After a strong win over the Dragons in Round 1, Wests Tigers will field a similar side for Sunday's game against the Newcastle Knights with just one slight change to last week's 21-man squad.
With Luke Brooks (calf) out injured, Josh Reynolds will once again partner Benji Marshall in the halves while Paul Momirovski comes on to the bench for his first game of the year — replacing Michael Chee Kam, who drops back to the reserves.
Given their good performance throughout the latter stages of Sunday's win over the Dragons, Wests Tigers players certainly have plenty of upside when it comes to their potential NRL Fantasy scores this season — making them a team you definitely want to consider in any potential trades throughout this week.
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BENJI MARSHALL AN OPTION AGAIN?
He's already risen by $31K after a Man of the Match performance in Round 1, but it's still definitely worth considering Benji Marshall (HLF, $603K) as a cut-price option in the halves for the next few weeks — particularly with a number of the more expensive halves failing to fire in their opening round matches.
Benji produces the magic for Nofoaluma try
Perhaps the most pleasing thing from a Fantasy perspective from his Round 1 game wasn't the try or two assists (although that certainly helped), but just the floor that seems there in his game. With Brooks sidelined, Reynolds playing halfback and Billy Walters at hooker, Marshall is guaranteed 80 minutes barring injury — and he's kicking goals too with Moses Mbye (knee) not yet back in the side.
Marshall landed four goals from his five attempts in wet and windy conditions on Sunday, including one from the sideline in the first half, and Fantasy coaches with a good memory will remember that Marshall's best years as a Fantasy option came when he was kicking goals. Owned by just 3.4% with an upcoming fixture against the Knights — a team he starred against on two occasions last year — the veteran playmaker is certainly an option worth exploring once again for coaches.
BILLY WALTERS LOCKED IN AT HOOKER?
Billy Walters (HLF/HOK, $287K) did the job for Fantasy coaches and Wests Tigers alike in Round 1 — chalking out 50 points in base stats and promptly rising by a whopping $41K as a result. It's not too late to jump on the 26-year-old this week, either, with another big stint in the middle projected following Reynolds' move off the interchange bench and in to the halves alongside Marshall.
With no utility or hooker named on the bench, Walters again appears set for big minutes and should rise in price nicely over the next couple of weeks — particularly if he can jag an attacking stat or two in nice home matches against the Knights and Bulldogs. He is one of the most popular players in the game at this point with over 42% of coaches selecting the former Melbourne Storm man, so you run the risk of losing ground early in the year if he's not in your team come Round 2.
RIGHT SIDE, STRONG SIDE
Anyone who watched the second trial match against the New Zealand Warriors knew the right side of Wests Tigers was going to be a Fantasy gold mine this year and it certainly turned out that way in Round 1. Run by the ageless Marshall, the likes of David Nofoaluma and both Leilua brothers looked dangerous against the Dragons and all three are certainly options for coaches moving forward.
David Nofoaluma (WFB, $703K) was the standout with two tries and over 190 metres on the ground yielding him 63 points and a $21K price rise. Owned by less than two percent, Nofoaluma will cost you a lot as a wing-fullback option but he's proven throughout the years to be a genuine keeper in terms of Fantasy and looks set for another big year with Joey Leilua (CTR, $490K) inside him.
Nofoaluma finishes the game in style
Of the three, it was a quiet night for the former Dally M Centre of the Year as he ended on just 25 points but we all know the prospect for points is there — particularly heading in to his first home game at Leichhardt Oval. Leilua scored 56 points there in his only game as a visitor, and while we don't need to go in to that game any more for the dreaded memories, the point remains the same.
Luciano Leilua (2RF, $525K) is perhaps the most intriguing on that right edge at a mid-range price point for Coaches, although he did rise in $22K from his starting price after jagging a try on his club debut to finish with 52 points. But the try aside, the most exciting thing for Leilua owners was the minutes — Leilua played the entire 80 minutes despite edge forwards Chris Lawrence and Michael Chee Kam both coming in to the contest throughout the second half. If he can keep those sort of minutes up going forward, that price point is going well north of $600K because we all know the attacking upside is there. Definitely worth trading in if you haven't yet!
While the likes of Payne Haas, Jason Taumalolo and David Fifita dominate most Fantasy teams — and for good reason — Wests Tigers do have a number of point-of-differential forwards that could be a gold mine for Fantasy coaches this year.
And the best part? They won't cost you anywhere near what the others do, while their low ownership could see you gain a real advantage in the early weeks.
Alex Twal (FRF, $702K) is a known Fantasy option by this point in his career and showed why on the weekend with 61 points in just 53 minutes — a PPM (points-per-minute) of 1.15 to rank him as one of the best in the game. His price tag is hefty, but his 1.5% ownership makes him a great option with a low break-even this week.
His starting prop partner in Josh Aloiai (2RF, $560K) is an intriguing option given he's listed as a back rower but playing up front. Aloiai was arguably the pick of the forwards in Sunday's win with over 180 minutes, and while that only corresponded with 35 Fantasy points, his 0.85 PPM and 0.8% ownership are appealing.
The same goes for Thomas Mikaele (FRF, $401K) who chalked up 40 points in Round 1, playing 52 minutes off the bench at a PPM of 0.77. Mikaele rose by $17K in value last week and seems the perfect kind of player to jump on now with a 1.4% ownership and watch him slowly rise in price. With a big of luck, he could push above that $500K price point in 5-6 weeks and could be turned in to a fallen gun that you hang on to for the rest of the season, or even become a keeper himself if he can challenge the likes of Aloiai or Elijah Taylor for a starting spot.