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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Turner

NRL Fantasy's Best Edge Forwards for 2024

2024 Fantasy Rugby League Tiers: It's that exciting time of the year again when we delve into the realm of fantasy footy! In the sixth blog of this series, we will be looking at arguably the most difficult position to make your selections for week to week: the edge forwards! 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 edge forward position into tiers for the upcoming 2024 Rugby League 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 - 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 is some great player depth at the edge forward position. Outside of David Fifita, there isn't a lot separating the top 10 at this position. When selecting players for your starting squads the main things to consider are the points per minute (PPM) that they score, the points they score through base stats and the number of minutes the player usually plays. Player matchups are important at this position as a team may allow more points down certain sides of the field. If you want to find out more about which teams allowed or disallowed edge forwards to have success 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 42.3 points

  • The league average PPM was 0.55

  • The league average in base points was 42.5

  • The league average in attacking points was 12.7

  • The league average in points lost through demerits was 13.0


These averages are just another data point that may help you when it comes to selecting your starting edge forwards. All the above averages are based on edge forwards playing the 55+ minutes.


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Tier 1


David Fifita - 2023 AVG of 60 points, Positional Rank 1st


Fifita was the standout edge forward by some margin in 2023 and we saw his average improve from 49 points in 2022 to 60 points in 2023. He had nine scores of 65+ and he finished as the EDG1 on eight occasions. Fifita offered coaches an average of 42 points through base stats, 32 points through attacking stats, 13 points in demerits and 78 minutes at 0.81 PPM. Fifita is an attacking edge that can rack up 30+ points in one run. At only 24 years old, he already has six years of experience in first grade and has 105 appearances to his name. Fifita is the most sought-after edge in GDS as he is currently the best player at this position, and he has age on his side. This season I'm still expecting him to be the best edge, but he might be off to a slow start after he had surgery due to a partial pec tear in the off season. If he's starting, he will more than likely be an auto pick for my squad each week.


Tier 2


Nat Butcher - 2023 AVG of 51 points, Positional Rank 2nd

John Bateman - 2023 AVG of 49 points, Positional Rank 3rd

Briton Nikora - 2023 AVG of 49 points, Positional Rank 4th

Haumole Olakau'atu - 2023 AVG of 49 points, Positional Rank 5th


All the players mentioned in this tier are fantasy-relevant players that can do a decent job for your team. Everyone in this tier should be able to average 50+ points.


Butcher had a career year in 2023 and we saw his average improve from 43 points in 2022 to 51 points in 2023. He had five scores of 65+ and he finished as the EDG1 on five occasions. Butcher offered coaches an average of 53 points through base stats, 9 points through attacking stats, 11 points in demerits and 79 minutes at 0.64 PPM. At this stage, I'm predicting that Butcher will be a 75+ minute player this season. However, the Roosters now have depth at this position with Wong, Tupouniua and Crichton all being great starting options on the edge. We may see more of a job share in the Roosters back row and this would make Butcher an avoid for me. If he does lock down a big minute role, he will remain in this tier and can be considered as a starting option for your squad most weeks.


Bateman made a sluggish start to 2023 after returning from the Super League but ended up being a decent starting edge option most weeks. He had four scores of 65+ and he finished as the EDG1 on three occasions. Bateman offered coaches an average of 49 points through base stats, 13 points through attacking stats, 11 points in demerits and 77 minutes at 0.64 PPM. From round six onwards last season, Bateman played 80 minutes in every game except one and I'm expecting him to continue being an 80-minute player this season. His situation hasn't changed at the Wests Tigers, and I think we will see him provide GDS coaches with consistent performances. He may be a no-frills sort of player and might not offer the ceiling some other edges do but I believe he can be considered as a solid starting option most weeks.    


Nikora had a career year last season and we saw his average improve from 41 points in 2022 to 49 points in 2023. He had four scores of 65+ and he finished as the EDG1 on two occasions. Nikora offered coaches an average of 45 points through base stats, 17 points through attacking stats, 13 points in demerits and 78 minutes at 0.62 PPM. Nikora is one of the best line running edges in the NRL and quite often we see him cut through the line off a good ball from Hynes. This combination on the right edge for Sharks has paid dividends in the last couple of seasons and I don't think we will see any regression in the number of touches for Nikora. Many coaches may be nervous starting Nikora if Hynes was to miss any time, but they shouldn't be. Last season he averaged 54 points over the four matches he played without Hynes. This shows that Nikora isn't as heavily reliant on Hynes as coaches may think and he can still offer decent scores in this situation. Nikora can be considered as a starter most weeks but has had some trouble scoring well against good teams. In the five matches he played against the top four teams from last season, he averaged 44 points.  


Olakau'atu had a solid season in 2023 but he did lack consistency at times. He had two scores of 65+ and he finished as the EDG1 once. Olakau'atu offered coaches an average of 41 points through base stats, 21 points through attacking stats, 14 points in demerits and 80 minutes at 0.60 PPM. I believe Olakau'atu can improve in fantasy and has the ability to be one of the top three edges in GDS. He has always been strong with ball in hand and a great line runner. However, he does need to make more tackles to be considered as one of the elite edges. Out of all the players listed in this blog, Olakau'atu offers the lowest average in base and loses the most points through demerits. For him to average in the mid-fifties, all it would take is making two more tackles and one less missed tackle a game. I also think Manly will be a lot better this season and we may see an uptick in attacking stats for Olakau'atu. He offers one of the highest ceilings at this position and I think he can be considered as a starter for your squad most weeks.  


