Johnathan Thurston is one of a number of Origin stars who returns to action this week.

Most of the Origin stars are back this week as all 16 clubs begin the run home to the finals. Here are the big changes and players you should buy as you look to put together your ideal NRL Fantasy team.

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Eels v Bulldogs

Eels: No real changes for Parramatta following their Round 18 bye. Semi Radradra has been surprisingly consistent this year thanks to a steady stream of tries, but will obviously need to keep scoring to keep hitting those 50s.

Bulldogs: Trent Hodkinson is back for the Bulldogs and this time it's Moses Mbye who drops back to the bench, with Reynolds holding onto the five-eighth jersey. That potentially means Michael Lichaa could spend some time on the bench, although he's played the full 80 minutes in nine of his past 10 games and played 75 minutes in the other one. He's been the Bulldogs' best Fantasy player this year with almost 53 points a game – including 63 last round. Shaun Lane has jumped almost $100,000 in value and has been a handy late-season cash cow for those who own him, with a break even of -14 this week.

Storm v Panthers

Storm: Cameron Smith will play his 300th NRL game this week, with his Fantasy coaches hoping he can improve on last week's score of 42. A few coaches will be looking to upgrade Tohu Harris this week, despite a season average close to 50 – a score he's passed just once since Round 7.

Panthers: No changes for Penrith this week. James Segeyaro remains on the sidelines, while Bryce Cartwright has reeled off back-to-back scores of 58 and has a break even of 30. Elijah Taylor made 58 tackles on the weekend and remains one of the most solid second-row options in Fantasy.

Raiders v Sharks

Raiders: Kurt Baptiste replaces Sam Williams at halfback, with Williams set to miss five games with a pec injury. Joey Leilua is again on the bench, and could be used in the second row. The presence of Jarrad Kennedy on the bench likely means limited minutes once again for Shaun Fensom but he'll still probably score well regardless.

Sharks: No changes for the Sharks, with Andrew Fifita and Paul Gallen (break even 75) the stars in the pack, although Wade Graham (83 points) and Luke Lewis (71) were both big performers on the weekend. Jack Bird has been stuck in the mid-30s of late but with a season average of 45 there's no real point trading him out if he's in your centres.

Knights v Titans

Knights: Beau Scott returns from suspension, bumping Joe Tapine back to the bench after providing a very handy 65 points in an 80-minute effort last weekend for those who picked him up (he was the cheapest starting second-rower in action in Round 17). Tyrone Roberts has held his halfback spot for now in a familiar-looking side, albeit one that's horribly out of form. Kade Snowden pumped out 65 (including a try) in his return to the side on Friday and is a keeper prop at just under $400,000.

Titans: Greg Bird is back from suspension at last, pushing Eddy Pettybourne to the bench with Lachlan Burr dropping out of the side altogether. Beau Falloon is in at hooker, with David Taylor joining Ryan James in the back row. It's time to sell Taylor and Burr if you haven't already.

 

 

Dragons v Rabbitohs

Dragons: The cavalry returns for the Dragons' Heritage Round clash with Souths at the SCG, with Josh Dugan, Tyson Frizell, Benji Marshall and Joel Thompson all back in the starting side with Will Matthews back on the bench alongside Jake Marketo. Mike Cooper has been superb of late at lock, scoring 67, 61 and 64 in recent weeks.

Rabbitohs: Greg Inglis is back from Origin and could be a great value buy in a week or two, although he hasn't quite been his usual dominant self at NRL level this year. Adam Reynolds is the other player to watch in coming weeks – he's had a quiet return from injury and has a break even of 80, but could cost just $350,000 in a couple of rounds. Issac Luke is suspended with Cameron McInnes starting at hooker.

Roosters v Warriors

Roosters: Sio Siua Taukeiaho has been named on the bench despite picking up an ankle injury on the weekend, with Origin players Boyd Cordner and Aiden Guerra returning to the starting pack. Taukeiaho is still a hold if you've got him but I wouldn't recommend buying him at this point, despite 65 points on the weekend. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has been red hot in recent weeks and is somebody everyone should be looking to snap up. 

Warriors: Just a cosmetic change this week for the Warriors with Jacob Lillyman into the starting side and Albert Vete dropping to the bench. Ryan Hoffman is set to miss another couple of weeks with Konrad Hurrell and Manu Vatuvei set to return next week. Shaun Johnson's recent Fantasy form has been crazy – with three straight 90+ scores he's been almost a must-have in the halves but if he doesn't get attacking stats against an impressive Roosters side his score could easily drop well below 50. He and Johnathan Thurston are now the most expensive players in Fantasy. Simon Mannering keeps pumping out the 60s and is one of the safest buys in the game.

Broncos v Wests Tigers

Broncos: Justin Hodges is back, pushing Jordan Kahu to the wing and Daniel Vidot to 18th man. Corey Parker and the other Origin players (minus Josh McGuire) have also been named. Andrew McCullough is the second-best hooker in Fantasy at the moment but is just the sixth-most popular.

Wests Tigers: Tim Simona returns from injury, bumping Delouise Hoeter out of the team, while Luke Brooks and Aaron Woods are also back in place of Josh Drinkwater and Jack Buchanan. Robbie Farah could be out a few more weeks. As always, James Tedesco and Woods are the best buys here.

Sea Eagles v Cowboys

Sea Eagles: Dunamis Lui returns at lock, with Ligi Sao moving to an extended bench. Blake Leary remains sidelined with a back injury. Daly Cherry-Evans has been remarkably consistent this season, and with four scores over 70 he's also capable of producing a monster total at any time.

Cowboys: Origin stars Johnathan Thurston, Michael Morgan and Matt Scott return to the side, with Ray Thompson, Robert Lui and Glenn Hall dropping out. Ethan Lowe remains a hold in my book, and Jake Granville's also worth holding on recent form (averaging 56 in his past five). Thurston's been in great touch all season as is obviously one of the top halves in Fantasy. 

 

 

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