Rabbitohs v Roosters, ANZ Stadium, Thursday night
RABBITOHS: Adam Reynolds ($393,900) has been named to play despite doubts over his troublesome knee. Injury concerns aside he could be a great buy this year for overall points Fantasy teams, considering the Rabbitohs' bye schedule (unless if he gets picked for NSW). Greg Inglis ($394,400), Sam Burgess ($376,700), George Burgess ($357,200) and Issac Luke ($357,900) are all great buys, particularly for overall points as Luke and the Burgess brothers won't be playing Origin.
Key injuries: Tom Burgess (foot, Round 8), Luke Keary (shoulder, Round 20), Jason Clark (ankle, Round 2)
ROOSTERS: The Tricolours have essentially named the side that won last year's grand final, with young gun Dylan Napa ($111,600) replacing the retired Luke O'Donnell in the 17. So no surprises here, just all-round class – Michael Jennings ($313,800) is a quality centre, James Maloney ($375,600) will score will again in the halves, and there's a good reason why Sonny Bill Williams ($374,200) has been picked in more NRL Fantasy teams than any other player this year.
Key injuries: Isaac Liu (knee, indefinite)
Bulldogs v Broncos, ANZ Stadium, Friday night
BULLDOGS: Sam Perrett ($198,200) gets the nod at fullback and rookie Corey Thompson ($107,000) gets a gig on the wing following injuries to Krisnan Inu (jaw, Round 5), Drury Low (hand, Round 4) and Tim Lafai (hand, Round 2). With boom youngster Moses Mbye ($107,000) unlikely to get a run after only just squeezing onto an extended bench, the best Fantasy bets here are workhorse props James Graham ($371,600) and Aiden Tolman ($327,100), who are consistent scorers with good bye schedules for overall points. Unless, of course, you're willing to gamble on the tamed T-Rex Tony Williams ($239,500) roaring back into his 2012 form once again this season.
Key injuries: Krisnan Inu (jaw, Round 5); Sam Kasiano (foot, Round 4); Drury Low (hand, Round 4); Tim Lafai (hand, Round 2); Greg Eastwood (foot, Round 3)
BRONCOS: Ben Barba ($293,500) and Josh Hoffman's ($287,300) job sharing deal with the fullback and five-eighth roles may have grabbed the headlines but the selection that will have Fantasy fanatics worried is the move of last season's NRL Lock of the Year Corey Parker ($477,600) to the front row. The position itself shouldn't cause too many worries for the Fantasy footy legend but will Parker still play his customary 80 minutes every week? Of course with established front-rowers Ben Hannant and Martin Kennedy on the bench there's every chance Parker shifts back to lock after the game's early stages and plays out the rest of the game there.
The big winner from the Broncos side in Fantasy terms is probably Andrew McCullough ($362,800) who could join the likes of Cameron Smith and Robbie Farah as an 80-minute hooker after no rival dummy-half was named on the Brisbane bench. (Rookie Jake Granville remains a chance to get that job down the track.) Expect to see a shake-up in the backline in a month or so when Justin Hodges (Achilles) and Jordan Kahu (knee) return from their injuries, while rookie Kodi Nikorima could also get a shot in the halves later in the season.
Key injuries: Justin Hodges (Achilles, Round 6); David Stagg (knee, Round 4); Jordan Kahu (knee, Round 4); Corey Oats (shoulder, indefinite)
Panthers v Knights, Sportingbet Stadium, Saturday afternoon
PANTHERS: For a team with a lot of new faces there aren't too many surprises in the Panthers' side. Jamal Idris ($290,700) has been given the benefit of the doubt with his hamstring injury, Matt Moylan ($232,500) has beaten Kevin Naiqama to the fullback spot, and Elijah Taylor ($333,900) will start in the second row after Adam Docker ($184,500) got the lock spot. James Segeyaro ($321,500) and Tyrone Peachey ($268,600) have the potential to be breakout Fantasy stars but both are hard to pick after being named on the bench.
Key injuries: James Roberts (broken ankle, Round 7); Eto Nabuli (knee, Round 4); Wes Naiqama (pectoral, indefinite); George Jennings (elbow, mid-season); Luke Capewell (turf toe, Round 7); Sika Manu (shoulder, Round 4); Bryce Cartwright (wrist, Round 3)
KNIGHTS: Michael Dobson ($110,700) has been named to replace the injured Jarrod Mullen at five-eighth, meaning Kurt Gidley takes the hooker role vacated by the retired Danny Buderus. If Dobson can keep his place in the team during Mullen's long-term injury he could be one of the year's better cash cows. Dane Gagai has had his fair share of interest from Fantasy coaches due to his obvious talent and low-ish $196,700 price, but he has the looks of a player whose good on-field performances simply don't translate well to Fantasy.
Key injuries: Jarrod Mullen (hamstring, Round 10); Zane Tetevano (broken hand, Round 3); Clint Newton (bicep, season)
Sea Eagles v Storm, Brookvale Oval, Saturday night
SEA EAGLES: Josh Starling ($107,000) is the big winner from a Fantasy perspective, with the rookie prop getting a starting spot in the absence of injured veteran Jason King (shoulder). Even if King returns soon, Starling's elevation to the top 13 suggests he'll at least keep his spot in the squad ahead of bench players like Dunamis Lui ($107,000). Jamie Lyon ($316,800) is as solid a Fantasy player as they come in the centres, Daly Cherry-Evans ($418,700) is a born Fantasy superstar and a lot of people are tipping big things from Anthony Watmough ($364,900) this season.
