Scout Report: Round 26 teams wrap
This is it. With just one round left of the Holden NRL Fantasy season, the overall champion and league winners everywhere will be decided by the end of the weekend. Every captaincy choice, bench selection and trade is crucial, so check out this week's team talking points before locking in your 17.
And there is more Fantasy to come in 2014, with Holden NRL Fantasy Finals to kick off next week. With unlimited trades, $500 cash prizes every week, a $1000 prize for Grand Final day and a $2000 prize plus Four Nations tickets for the overall winner, there's no reason not to play. Stay tuned.
Roosters v Rabbitohs, Thursday night at Allianz Stadium
Roosters: Jake Friend is out with a chest injury, with Mitch Aubusson to start at hooker and Heath L'Estrange returning to the bench. Remi Casty replaces the injured Frank-Paul Nu'uausala on the bench. Expect back-rowers Boyd Cordner and Aiden Guerra to get through plenty of work against the star-studded Rabbitohs pack, especially with the tackle-hungry Friend sidelined.
Rabbitohs: Adam Reynolds has copped a one-week suspension for a dangerous throw, opening the door for the fit-again John Sutton to slot straight back into the halves as Luke Keary shifts to halfback. Sam Burgess smashed 75 last week, is Fantasy's top overall scorer this year and again looms as a great captaincy option.
Storm v Broncos, Friday night at AAMI Park
Storm: Ryan Hinchcliffe starts with Jordan McLean moving back to an extended bench. Cameron Smith is your safest captaincy option this week.
Broncos: Sam Thaiday is out after failing to defend his charge at the judiciary on Tuesday night, with Todd Lowrie set to come into the 17. Against a top team and with Brisbane needing to hold onto eighth spot to get a finals berth, this is the kind of game where Corey Parker could work his heart out and produce a big score.
Wests Tigers v Sharks, Saturday afternoon at Leichhardt Oval
Tigers: Cory Paterson replaces Brenden Santi on the bench in the only change. Robbie Farah may have the best average score of any player in NRL Fantasy this year (66.8), but he's averaged only 55 points over his past three games and is a slightly risky captaincy choice.
Sharks: Last week's late withdrawals Tinirau Arona and Michael Lichaa are both back, with Pat Politoni and Junior Roqica dropping back to the bench. Last week's Man of the Match Michael Gordon is the only Shark in action this week to average better than 40 points a game.
Raiders v Eels, Saturday at GIO Stadium
Raiders: Brett White is back and will start at prop while Dane Tilse moves to the bench and Kyle O'Donnell is out. Jack Wighton has scored 54 and 47 in the past fortnight since switching to fullback and could be a player to keep an eye on next season.
Eels: Parramatta have named an unchanged 17, although Ben Smith will drop out of the side after copping a three-match suspension. Jarryd Hayne's golden run has finished but against the Raiders he is a genuine chance to crack the ton for the first time this year.
Cowboys v Sea Eagles, Saturday night at 1300 Smiles Stadium
Cowboys: Unchanged this week. Big guns Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott and Jason Taumalolo are producing at the right time for Fantasy coaches right now.
Sea Eagles: Jamie Buhrer is out for the season, with last week's hero Tom Symonds starting at lock, while Brenton Lawrence is back in the front row and Jason King moves to the bench. Matt Ballin is also out with a broken leg, despite being named on Tuesday, with Manly yet to name a replacement hooker. Jamie Lyon has hit 52, 53 and 53 in the past three weeks and Anthony Watmough is in great form, but Daly Cherry-Evans produced his second-worst score of the year (34) against the Panthers.
Knights v Dragons, Sunday afternoon at Hunter Stadium
Knights: Travis Waddell returns on the bench with Tyler Randell dropping out. The Knights have produced some memorable performances on Old Boys Day and after routing the Eels the likes of Joey Leilua (89 last week) and Jarrod Mullen (84) could go big again against a Dragons side with little to play for.
Dragons: Ben Creagh (ankle) and Mitch Rein (suspension) are out, with Mike Cooper starting at prop, Kyle Stanley getting a run at hooker, and Bronson Harrison and Shane Pumipi joining the bench.
Titans v Bulldogs, Sunday afternoon at Cbus Super Stadium
Titans: Greg Bird is suspended and Cody Nelson is out with a hamstring injury, with Luke Bailey returning at prop, Dave Taylor into the second row and Maurice Blair named 18th man. Daniel Mortimer will probably be in my top 17 this week thanks to Adam Reynolds' suspension, so here's hoping he gets through a lot of defensive work against the Dogs.
Bulldogs: Josh Reynolds returns from suspension at five-eighth, with Moses Mbye dropping back to an extended bench alongside Harlan Alaalatoa. Dale Finucane has copped a one-match ban. The Bulldogs' backline stars could provide some big Fantasy scores against a Titans side on a six-game losing streak.
Panthers v Warriors, Sunday night at Sportingbet Stadium
Panthers: James Segeyaro has been named to return at hooker while Adam Docker is suspended. Young gun Kierran Moseley played hooker last week and is likely to take some of Segeyaro's minutes after being named on the bench in jersey No.14. The battle between Jamal Idris and fellow barnstorming centre Konrad Hurrell should be a cracker.
Warriors: Feleti Mateo played well in the NSW Cup last week and returns on an extended bench. The Warriors trail the eighth-placed Broncos on for-and-against and are facing their biggest game of the season, so there is plenty of motivation for the likes of Shaun Johnson and Simon Mannering to go big.