With the 2020 NRL season officially just a month away from returning, NRL and Fantasy Coaches alike will be eyeing off their teams to see which players are ready to deliver on May 28.
While the final make-up of what the 2020 season will look like — and indeed Fantasy season in terms of trades and players — it's never too early to start looking at your teams and planning what changes need to made to your team.
Whether you started the season poorly or on fire, the revised season has some big consequences for a multitude of players across the game with several Wests Tigers players set to be on the radar of Fantasy coaches when the action returns.
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Harry Grant (HOK, $246K)
Selected by 9.99% of Fantasy coaches at the time of writing, Harry Grant looms as a very intriguing option at hooker after his swap deal from the Melbourne Storm to Wests Tigers was finally approved... only for the competition to be suspended.
Harry Grant joins Wests Tigers
The highly-rated youngster hasn't played a game yet in 2020 but appears set to contend for big minutes in the number nine jumper at Wests Tigers — even with the presence of Josh Reynolds and Billy Walters, who split time at hooker between them in the opening two rounds. Grant is the out-and-out hooker that Coach Michael Maguire was looking for following Jacob Liddle's injury and Robbie Farah's retirement, and he'll no doubt be keen to use him as much as he can in 2020.
There's an argument to be made for seeing what kind of minutes Grant gets before jumping in for the trade — and a potential downgrade from a player who hasn't performed early on — but Grant's price is basically at bottom-dollar and will only go up once he takes to the field, so any waiting is only going to cost you price rises.
For mine, he's a near must-have assuming his role is there as we expect.
Moses Mbye (CTR/WFB, $508K)
Unavailable in the opening two rounds of the season after picking up a knee injury in the final trial match, co-captain Moses Mbye is back available for selection when the competition returns and could fly under the radar as a backline selection.
Available at centre and at wing-fullback following his mixed role in 2019, what position Mbye plays for Wests Tigers might be a little unclear after spending time at hooker throughout the pre-season. But a closer look tells us that left centre — the position he played in the back half of 2019 and in the trial match against the Warriors — appears most likely for the versatile Origin representative.
Mbye could slot back to fullback but with Adam Doueihi and Corey Thompson both available, you'd have to think that left centre is most likely — which makes him an interesting option playing outside a fully fit Luke Brooks.
Selected by just 0.65% of players, Mbye is a huge point-of-difference for coaches, and he could well come in to contention for the goal-kicking now that Paul Momirovski has joined the Storm for the rest of the year. Mbye trained as a goal-kicker right throughout the pre-season alongside Benji Marshall, and could assume the duties — although Marshall has kicked well in the opening two rounds.
If you're after a real difference that barely any Fantasy coaches have their eye on at the moment, Mbye could well be a name to look out for.
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Thomas Mikaele (FRF, $403K)
Thomas Mikaele is on track to be one of the surprise benefits by the COVID-19 shutdown after picking up a serious knee injury in Round 2. The club's Rookie of the Year was looking like missing serious game time after going off against the Knights, but is on track to return in Round 3 following the long break between matches — making him an interesting option to watch following a good start to the season.
Mikaele's season average to date of 29.5 doesn't scream "trade target" but that does include an injury-affected score of 19 in Round 2. His 40 points in Round 1 was a more than solid start to the year for a slow riser in price, and he's already seen a $19K increase to take him above $400K heading in Round 3 as a result.
Selected by just 1.38% of Fantasy coaches, Mikaele came off the bench in the opening two rounds off the season but did play big minutes in Round 1. His 52 minutes played were the second-most of any middle forward on the night and only one-minute behind Alex Twal, while his injury-affected 17 minutes in Round 2 still saw him chalk up 51 metres and 11 tackles without missing at a points-per-minute rate of above 1. Had he maintained that average for the minutes he played in Round 1, you'd be looking at a score in the high 50's... and a serious price rise as a result.
What Mikaele's role will be when the competition returns is — like almost every player — somewhat unclear but there's certainly an argument to be made for him as a trade target, particularly given his low ownership and justifiable price.