top of page
  • Writer's pictureJonathan Turner

NRL Fantasy's best Fullbacks for 2024

NRL Fantasy's Best Fullbacks for 2024: It's that exciting time of the year again when we delve into the realm of fantasy footy! In the final blog of this series, we will be looking at one of the most exciting positions to watch: the fullbacks! 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 fullback 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 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, tackles and kick defuses. 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 fullbacks 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 sometimes see the top averaging fullback finish outside the top 10 scoring fullbacks on any given week. We also sometimes see a player that is ranked outside the top 10 fullbacks, play an absolute blinder and be the best scoring fullback that week. Some fullbacks do require a positive matchup to provide coaches with good fantasy production. If you want to see which teams were or were not good matchups for fullbacks 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 46.2 points

  • The league average in base points was 26.31

  • The league average in attacking points was 26.6

  • The league average in points lost through demerits was 10.0 


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


Fantasy Football

Tier 1


Latrell Mitchell - 2023 AVG of 59 points, Positional Rank 2nd

Kalyn Ponga - 2023 AVG of 57 points, Positional Rank 3rd


Latrell had a very good 2023 season and deservedly made the GDS 2023 All Star Squad. He had seven scores of 65+ points and he finished as the FLB1 on five occasions. Latrell offered coaches an average of 20 points through base stats, 33 points through attacking stats, 6 points in demerits and 10 points through goal kicking. I have Latrell as my number one ranked fullback this season as he is in a team that can pile on the points, and he is one of the few fullbacks that has the goal kicking duties for their team. The main downside with Latrell is that he has been known to go missing in games on occasions. Also, his discipline sometimes lets him down and he can be sent to the sin bin for silly things. An example of this occurred in round 25 against the Knights last season. Even though he scored 45 points in this game, he racked up 26 points in demerits. Seeing Latrell in full flight is something special, you can see him break half a dozen tackles, make a line break, score the try and then convert it. These sorts of plays accumulate to 30+ points and Latrell can pull off plays like this against any opposition. Lastly, Latrell improved in many areas of his game last season and rewarded coaches with 10 scores of 50+ points in his 16 games. He only had two scores of less than 40 points, and I think fading Latrell against anyone is a risk. He will likely be starting in my squad most weeks.


Ponga started 2023 in the halves before moving back to fullback in round 13 and stayed there for the remainder of the season. While at fullback he was the third best player in GDS and the best fullback, averaging 70 points. While at fullback Ponga had ten scores of 65+ points and he finished as the FLB1 on four occasions. He offered coaches an average of 26 points through base stats, 45 points through attacking stats and 13 points in demerits. There is a very good case to have Ponga ranked above Latrell, and I have both players projected for averages of 60+ points. With the starting squad made up of only one fullback and only one allowed on the bench, it's likely that many coaches (including myself) might frequently start both players. Every time Ponga touched the ball in the back half of 2023 he looked extremely dangerous. At the end of the day, playing fantasy is meant to be fun and Ponga is a fun player to support and get behind each week. The last thing I do want to point out is Ponga did average 45 points when playing against the top four sides from last season. This is just something to consider when looking at who he matches up against each week.


Tier 2


Dylan Edwards - 2023 AVG of 52 points, Positional Rank 4th

Scott Drinkwater - 2023 AVG of 52 points, Positional Rank 5th

James Tedesco - 2023 AVG of 52 points, Positional Rank 6th

Tom Trbojevic - 2023 AVG of 51 points, Positional Rank 7th

Reece Walsh - 2023 AVG of 50 points, Positional Rank 8th


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 50+ points.


Edwards had a solid season in 2023 and is one of two players at this position that averaged 30+ points through base stats. He had six scores of 65+ points and he finished as the FLB1 on four occasions. Edwards offered coaches an average of 31 points through base stats, 29 points through attacking stats, 7 points in demerits. Even though Edwards was one of the higher averaging fullbacks last season, he also had ten scores of less than 40 points and this made him a rather risky option. These sub-40-point scores were against a variety of teams, they may have been top four teams or bottom four teams. This season Edwards' situation hasn't changed, and I believe he will still be one of the best scoring fullbacks though base points as he is a metre eater. If you don't have the likes of Latrell or Ponga, Edwards can be a very good starting option most weeks.


Drinkwater was off to a rather slow start in 2023 and a three-week suspension didn't help things. From round 12 onwards he averaged 64 points and only Ponga averaged more over the same time frame at the fullback position. Drinkwater had seven scores of 65+ points and he finished as the FLB1 on two occasions. He offered coaches an average of 26 points through base stats, 35 points through attacking stats and 14 points in demerits. Drinkwater can be more match up dependent than other fullbacks. Last season he averaged 41 points against teams that made the finals and only averaged 34 points against the top four teams. Against teams that didn't make the finals, he averaged 64 points. Drinkwater was given the goal kicking duties in the final three rounds with Holmes out of the side and averaged 9 points through the boot in these games. This is just something to note as he might be called upon to be goal kicker again this season. With the fullback position being such a wealth of fantasy talent, I'm honestly going to find it difficult to fit Drinkwater into my starting squad. However, there are likely going to be positive matchups for him, and he can be a great POD on occasions. If you already have the likes of Latrell and Ponga in your squad, Drinkwater would be a great depth piece and he will be good cover if either of these tier 1 players miss any time.


