Sam Burgess and Paul Gallen are back, but a lot of big names are out once again to make life tough for Holden NRL Fantasy coaches who are running short on trades. Here's how this week's team changes will shape the Fantasy landscape in Round 22.
Casualty Ward: Full NRL injury list
Judiciary: Latest suspensions
Rabbitohs v Sea Eagles, Friday night at the SCG
Rabbitohs: Sam Burgess ($470,256) and Ben Te'o ($282,181) have been named to return, although Souths do have three back-up options on an extended bench. After the weekend's injury dramas there are lot of Fantasy coaches praying Burgess is fit to play this week. Adam Reynolds ($365,629) continues to score strongly since the injury to John Sutton, while Dylan Walker ($395,112) is on fire in the centres and Alex Johnston ($275,607) is almost scoring tries at will. George Burgess ($303,243) hasn't hit the 50-point mark since Round 13 and his value has dropped by more than $100,000 since then.
Sea Eagles: The high-flying Eagles are boosted by the return of Jorge Taufua on the wing and Justin Horo on the bench, bumping out Cheyse Blair and Tyson Andrews. Daly Cherry-Evans ($375,275) is just about back to his best, averaging 62.7 points over his past three games, while Jamie Buhrer ($300,849) looks increasingly like keeping the lock position for the rest of the season with Glenn Stewart unlikely to be back any time soon.
Broncos v Bulldogs, Friday night at Suncorp Stadium
Broncos: Justin Hodges is out with a hamstring injury, replaced in the backline by Lachlan Maranta with Jack Reed switching from the wing to centre. Corey Parker ($399,286) had an off game against Manly, with five missed tackles, a couple of errors and two penalties conceded resulting in his second-worst score of the season. He had been in great form before that, and remains a hold. Andrew McCullough remains a solid contributor with 54 points last week despite the presence of fellow rake Jake Granville on the bench, while I wouldn't get too excited about Josh Hoffman's season-high 67 last week.
Bulldogs: Josh Morris ($198,253) is back in the centres and Aidan Tolman ($264,868) returns on the bench, with Moses Mbye and Reni Maitua looking set to drop off the extended bench. Josh Jackson ($299,618), James Graham ($360,567) and Tim Lafai ($284,021) remain solid, consistent Fantasy performers for the Bulldogs.
Knights v Storm, Saturday at Hunter Stadium
Knights: Some welcome good news for Newcastle with Jarrod Mullen, Kade Snowden and Akuila Uate all returning to the side, with Kurt Gidley going back to fullback and Sione Mata'utia, Jake Mamo and Joseph Tapine dropping out. Not too much on offer here for Fantasy coaches.
Storm: The Storm are unchanged, with playmakers Cameron Smith ($451,274) and Cooper Cronk ($361,799) continuing to impress. Cheapies Dayne Westson and Kurt Mann are again numbers 18 and 19 on an extended bench.
Cowboys v Wests Tigers, Saturday night at 1300 Smiles Stadium
Cowboys: North Queensland have named an unchanged 17, with John Asiata added to the squad as 18th man. Johnathan Thurston ($394,086) is in sensational form, averaging a tick over 60 over his past four games, while Matt Scott ($364,945) played like he never left in scoring 61 last week on his return from a fractured cheekbone, and is a potential replacement for Shaun Fensom if you have a dual-position player in your front row. Meanwhile Jason Taumalolo ($249,134) is a cut-price, left-field option in the back row, with the human wrecking ball scoring 65 after being moved to the middle of the field last week, where he could get more game time in the future.
Tigers: Luke Brooks is back, with Curtis Sironen returning to the back row and Sitaleki Akauola dropping out. Robbie Farah ($466,391) isn't having the best time away from the field these days but can still be relied on to get you 60+ points every week, while Dene Halatau's potential rise as a high scoring bargain came to a shuddering halt with just 17 points against the Storm after he was shifted to the centres.
