NRL Round 5 is here and Sam McPhee is back to share who he is (and isn’t) targeting in this week’s fantasy games at PlayON.
New Zealand Warriors vs Sydney Roosters
The Warriors were hugely impressive last week in their 26-4 win over the Tigers, cementing their place in the top 4. Shaun Johnson unfortunately will be unavailable to help them build on that success, the fourth game he will miss due to injury this season. His fill-in, Mason Lino, has lit the competition up in his absence and the Roosters will need to conjure up plenty of points if they’re to stay in this one, something they have been unable to do so far this season.
Gun: Tohu Harris ($18.9m)
Tohu Harris has gone from strength to strength this season with the added influence at the Warriors and he will be in for a new and intriguing role this weekend. Coach Stephen Kearney says Tohu will split time on the edge and at lock in the centre of the park, which will see an increase in his base stats but also possibly his role in ball handling. The big Roosters pack can be susceptible around the ruck and I wouldn’t be surprised if Harris and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck are combining through the middle to cause them issues.
Dud: Latrell Mitchell ($17.8m)
The young superstar is pretty reliant on attacking stats for his scoring output and I don’t like Latrell Mitchell’s matchup with the equally physically impressive Solomone Kata. Kata finds a way to rise for the big matchups and takes his defensive task rather personally, I can see him taking shots at young Latrell all night. Latrell will be up for it, but I can’t see a score over his already low 1050 average.
Point of Difference: Mason Lino ($10.2m)
The aforementioned Mason Lino has taken full advantage of the consistent absences of Shaun Johnson and is averaging over 1100 in the process. He has excelled playing alongside the stability of Blake Green and is running the show for a balanced Warriors attack. At that price and a strong average, as well as playing at home, you could do worse.
Melbourne Storm vs Gold Coast Titans
The Storm were humbled on a huge first vs second showdown on Sunday afternoon last weekend by a rampant Dragons team that confirmed their status as the best team in the competition. I pity the Titans for having to play Melbourne off a loss like that. This game will only go one way, lots and lots of points for the Storm and not many for the Gold Coast.
Gun: Billy Slater ($20.2m)
As I said above, Melbourne will likely rack up a cricket score here and I predict Billy Slater will be heavily involved in the lot of it. He looked dangerous last week, and I can see him on the end of a number of sweeping backline plays producing tries and try assists for their flying wingers. Could go with either of those outside backs here as well, but I like Slater.
Dud: Basically anyone from the Titans.
I mean it. The awful injury to star lock Jai Arrow last week combined with the increasingly poor form from gun recruit Bryce Cartwright and a general disarray that has become too common in southeastern Queensland suggests there really isn’t a single player worthwhile.
Point of Difference: Felise Kaufusi ($16.1m)
Felise Kaufusi was one of the breakout players last year and after his injury interrupted start to the year the Australian representative is ready to explode. This could be his game. Averaging just under 1100 without the attacking stats of last year, Kaufusi could expose the left edge defence of the Titans and jag himself a four pointer to take that total well over 1200.
Manly Sea Eagles vs Brisbane Broncos
The Broncos won by two points in controversial circumstances last week after a first half display that was borderline offensive. The Jack Bird experiment in the halves is over and the reported million dollar per-year contract he is on is now looking like one of the worst in the NRL. As for the Sea Eagles, well I’m just about ready to draw a line through their season. Tom Trbojevic doesn’t look right, they can’t defend their line to save their lives and all the talent in this team seem to be going to waste. Not sure how much longer Trent Barrett survives as their coach, what a difference a year can make.
Gun: Corey Oates ($16.8m)
I really struggled to find a gun here as I am pretty disappointed in both these teams, but since Manly cannot defend I can see Anthony Milford and Corey Oates wreaking havoc on their right edge. Milford to Oates is about as deadly a combination as there is when it’s rolling and I think it rolls on Saturday night.
Dud: Daly Cherry-Evans ($18.4m)
I couldn’t pull myself to put Tommy Turbo in here so I’m going with his halfback, who I several times labelled a gun earlier in the season (and profited as a result). His points are dependant on Manly’s scoring and right now I don’t trust anything this team does. DCE suffers as a result. Don’t pick him.