Teddy had his quietest season of fantasy since 2014 and he still averaged 50+ points. This shows you that he has been an elite option in the past but at 31 years old, age might be starting to creep up on him. Teddy might not be the player he once was in fantasy, but he is still one of the premium fullbacks in GDS. In 2023 he had six scores of 65+ points and he finished as the FLB1 on two occasions. He offered coaches an average of 26 points through base stats, 31 points through attacking stats and 5 points in demerits. Like Drinkwater, Teddy had a very slow start to 2023. He averaged 39 points over the first 11 rounds and from round 12 onwards he averaged 60 points. I think the Roosters will be a far better team this year and I'm expecting Teddy to start this season a lot better than he did last year. I think Teddy will remain in this tier throughout the season but just keep in mind that his dynasty value might start to decrease due to his age.


Many GDS coaches first thought when it comes to Turbo is injuries. Over the last five seasons he has only played 55 games, that's only 11 games per season. Injuries aside, Turbo is still a fantastic asset for any coach's squad, and he can put on a 100+ point performance at any time. Over his 11 games in 2023 he had three scores of 65+ points and he finished as the FLB1 on three occasions. He offered coaches an average of 30 points through base stats, 37 points through attacking stats and 10 points in demerits. I really hope we see an injury free season from Turbo. A lot of reports coming out of preseason indicate that he's fully fit and raring to go. Even though Turbo was the highest scoring fullback in nearly 30% of his games in 2023, he did go completely missing at times and frustrated GDS coaches. In five of his games last season, he scored under 35 points. Three of these games were against teams that made the top four. I'm expecting Manly to be a lot better this season and think they have a great chance of making the finals. Hopefully we see them a lot more competitive against the top teams and if they are, Turbo may not have as many low scores. Before starting Turbo, he will need to pass the eye test for me. If he looks like he did in 2021 where he averaged 80 points, it will be very hard to leave him out of my squad each week.


Walsh had a good first season at the Broncos and he is one of the best dynasty prospects in GDS. He had seven scores of 65+ points but didn't have one FLB1 finish. Walsh offered coaches an average of 23 points through base stats, 38 points through attacking stats, 16 points in demerits. In time, I think Walsh can become the best FLB in GDS. He isn't the biggest in build, but he makes up for that in speed and his elusiveness. Walsh is great at hitting the line at pace and setting up his wingers for tries. If it wasn't for the points Walsh loses through demerits, he would be on the verge of tier 1. This season the Broncos should be contenders again and I think we will see Walsh being more productive for GDS coaches. He's a player on the up and if you don't already have his card, I'd look at acquiring one. Walsh has a very bright future ahead of him and I think he will be one of the top three fullbacks in the next couple of years. This season Walsh will be contending for a starting role in my squad most weeks. I think he will have a POD tag for most of the season with the likes of Ponga and Latrell ranked ahead of him.


Tier 3


Clinton Gutherson - 2023 AVG of 45 points, Positional Rank 11th

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow - 2023 AVG of 44 points, Positional Rank 13th

Ryan Papenhuyzen - 2023 AVG of 29 points, Positional Rank 22nd



In tier 3 we have players that are more boom or bust starting options. They all have the upside of finishing as a FLB1 in any given week, but they also have a higher chance than the tier 1 and 2 players of scoring outside the top ten fullbacks.  Everyone in this tier should be able to average 45+ points.


Gutherson had a solid season in 2023 and we saw his average improve from 40 points in 2022 to 45 points in 2023. He had four scores of 65+ points and he finished as the FLB1 on two occasions. He offered coaches an average of 25 points through base stats, 29 points through attacking stats and 12 points in demerits. Gutherson is a great depth piece to have in your squad, especially around the major bye rounds and Origin. He is one of the riskiest options at fullback in my opinion as he offers a lower floor more often than most of the other players mentioned in this blog. He played 23 games last season and had scores of 40 points or less in 12 of these games. Ideally at the fullback position, coaches want their fullback to be scoring 50+ points on a regular basis and Gutherson just hasn't been able to do this frequently. I think there is a good chance of him being the top scoring fullback in a week this year and if you select him that week, it would be a master stroke. If you have none of the players mentioned in tier 1 or tier 2, Gutherson is a solid starting option. However, I'd be trying to acquire other players at this position and not rely on Gutherson every week.


Hamiso had a decent first season as the starting fullback for the Dolphins. He had three scores of 65+ points but didn't have one FLB1 finish. He offered coaches an average of 29 points through base stats, 28 points through attacking stats and 10 points in demerits. Like Gutherson, Hamiso would be a great depth piece to your squad but a rather risky starting option. He can also play at centre and is an avoid in my opinion if he starts there this season. In the three games he played at centre last season he averaged only 23 points. When he started at fullback, he averaged 47 points. The Dolphins have more depth at centre this season and at this stage I can't see Hamiso getting a start there. At the age of 22, Hamiso is still learning his trade as a starting fullback in first grade. I think we will see him average nearer 50 points this season and he could move into tier 2 as the season goes on. Even though I think Hamiso will improve this season, he's unlikely to start for my squad as I believe there are better options at the fullback position. I'll never talk anyone out of starting him as I believe he's a real talent. I just think he needs to become a bit more consistent and that will come in time.


Papenhuyzen has had a terrible run of injuries and has only played 15 games over the last couple of seasons. He is a great talent and I really hope he has an injury free season. All I'm going to say about Papenhuyzen is that he is a player to keep an eye on. If he gets back to the form he showed prior to 2022, I believe he can move up a tier and average 55+ points this season. However, there has been talk that he may not have the goal kicking duties and if this is the case, his ceiling lowers considerably. If he can get back to being the player he was, Papenhuyzen then can be considered as a starting option and will likely be a POD if selected.

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

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad - 2023 AVG of 45 points, Positional Rank 12th

Jahream Bula - 2023 AVG of 36 points, Positional Rank 17th

Jayden Campbell - 2023 AVG of 34 points, Positional Rank 19th



 


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

Comments


bottom of page