Scout Report: Round 1 Fantasy recap
Well that was a rough start. A lot of Fantasy coaches would have felt a bit like the Broncos or Manly at the end of the first week of the 2015 season, with things not quite going to plan at the start of the new campaign. The good news is it's just the beginning of a long road to glory, so it's not time to panic just yet (that's what the bye weeks are for).
Here's my recap of the good, the bad and the ugly from the opening week of the NRL Fantasy season.
Quick out of the blocks
Congratulations to you lucky/clever coaches out there who took a gamble and snapped up James Segeyaro over establish Fantasy superstars Robbie Farah or Cameron Smith in the key starting hooker role. The Panthers dynamo was superb on a hot Saturday afternoon against the Bulldogs, amassing 79 points with a devastating 80-minute performance including a try, two line breaks and seven tackle breaks.
Same goes for standout half Adam Reynolds, who piled on 80 points in South Sydney's rout of the Broncos, while hat-trick hero Semi Radradra (82), slippery Knights centre Dane Gagai (82) and new Bulldogs fullback Brett Morris (78) all had surprisingly massive first-up scores.
The same can't be said for a few popular buys who endured forgettable starts to the year in Fantasy. Potential mid-range cash cow Tepai Moeroa was punished dearly for four missed tackles and a couple of penalties in an otherwise quiet night, finishing with a lowly 3 (you read that right), while popular Broncos pivot Anthony Milford wasn't much better with 11. Luke Brooks (15), Mitchell Moses (10), Josh Jackson (20), Konrad Hurrell (20), Ben Hunt (30), and the legendary Corey Parker (37) also produced disappointing numbers, and are likely to find themselves on the chopping block with a lot of teams this week.
The news was even worse for established Fantasy star Josh Dugan, who is expected to miss a chunk of the season after suffering an ankle injury on Monday night.
In saying that, this could be the time for the wise to keep the faith with some players. Keep in mind it was only Round 1, and a round played in hot conditions at that, so a lot of forwards especially are likely to see their workrate rise in the coming weeks.
Like the forwards, there's good reason to believe some big-name fullbacks will improve in the weeks to come as well. Keep in mind that all outside backs are generally erratic in their Fantasy scoring, as they rely on rare attacking plays like line breaks and tries for a lot of their points. When those plays come then the attacking men cash in – see Morris, Gagai and Radradra this week – but when they don't, the speedsters will have fairly quiet scores. Greg Inglis, James Tedesco and Matt Moylan all had underwhelming Fantasy scores (even with Inglis and Tedesco grabbing tries) but they'll all have their share of big games as well. Fellow fullbacks Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Jack Wighton both hit 50+ scores after getting a few chances to run in broken play, and that will come for most of the other tackle-busting fullbacks at some time or other this season.
Cash cow standouts
Sam Tomkins' injury was bad news for the Warriors but good news for Fantasy coaches with stand-in fullback Tuimoala Lolohea in their side, with the young gun producing a sensational 67 Fantasy points. Lolohea's front row teammate Sam Lisone was almost as impressive with 42. George Jennings, filling in for the injured Josh Mansour on the wing for Penrith, bagged 45 points, while Manly back-rower Blake Leary – getting more game time following an early injury to centre Clinton Gutherson, with Tom Symonds moving into the backline – made 37. Other quality cheapies included Dragons winger Eto Nabuli (34), Titans forward Ryan James (48) and Raiders centre Sia Soliola scored 43.
A crucial source of Fantasy info this season will be the NRL.com match centre, which displays the minutes played for each player (that stat tends to come in a few days after a match is completed). More minutes means more Fantasy scoring opportunities, and busy 80-minutes forwards are worth their weight in gold.
Here are all the forwards who played 80 minutes in Round 1, keeping in mind the hot conditions meant a few regular 80-minute players were given some time on the bench.
Rabbitohs: Issac Luke
Sea Eagles: Matt Ballin, Feleti Mateo, Tom Symonds (named in second row but played 65 minutes at centre after Clinton Gutherson's injury)
Knights: Beau Scott, Robbie Rochow
Warriors: Bodene Thompson, Ryan Hoffman, Simon Mannering
Titans: None (although Ryan James played every minute bar the 10 spent in the sin-bin)
Tigers: Curtis Sironen
Cowboys: Gavin Cooper, Ethan Lowe
Roosters: Boyd Cordner
Panthers: James Segeyaro
Bulldogs: None (Michael Lichaa played 73, Tony Williams played 70)
Sharks: Wade Graham, Paul Gallen
Raiders: Sia Soliola, Jarrad Kennedy
Dragons: Mitch Rein, Tyson Frizell, Joel Thompson
Storm: Cameron Smith, Tohu Harris
My Round 1 team
Here's the 25-man squad I put together for Round 1, including a few early hits and misses. I expect to make a couple of trades this week.
Hooker: Robbie Farah, Michael Lichaa
Front row: James Graham, Tom Burgess, Ryan James, Mitchell Dodds
Second row: Corey Parker, Tohu Harris, Aidan Guerra, Glenn Stewart, Chris Grevsmuhl, Brenden Santi
Halves: Adam Reynolds, Daniel Mortimer, Mitch Cornish, Mitchell Moses
Centres: Iosia Soliola, Will Hopoate, Beau Champion, Solomone Kata
Winger/fullbacks: James Tedesco, Michael Gordon, Tuimoala Lolohea, Edrick Lee, Eto Nabuli