Cameron McMillan looks at the key decisions to be made heading into the final few regular season rounds of the Herald Fantasy Rugby season.
Carter or Steyn?
Two of the best number 10s in the game put in vintage performances last weekend with Dan Carter (41 points) and Morne Steyn (28) rewarding Fantasy players who were willing to dish out for their high price tags. If you're happy to pay top dollar on either Carter ($9.4 million) or Steyn ($9.77m), the big question, with the playoffs looming, is who should be the preferred option? The Bulls first-five is the top Herald Fantasy Rugby scorer with 291 points from 14 games while Carter has 181 from 10. Carter's Crusaders face the NZ Conference-leading Chiefs in Christchurch this week before facing the Hurricanes. Steyn and the Bulls have a slightly easier finish with the Sharks at home before visiting the Stormers, a side Steyn scored 28 points against in round two.
Verdict: You can't go wrong with either but Carter did score zero points against the Chiefs in round 15 so a slight edge towards Steyn ...
for this week at least. Brumbies first-five Christian Leali'ifano returns from Wallabies duty next weekend.
A winner in a losing cause
Wimpie van Der Walt continues to be a Fantasy stud despite playing for the Kings, who've won just one game since round nine. Despite his team's woeful form, van Der Walt remains one of the best options at loose forward. He's priced at just $4.5m and scored an impressive 33 points in a 18-48 thrashing at the hands of the Bulls last weekend. Three tries in the last two games have helped somewhat but he's averaging more than 13 tackles a game. He is the fifth highest scorer in Herald Fantasy Rugby (250 in 14 games) but he'll only be around for another two weeks before the Kings call it a season.
End of the Cheetahs' run?
The Cheetahs play their final regular season game on Sunday with the bye coming up next week. It could mean the last chance to cash in on their plethora of Fantasy stars. Back rowers Pieter Labuschagne (284 points), Philip van der Walt (269), Heinrich Brussow (199), back Robert Ebersohn (221) and lock Francois Uys (172) have all had outstanding seasons and surprisingly remain cheap deals. The Cheetahs face the Blues in Bloemfontein on Sunday where a win will secure a play-off spot.
Second half MVP...
With two weeks to go it looks like it would go to Chiefs backrower Matt Vant Leven, who produced a season high 34 points against the Hurricanes last week in yet another impressive outing for the Super 15 rookie. Vant Leven (priced at $5.2m) is averaging more than 16 Fantasy points a game from his five matches. He could be a better bet than the Cheetahs' back three as the Chiefs look to defend their title. He benefited from tackle-hungry Sam Cane starting on the bench last week to finish with the second highest score of the round.
Value pick of the week
Former All Blacks lock Anthony Boric is another player producing Fantasy value despite the fact that his team aren't moving up the table. Boric made 20-plus tackles for the second straight round in a 19-point effort against the Sharks.
After a slow return to the game, Boric has become one of the best value second rowers with a price tag of just $3.1m, $2m cheaper than Brodie Retallick who has produced similar numbers.
Pick-ups of the week
Wimpie van Der Walt (Cheetahs v Blues), Pieter Labuschagne (Cheetahs v Blues), Wimpie van Der Walt (Kings v Stormers)
Drops of the week
Ma'a Nonu (suspension), Jarrad Hoeata (suspension), Robbie Fruean (injury)