The normal full slate of NRL games returns after last week’s Origin interrupted weekend, with super Saturday and Sunday featuring a mix of the league’s best and worst teams.
The league-leading Dragons host the hapless Sea Eagles, while Kalyn Ponga will try work his magic against the Storm. With a few games posing the potential for blowout scores, some of the stronger fantasy players could be in for big days.
Canterbury Bulldogs vs Gold Coast Titans
This is probably the least interesting game of the round both from an NRL perspective and a fantasy perspective. The Bulldogs made a game of it against a very sub-par Dragons team last week but didn’t have the firepower to really threaten. The Titans have a 1-6 record away from home, which suggests this might be a dire one to watch.
Gun: Jai Arrow ($15.9m)
He’s still at a bargain price and has the 12th highest average of any player with 1397, Jai Arrow needs to be in your side. This game will likely be played out in the forwards and that is further reason to invest a very small amount of money in the Queensland rep.
Dud: Kevin Proctor ($16.1m)
Kevin Proctor hasn’t enjoyed the same success leaving Melbourne as Tohu Harris is experiencing, and his fantasy value certainly hasn’t benefitted. Proctor is averaging just over 1000 and his scores don’t suggest there is too much variation or potential for greater than that. His base stats are average and his attacking stats have dried up. He also costs more than Jai Arrow.
Point of Difference: Jarrod Wallace ($16.1m)
Jarrod Wallace has established himself as one of the best props in the game and one of the better fantasy performers. His 1073 average isn’t setting the world on fire but he showed last week with a 1400+ what he is capable of and, as previously mentioned this one being fought out in the forwards, he should be able to beat that average again.
St George Illawarra Dragons vs Manly Sea Eagles
The Dragons were again very unimpressive against the Bulldogs last week, wasting large periods of pressure and field position and coming up with very little. That being said, they are first, and hosting one of the worst defensive teams in recent memory, this could be the game to get them back on the right track.
Gun: Cameron McInnes ($19.4m)
Cameron McInnes narrowly missed out on an Origin debut but that shows the step forward he has taken in his career this year. He’s always been a workhorse, often making 50+ tackles in games, but this year he’s added attacking stats to his scores and that’s seen him with a top 20 average. There should be plenty of chances for both in this one.
Dud: Daly Cherry-Evans ($17.9m)
I can’t see Manly being any kind of competitive in this one and DCE relies on points to get his scores, so I wouldn’t be going near him. He’s lost the goal kicking and his team’s scoring has dried up, so he’s probably an irrelevant fantasy player at this stage.
Point of Difference: Matt Dufty ($17.2m)
The Dragons should be able to return to the high scoring form they started the season with in this one, and Matt Dufty will be in the thick of it. He came out of the blocks scorching, like his team, but like his team he’s cooled off recently. Dufty is the measuring stick for St George and I’m backing him to go big.
Cronulla Sharks vs Brisbane Broncos
This could be the game of the weekend, with both teams fighting to stay in the top 8, both with a number of rep stars and both who are capable of attractive footy. Their seasons have taken different approaches, with the Sharks starting awfully and Brisbane coming strong out of the gates, but that has flipped in recent weeks. Should be a fun game.
Gun: Valentine Holmes ($19.6m)
I know, I know. I’ve been saying all year Valentine Holmes is not a fullback, don’t pick him if he’s playing at fullback. Well in recent weeks he’s started to look more like the real deal. I still think he is vastly, vastly more effective as a winger, but his confidence is sky high at the moment and against a Broncos team that has leaked nearly 300 points, he could be in for another big score. He’s top 10 in scoring too, somehow.
Dud: Tevita Pangai Jnr
Once the hottest young commodity in fantasy NRL, Tevita Pangai Jnr has seen his minutes and role reduced for some unknown reason, and Brisbane have looked a lot less potent as a result. His average has slipped below 1200 and he barely scraped past 1000 last week. Until something changes, leave him out.
Point of Difference: Corey Oates ($17.2m)
Corey Oates was the flavour of the month when he first came back from injury last month, but his ownership has slipped since then, not aided by the 580 he put up last week. He should have plenty of chances for points with his usual work rate and potential to cross the line against an inexperienced Sharks right edge.
Newcastle Knights vs Melbourne Storm
The Knights got close to beating the undermanned Roosters last week and they will believe they can go one better when they host a Melbourne team that still feels like it’s in first gear. Kalyn Ponga somehow missed Origin selection so he will be looking to put in another starring performance to ensure that doesn’t happen again.
Gun: Cameron Smith ($23.7m)
Retiring from Origin means Cameron Smith will be a very reliable pick around this time of year, and he showed that with an immense 1750 last week. There’s no reason why he won’t put up another similar score here in what should be a high scoring game.
I honestly don’t see too many duds in this game. There should be points (weather permitting), I can see plenty of work for forwards and plenty for chances for backs.
Point of Difference: Herman Ese-ese ($13.7m)
If you don’t know about Herman Ese-ese you’d better start researching. The Knights recruit has been one of the young stars of the season, and the fantasy scores have followed. His average has shot up to 1272, one of the best 30 in the league, and he nearly smashed 1500 last week. He’s a points per minute star and at that price should be in every team.
Wests Tigers vs Canberra Raiders
These are two black hole teams as far as fantasy goes, with neither holding top line options outside of maybe Jordan Rapana. The Tigers and Raiders sit 9th and 10th respectively, but I can’t see either team making the 8. Go for a walk or read a book instead of sitting through this one.
Gun: Josh Papalii ($21.1m)
Neither team has a player inside the top 20 of scoring, and the first name that appears for either is Josh Papalii so he will win the nod. His numbers actually are very impressive, a 1330 average and a 1600+ last week. He’s a giant of a thing and is capable of monster scores.
Dud: Jack Wighton ($17.8m)
With this likely being a low scoring game and Jack Wighton really needing attacking stats to put together anything meaningful in terms of fantasy output, there are much better ways to spend $18m than on the Canberra fullback.
Point of Difference: Nick Cotric ($17.4m)
He’s just got so much ability does Nick Cotric. Still not the most popular buy, especially given the pretty special winger on the other side of the field, but he’s got the potential to go massive every week and has good base stats to support himself.
That’s all for this weekend’s NRL games, now be sure to get your lineups in. Good luck!