Scout Report: Round 3 teams wrap
A fortnight of the 2015 NRL Telstra Premiership has come and gone, with a few teams shaking things up in a bid to get their form back on track. Here are the key changes for NRL Fantasy heading into Round 3.
Sea Eagles v Bulldogs
Sea Eagles: Feleti Mateo played at five-eighth last week in place of the injured Kieran Foran and he's been officially named there this week, with Jamie Buhrer again in the second row after being a late inclusion at the weekend. Daly Cherry-Evans is Manly's top Fantasy scorer so far after scoring 76 in his star turn against Melbourne on Saturday.
Bulldogs: The Dogs are unchanged. Brett Morris is Fantasy's highest-scoring player after two rounds, averaging more than 70 points a game and rising $69,000 in value already. He can't keep that kind of form up but he does look a definite keeper at the back. Michael Lichaa is proving another great buy at the Bulldogs, with the cash cow hooker proving to be a strong scorer in his own right with 55 at the weekend.
Broncos v Cowboys
Broncos: No changes for the Broncos after last week's win. Corey Parker is back in business with 64 points this week, and suddenly looks a viable captaincy option again after Robbie Farah's slide. Last year's top Fantasy half Ben Hunt is leaking cash fast but must start hitting decent scores soon when the Broncos' attack gets back on track. Anthony Milford is a sell – he's a good Fantasy scorer at fullback but with Jordan Kahu playing well in the no.1 jersey last week and Darius Boyd returning in the middle of the season, Milford looks destined to remain at five-eighth.
Cowboys: The Cowboys have shaken things up after back-to-back home defeats, with Robert Lui dumped, Michael Morgan joining Johnathan Thurston in the halves and Lachlan Coote named to finally make his club debut at fullback. Coote will be a bargain for Fantasy coaches if he holds the spot and posts a few decent scores. Ethan Lowe has made a superb start to the year as a tackle-hungry 80-minute back-rower, while Johnathan Thurston is worth holding onto despite two underwhelming scores.
Warriors v Eels
Warriors: No changes to the Kiwi side's 17 after last week's win over Canberra, with centre Matt Allwood named 18th man. Skipper Simon Mannering scored 70 last week and is leading the way in every sense for his side, while fellow back-rower Ryan Hoffman isn't far behind with scores of 61 and 50. Cash cows Sam Lisone, Tuimoala Lolohea and Solomone Kata are all still making good money.
Eels: Try-scoring sensation Semi Radradra is out with a knee injury until Round 10, while the Eels have lost centre Beau Champion for the season with an ACL injury. Vai Toutai and Ryan Morgan come into the side. Chris Sandow is in some doubt as well. Will Hopoate is slowly rising in value and worth holding for now.
Raiders v Dragons
Raiders: Jack Wighton will miss two to three weeks with a fractured eye socket, and Jeremy Hawkins will miss a week through suspension. The reshuffled backline in their absence isn't great news for Fantasy, with Jordan Rapana moving to fullback, forward Jarrad Kennedy slotting into the centres and Edrick Lee moving out to the wing, where he's likely to have another quiet week (unless he bags a few tries). Iosia Soliola is a must-have, averaging 55 points a game and still costing just $245,000. Shaun Fensom is still spending a good chunk of time on the bench and will be a great buy in a few weeks.
Dragons: No changes to the Dragons side. Josh Dugan is out for another week with his ankle injury, and Ben Creagh is three weeks away from returning from his back injury. Trent Merrin hit 80 last week and looks a keeper despite his bench role and looming exit to Penrith. Jack de Belin is good value after scores of 48 and 49.
Storm v Sharks
Storm: Dale Finucane is facing the judiciary on Wednesday night and could be suspended this week, but there are no other changes to the Melbourne side. Cameron Smith was a little underwhelming with 51 last week, but is still on the way back from injury, while Tohu Harris (55) and Jesse Bromwich (60) both look like great buys in the forwards.
