NRL Picks and Preview, Round 8: Fri-Sun

NRL picks Round 8 - Daily Fantasy NRL

Sam McPhee is back for NRL Round 8 to share who he is (and isn’t) targeting in this week’s fantasy games at PlayON.


Manly Sea Eagles vs Newcastle Knights

Manly fans should be the envy of the league. They have arguably the two greatest back and forward talents in the game, a star halfback, a wonderfully talented hooker and a strong mix of youth and experience around them that should have the club soaked in optimism. The repeated and consistent embarrassments this team suffers is mind boggling, and giving up 44 points to a winless team is truly unfathomable. The Knights, on the other hand, produced a stunning comeback to beat the Tigers last week and deserve all the praise they are receiving. However, with Mitchell Pearce’s long term injury, things will only get harder.

Gun: Kalyn Ponga ($17.3m)

Due to the aforementioned Pearce injury, Kalyn Ponga will now be the primary playmaker for the Knights. His 1317 average was certainly helped by the presence of the former NSW halfback, and it remains to be seen if that will increase or decrease without him, but I am backing Ponga to star with the enhanced influence and will have plenty of opportunities against a truly terrible Manly defensive unit.

Dud: Joel Thompson ($18.6m)

The former Dragon was supposed to be the veteran signing to help nurture their inexperienced forwards and add representative pedigree to their team. He may have done those things, but they aren’t translating to wins nor fantasy points. Averaging 1077 and coming off a measly 875, Thompson is coming up against a young and in form Knights pack and potentially will be without Api Koroisau, who makes so much of their attack tick. Spend your money elsewhere.

Point of Difference: Aidan Guerra ($17.5m)

The forgotten man in the Newcastle pack but owners should have him in the forefront of their minds as a sneaky POD. Guerra is quietly averaging 1272, one of the better marks in the league, and his scores have not fluctuated too much. He is had working, has a high ceiling and will play extended minutes should Jamie Buhrer spend time in the halves again. Not the cheapest but certainly a point of difference.

Penrith Panthers vs Canterbury Bulldogs

Just when you think you’re safe praising the Panthers they produce a neutered effort against a Sharks side smashed by injury. Thankfully for them they host the Bulldogs, coming off a 6-0 loss to the Roosters last week in what truly was one of the most horrific games of rugby league in history. Despite missing the only thing that really makes them special, Nathan Cleary, this one could be a bloodbath.

Gun: Dylan Edwards ($20m)

A few weeks ago I gave Dylan Edwards his gun debut and he has backed that prediction up every week since. He is the measuring stick for this team, everything goes through him and when he is playing well more often than not they win. His 1291 average is immense and that will continue to creep up in the absence of Cleary. A strong pick every week.

Dud: Trent Merrin ($18.4m)

The golden days of Trent Merrin as a fantasy sports must have gone, as his minutes are being decreased week after week with the emergence of Penrith’s plethora of young talent. His 1108 average isn’t terrible, but is far below what you would expect from the former Origin star, and his 929 last week is more likely what you can expect from Merrin and his 40-odd minutes.

Point of Difference: Josh Mansour ($16.3m)

Josh Mansour loves playing at Pepper Stadium, loves a local derby and loves scoring tries in the big free to air games. The barnstorming Panthers winger is way overdue a monster game and this one has all the makings of it. His 1091 average is pretty strong considering his low offensive output in terms of tries and line breaks this year, so his floor is low (because of the immense work rate). Should Mansour jag a couple of tries he could be looking at 1500+.

Gold Coast Titans vs Cronulla Sharks

The Titans and Sharks make up that purgatory between the teams we know are good and the teams we know are bad, alongside most of the league. Both have a number of potential representative stars, both have a number of injuries and both have an equal number of impressive wins and head scratching losses. This could go either way.

Gun: Andrew Fifita ($21.4m)

Since turning his back on NSW and Australia for Tonga, Fifita has gone to another level. Scary, right? His minutes are way up and with the number of injuries to the Sharks engine room there should be no reason why that changes. He is everything for them right now, averaging 1339 and coming off a 1519. Pick him weekly regardless of the cost.

Dud: Nobody?

I can’t really see too many duds in this game. This game could see plenty of scoring, so Josh Dugan comes into play at fullback. Valentine Holmes could jag a few tries, but so could the Titans. I wouldn’t rule anyone out here, but I also wouldn’t be desperate to fill your squad with these teams.

Point of Difference: Jarrod Wallace ($15.9m)

Jarrod Wallace has returned from injury and picked up where he left off from last season, as one of the game’s best props. The Queensland bolter notched up 1325 last week and his average has crept over 1100 despite a slow start due to injuries. He is a workaholic and will want to be at his best against Fifita. Well worth a look at that price.

North Queensland Cowboys vs Canberra Raiders

The Cowboys are finally starting to look like themselves again, notching up back to back wins. The Raiders are going in the other direction, and this really could be a cricket score in the making. This is a matchup between two very different teams in two very different situations.

Gun: Johnathan Thurston ($17.4m)

The great man hasn’t had his typically great season, on the field or in fantasy (837 average) but JT is ready to explode and this could be the game. His fitness looks to be improving every week, increasing his influence and seeing those numbers slowly rise. I can see the Cowboys putting 50+ on Canberra on Sunday afternoon, with Thurston involved in plenty of it.

Dud: Jordan Rapana ($21.1m)

The game’s best winger has not had his usual season either, struggling to find any cohesion with his right edge allies. This game should be no different, and I can see Rapana isolated on his wing without much opportunity to rack up the attacking stats that see him costing you $21.1m. Steer clear.

Point of Difference: Kyle Feldt ($14.8m)

This might be the last time Kyle Feldt features in this category, as his performances are dictating he be in many more teams. An averaging creeping closer to 1100 (1069) and coming off a 1205, the NRL’s second leading try scorer is benefitting from Thurston’s return to the team and is surely a lock to play for Queensland on the wing. He could bag a hat trick against a truly woeful Raiders defence. At under $15m he should be strongly considered.

Good luck to all!

Qualify for the NRL $25,000 SuperContest each day of Round 8 at PlayON