The NRL progresses into the curious Magic Round, where Brisbane’s iconic Suncorp Stadium hosts the entirety of the weekend’s matches. I’m not sure how many clubs or fans are onboard with the round, and the Broncos we know for a fact are not considering they are the only team that did not turn up for the round’s promotional event on Wednesday.
There’ll be plenty said about this round, but at least we get a couple of mouthwatering fixtures and the wide, fast deck at Suncorp should bring some big scores.
Let’s dive into Thursday’s and Friday’s daily fantasy NRL matchups.
Gold Coast Titans v. Cronulla Sharks
The Sharks were hugely impressive last week despite a spate of injuries that threatened to derail their season before it got going. Kyle Flanagan stepped in for the always-injured Shaun Johnson and did a fantastic job, while Briton Nikora continues to prove himself a blossoming fantasy gun. The Sharks can look quite constipated offensively though, so playing the Titans, a terrible defensive side, should help. They should be too strong in front of what will almost certainly be an embarrassingly small crowd.
Gun: Briton Nikora ($7.8m)
Briton Nikora should continually be the go-to guy within this Sharks team regardless of who is fit and healthy. He is the only Shark not named Andrew Fifita to average north of 500 and is still available at a ridiculously low price. He’s the buy of the year, potentially a perennial superstar in this format and apparently is already in line to debut for New Zealand. What a player.
Dud: Paul Gallen ($11.9m)
Paul Gallen has seen his minutes and work rate decrease significantly this year and has seen his fantasy value dry up as a result. The young stars at Cronulla have taken the brunt of his points, particularly Nikora and Capewell, and he shouldn’t be a part of your plans. He’s priced as if he were the Gallen of three years ago but I can’t see him ever reaching that again.
Point of Difference: Jarrod Wallace ($11.8m)
Jarrod Wallace is perennially one of the most intriguing prop options, someone I believe could be a legitimate gun should he see a slight up tick in his minutes. The 45 or so he gets per game limits him from this, while the best propers consistently get 50-55. Regardless, he still presents a cut-price option on a borderline gun prop who averages around 400 and rarely goes too far south of that. This promises to be a forwards game, he should have plenty of work.
Wests Tigers v. Penrith Panthers
Ah yes, the classic western Sydney rivalry being played at Suncorp Stadium. This can only go well. I think it’s officially time to draw a line through the Panthers, they just are not good enough. Blessed with as much natural talent as just about any team in the competition, Penrith have been completely unable to put it all together this year and it’s becoming borderline embarrassing. With Origin set to take away their one shining light, Nathan Cleary, it may get worse. The Tigers were obliterated by Latrell Mitchell and the Roosters last week but I feel they are the more reliable of these two teams. Ivan Cleary, what’s going through your head right now?
Gun: Robbie Farah ($14.1m)
I can’t believe I’m doing this, but Robbie Farah has made me. His play this year has been unbelievable, I have to keep checking to see if it’s 2009. Smashing out regular scores in excess of 500, running the show from dummy half as he did during his premiership winning years, Farah has turned back the clock and is legitimately a top line hooker option. He’s got a significantly lower ownership than Cameron Smith and Damien Cook, so that also helps his cause. He’s a gun again, somehow.
Dud: Moses Mbye ($10.6m)
Moses Mbye you feel really could be benefiting from the improvement of Luke Brooks, the rejuvenation of Robbie Farah and the performance of the underrated forward pack, but he just isn’t finding the scores. Blessed with incredible natural ability, immense speed and real skill, Mbye is struggling to find his role at third receiver of this side in a role he really should be thriving. An average of 274 at his price is just not good enough.
Point of Difference: Alex Twal ($11.2m)
I’ve been harping on about this guy for weeks and still no one is listening! His ownership continues to be well below 10% and I don’t understand it. He’s a cheaper option than most premiums but is consistently banging out 500+ scores so much so that his average is now beyond that market despite playing the first few games from the bench. He is a points per minute machine and will only get better given he has played just 38 career games. Please start picking him so I can write about someone else!
Manly Sea Eagles v. Brisbane Broncos
The Broncos, as I previously mentioned, failed to turn up for the Magic Round promotional event on Wednesday, a sign they are against this odd round. Much like their failure to turn up for the event, they have completely failed to turn up this season. Anthony Seibold, it’s safe to say, did not sign up for this, but perhaps the change in the halves can help breathe some life into the team. The combination of Anthony Milford and Kodi Nikorima clearly was not working. I was watching back the legendary Cowboys Broncos Grand Final of 2015 recently and Milford was incredible, I’d forgotten how good he can be with a structured, organising half. Maybe Tom Dearden can do that. The Sea Eagles will attempt to build on last week’s impressive performance without DCE.
Gun: Jake Trbojevic ($16.1m)
His value decreases just slightly without his brother flying off his shoulder but Jake Trbojevic is still the must-have fantasy player in this game. The Broncos’ complete lack of defensive stability should see JT threaten their line with his late passing and offloading, so I don’t think line break and try assists are out of the question here. He will be the dominant forward through the middle as he goes up against a powerful but inexperienced Broncs pack. I find it very difficult to look elsewhere every week.
Dud: Tevita Pangai-Junior ($12.4m)
Tevita Pangai-Junior has been very disappointing since returning from suspension, struggling to scores around 400 where he should be smashing out consistent 500+ totals, as he was doing last year and the early rounds of this year. The return of Payne Haas appears to have taken some of the influence and certainly minutes out of TPJ and at $12.4 million we simply need to see more. He’ll be back in our teams soon, but at the moment he’s not for me.
Point of Difference: Reuben Garrick ($7m)
Usually I say don’t chase last week’s points. Reuben Garrick was sensational last week against the Bulldogs but it needs to be noted that both of his tries were scored as a result of Jay Okunbor’s horrific defensive reads. Same goes for Kane Elgey and his 400+, it’s hard to see either of those guys topping their scores, however, the the Broncos are just that bad, and playing at home may make them open up that little more giving even more of a chance of going nearer last week’s tallies. At $7m it’s hardly a risk.
Check back soon for Saturday’s and Sunday’s picks. In the meantime, be sure to lock in your lineups.