Cameron McMillan looks at the performance trends in the Herald Fantasy game.
The tackling machine
I've said it before and I'll no doubt say it again - put Pieter Labuschagne in your team. In just 11 per cent of Fantasy teams and priced at a ridiculous $3.89 million, 89 per cent of Fantasy players are clearly missing out by not having the Cheetahs back-rower in their side and as their captain. Of his six appearances this season he's scored 20-plus points on five occasions. Despite scoring just one try, most of his points come from tackles where he is averaging 19 a game. Knock-ons are his weakness (nine already this season) but as the Cheetahs keep winning, so do Labuschagne owners.
Matt Todd has amassed 58 Fantasy points in his last two outings. His 30 points against the Stormers last week was nearly double that of the next best Crusader as he took over some of the workload left by Kieran Read's absence. A try in each of his last two matches have obviously helped his scoring but he's also increased his tackling and metres gained stats as well.
Todd is in just 10 per cent of Fantasy teams despite costing a fair price of $5.74 million. A good option before Richie McCaw returns.
The imperfect 10
After listing Quade Cooper under the sell headline two weeks ago, the Reds first-five has had a form reversal, scoring 39 points in the last two weeks. To be fair, those matches were against the Bulls on the end of a road trip and the bottom-placed Highlanders. He's still missing out on points as well, with missing being the key word. The Wallabies No10 has missed four kicks and five tackles over the past fortnight, along with four knock-ons against the Highlanders last Friday. The Reds have the bye this week before hosting the Chiefs. Cooper's improving but Brumbies first-five Christian Lealiifano would still be a better option.
Good time to sign
Chiefs lock Brodie Retallick re-signed with the NZRU until the end of the 2015 season this week and it was good timing after finding form in the past two weeks. Retallick followed up his 23-point performance against the Highlanders with another 15 points against the Blues last week. Once again tackles are the key to his Fantasy success with 33 made and just one missed in two weeks. Another with the bye this week, look to pick Retallick ($5.15 million) up next week.
Blues back Charles Piutau opened the season with 31 Fantasy points against the Hurricanes before another strong outing of 17 points against the Crusaders. Since that game the Blues have lost three straight and Piutau has slipped down the Fantasy rankings despite scoring in two of those defeats. He remains the fifth most popular back but sits in 10th in points scored. This week could be a possible bounce back with the Highlanders awaiting the Blues.
Let me introduce you to Southern Kings halfback Shaun Venter, who is not having a great Fantasy season. Of his five matches this season he produced -13 points in total, with his last four outings all in the negatives. It doesn't help that he's playing for a losing team week in, week out, but his hands have also let him down with 10 knock-ons. More frozen than cold.
Fantasy All Blacks
The All Black XV based on Fantasy performance:
1 Ben Franks, 2 Hikawera Elliot, 3 Ben Afeaki, 4 Sam Whitelock, 5 Brodie Retallick, 6 Matt Todd, 7 Sam Cane, 8 Liam Messam, 9 TJ Perenara, 10 Dan Carter, 11 Frank Halai, 12 Conrad Smith, 13 Tim Nanai-Williams, 14 Lelia Masaga, 15 Gareth Anscombe.