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Warming up... Eels centre Will Hopoate had a quiet match in his return from a shoulder injury against the Titans last Sunday.

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Who will be in your team?

Jarryd Hayne is gone but a much improved squad gets the chance to prove they're no one-man team, with another big name taking the fullback role, Anthony Watmough arriving from Manly and Nathan Peats returning to the field for the first time since May last year. The Eels are also one of just three clubs to play in all three major bye rounds in the NRL this season, making their players extra valuable to Fantasy coaches chasing overall points or playing in head-to-head leagues that play through the bye rounds.

Fantasy Guns

Nathan Peats ($370,000) – Everybody's favourite cash cow at the start of 2014 started the season on fire, grabbing tries in three of his first four games and finishing the first month of the campaign with scores of 50, 44, 78 and 54. But a couple of lean scores came in the next month, and then a serious ankle injury in Round 12 ended his season with an average just shy of 42 from 10 games. He can definitely improve on that in 2015, meaning he will again be good value – if not quite in the top tier of Fantasy hookers.

Anthony Watmough ($432,000) – No longer in a star-studded Manly pack, Watmough will be expected to lead the way for the relatively inexperienced Parramatta forwards this year. He averaged close to 50 in his final season for the Sea Eagles and starts the year as the Eels' most expensive Fantasy player, but how the new surroundings will affect his scoring is anyone's guess at this stage. In theory, Watmough could get more defensive work at a side not expected to be a premiership contender, while also being one of his new team's focal points in attack – meaning higher tackle and run metre counts. On the other hand, if Watmough fails to click immediately at his first new club in more than a decade then his scoring could slip.

Wild Cards

Will Hopoate ($243,000) – Hopoate was a sensation when he burst onto the scene for Manly in 2010, excelling at both wing and fullback before earning a NSW call-up as a teenager. After a steady if unspectacular season in the centres for Parramatta following his return to the NRL, Hopoate will replace Jarryd Hayne at fullback this year. The positional switch and his own improvement after two years out of the game should lead to steady price rises in 2015, but it remains to be seen whether the huge talent can match those eye-catching performances from his Manly days. 

Tepai Moeroa ($269,000) – He's been compared with Nathan Hindmarsh and if Moeroa can be half as effective as that Eels club legend he'll be a great recruit for Parramatta – and probably your Fantasy side as well. The young back-rower played the full 80 minutes in three of the Eels' final four games of 2014, having averaged about 45 minutes on the park before that stretch. Watmough's arrival means Moeroa is unlikely to start the new season as an 80-minute man, but he's capable of big scores when he gets his chance (he finished the year with scores of 58 and 61) and could be a dark horse later in the year.

Potential Cash Cows

John Folau ($128,000) – Rookie centre John Folau could get his chance this season, and is blessed with the raw power and pace that has made his brother Israel a cross-code star. Experienced recruits Brad Takairangi and Beau Champion, as well as Ryan Morgan, are ahead of him in the pecking order, but things could certainly change if Parramatta struggle to fire in their post-Hayne era early on. 

Beau Champion ($146,000) – The new Eels recruit arrives after making a single appearance for Souths last year – hence his low price tag – but with a ton of experience in the NRL he could get his chance in the centres at his new club, with Hopoate shifting to the back. Brad Takairangi is his main competition; another new face challenging for a centre spot. Champion won't be a super scorer by any means, but he's very cheap and even a run of mid-20s scores would secure him a price rise. One to keep in mind when the Round 1 team lists arrive.

Eels 2015 NRL Fantasy prices
Anthony Watmough, $432,000
Nathan Peats, $370,000
Manu Ma'u, $359,000
Chris Sandow, $347,000
Semi Radradra, $326,000
Joseph Paulo, $324,000
Tim Mannah, $318,000
Ken Edwards, $306,000
Junior Paulo, $294,000
Corey Norman, $285,000
Ryan Morgan, $271,000
David Gower, $269,000
Tepai Moeroa, $269,000
Isaac De Gois, $259,000
Vai Toutai, $259,000
Brad Takairangi, $244,000
Will Hopoate, $243,000
Pauli Pauli, $237,000
Shannan McPherson, $221,000
Peni Terepo, $215,000
Reece Robinson, $214,000
Bureta Faraimo, $192,000
Luke Kelly, $192,000
Danny Wicks, $186,000
Cody Nelson, $183,000
Darcy Lussick, $163,000
Richard Fa'aoso, $152,000
Ben Crooks, $150,000
Beau Champion, $146,000
Justin Hunt, $137,000
Kaysa Pritchard, $136,000
John Folau, $128,000
Joseph Ualesi, $128,000


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