NRL Fantasy club profile: Canberra Raiders

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As we count down to the start of the new season of NRL Fantasy, NRL.com's Lone Scout is revealing each squad's player prices and best buys.

It's a year of transition at Canberra, but that could mean some bargains in NRL Fantasy. The club has lost superstar fullback Anthony Milford, as well as experienced props Brett White and Tom Learoyd-Lahrs and veteran playmaker Terry Campese. That means spots are up for grabs, and with results not expected to go their way early in the season coach Ricky Stuart could also test out more rookies throughout 2015.

Fantasy Guns

Shaun Fensom ($519,000) – He'll miss the start of the season through a knee injury but when Fensom is back he's almost a must-have in Fantasy, as one of just two NRL players to average more than 45 tackles a game in 2014. Canberra's human tackle machine is likely to get a lot of defensive work yet again this season with the Raiders tipped to lose more games than they'll win as the bookies' competition outsiders.

Wild Cards

Jack Wighton ($310,000) – Wighton impressed at fullback in the last three rounds of 2014, having spent large chunks of the season at five-eighth and centre. With Milford gone he is set to keep the role full-time, and he could thrive there in Fantasy – he averaged just under 200 run metres and more than six tackle breaks across his three games in the No.1 jersey, having never matched either of those stats in any other game in 2014.

Frank-Paul Nu'uausala ($221,000) – The former Roosters lock joins an underperforming Raiders pack and is likely to be given a larger workload than he had in a star-studded Tricolours side. Splitting his time between the bench and the 13 jersey in 2014, Nuuausala averaged 41 minutes per match – playing alongside internationals Sonny Bill Williams, Boyd Cordner and Aiden Guerra. Canberra does have a few big-name forwards of their own – Josh Papalii, the excellent Paul Vaughan and Fantasy superstar Fensom – but Nuuausala is likely to get first shot at the lock position with Fensom sidelined and brings with him the expectation of having played in a successful side, so should get a boost to his minutes – and points – in 2015. In saying all that, he's never been a dominant Fantasy scorer so remains very much a "wild card" selection at the start of the season.

Blake Austin ($319,000) – Austin joins the Raiders after a breakout season with the Wests Tigers, where he produced some star performances in the back half of the season in the halves – plus a couple of games at centre and one at fullback. For the first half of the year Austin came off the bench, hence his average of 66 minutes per game for the season. That will go up to 80 at Canberra, where he is likely to be the first-choice five-eighth after the exit of the unwanted Terry Campese, and after last season's efforts Austin will be given greater responsibility in attack to spark a team that is desperate to climb up the ladder. His current price is based on last season's average of 36 points a game, but if he becomes the chief playmaker at the Raiders that average – and his price tag – should rise.

Potential Cash Cows

Mitch Cornish ($164,000) – Cornish could be the buy of the year, taking the starting halfback spot in 2015 after being used sparingly by Ricky Stuart last season. Former Canberra stars Anthony Milford and Terry Campese are gone, although Josh McCronue, Sam Williams and Cornish's likely halves partner Blake Austin could all provide competition for the playmaking spots. But if Cornish starts as expected he's pretty much guaranteed a significant price rise, making him one of the safest bets as a cash cow this season.

Shannon Boyd ($205,000) – A monster of a man, standing at 194cm and 122kg, Boyd became a Raiders regular last year with 21 games to his name, primarily off the bench. He played his way into the starting side for five of Canberra's final six games – playing about 40 minutes in those rounds, compared with less than 25 minutes in games when he came off the bench. He's likely to remain behind David Shillington and Dane Tilse in the pecking order at the start of the year, but if Ricky Stuart looks to shake things up and give Boyd a larger role his Fantasy price could skyrocket.

Jeremy Hawkins ($154,000) – Hawkins is a former Junior Kiwi with plenty of speed, and broke his way into the Raiders side for the final three games of 2014. He's a great chance to start in the backline this season, and would be among the cheapest first-choice centres in NRL Fantasy. Sure, he may not get a ton of try-scoring chances in an inexperienced Canberra team, but if he can hit regular scores in the mid-30s that should be enough to see his Fantasy price double. 

Raiders 2015 NRL Fantasy prices
Shaun Fensom, $519,000
Josh Papalii, $396,000
Paul Vaughan, $369,000
Jarrod Croker, $360,000
Josh Hodgson, $336,000
Glen Buttriss, $326,000
Jordan Rapana, $320,000
Blake Austin, $319,000
David Shillington, $317,000
Jack Wighton, $310,000
Dane Tilse, $290,000
Jarrad Kennedy, $290,000
Josh McCrone, $260,000
Sam Williams, $245,000
Sisa Waqa, $235,000
Joel Edwards, $233,000
Frank-Paul Nuuausala, $221,000
Brenko Lee, $205,000
Shannon Boyd, $205,000
Kyle O'Donnell, $193,000
Iosia Soliola, $186,000
Bill Tupou, $164,000
Mitchell Cornish, $164,000
Jeremy Hawkins, $154,000
Mark Nicholls, $146,000
Edrick Lee, $145,000
Kurt Baptiste, $137,000
Jack Ahearn, $128,000
Jeff Lynch, $128,000
Luke Page, $128,000
Mitchell Cronin, $128,000
Rhys Kennedy, $128,000