Sharks: Sam Tagataese is back at prop, while Luke Lewis could be a late inclusion after being named 18th man. Like the Cowboys, the Sharks have stalled at the start of the season – especially in attack – and they could also rejig their spine in search of a solution. There are rumours Ben Barba could be shifted to his old fullback role, with Michael Gordon bumped to the wing (bad news for Gordon owners, like me) with rookie Jack Bird a chance of coming into the halves (good news for Fantasy coaches everywhere). They play on Saturday night so it could be a case of keeping an eye on the final teams an hour before kickoff.
Rabbitohs v Wests Tigers
Rabbitohs: No changes for South Sydney, who are on fire at the start of the season. Adam Reynolds still managed 59 against the Roosters despite spending some time on the sidelines after copping a knock, while popular Fantasy buys George Burgess (75) and Glenn Stewart (61) both exceeded expectations in that game.
Wests Tigers: Matthew Lodge is back in the 17, replacing Jack Buchanan. Aaron Woods is the form prop in the competition – in Fantasy at least – with a massive amount of run metres in Monday night's 64-point effort. With a try and a couple of try assists against the Dragons, James Tedesco was great and will usually score more than 44 with a performance like that. Not so Robbie Farah, who looks set to make a habit of starting the second half on the bench (not that the man himself would be happy about it, I imagine). On Monday he immediately gave away two penalties after returning to the field, scoring just 37 points despite making 42 tackles. The great man might be worth selling this week – if you were planning to sell him anyway before Origin – although he's every chance of being the busiest man on the park against the Rabbitohs.
Titans v Knights
Titans: Big changes here with Greg Bird, Dave Taylor and Beau Falloon all in the starting side, meaning Kierran Moseley is benched, Nate Myles shifts to prop and cheapies Lachlan Burr and Agnatius Paasi drop out altogether. Mark Ioane and Matt Srama are also out, with Matt White returning from a hamstring injury. Ryan James remains a starter in the second row but could get some bench time now a couple of stars are back in the pack. The return of the big names also puts a question mark over the minutes of Luke Douglas, who has been the club's Fantasy standout so far with 101 points from two games. In the halves, Daniel Mortimer is doing his job as a mid-range cash cow while Aiden Sezer needs to lift his scores fast.
Knights: After being bumped out of the 17 last week, bench hooker Tyler Randell returns, with Sione Mata'utia back to 18th man. The Knights still haven't quite figured out what to do with the teenage Kangaroo, but it's not hurting their results with last week's surprise win over the Cowboys ensuring their season started with a perfect two-from-two. Jarrod Mullen is the star of the show in Fantasy, scoring 66 on the weekend including 23 points from kick metres, while boom centres Dane Gagai and Joseph Leilua are both averaging better than 50 points a game – as is 80-minute second-rower Robbie Rochow.
Roosters v Panthers
Roosters: The 17 is unchanged, unsurprisingly, despite last week's loss to Souths. Rep back-rowers Aidan Guerra and Boyd Cordner are the Roosters' best Fantasy prospects this season, both averaging 56 points so far, while Blake Ferguson appears to be a sell after a slow start to his comeback season in the NRL.
Panthers: Fantasy cult hero Josh Mansour is back, but it's at the expense of cash cow George Jennings, who has made the most of his two appearances in the top grade, but was only ever warming the seat on the wing for Mansour. He'll probably be back if there's an injury somewhere in Penrith's outside backs later on, but otherwise it's hard to see him forcing his way into this backline. Jamie Soward is also out for five or six weeks with a back injury, with Isaac John named at five-eighth. James Segeyaro had a quiet game last week and still managed 55, while Matt Moylan (55) and Jamal Idris (82) were both standout performers.
Don't forget, Round 4 is when head-to-head NRL Fantasy leagues begin, so there's still time to get a 16-team league together and play off for Fantasy glory. Start your league today.