I'm not going to sugar-coat it, this is a very rough week of team lists for NRL Fantasy coaches.
So take a deep breath, maybe fix yourself a stiff drink, and read on for all the info you'll need before making this week's trades.
This week's team news
Panthers v Rabbitohs, Thursday 7.50pm at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
Panthers: Unchanged. Nathan Cleary proved his 35 against Parramatta was a blip with a sensational 81-point game in last week's win over Melbourne. With an average of 64.8 he's the best Fantasy half of the year so far. His halves partner Jarome Luai only scored 25 in that game but encouragingly got the full 80 minutes despite the presence of rival Matt Burton on the bench.
Rabbitohs: James Roberts is set to return via the bench after replacing Tom Amone. Damien Cook reminded everyone why he was the king of Fantasy just two years ago with a massive 103-point game against the Warriors. Campbell Graham ($525k) is producing keeper-level scores for a centre, and will become a dual-position WFB/CTR this week, while Latrell Mitchell ($580k) has a three-round average of 60.7 – easily the best of any player available at centre in Fantasy.
Mitchell throws a superb pass to Johnston
Storm v Warriors, Friday 6pm (8pm NZT) at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
Storm: Josh Addo-Carr and Jahrome Hughes are back in the side at the expense of Marion Seve and Ryley Jacks. It's still The Cameron Show at Melbourne with Smith and Munster both hitting the 60s last round, while Ryan Papenhuyzen has now dropped $70k on his starting price with no scores above 50 this year. That could change against a weakened Warriors outfit though.
Warriors: Bad news on the cash cow front with Eliesa Katoa out injured and Wayde Egan suspended for a week, with Jack Murchie and Karl Lawton starting in their places. Ken Maumalolo returns to the wing in place of Gerard Beale. The shock sacking of Stephen Kearney means job security could become an issue for several players in this side in the coming weeks. Tohu Harris ($767k) has been a rock in the forward pack with 58 points a game, but a 25-point game from Eliesa Katoa will slow down his price rises a little – although he should still get close to $600k if he retains a big-minute role when he returns. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's price has dropped by $161k so far this season and unless he hits 50+ this week it's likely to keep dropping.
Roosters v Dragons, Friday 7.55pm at Bankwest Stadium
Roosters: A concussion ended James Tedesco's night early against the Eels, meaning his price has probably peaked around $900k for now, but he's been named to start at fullback. Sam Verrills replaces Sitili Tupouniua on the bench. Kyle Flanagan ($696k) has emerged as a genuine keeper option with scores of 68, 68 and 63 in the past three weeks.
Dragons: A Jordan Pereira suspension gives Jason Saab his chance on the wing while Blake Lawrie starts and Jackson Ford joins the bench after the departure of James Graham to the Super League. Cameron McInnes is now the most valuable player in Fantasy, passing the $1 million mark with an average close to 82 points per game. A good try helped Zac Lomax to 51 points last week and at this stage he's a genuine keeper in the centres.
Lomax gets put into space by Dufty
Cowboys v Knights, Saturday 3pm at Queensland Country Bank Stadium
Cowboys: Reuben Cotter joins the bench with Corey Jensen out of the side. Reece Robson ($593k) had been making the most of an 80-minute hooker role, scoring 61 and 54 in recent weeks. Jason Taumalolo is scoring close to 70 points a game, which would make him the best Fantasy scorer in the league most seasons but has him ranked third this year. Josh McGuire ($708k) is scoring 55 points per game and is a handy option as a dual-position forward. Scott Drinkwater gave his price tag a boost with a season-high 61 last round (just after a lot of us sold him) while Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow ($272k) recovered from a disastrous first half to finish on 22 points.
Knights: Fantasy favourite Bradman Best is out for a week after visiting his parents without permission in a breach of COVID-19 restrictions. Enari Tuala is back after being rested himself last week to replace Best in the centres. Newcastle are firing on all cylinders and so are their Fantasy scores, with Kalyn Ponga (average 68.4), Daniel Saifiti (57.2), Mitchell Pearce (60.4 if you ignore his injury-affected -1 against Penrith) and Sione Mata'utia (47.8) all improving massively on last year's numbers. Kurt Mann is closing in on $250k in price rises, while Andrew McCullough hit a little speedbump with 45 in the win over Brisbane after scores in the high 60s in the previous two rounds.