Point of Difference: Alex Glenn ($18m)
I’ve been hoping to get a chance to write something about Alex Glenn for awhile now. This is a guy who I have a huge wrap on and I have been waiting for another team to come in and offer him a lucrative contract so we can see how good he really could be as the focal point in a team’s attack. That chance hasn’t presented itself, however, the injury of Matt Gillett and general mess that is the Broncos right now has given him more of a chance than normal and he’s taken it. A 1200 average is very strong and against a just complete mess of a Sea Eagles team, he could be in for another big night.
South Sydney Rabbitohs vs St George Illawarra Dragons
As a Dragons fan, I have trained myself over the years not to get too high or too low with any team, no matter how good or bad it may seem. The last two weeks were to be the measuring stick I used as to whether I gave in and let this team control my emotions, and they came through both relatively unscathed. There is no argument they are the best team in the competition. They are far from perfect, they still are yet to put together an 80 minute performance and there are some defensive issues but that should only serve to worry the rest of the competition because once they clean those things up they will be borderline unstoppable.
Gun: Euan Aitken ($17.9m)
Euan Aitken now appears to be the frontrunner for one of the NSW centre positions after he totally decimated the Storm’s famed defence last week, particularly his second try where he seemingly ran through half their team. In 2017 the Dragons attack only went left, now they have found a balance where the right is just as potent, and Aitken is a go-to-guy now. His base stats are great and he’s added tries. Winner.
Dud: Greg Inglis ($18.9m)
Greg Inglis will be out for blood after Aitken totally stood him up and blew past him the last time these two sides played. Unfortunately for Greg, Father Time has passed him by and Aitken appears the heir to his centre throne for the Kangaroos. The Dragons are playing with too much speed at the moment and Inglis’ scores have been on a steady decline. At nearly $19m there just is no value.
Point of Difference: Matt Dufty ($16.9m)
The obvious choices in the Outside Backs position have been the fullbacks at the top of the food chain, Tom Trbojevic, James Tedesco and even Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. Well Matt Dufty belongs in that class now. I said at the start of the year he may reach that by the end of the year but the influence he has on a team that is scoring so many points means he is every bit as worthy of your money as the aforementioned stars, and he’s much, much cheaper.
Canberra Raiders vs Cronulla Sharks
Last week didn’t tell us a huge lot about either of these teams. The Sharks held off the Eels in a game they largely controlled while the Raiders were too strongly for an injury-ravaged Titans. Paul Gallen returns for Cronulla but Wade Graham departs. Junior Paulo is out for eight weeks for Canberra, a big loss, who is replaced by Shannon Boyd. All those names will feature here.
Gun: Paul Gallen ($19.4m)
Yes, yes, if you’ve been keeping score I did swear off Paul Gallen earlier this year as a viable fantasy option. I stand by that, but in one game samples he can be valuable again, and I think this will be one of those games. Gallen has history with the Raiders and their fans going back to a rather testy finals game in 2012 that saw Josh Papalii take it upon himself to take Gallen out of the game. Wade Graham’s absence means Gallen will likely walk back into 80 minutes and will need to help Andrew Fifita against a monster Raiders pack.
Dud: Valentine Holmes ($16.2m)
I will damn near feature Valentine Holmes here every week until the Sharks stop playing him at fullback. The obsession in rugby league to move players who dominate their position into another with more influence is certainly one I can understand to an extent, but Holmes is long beyond that. He is as damaging and destructive a winger as there is in the game, but he simply doesn’t have the skills to play fullback. That is no slight on him, but this experiment has to stop.
Point of Difference: Shannon Boyd ($13.4m)
Junior Paulo has quietly been Canberra’s star through the middle this year and they will miss him greatly. Shannon Boyd will step up into his starting role and I think could have a big game. This will be a forward’s contest, slamming through the centre of the park and at $13.4m I could see increase minutes and work load seeing Boyd comfortably over 1000.
That’s all for this weekend’s analysis. Good luck!