Welcome to the first NothingButLeague NRL Fantasy preview! We’ll be bringing you these every week after team list Tuesday. I absolutely love Fantasy Football and have been playing for a few years now in a very competitive league. I’m sure you’re not here to hear about me, so let’s get down to business.
Cronulla Sharks vs Melbourne Storm
A Thursday Grand Final rematch. Can’t wait. Sharks are fresh off the bye with Andrew Fifita, James Maloney, Wade Graham and Jack Bird playing their first club game after their big Origin win. Fifita has been a total monster in Fantasy the last few weeks with his three round average at 71. He’s very expensive at 553k, but with a Break Even of 38, he’s a good chance of getting close to 600k soon. With stats like his he is almost a must have. The same can be said for Paul Gallen, who has been consistently around 60 points average all season with the added benefit of not playing Origin. If you can work both into your team you should do it sooner rather than later because you want them before the end of the season. The main talking point for the Sharks this week is the inclusion of James Segeyaro on an extended bench. If he plays this is obviously bad news for Jayden Brailey, who has just about peaked in price anyway and should be either cashed out or upgraded to a gun hooker, but with a break even of 28 you can probably get one more week out of him.
Cameron Smith is named at hooker for the Storm in a big relief for the 30% of us who own him. The rumour going around at the moment is that Smith is nursing a broken sternum, which makes Slade Griffin named at #14 a bit worrying, but we will have to wait and see how it plays out, as there really isn’t many other 80 minute hookers you can keep as captain all year. Brandon Smith being dropped is somewhat surprising after a strong debut game, however I will never question a decision from Craig Bellamy. Billy Slater has been straight fire since his return from injury, with 188k in price prices and coming off a two try and two try assist 70 point effort against the Knights last week. Lots of good options at WFB this season but Billy looks like a great option for the back end of the season if you don’t have him already.
Manly Sea Eagles vs Newcastle Knights
Manly coming off a golden point win against Canberra and the main change is Jorge Taufua out for the rest of the season with an ACL injury. He is replaced by Jonathan Wright who plays his first game of the season. Neither Taufua or Wright are really fantasy relevant when there are many better options at WFB. Tom Trbojevic is added on an extended bench but by all accounts is a long shot of playing, but he was in great form before his injury and has the added benefit of being dual position WFB/CTR. Definitely one to keep an eye on. Martin Taupau had another blinder again last week with a try assisted 79 point effort against the Raiders and is a dual position FRF/2RF you want in your team sooner rather than later. Akuila Uate has been great this season has 159k in price rises, but came crashing down against the Raiders with a -3 after 82 minutes thanks to no attacking stats and five missed tackles, however he could definitely make up for it this week against the Knights. Daly Cherry-Evans is still a decent option at HLF, but he only got 52 points last week including a try, try assist, field goal and 349 kick metres… There are better options.
Newcastle are showing some promise this season, but are struggling to put together an 80 minute performance. They don’t have many fantasy relevant players but there is some potential in the team. Trent Hodkinson is named on an extended bench so may make a return, which could see Brock Lambs scores drop as Hodkinson should take back the goal kicking responsibilities. Dane Gagai has been the Knights best and is will go DPP next week if he starts at fullback and could be a good point of difference, while Sione Mata’utia has been a bit hit and miss, but an 80 minute back rower that can be played as a CTR is always a good thing to have, especially with centre being the hardest position to cover in fantasy. Mitch Barnett is named at lock again but is awkwardly priced and probably not worth picking up.
Brisbane Broncos vs South Sydney Rabbitohs
Some bad news for coaches with Kodi Nikorima benched and likely to steal some minutes off Andrew McCollough, which is bad for both players and one less 80 minute hooker to consider. Anthony Milford is named at 5/8th despite the rumour of a broken cheekbone, and his inclusion means Benji Marshall drops back to 19th man after a couple of promising games in the starting side. Unsure of Josh McGuire‘s standing in fantasy even though he has a 51 average. With a 470k price tag he simply doesn’t put together enough 50+ point games. He is no Corey Parker. I have had him all season but will be looking to upgrade him in the next week or two for someone more with a bit more upside.
The Rabbitohs are fresh off the bye, but have been very average this year, which is why they are sitting in 13th position. George Burgess joins his brother Tom in the front row, but from his form this year it would almost be silly to start him, especially with the stupid things he has been doing to get suspended lately. Adam Reynolds is up there with the top halves, but it seems like he’s made of glass and it seems possible he could get injured at any moment and is a risky prospect at this stage of the season where you should be conserving trades. Angus Crichton has been rewarding everyone who took a punt on him with almost 300k in price rises and looking more like a keeper every week. Sam Burgess continues to be a consistent option at 2RF with a three round average of 71. Cody Walker is another of the Rabbitohs players worth watching, but his last game at fullback was average at best.
Gold Coast Titans vs New Zealand Warriors
Bit of a shakeup at the Titans with Jarryd Hayne being shifted back to fullback to try to get the most out of him. Hayne is now DPP WFB/CTR, but needs to show something more than he has been before it’s worth starting him at any position, but going back to #1 might be the kick he needs. For some reason Tyrone Roberts will be playing off the bench even though he has been great for the Titans this year. William Zillman is named on the wing despite 3 years of being terrible and is definitely not worth trading in. Nathan Peats returns at starting hooker and could be a decent point of difference, while Morgan Boyle is now too awkwardly priced to trade in, but probably has a few more weeks of making money even though he is named to start on the bench. Jarrod Wallace has been pretty good and is on the edge of keeper status unless you can afford to upgrade him to a gun forward.