Broncos v Titans, Saturday 5.30pm at Suncorp Stadium
Broncos: Fullback Jamayne Isaako has been dropped with rookie Fanitesi Niu to start in his place. He's as cheap as it gets ($212k) after averaging 6 points per game off the bench, but it means with a break even of 44 you can wait at least a week to see how he goes before snapping him up. Cory Paix's run as a cash cow came to a dramatic end last week when he was benched an hour before kick-off, and now he's out of the side altogether nursing a pec strain with new signing Issac Luke at hooker. Pat Carrigan and Tom Flegler have copped one-match suspensions, with Jamil Hopoate and Rhys Kennedy joining the 17. Payne Haas got his longest stint on the bench for the season last week, finishing with "only" 55 points from 59 minutes. He's still the most reliable captaincy choice in the game.
Titans: Not good news for those who picked up cheapie Erin Clark with Mitch Rein taking his place this week, while Bryce Cartwright is the other starter dropped. Keegan Hipgrave starts, Dale Copley replaces the injured Young Tonumaipea and Jarrod Wallace joins the bench. Tanah Boyd ($311k) and Jamal Fogarty ($365k) and Clark ($355k) all have break evens below zero after scoring in the high 40s in last week's loss to the Dragons. Moeaki Fotuaika ($695k) is averaging 63.8 points in his past four games and is now probably second in the front-rower power rankings behind Payne Haas after Alex Twal's injury.
Eels v Raiders, Saturday 7.35pm at Bankwest Stadium
Eels: Ryan Matterson ($815k) has joined the elite Fantasy scorers this year, with his average jumping 10 points to 63 points a game so far (with just one try in six games). He had a huge game against his old club the Roosters with season-highs for tackles (52) and busts (six). Mitch Moses was kept relatively quiet in that loss with 37 points but remains a gun. Brad Takairangi replaces Peni Terepo on the bench in their only change this week.
Raiders: Unchanged. Josh Papalii (average 57.7) and Corey Horsburgh (52.4) have been the real success stories at the Raiders this season, with George Williams remaining a borderline keeper (52.7) despite Canberra's recent struggles in attack.
Sea Eagles v Sharks, Sunday 4.05pm at Central Coast Stadium
Sea Eagles: Superstar fullback Tom Trbojevic is set to miss 6-8 weeks with a hamstring injury and is a sell. Jake Trbojevic has dropped $74k on his starting price but remains a solid scorer with 52.5 points a game this year, while Daly Cherry-Evans still hasn't scored less than 50 in a game. Martin Taupau is back this week and his price is set to slide so he'll be one to watch in the weeks to come.
Sharks: No changes to the 17 with Andrew Fifita named to start as he was last Tuesday before going back to the bench on game day. Shaun Johnson ($744k) has had some criticism this season but he actually leads the league for try assists and most times engaging the defensive line, and is scoring a very healthy 56.7 Fantasy points a game. Blayke Brailey continues to eke out small price rises while Toby Rudolf is still some way off hitting peak price.
Johnson places a kick for Katoa to get his first career hat-trick
Bulldogs v Wests Tigers, Sunday 6.30pm at Bankwest Stadium
Bulldogs: Christian Crichton is suspended with Kerrod Holland named at centre and Reimis Smith moving to the wing. With the likes of Tom Trbojevic and Kurt Capewell going down injured in recent weeks there's high demand for dual-position WFB/CTR options and Will Hopoate is one of the best, having dropped in price by $134k this season and coming off a season-high 56 last round. It was just his second game named at fullback (with Dallin Watene-Zelezniak now busy producing monster tackles in the centres), and he's likely to average around 40-45 points per game there. Jake Averillo ($272k) has also emerged as a credible cheapie in the centres, racking up 21 tackles and a few busts last week, although there could be some risk to his spot with Nick Meaney included in the reserves.
Wests Tigers: Alex Twal's knee injury is a major blow here, with one of the league's busiest and most effective tacklers set to be sidelined for a month. He's a sell unless you're very concerned about your trade total have plenty of depth to cover him. Zane Musgrove (foot) and Robert Jennings (hamstring) are also out injured. Tommy Talau only missed a week with a hamstring issue and is a cash cow contender who covers the tricky centre position, having scored 39 with six tackle busts a fortnight ago. Harry Grant just keeps getting better and is a keeper this year, while Luke Brooks and David Nofoaluma have emerged as sneaky potential keeper options with averages in the low 50s at this stage. Luciano Leilua hasn't quite peaked in price but is getting close – but if you've been hit hard by injuries this season it may be worth considering keeping a 49-point second-rower for the rest of the season.