Key injuries: Jason King (shoulder, Round 2); Jorge Taufua (shoulder, Round 3); David Williams (knee, Round 2); Tom Symonds (back, indefinite)
STORM: The all-powerful Melbourne Storm look a little less imposing with Ben Roberts ($219,200) wearing the No.7 jersey instead of Cooper Cronk, who should be back from his shoulder injury in Round 2. Winger Young Tonumaipea ($107,000) is a possible cash cow for the first few rounds of the season until the return of the injured Justin O'Neill. Billy Slater ($343,800) is a bit of a smokey this season with the added scoring factors of try saves and kicks defused in NRL Fantasy. Cameron Smith ($523,600) doesn't come cheap but is the best captaincy option in the game.
Key injuries: Cooper Cronk (shoulder, Round 2); Matt Duffie (ACL, season); Justin O’Neill (knee, indefinite)
Cowboys v Raiders, 1300 Smiles Stadium, Saturday night
COWBOYS: Michael Morgan ($207,600) could be a handy dual-position option after playing his way into the fullback position vacated by the injured Lachlan Coote, while Kyle Feldt ($207,900) was a star of the Auckland Nines and if he keeps busting tackles he could become that Fantasy rarity – a high-scoring winger. Safer bets are the hard-working Joel Riethmuller ($286,400), who nabbed Dallas Johnson's old lock role, and Jason Taumalolo ($222,500) who earned a starting berth with some barnstorming pre-season displays. Johnathan Thurston's ($386,200) not a bad player either, obviously.
Key injuries: Lachlan Coote (ACL, season); Hezron Murgha (knee, mid-season)
RAIDERS: A few promising cheapies are up for grabs here with Matt Allwood ($107,000) earning a spot in the centres following Jack Wighton's ($171,900) move into the halves, while big Shannon Boyd ($107,000) is a young bench prop with a lot of talent. Wighton's move to pivot means young gun Mitch Cornish ($107,000) has been left out of the squad. Anthony Milford ($310,100) could be a breakout Fantasy star at fullback this year while Shaun Fensom ($412,100) is the definition of a back-row workhorse.
Key injuries: David Shillington ribs, Round 2-4); Tom Learoyd-Lahrds (ankle, Round 3-5); Jeff Lynch (knee, season)
Dragons v Wests Tigers, ANZ Stadium, Sunday afternoon
DRAGONS: Michael Witt ($110,700) and Adam Quinlan ($154,600) are the two surprise inclusions for the Red V, with Witt beating Sam Williams ($265,600) to the halfback role alongside Gareth Widdop ($253,000) and Quinlan getting the nod to replace the injured Josh Dugan (knee, Round 5). The inclusion of Kyle Stanley ($124,000) on the bench means Mitch Rein ($291,300) is unlikely to play the full 80 minutes at hooker.
Key injuries: Josh Dugan (knee, Round 5), Jack Stockwell (hamstring, Round 3)
TIGERS: Luke Brooks ($184,500) will be one of Fantasy's most popular young guns this year, but there are several other promising options at the Tigers in the form of hard-working prop Aaron Woods ($394,300), bench cheapies Cory Paterson ($107,000) and James Gavet ($107,000), talented fullback James Tedesco ($203,100) and do-it-all skipper Robbie Farah ($483,700).
Key injuries: Curtis Sironen (Foot, Round 10); Tim Simona (Shoulder, Round 2); Dene Halatau (Ankle, Round 11); Tim Moltzen (Knee, indefinite)
Eels v Warriors, Pirtek Stadium, Sunday night
EELS: Returning one-time NRL superstar Will Hopoate ($192,600) and his very cheap centre partner Willie Tonga ($107,000) will both be in a fair few Fantasy teams come Round 1, as will Eels talisman Jarryd Hayne ($343,400) and bargain utility man Nathan Peats ($125,000). Debutant second-rower Manu Ma'u ($107,000) may also sneak into a few teams after being a shock selection in the starting pack for Parramatta.
Key injuries: Jacob Loko (knee, indefinite); Lee Mossop (shoulder, mid-season)
WARRIORS: Sam Tomkins ($280,400) and Shaun Johnson ($371,700) have lit up the Warriors' pre-season campaign and are both looking like good buys – particularly considering the club's "easy" start to the season – but Johnson's halves partner Chad Townsend ($216,300) and rookie lock John Palavi ($107,000) could also prove to be handy pickups, along with the super-consistent Simon Mannering ($317,200). Konrad Hurrell ($294,300) has surprisingly been left out of the team altogether, with Carlos Tuimavave ($107,000) the preferred option at centre.
Key injuries: Thomas Leuluai (groin, Round 2); Kevin Locke (knee, indefinite)
Sharks v Titans, Remondis Stadium, Monday night
SHARKS: Todd Carney is set to play despite a worrying hamstring injury and he'll partner Daniel Holdsworth, who is replacing the injured Jeff Robson for the first few rounds of the season. Injury-plagued goal-kicking fullback Michael Gordon ($336,900) could be in for a big year after a fairly quiet 2013 but the real money at Cronulla in Fantasy terms is on tireless big men Andrew Fifita ($476,100) and Paul Gallen ($423,200).
Key injuries: Luke Lewis (shoulder, mid-season); Anthony Tupou (knee, mid-season); Jeff Robson (facial fractures, indefinite)
TITANS: Ryan James ($267,300) has been named on an extended bench as he bids to overcome a shoulder injury, alongside promising rookie Paul Carter ($107,000) – who has been pipped at the post in his quest for a starting hooker spot by the returning Beau Falloon ($243,100). Carter has looked good in the trials but could miss out altogether when Matt Srama returns from his shoulder injury in a month. Aidan Sezer ($398,200) is an expensive but reliable option in the halves, while many are tipping Nate Myles ($315,400) and Dave Taylor ($306,300) to be big performers in the forwards in Fantasy this season.
Key injuries: Matt Srama (shoulder, Round 4)
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