NRL.com's Lone Scout analyses this week's big ins and outs for Holden NRL Fantasy.
Rabbitohs v Bulldogs, Friday afternoon, ANZ Stadium
Rabbitohs: George Burgess and Ben Te'o are out suspended, with Luke Burgess and Chris McQueen moving into the side and Ben Lowe and Joe Picker joining the side on the bench. Kirisome Auva'a ($119,584) made a strong start to his NRL season in the centres with 40 points (including a try), and looms as cash cow material – although Joel Reddy has been named on an extended bench this week after recovering from his knee injury and could be a late inclusion.
Sam Burgess ($415,233) continues to wreak havoc, stringing together scores of 66, 76 and 67 in the past three weeks. With South Sydney's good bye schedule for non-Origin players, he's just about a must-have for Fantasy coaches aiming at overall points. Greg Inglis ($354,361) will miss five games between Round 11 and Round 18, but leaving aside his injury-affected score of zero in Round 3 he's averaging a stupendous 59 so far this season – an outrageous Fantasy average for a fullback. Apisai Koroisau ($181,678) has already made $74,678 in price rises this year but still has a negative break even so will continue making cash until Issac Luke returns next month.
Bulldogs: Frank Pritchard's pectoral injury will sideline him for three to four months, with Pat O'Hanlon ($210,715) replacing Pritchard on the bench. Trent Hodkinson ($383,862) did a ton of kicking, slotted four conversions and nailed the match-winning field goal in the Bulldogs' 21-20 win over the Warriors on Sunday, picking up 70 Fantasy points in the process. With four scores over 60 so far this year, he has become a genuine gun in the halves and could be worth picking up if you've got an eye on the major bye rounds.
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Knights v Broncos, Friday night, Hunter Stadium
Knights: Akuila Uate is out with an ankle injury, replaced by young gun Josh Mantellato ($199,300). Jarrod Mullen ($388,179) is back, in good news for Knights fans and Fantasy coaches who are looking for a new option in the halves. The five-eighth did the vast majority of Newcastle's kicking in general play on the way to 64 Fantasy points on the weekend, while Joseph Leilua ($309,752) was busting tackles for fun on the way to 68 points. Mullen's return means Michael Dobson ($200,949) is unlikely to see much first grade for the time being, so is ready to be traded after a handy run as a cash cow. Adam Clydesdale ($136,790) scored 47 points off the bench last week and will make some short-term cash, but keep in mind that he spent more time on the field than usual after Kurt Gidley left the field with a head knock. He'll still play second-fiddle to Gidley while the Knights skipper is fit so don't expect Clydesdale to become another Koroisau-style cash cow.
Broncos: Brisbane are unchanged. Ben Hunt ($346,591) has been one of the buys of the season, posting a massive 96 points in Brisbane's loss to the Titans to take his total rise in value so far this year to $180,091. He's averaged 58 points a game this season and more than 65 a game in the past three weeks. Andrew McCullough ($423,795) is the safest straight swap for Robbie Farah owners this week, having delivered another tackle-heavy 75-point score.
Sea Eagles v Cowboys, Friday night, Central Coast Stadium
Sea Eagles: Jason King ($132,953) returns to the side, bumping out Jesse Sene-Lefao. Brett Stewart ($243,412) got amongst the points with 62 on the weekend, thanks to a few try assists against Cronulla, while prop Brenton Lawrence ($291,764) scored 59 and Jorge Taufua ($289,173) powered his way to 56 in his first game of the season. Daly Cherry-Evans ($365,586) is a proven Fantasy star but slumped to a season-low 32 in Manly's win over Cronulla – with Kieran Foran taking on the bulk of kicking duties. If DCE doesn't get his role back as the Sea Eagles' main kicker in general play then he's probably not worth keeping. I'm holding him for this week at least.
Cowboys: Curtis Rona ($107,000) makes his debut on the wing in place of the injured Antonio Winterstein, who is out for a month. Jason Taumalolo ($295,721) scored just 16 on the weekend – easily his poorest return of the season – despite playing the full 80 minutes as usual. His price has peaked for now, although it will bump up again the next time he cracks a 60. At this stage he's a hold. Johnathan Thurston ($367,673) hasn't scored more than 45 in a month and could be a sell, considering he'll miss five games over the Origin period anyway.
Dragons v Warriors, Saturday afternoon, WIN Jubilee Oval
Dragons: The Dragons are unchanged, although Dylan Farrell is battling a shoulder injury and Mitch Rein and Joel Thompson face potential suspensions at the time of writing. Gareth Widdop ($303,276) bounced back from last week's shocker with a solid 47 from the Dragons' last-gasp loss to the Storm on Monday. Halves partner Michael Witt ($141,097) enjoyed a nice price rise with 44 points and will keep climbing as long as he's wearing the No.7. Trent Merrin ($430,558) has been one of the Fantasy players of the season so far.