Not too much going on at the Warriors except James Gavet out with a hamstring injury, he is replaced by Jacob Lillyman. Shaun Johnson had his worst game of the year last week but is still up in the conversation as the best HLF in fantasy, but can just as easily score 20 as he could score 90. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has been getting better but his forwards aren’t really giving him the room that he needs, but he’s still a great option at WFB at a good price. Simon Mannering is coming off a 74 point effort in a losing side and is always a good option if you can work him into your pack.
Penrith Panthers vs Canberra Raiders
No changes for the Panthers this week, which isn’t surprising considering the thumping they gave the Bulldogs last week. Trent Merrin has re-found form and is still a great pick up at 482k with a BE of 21. I traded him in this week as he is a proven gun in a side that is finally starting to click. Dylan Edwards is a great option at WFB while his price is still good with Bryce Cartwright ruled out for a decent stretch. Josh Mansour scored 58 on his first game back from injury and is only owned by 1% of teams so could be a great POD if you can fit him in your backline. Mitch Rein scored 69 in his Panthers debut but he won’t score two tries every week and will certainly lose his starting spot once Wallace returns. Corey Harawira-Naera continues to make money but most of his points come from attacking stats so he’s questionable as a keeper, however he still has a bit of money to make.
Dunamis Lui and Shannon Boyd are both out with knee injuries, with Sia Soliola starting at prop and rookie Royce Hunt named on the bench as a possible cash out option to make some extra cash. Jordan Rapana has been awesome lately as the Raiders start to click into top gear. 93 points last week and priced at 473k, but a BE of 4 so he is almost guaranteed to make money this week, however keep in mind that he is a winger and his scores will be inconsistent. BJ Leilua is cheap as chips and is also showing some shades of his old self and is tempting at CTR. Nick Cotric has probably peaked in price but is worth holding at CTR as long as you can.
Parramatta Eels vs North Queensland Cowboys
Corey Norman is named on the extended bench so is a possibility to return for the Eels, which will be interesting to see how his combination works with Mitch Moses, and also what that means for Clint Gutherson. Nathan Brown is still a good option, especially for overall players. Josh Hoffman and David Gower are both out injured and have been replaced by Nathan Davis and Tim Mannah respectively. Kaysa Pritchard has been great for the Eels this season, and Manu Ma’u has a three round average of 48 and is worth looking at for his bye coverage if you are playing for overall points.
Jonothan Thurston is back on the reserved list and will be a good pickup after the Origin period if his shoulder heals up well. Kyle Laybutt has been named to debut at HLF but will make way if Thurston plays. Justin O’Neill returns at CTR but isn’t a good prospect. Jason Taumalolo has a season average of 63 and can’t be ignored, even at 553k. Not many good fantasy options at the Cowboys, but Taumalolo is a genuine captaincy option.
Wests Tigers vs Sydney Roosters
James Tedesco seems to have gotten even better since his massive Origin game and at 415k is very nicely priced if you don’t have him already. One of the most traded in players this week is Tui Lolohea after a strong Tigers debut, however his 247k price tag is a bit offputting, but the fact he is DPP HFL/WFB makes him a decent option as a POD. Sauaso Sue starts in the second row for Chris Lawrence, who is out with a hamstring injury. David Nofoaluma has shown he can go bigger than Tedesco and is only in 2.15% of teams.
Mitchell Pearce is the best HLF in fantasy and returns for the Roosters. He should be part of your plans for your final team. Jake Friend has a three round average of 69, but almost all of his points early in the season have come from tackles and the last few weeks he has got extra points for kick metres and try assists, however I expect these to drop off with Pearce back in the team. Boyd Cordner played 80 minutes and scored two tries after backing up after Origin, but for the most part he is a mid range scorer at best and there are much better options out there.
Canterbury Bulldogs vs St George Illawarra Dragons
James Graham returns for the Bulldogs and is almost irresistible at 390k. He has been having a great season however there was three weeks where he got taken off early with unlucky injuries so that made his price plummet. If you plan on getting him, he has a BE of 72 so will probably be even cheaper next week, but after a long lay off he could come out firing and have a massive game against the big Dragons pack, especially after the thumping the Dogs got last week. Josh Reynolds returns at 5/8th, which is bad news for those of us with Matt Frawley, who is now worth selling before he loses all the money he’s made. Brett Morris returns to the wing, which pushes Kerrod Holland out of the side. Will Hopoate has the potential for big scores, but also has a lot of average games.
No changes for the Dragons after their victory over the Tigers last week, with Gareth Widdop returning to the game with a two try 55 point performance. Widdop is a very good player and can do it all, so could be a great HLF for 455k. Josh Dugan has also been in some good form since Origin and is a decent option at 399k, but his injury history is concerning so it’s worth waiting until after the Origin period to see how he pulls up. Paul Vaughan has a three round average of 60 and almost up to 500k, and with NSW smashing QLD in game one it’s hard to see him being called into the Blues side. Cameron McInness has played 80 minutes every game except for round four where he played 73 minutes. If anything happens to Smith there will be a huge amount of coaches making the trade, but in a perfect world you would have both.
Thanks guys, see you next week!