Let’s take a look at those players you should be investing in, holding or letting go, as well as some of the better captaincy options for Round 18.
Ligi Sao | FRF/2RF | $101,600
With Anthony Watmough away on Origin duty and Tom Symonds out through injury, this towering forward will make his first grade debut against the Cowboys in Round 18. A product of the Warriors’ famed NYC system, Sao will look to make the most of his opportunity. While it’s generally not advisable to purchase a player sight unseen, think of Sao as your fourth FRF or fifth/sixth 2RF. He’s unlikely to play beyond this week, is dual position, and will free up your finances to upgrade elsewhere. Plus you’ll get his Round 18 points, handy for the majority of sides decimated by the multi-bye week.
Ethan Lowe | 2RF | $101,600
Lowe was one of the beneficiaries of Neil Henry wielding the axe this week, rewarded with a starting spot in the second row. Tariq Sims and Gavin Cooper have been pushed back to the bench, whilst Dallas Johnson was dropped from the squad altogether. If you’re looking to downgrade to free up some cash, Lowe will be a solid contributor for the next couple of weeks, and with a price rise almost certain should he play the required games, will allow you to bring in other players around him.
Benji Marshall | HLF | $286,300
Amazingly, Marshall was a downgrade option earlier this year, bottoming out at $187,600. He’s since gone on to make around $100,000, but a BE of 48 and the Round 18 bye has seen plenty of coaches scramble for the trade button. Don’t be so quick to trade though, particularly if you’re focussed on your league. Marshall has a good record against the Warriors (Wests Tigers’ Round 19 opponent), averaging just under 44, while he also has an average of 38.09 at Leichhardt Oval. There’s every chance he’ll meet his BE, and allow you to sum up the situation post-Origin before upgrading to another HLF.
Wade Graham | 2RF | $342,900
The interim Sharks skipper may be facing a price drop in the short-term, but with his starting spot secure, he’s best kept in your side. Whether head-to-head or overall, Graham has no byes remaining and has hit some form with a three round average of 48.3 (up from a season average of 40.87). A quality second-tier option who could go mad against the Broncos on Friday night after a big display last year (scoring 63 points).
Jacob Loko | CTR | $272,300
Loko has had a horror run of injuries early in his career, and a knee injury against the Sea Eagles on Monday night was another cruel blow. He’s been a terrific option at CTR, making just under $145,000 for the season. But with this latest setback expected to sideline Loko for a large portion of the remaining nine rounds, you’d be best served considering an alternative.
Brenton Lawrence | FRF | $313,000
He’s been a tremendous pick-up for many coaches in 2013, jumping by $60,400 and producing some great numbers in the opening two months. Unfortunately with Manly’s forward pack back close to full strength, he looks to have hit the wall, with his five round average nine points below his season average. Pat him on the back, thank him for his service, and upgrade to a premium front rower ahead of the post-Origin period.
Round 18 Captains - players to consider
Aidan Tolman | FRF | $385,400
Luke Walsh | HLF | $395,600
Ryan Hinchcliffe | 2RF/HOK | $559,500
Andrew McCullough | HOK | $362,400
Ben Hannant | FRF | $387,200
Wildcard: Wade Graham | 2RF | $342,900