jesse Ramien - 2023 AVG of 37 points, Positional Rank 26th

Starford To'a - 2023 AVG of 35 points, Positional Rank 32nd

Tolutau Koula - 2023 AVG of 33 points, Positional Rank 36th

Kotoni Staggs - 2023 AVG of 33 points, Positional Rank 37th

Mosese Suli - 2023 AVG of 31 points, Positional Rank 42nd


 

https://www.gamedaysquad.com.au/

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