Round 9 rolls into the weekend. Let ‘s break down each match and see who should (and shouldn’t) be in your daily fantasy teams.
Canterbury Bulldogs v. Newcastle Knights
The Bulldogs continue to shoot NRL fantasy players in the face with the axing of gun Rhyse Martin. It is very curious to see what is going on at the Dogs, there is clearly an issue between Martin and the coaching staff, as to keep seeing their best player out of the side. The Knights are looking all the better in recent weeks with Mitch Pearce re-finding form and Kalyn Ponga being Kalyn Ponga. I like them a lot in this one.
Gun: Kalyn Ponga
Kalyn Ponga is one of the hottest players in the league at the moment and I find it almost impossible to have him out of the team every week. He is consistently rattling out scores north of 550 and is about as elite a fantasy outside back as there is. Not much more to say here, the Bulldogs are a bit of a shambles and he can torch them.
Dud: Corey Harawira-Naera
A fantasy favourite of the past, and certainly the future, but the late axing of several players has seen CHN revert back into the centres, a position where he simply won’t have the same value as an 80 minute edge back rower. His base stats will surely plummet as a result and unless he adds a try he won’t be worth investing in.
Point of Difference: David Klemmer
Big David Klemmer is quietly having the season of his career, another sign of how pleasant life can be in quiet Newcastle. He’s averaging 515 and his lowest score of 452 suggests the floor is very high. Despite this, ownership remains low. He’s hardly the sneakiest POD but absolutely a gun masquerading as a POD.
New Zealand Warriors v. St George Illawarra Dragons
The Dragons were humbled by Parramatta last week, blowing a 14-0 lead to lose by three tries in a performance that left fans confused as to what this side really is. They have the talent to be a top 4 team even in the absences of Jack De Belin and Gareth Widdop, yet performances like last week will have everyone pessimistic. They need to put in a huge performance against the Warriors and Kodi Nikorima who coincidentally makes his debut for the club in his old home stadium.
Gun: Cameron McInnes
Cameron McInnes would be an absolute certainty for the NSW side and one of the first players picked in a world where Damien Cook doesn’t exist. He is a superstar, averaging 607 on the back of a huge work rate and increased attacking stats. Not the cheapest at $16.3 but he is every bit as good a fantasy option as any hooker in the game right now.
No duds here for me, I’m not convinced by either team defensively and the wide open spaces of Suncorp Stadium should offer plenty of chances for both to attack. There will be plenty of work for the forwards too as both teams thrive off the go forward of their big men. No one to avoid.
Point of Difference: James Graham
James Graham quietly is averaging 471 in another sign the great Englishman does not age. He and Paul Vaughan have led the way up front for the Saints yet Graham is getting very little coverage from a fantasy perspective. His ownership is virtually zero but he loves a big occasion and he could be a winning POD play for those of you who are gutsy enough to play him.
Melbourne Storm v. Parramatta Eels
The most fascinating game of the round, the Eels have shown signs of being a legitimate top 4 team in recent weeks, particularly at their new fortress, and there are few better measuring sticks than the Melbourne Storm. The Storm are far from the team they once were, but are still a feared side and will likely finish the season in the top 2 alongside the Roosters. If the Eels are for real they will want to make a huge statement against Craig Bellamy’s side on Suncorp.
Gun: Reed Mahoney
Reed Mahoney is becoming one of the finds of the season for the Eels and is thriving off the back of a strong forward pack, unpredictable outside backs and a real confidence in his role within the team. He is a contagiously enthusiastic player who is deadly out of dummy half, as witnessed by his try last week, and he is a strong worker meaning his floor is high. A threat to go 600+ every week and the Storm are known to be weak through the middle.
Dud: Mitch Moses
Mitch Moses’ form has catapulted him into an unlikely Origin discussion, but this isn’t the game for him. Coming up against at worst the second best defensive side in the competition, Moses relies solely on attacking stats and this game threatens to be a low-scoring one. Much better options in the halves this week.
Point of Difference: Kenneath Bromwich
Kenny Bromwich quietly is having the season of his career, proving a deadly weapon on the Storm’s left edge and finally showing consistent offerings of his immense talent. Averaging 452 but his ceiling is way beyond that, I’m not yet convinced by the Eels defence particularly on the edges and I can see K-Brom adding line break and try assists in this one.
Sydney Roosters v. Canberra Raiders
The Raiders find themselves entrenched in the top 4, but they are still yet to beat a top 8 side. This will be the best test of them so far and we will find out whether they are for real. I don’t believe they are, and can see the red hot Roosters dealing them a real reality check. Jack Wighton is in Origin conversation and he may well find his place in the centres, but I think the Roosters expose him as a five-eighth and win this comfortably, unless former coach Ricky Stuart finds a way to drag the game into the dirt.
Gun: Boyd Cordner
Boyd Corder was the overlooked man this season for the Roosters from a fantasy perspective, with players more interested in Angus Crichton, Victor Radley and even Mitch Aubusson. But the NSW captain has had another stunning season, consistently banging out 500s and he is always a threat to score tries with his elite line running. Can’t go wrong with Boyd.
Dud: Jack Wighton
I think the Roosters target Jack Wighton who is not best suited to five-eighth in my opinion. A deadly runner of the ball but not a creative mastermind, I believe they make Wighton do the majority of the playmaking and kicking, and will over work him in defence to ensure he’s tired. Think this will be a long day at the office for Wighton and the Raiders will struggle to score points without BJ Leilua, Jordan Rapana and against the best defence in the competition.
Point of Difference: Hudson Young
At $5.8 million, Hudson Young is the buy of the round. Starting on the edge due to a plethora of injuries, Young smashed out 420 last week in the role and will likely see close to 80 minutes here. This is a no brainer way to save money.
South Sydney Rabbitohs v. North Queensland Cowboys
The Rabbitohs made a real statement with their mammoth win over the Broncos last week, with Cody Walker on the verge of a most unlikely Origin appearance. The Cowboys welcome back Jason Taumalolo but it will only lessen what could be a long night at the office. South Sydney likely won’t be too badly effected by Origin, compared to the Roosters and Storm, so they could easily find themselves ahead in the race for the minor premiership.
Gun: Sam Burgess
Sam Burgess looks a new man after an extremely difficult off season away from football for the big Englishman. He is consistently crossing the line, is getting through a mountain of work and playing 80 minutes. Averaging just below 500 but always a threat to go beyond that, he could have a field day running at a suspect North Queensland defence.
Dud: Michael Morgan
Michael Morgan’s positive play has not contributed into fantasy scoring, averaging barely above 200 and in a game against one of the best three sides in the competition I can’t see that changing. They’re having real problems scoring and this could be a long night, much better options in the halves than him, I’d even prefer Moses.
Point of Difference: Adam Reynolds
All the attention is going to his halves partner Cody Walker and rightfully so, but Adam Reynolds is having a brilliant season himself and is just as relevant for PlayON fantasy. He posted a 480 last week, surpassing Walker’s 472. If the Rabbitohs get going it’s likely he will be a huge reason why, adding points through try assists and more importantly, his goal kicking. I think he’s one of the better PODs of the week.
We’ll see you back here for Round 10 next week. In the meantime, be sure to lock in your lineups.