Warriors: Konrad Hurrell ($325,365) had been scoring well since returning to the Warriors' starting side but the enigmatic centre has been dropped again, in bad news for Fantasy coaches who jumped on the Hurrellcane train a few weeks back. Elsewhere Jayson Bukuya, Ben Henry and David Fusitua return this week, with Ben Matulino suspended and Sebastine Ikahihifo out with a head knock. After a shaky start to the campaign, Shaun Johnson ($370,623) has been coming up trumps of late with three 60+ efforts in the past four weeks, while those who have stuck firm with Simon Mannering ($263,774) and Sam Tomkins ($268,379 had reason to be happy with their performances on the weekend as well.
Sharks v Roosters, Saturday night, Remondis Stadium
Sharks: Jonathan Wright replaces Nathan Stapleton on the wing this week. Cash cow Tinirau Arona ($273,056) had his first misstep of the season, dropping below 40 for the first time with a score of 28 (which is also his break even this week). He's back to the bench with Chris Heighington named to start at lock. Andrew Fifita ($457,180) is cheaper than he was at the start of the season despite reeling off scores of 65, 61, 66 and 56.
Roosters: The Roosters have named an unchanged 17, with late withdrawals Dylan Napa and Daniel Mortimer added to an extended bench. Jake Friend ($341,410) put in a timely audition for Robbie Farah Fantasy owners with a big 71-point effort against the Eels, playing the full 80 minutes with no bench hooker in the side. If Daniel Mortimer remains outside the 17 Friend could become a smart buy, particularly for overall points considering the Roosters' great buy schedule. Winger Daniel Tupou ($215,639) also scored 71, thanks to a great long-range try. Sonny Bill Williams ($345,224) clicked into gear with 64. And the Mitchell Aubusson Rule ("never buy Mitchell Aubusson") proved true this week with the back-rower scoring a meagre 4 points.
Raiders v Storm, Sunday afternoon, GIO Stadium
Raiders: Joel Edwards returns to the starting side, replacing Jarrad Kennedy in the 17. Another week, another 60-something points for Shaun Fensom ($436,602), who continues to deliver. Anthony Milford ($310,399) has played with a heavily-strapped left knee in the past two weeks and it's taken its toll on his Fantasy scores, with sub-par returns of 29 and 24, but expect him to bounce back when fully fit again.
Storm: Will Chambers will miss two weeks after pleading guilty to a shoulder charge, but Melbourne are otherwise unchanged after getting out of jail against the Dragons on Monday. Prop Jesse Bromwich ($346,879) is joining the heavyweights of Fantasy forwards after scores of 61 and 70, taking his season average above 50 points. Cameron Smith ($498,984) is still Mr Reliable with another 70+ effort on the weekend, while Young Tonumaipea ($179,231) continues to make good cash on the wing after four straight scores in the 30s.
Eels v Wests Tigers, Monday afternoon, ANZ Stadium
Eels: Firebrand forward Darcy Lussick is back from suspension, bumping Peni Terepo out of the side. Bargain buys Nathan Peats ($284,281) and Manu Ma'u ($275,790) both had rare off weeks in Round 6 despite Parramatta's stunning win over the Roosters, but are worth holding. Will Hopoate ($203,191) is also a hold for another few weeks at least.
Wests Tigers: Robbie Farah faces six weeks on the sidelines after dislocating his elbow, with Joel Luani ($190,400) replacing him at hooker, while Braith Anasta ($172,594) returns from suspension to replace Blake Austin at five-eighth. Luani has pretty good short-term job security, although Api Koroisau is still a little cheaper if you're chasing a cash cow No.9. Kurtis Rowe ($104,618) only posted 15 points on debut at fullback but did finish the game on the sidelines due to a hip injury and should improve with experience.
Panthers v Titans, Monday night, Sportingbet Stadium
Panthers: Lewis Brown is out with a pectoral injury, with Tyrone Peachey coming into the side on the bench. Tackle-busting outside backs Jamal Idris ($304,715) and Josh Mansour ($325,437) both had very quiet games on the weekend, but bear in mind that was in wet conditions against a South Sydney side that produced the best defensive performance Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire had seen. That defence also affected Elijah Taylor ($320,976), who played the full 80 and made 41 tackles bust still only managed 36 Fantasy points.
Titans: Ryan James ($257,940) is in for Luke Bailey (ankle, 2-3 weeks) while William Zillman may be a late inclusion after being named 18th man. David Mead ($231,900) is hot property after racking up scores of 60 and 82 from fullback in the past fortnight, but with Zillman waiting in the wings there is every chance Mead could be bumped back to the wing at any time.
Round 6 prize winners
Fantasy: Craig Marsom (team: ummbeer) 1043 points
Tipping: John Arnold