Scout Report: Round 18 teams wrap
The calvary has arrived for the Knights and Dragons, Cooper Cronk will back up for the Storm, while Brisbane will be close to full-strength following State of Origin III in Round 18.
Raiders v Knights
Raiders: Former Knight Joey Leilua drops out of the Raiders side as he can't play against Newcastle this season as part of the deal to release him to Canberra. Jarrad Kennedy returns to the bench, and is likely to again take minutes off Shaun Fensom.
Knights: The cavalry has returned for the Knights this week with halves Jarrod Mullen and Tyrone Roberts and forwards Kade Snowden, Jeremy Smith and David Fa'alogo all returning. Jake Mamo, Carlos Tuimavave, Pat Vaivai, Clint Newton and the injured Robbie Rochow (arm) drop out of the 17. Snowden ($381,000) remains a keeper up front with 50.1 points per round over the course of the season.
Panthers v Roosters
Panthers: No changes for Penrith after their stunning win over South Sydney. Bryce Cartwright was a standout last week and is averaging 53 points over his past five games - and after showing he can star over the full 80 against the Rabbitohs - could be set to continue with the big minutes. He's still relatively cheap at $339,000 if you're after a cut-price potential keeper in the back row, while established 80-minute man Elijah Taylor ($407,000) remains a safe bet. Josh Mansour was a late withdrawal last weekend and is now expected to spend another few weeks out of action with a knee injury.
Roosters: The Roosters are also unchanged, although Jackson Hastings has been added as 18th man and four Origin stars will need to back up from Origin III. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has been the Tricolours' best Fantasy scorer this year, with some big recent performances pushing his season average close to 50. Sio Siua Taukeiaho remains a keeper at the back.
Bulldogs v Broncos
Bulldogs: Josh Jackson's return means cash cow Shaun Lane drops out of the team to 18th man. Michael Lichaa continues to play 80 minutes at this stage with Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds splitting their game time in the halves alongside Moses Mbye. A lot of Fantasy coaches are looking to sell him but with an average of 52 it's hardly the end of the world if he stays in your side – provided he keeps playing big minutes.
Broncos: Justin Hodges is the only Maroons star left out of Brisbane's line-up, with Corey Parker set to back up along with Sam Thaiday, Matt Gillett and Darius Boyd. Daniel Vidot's return bumps Corey Oates to the bench and Dale Copley out of the side. Andrew McCullough ranks second behind Simon Mannering for Fantasy points this season and looms as a popular upgrade from Lichaa – but keep in mind it will cost you a trade and $67,000 for the sake of an extra 6.7 points a week if you make that move. It might be a week to avoid Corey Parker as captain following Origin III.
Warriors v Storm
Warriors: Konrad Hurrell has been named despite carrying a shoulder injury, with 18th man David Fusitua'a in the squad as cover. Simon Mannering is a solid captaincy choice this week, as always, while Shaun Johnson is averaging a crazy 80 points a game over the Warriors' past three.
Storm: Cooper Cronk has been named to back up from Origin after recovering from his knee injury, pushing Ben Hampton to the bench and Jordan McLean out of the 17. Cameron Smith could get some time on the bench after Origin III if the result is beyond doubt late in the contest, so could be a risk as captain (although he has scored big after an Origin match before). Tohu Harris is probably worth holding if you've got him, despite just one 50+ score since Round 7.
Sharks v Dragons
Sharks: Paul Gallen is set to back up, along with likely NSW hooker Mick Ennis, while Chris Heighington has been named 18th man but will challenge a one-week suspension on Thursday night. Andrew Fifita has been in great Fantasy touch of late, with a couple of tries helping last week and is a captaincy option again – especially if Paul Gallen doesn't back up from Origin. Gallen himself has a break even of 81 but could be a great buy in a few weeks.
Dragons: The troops are back after last week's disappointing loss to the under-strength Cowboys – Josh Dugan, Trent Merrin, Jason Nightingale, Joel Thompson, Will Matthews and Heath L'Estrange are all back in the 17, with cheapie Yaw Kiti Glymin among those to drop out. In-form Fantasy forward Mike Cooper retains the lock position, while Josh Dugan looms as a quality buy in the outside backs in the coming weeks.
Titans v Sea Eagles
Titans: The Titans are reshuffled this week with Ryan James back from injury in the second row, Dave Taylor moving to the bench, James Roberts switching back to centre with Josh Hoffman and Daniel Mortimer lining up in the halves. It's time to sell Ryan James anyway if you haven't already, with Roberts probably the only Titan worth holding for the long haul this season.
Sea Eagles: Justin Horo is added to the bench in Manly's only change. Daly Cherry-Evans may have had a rollercoaster of a year off the field but he's been rock solid on it, pushing his Fantasy average towards 60. His price will probably come down a little next week but he's a great buy now anyway.