Tier 3


All the players mentioned in this tier are fantasy-relevant players that can do a decent job for your team. They all have the upside of finishing as a EDG1 on any given week, but they also have a higher chance than the tier 1 and 2 players of scoring outside the top five edge forwards. Everyone in this tier should be able to average 45+ points.


Tyson Frizell - 2023 AVG of 48 points, Positional Rank 6th

Jacob Preston - 2023 AVG of 48 points, Positional Rank 7th

Isaiah Papali'i - 2023 AVG of 47 points, Positional Rank 9th

Keaon Koloamatangi - 2023 AVG of 45 points, Positional Rank 11th

Beau Fermor - 2023 AVG N/A, Positional Rank N/A


Frizell is the veteran of this tier at 32 years old and is the most experienced with 239 appearances in first grade. He had a solid season in 2023 and we saw his average improve from 42 points in 2022 to 48 points in 2023. He had three scores of 65+ and he finished as the EDG1 on three occasions. Frizell offered coaches an average of 44 points through base stats, 16 points through attacking stats, 10 points in demerits and 74 minutes at 0.65 PPM. I'm expecting Frizell to be an 80-minute player to start the season but as the season wears on, we may see either Kai Pearce-Paul or Dylan Lucas start eating into Frizell's minutes. If Frizell does continue playing the full 80 minutes, I believe he will be a solid option most weeks as he averages 53 points when he plays the entire game.


Preston burst onto the scene in 2023 and had a great first season in first grade. He had one score of 65+ and he finished as the EDG1 on two occasions. Preston offered coaches an average of 48 points through base stats, 11 points through attacking stats, 10 points in demerits and 76 minutes at 0.63 PPM. I think Preston will be able to hold down the Bulldogs right edge position and be able to play the full 80 minutes on a regular basis. He is a strong ball carrier and hard to pull down close to the line. At only 22 years old, I have him as one of my top five edges from a dynasty point of view. If you don't already have his card, I'd look at acquiring it as soon as I could. If Preston does play the full 80 minutes in 80% or more of his games this season, I think we will see him averaging around 55 points.


Papali'i had a disappointing 2023 and a lot of this was to do with changing clubs from the Eels to the Wests Tigers. After being the best EDG in GDS for 2022 with an average of 59 points, we saw him only average 47 points in 2023. He had two scores of 65+ and he finished as the EDG1 once. Papali'i offered coaches an average of 44 points through base stats, 13 points through attacking stats, 11 points in demerits and 78 minutes at 0.60 PPM. I'm not expecting great things from the Wests Tigers again this season. With a completely new halves pairing, I think we will see much of the same from this fallen gun. Personally, I'll be avoiding Papali'i to begin this season as I want to see how he combines with the new halves. He is a great talent and has the ability to move back into tier 1. At this point in time, I just don't like his fantasy prospects while he's at the Wests Tigers.


Koloamatangi made a strong start to the 2023 season and was averaging 53 points through till when he picked up an injury in round 7. After returning from injury, he was frustrating for many GDS coaches and only averaged 42 points from round 13 onwards. He had two scores of 65+ and he finished as the EDG1 on three occasions. Koloamatangi offered coaches an average of 43 points through base stats, 14 points through attacking stats, 11 points in demerits and 77 minutes at 0.59 PPM. This season I think we will see Koloamatangi average 50+ points if he stays injury free and the wheels don't fall off for the Bunnies like they did in 2023. Like many of these players, he is a solid starting option each week for your squad. However, it might be worth watching his performance in round one before pulling the trigger and starting him in your squad.

Fermor had a year to forget in 2023 as he ruptured his ACL just before the season started and this ruled him out for the entire season. In 2022 he averaged 46 points and I believe he's a good enough player to average around 50 points. As he is coming off a serious injury, I would like to see him get some minutes in his legs before I even consider him for my starting squad. Fermor is a great depth piece for any coach's squad. If he makes a successful return from injury, he will likely start being considered as a starting option by many coaches. As he didn't play last season, you may find him undervalued on the trade manager and it may be worth adding him to your squad.


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

Josh Curran - 2023 AVG of 29 points, Positional Rank 49th

Ryan Matterson - 2023 AVG of 47 points, Positional Rank 8th

Bryce Cartwright - 2023 AVG of 43 points, Positional Rank 13th

Eliesa Katoa - 2023 AVG of 42 points, Positional Rank 14th

Teig Wilton - 2023 AVG of 43 points, Positional Rank 12th

Liam Martin - 2023 AVG of 41 points, Positional Rank 16th

Shawn Blore - 2023 AVG of 34 points, Positional Rank 37th

Shaun Lane - 2023 AVG of 33 points, Positional Rank 38th

Heilum Luki - 2023 AVG of 33 points, Positional Rank 39th

Jack Bird - 2023 AVG of 46 points, Positional Rank 10th

Jeremiah Nanai - 2023 AVG of 34 points, Positional Rank 36th


 


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