Scout Report: Round 16 teams wrap
All the key Holden NRL Fantasy ins and outs heading into Round 16 of the Telstra Premiership season.
Sea Eagles v Roosters, Friday night at Brookvale Oval
Sea Eagles: No surprises with Manly naming the same 17 that thumped Cronulla on Saturday night. The Eagles were in cruise control against the Sharks, with rock-solid Fantasy centre Jamie Lyon ($273,394) one of three players to top their scoring with 49. James Hasson ($88,845) is a cheap cash-out option but will keep delivering low scores while he keeps his bench spot. Josh Starling ($208,598) is slowly crawling towards his peak price and can be sold whenever best suits your squad. Be wary though of cheapie Tom Symonds ($134,316), whose 49-point effort against Cronulla included his only two tries of the season and was just the second time he's scored more than 20 this year.
Roosters: Boyd Cordner makes his comeback from injury this week, named on the bench, with Mitchell Aubusson remaining at centre in place of the injured Michael Jennings. Origin stars Daniel Tupou and Aidan Guerra return, with Dylan Napa back to the bench and cheapie Nene Macdonald dropping out of the side. James Maloney ($346,218) has proven to be an astute bye-rounds purchase, averaging better than 63 over his past three games, while Jake Friend ($390,672) is looking more and more like a keeper – hitting about 60 points a game since Round 10 and just about guaranteed to get a full 80 minutes each week with Daniel Mortimer now at the Titans (although fellow hooker Heath L'Estrange is on an extended bench this week).
Broncos v Sharks, Friday night at Suncorp Stadium
Broncos: Fantasy stars Corey Parker and Andrew McCullough remain on the sidelines, where they'll probably stay until Round 18 considering the Broncos have the bye next week. Good news for those who don't have either is the fact Parker has a break even of 70 and McCullough has a BE of 89 – meaning both will probably start dropping in price once they get back on the park. Matt Gillett (shoulder) joins those two in the casualty ward this week while Justin Hodges is back at centre. Jarrod Wallace is back on the bench with Corey Oates starting for Gillett. Josh McGuire ($345,746) is joining this season's 50-points-a-game props.
Sharks: Jeff Robson is back at halfback, with Fa'amanu Brown bumped to the bench, while Jonathan Wright and Jacob Gagan bump Blake Ayshford and Nathan Gardner out of the side with Michael Gordon returning to his usual fullback position. Paul Gallen ($426,274) has proved backing up from Origin doesn't have to slow you down in Fantasy, racking up 73 points in a losing side for Cronulla against Manly on Saturday night. His price jumped $20,000 on the back of that effort and will keep rising with a break even of 33 this week. Andrew Fifita's layoff was extended by another month and a half last week due to a new wrist injury at training, and he's now due back in Round 20.
Wests Tigers v Raiders, Saturday at Campbelltown Stadium
Tigers: NSW Blues and Fantasy stars Robbie Farah ($520,882) and Aaron Woods ($364,924) return, replacing Dene Halatau and Joel Luani in the 17, but keep in mind they'll be away on Origin duty next week and backing up from Game Three the following week – so it might be worth holding off on trading them in for now. James Tedesco ($289,300) is a keeper at the back – if he can defy history and stay fit for the rest of the season.
Raiders: Anthony Milford's demotion to the bench last week resulted in a disappointing 19-point score, and his status within the squad – plus Canberra' dreadful form – means he may no longer be a genuine Fantasy keeper at the back. He has at least been named at fullback again this week, while hard-working big man Paul Vaughan returns on the bench. Shaun Fensom ($420,453) remains the only truly solid option from the Green Machine.
Cowboys v Rabbitohs, Saturday night at 1300 Smiles Stadium
Cowboys: Robert Lui replaces Ray Thompson in the halves, wearing the No.6 this week with Johnathan Thurston a little closer to the action at halfback. Scott Bolton shifts to Matt Scott's usual prop position this week, giving Jason Taumalolo another chance at a starting spot in the back row. Taumalolo's probably a hold for overall points as the Cowboys are playing next week's bye, but after last week's 20-point effort from the bench head-to-head coaches may want to cash him out now. Mid-range cash cow Ethan Lowe was one of the victims of the Cowboys' poor defensive effort in Newcastle on Monday, with seven missed tackles leading to an equal season-low score of 30 from the 80-minute lock. He's not a buy any more but does still has a few price rises in him, as does Brent Tate's replacement in the backline Curtis Rona.
