Cowboys lock Jason Taumalolo in action against Newcastle.

North Queensland defied all expectations to play their way into the Telstra Premiership grand final despite co-captains Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott being stuck on the sidelines, and they'll be all the better for it in 2018. Michael Morgan has developed from Thurston's sidekick into a star in his own right, while human wrecking ball Jason Taumalolo took his game to another level with an outrageous run of performances.

Fantasy gun: Jason Taumalolo

Taumalolo was incredible for the Cowboys (and Tonga) in 2017, stepping up in the absence of injured prop Matt Scott to notch staggering numbers for run metres. He averaged more than 200m a game, busting plenty of attempted tackles in the process, to average a monster 62 points in Fantasy. Scott may be back in 2018 but it's hard to see Taumalolo slowing down.

Matt Scott carts the ball ahead against the Broncos.
Matt Scott carts the ball ahead against the Broncos. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos/NRL Photos

Value buy: Matt Scott

Speaking of Matthew Scott, the Kangaroos front-rower has become a genuinely cheap option after playing just two games in 2017 and averaging 35 points. He's been priced at $503,000 with a break even in the mid-30s, making him great value considering he generally scores in the mid-40s and has a Fantasy century to his name. At the age of 32, whether he comes back from injury the same player remains to be seen, but unlike other cheapies he does have guaranteed job security when fit.

Johnathan Thurston gets a pass away against Wests Tigers.
Johnathan Thurston gets a pass away against Wests Tigers. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos/NRL Photos

Wildcard: Johnathan Thurston

The Cowboys' maestro is obviously a superstar player but in Fantasy terms he's been slightly underwhelming in the past couple of seasons – averaging a good-but-not-great 48 points a game after averaging well above 50 points a game in the previous three seasons. A discount for his injury-affected seven-game 2017 season means he's now priced as a 44-point player – meaning if he can get back to scores in the mid-50s he'd be both a keeper and good value. But with the rise of Michael Morgan this year will Thurston again be the dominant playmaker he once was, or will his try assist and kick metre tallies go down as Morgan takes a bigger role?

2018 NRL Fantasy player prices

Jason Taumalolo: 2RF, $914,000

Michael Morgan: HLF, $663,000

Johnathan Thurston: HLF, $647,000

Coen Hess: 2RF, $629,000

Scott Bolton: 2RF, FRF, $606,000

Ethan Lowe: 2RF, $606,000

Gavin Cooper: 2RF, $566,000

Jordan McLean: FRF, $525,000

Jake Granville: HOK, $510,000

Matthew Scott: FRF, $503,000

Te Maire Martin: HLF, $499,000

Shaun Fensom: 2RF, FRF, $475,000

Kyle Feldt: WFB, $456,000

Javid Bowen: CTR, WFB, $449,000

Kane Linnett: CTR, $404,000

John Asiata: 2RF, FRF, $381,000

Justin O'Neill: CTR, $362,000

Gideon Gela-Mosby: WFB, $362,000

Lachlan Coote: WFB, $346,000

Antonio Winterstein: WFB, $298,000

Corey Jensen: FRF, 2RF, $297,000

Ben Hampton: HLF, HOK, $285,000

Kyle Laybutt: HLF, $256,000

Sam Hoare: FRF, $228,000

Enari Tuala: CTR, $228,000

Francis Molo: FRF, $212,000

Josh Chudleigh: HOK, $212,000

Carlin Anderson: WFB, $212,000

*2018 salary cap: 9.4m. Fantasy squad size: 21