Dan Carter: Crusaders
This seems like a straightforward pick. Carter (243 points) has been in great form the past four rounds scoring an impressive 116 Fantasy points over that time, including 31 against the Hurricanes last week. His kicking game is at its usual best - he has missed only six attempts all season - and his running metres and tackle count have been an added bonus for Fantasy owners. A few rounds back it would have been a close call between Carter and Christian Leali'ifano (238 points) but the Brumbies number 10 has slipped down the rankings - not helped by scoring only seven points in a defeat to the Force last weekend. The way the Crusaders are playing, Carter could be a safe bet for the next few weeks.
Matt Todd (Crusaders),
Pieter Labuschagne (Cheetahs),
Philip van der Walt (Cheetahs)
Three of the top four scorers this season in Herald Fantasy Rugby are in action this weekend and all three are back rowers. The Cheetahs duo of Labuschagne (299 points) and Van der Walt (288) have been outstanding all season and are the bargain buys of the competition. They both remain $2 million cheaper than Matt Todd (311) who has probably enjoyed Richie McCaw's sabbatical more than the All Black skipper. McCaw's return to the bench shouldn't worry Todd owners yet but this may be the last chance to get something out of the Cheetahs loosies as the long trip to Canberra may be too much for the South African side. Todd has scored 51 points in his last two matches, Van der Walt has amassed 34 and Labuschagne 26. If you don't have room for all three, possibly avoid Labuschagne.
Andy Ellis (Crusaders)
One of the toughest decisions to make this week as two of the top halfbacks Tewera Kerr-Barlow (127 points) and Francois Hougaard (116) have the first week of the playoffs off. So for many this might be a one-week purchase. Ellis (115 points from 15 matches) is the best of the four options. His opposite on Saturday is Will Genia who returns from injury. Rated as the best halfback in the world, the Wallabies number nine is not exactly a Fantasy stud, having produced only 37 points from 11 games. Petrus van Zyl (110) would be your next best option after a decent season for the Cheetahs, swapping duties with Sarel Pretorius, although he has been down on form of late. Brumbies halfback Nic White is under an injury cloud and will be having a fitness test so it would be a big risk to pick him.
Sam Whitelock (Crusaders),
Scott Fardy (Brumbies)
You can't really go wrong with the lock options this week, as plenty of high pointscorers are in play. Whitelock is the third-ranked lock in Fantasy with 186 points, 14 points ahead of Francois Uys of the Cheetahs. Sam Carter (Brumbies) and Rob Simmons (Reds) have both passed the 150 mark for the season. Uys remains a steal at $3.39 million, compared to Whitelock's $5 million and Simmons' $5.1 million but as mentioned the Cheetahs face a big ask in Australia, which also rules out teammate Lodewyk de Jager (140 points). With Whitelock, I'd pick Fardy over his locking partner Carter, as he brings the hot hand into the playoffs with 17 points in a defeat last week. He's outscored Carter over the past four weeks and should be a solid pick for this week at least.