Rabbitohs: After last week's bye, many Fantasy coaches will be welcoming back the star-studded Bunnies this week. George Burgess has been described as "tough and go" to play this week by Souths' high performance manager but has been named at prop, while Queensland trio Greg Inglis, Chris McQueen and Ben Te'o all return to the starting side. Nathan Merritt bumps out Lote Tuqiri, while Joe Picker and Luke Burgess also make way. Sam Burgess ($446,690) is averaging 73 over his past three games. Alex Johnston is still a hold with an average of 40 and a break even of just 2, with an upgrade to Inglis ($333,007, break even of 80) looking good in a few weeks.
Warriors v Panthers, Sunday afternoon at Mt Smart Stadium
Warriors: Dane Nielsen comes into the side at the expense of suspended centre Ngani Laumape in the Warriors' only change. Dual position back-rower/centre Simon Mannering ($376,238) is in great form, while the surprisingly consistent Shaun Johnson ($399,108) has only dipped below 55 once since Anzac Day.
Panthers: Jamal Idris isn't quite back for the Panthers yet but has been named in the NSW Cup, meaning Isaah Yeo's days in the centres could be numbered. Fresh from a week off, Ivan Cleary's men will back themselves in Auckland – particularly considering the hot attacking form of James Segeyaro ($382,224), Josh Mansour ($380,009) and Tyrone Peachey ($296,016), who all boast Fantasy averages in the mid-60s across the Panthers' last three games. Peachey is back to the bench this week with Adam Docker returning at lock, while Bryce Cartwright is the most likely to drop out after being named in jersey 19.
Eels v Knights, Sunday afternoon at Pirtek Stadium
Eels: Englishman Lee Mossop is back in the casualty ward with a shoulder injury, with Mithcell Allgood and Darcy Lussick added to the bench. Isaac De Gois ($172,284) is guaranteed more price rises after getting through a full 80 minutes at hooker in his two games in Eels colours, while Jarryd Hayne ($404,860) remains the hottest fullback in Fantasy this year despite being outplayed by opposite number Billy Slater on the weekend.
Knights: Props David Fa'alogo and Kade Snowden return, with Fa'alogo bumping Korbin Sims out of the starting side and Joseph Tapine set to drop off the bench. Kurt Gidley's switch to halfback on Monday night coincided with a return to the winners circle for the Knights, and freed up Jarrod Mullen ($326,826) to make the most of his running game – with the fleet-footed five-eighth notching five tackle breaks in a game for the first time this season. Centres Dane Gagai ($256,554) and Joey Leilua ($227,933) look great when the Knights are clicking in attack, but Mullen remains Newcastle's safest Fantasy bet.
Dragons v Storm, Monday night at WIN Stadium
Dragons: Trent Merrin has an ankle injury with the Dragons saying he is "under observation". He could still be a late inclusion on Monday night – or be out until Round 19 considering Origin players will miss Round 17 and the Dragons have a bye the following week. If you can afford to be without his scores for three weeks or are low on trades then hold him, otherwise he's a trade. Dan Hunt and Jack Stockwell are the extra men on the Dragons bench. Josh Dugan's ($349,765) positional switch to centre is proving to be a pleasant surprise for his Fantasy coaches, with the NSW star getting through a healthy amount of defence while still contributing his usual dose of tackle breaks and tries (four in the past two weeks). Merrin's the other keeper in the Dragons lineup, with Gareth Widdop and Benji Marshall both worth holding until the Dragons' Round 18 bye if you've got them already.
Storm: Ryan Hoffman and Bryan Norrie are into the starting side, with Tim Glasby and Joel Romelo onto a six-man bench. Kurt Mann ($185,590) is making nice cash with a single-digit break even this week, and he holds his spot in the centres with Will Chambers still recovering from a knee injury. Billy Slater ($355,656) is on hot run of form with six tries in his last three games. Cameron Smith ($455,866) got a bit of a breather on the weekend after backing up from Origin, with his tackle count of 26 easily the fewest from him all season (even if it was still more than any other Storm player against the Eels). With a break even close to 90 it's best to wait until the Origin period to snap him up if he's not in your squad already.
Byes: Bulldogs, Titans