Eels v Raiders, Saturday night at TIO Stadium, Darwin
Eels: David Gower is out of the side with Kenny Edwards returning in the back row. Jarryd Hayne ($473,369) is now the most expensive player in Fantasy – possibly the first time a fullback has held that honour in NRL Fantasy and Dream Team history – after a recent run of scores that reads 64, 85, 59, 91, 82. He's just about in must-have territory, but if you haven't got him yet it's not going to be easy to get him in. Isaac De Gois ($245,372) is the Eels' next best scorer at the moment and remains a solid top-17 player if you're low on trades.
Raiders: Changes galore at the Raiders this week. Last week I urged everyone to buy Shaun Fensom, and in hindsight I shouldn't have. Fensom's ruptured ACL will sideline him for between six and nine months, with Terry Campese, Reece Robinson, David Shillington, Sami Sauiluma and Brenko Lee joining him in the casualty ward. This week Edrick Lee and Jack Wighton are back, Jordan Rapana starts at fullback with Anthony Milford moving to five-eighth, Matt McIlwrick starts at lock, Jarrad Kennedy is in the second row and Mitch Cornish gets a spot on the bench. Hard-working forward Paul Vaughan ($274,376) was the team's one shining light last week with an impressive 64 points in a beaten side, including a try.
Warriors v Sharks, Sunday afternoon at Mt Smart Stadium
Warriors: Shaun Johnson is out again, joined on the sidelines by star centre Konrad Hurrell. Tuimoala Lolohea gets a start on the wing. Chad Townsend ($281,559) is averaging 50 over the past few weeks in Johnson's absence, while Sam Tomkins has four tries from his past four games, and hasn't scored less than 40 since Round 13.
Sharks: In-form back-rower Wade Graham and fellow veteran Luke Lewis have joined Cronulla's injured list, but the good news is that Paul Gallen ($472,707) is back at lock. In other changes, Siosaia Feki replaces Jacob Gagan on the wing, while Tupou Sopoago will start in the back row alongside Gallen and Chris Heighington. Andrew Fifita ($409,957) was on track for a monster score on Saturday after passing the 70-point mark at half-time, but had to settle for an excellent-but-not-amazing 83 in the end. After bashing out 88 the week before he's currently the best prop in Fantasy. Valentine Holmes ($121,694) had a great game on debut, racking up 54 points on the wing.
Dragons v Panthers, Sunday afternoon at WIN Stadium
Dragons: Bronson Harrison and Dan Hunt have been included on an extended bench, with St George Illawarra naming an unchanged starting side. Josh Dugan ($340,798), Gareth Widdop ($332,521) and Trent Merrin ($326,980) are all looking like solid buys these days, with Merrin a nice straight swap for Shaun Fensom.
Panthers: Elijah Taylor, Bryce Cartwright and Brent Kite have joined the NRL's walking wounded, with Sam McKendry and Isaah Yeo coming into the starting side and Penrith naming a seven-man bench. James Segeyaro ($398,670) just keeps producing those big performances, racking up 83 in the win over Canterbury. Jamal Idris ($274,581) picked up his recent form with 46, while Josh Mansour ($311,384) played as if he'd never been gone with 47 points including a try and five tackle busts.
Roosters v Titans, Monday night at Allianx Stadium
Roosters: In-form hooker Jake Friend is out with a hamstring injury, gifting Heath L'Estrange a starting berth, while Mitchell Aubusson returns on the bench. Boyd Cordner ($334,094) is another potential Shaun Fensom replacements, although fellow back-rower Aiden Guerra ($318,840) is a little cheaper and has strung together three straight 50+ efforts.
Titans: Wingers Brad Tighe and David Mead out injured, with Will Zillman returning at fullback and Kalifa Faifai Loa on the wing. Luke Bailey starts at prop, with Nate Myles in the back row and Paul Carter on the bench, while Aidan Sezer is some chance of being a late call-up despite not being named. Daniel Mortimer ($232,101) still has a few price rises in him if you're looking to free up cash.
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