Scout Report: Round 21 teams wrap
It's a key week for NRL Fantasy trades, with a few key stars facing time on the sidelines. Here's my wrap of the in-form and out-of-form Fantasy prospects heading into Round 21.
Roosters v Bulldogs
Roosters: The Tricolours have added Kane Evans, Matt McIlwrick and Suaia Matagi to an otherwise unchanged 17. Sio Siua Taukeiaho remains a very solid performer from the Roosters bench, with 46 on the weekend including 169 run metres and four tackle breaks. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck remains one of just two winger/fullbacks in Fantasy to average more than 50 points a week.
Bulldogs: Josh Reynolds is set to miss four to six weeks with a knee injury. Reynolds' absence means Moses Mbye returns to the halves where he could stay for the remainder of the season, and ensures Michael Lichaa will remain an 80-minute hooker. Lichaa only hit 52 thanks to a try on the weekend but remains a keeper at hooker – particularly with trades needing to be used elsewhere for most Fantasy coaches. Aidan Tolman will miss another week with a hamstring injury, while Frank Pritchard has made $136,000 in price rises this year and is still rising after back-to-back 50s in the past fortnight.
Wests Tigers v Storm
Wests Tigers: The good news is Robbie Farah is back; the bad news is Martin Taupau will miss three weeks with suspension, making him a trade unless you also have Shaun Johnson and Jesse Bromwich or Andrew Fifita. If you need a new prop Aaron Woods has been one of this year's best, although he's coming off a season-low score of 30 from Friday's loss to the Roosters. James Tedesco managed seven tackle breaks and a try against the NRL's best defence in that game so is capable of scoring big against anybody.
Storm: Jesse Bromwich faces a potential ban at the judiciary on Wednesday night over a biting charge but has been included in Melbourne's team to face Wests Tigers. Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith both spent some time on the bench late in Melbourne's win over the Dragons on Saturday but Smith still managed a rock-solid 66. Expect the star duo to get another rest if the Storm have this game in the bag with 10 minutes left on Friday night.
Warriors v Sharks
Warriors: Disaster time here for Warriors fans and NRL Fantasy coaches with Shaun Johnson gone for the season with a broken leg/dislocated ankle. Bodene Thompson is also out with an ankle injury, with Ben Matulino and Simon Mannering starting in the second row, Sebastine Ikahihifo taking Mannering's usual lock role and Tuimoala Lolohea starting at halfback. Mannering remains the team's best scorer but his tackle counts could drop a little defending on the edge rather than in the middle.
Sharks: Andrew Fifita is out of the side, stood down by the club along with brother David over an incident at a junior league game in Penrith. It's unclear when – or if – the Fifitas will be back this season. Anthony Tupou is back from his brutal broken jaw this week, while Luke Lewis is out with a knee injury. Chris Heighington will start in Fifita's usual front-row spot. Paul Gallen was superb last week with huge numbers in attack and defence plus a try, and after re-signing with the club this week his workload should only lift without Andrew Fifita in the side. Wade Graham has also been strong of late.
Cowboys v Raiders
Cowboys: Unsurprisingly the Cowboys are unchanged after flogging Parramatta on Monday night. Johnathan Thurston is the obvious replacement for Shaun Johnson this week – he had a fairly quiet game by his standards last weekend with Jake Granville (80) dominating proceedings, but can usually be relied on to provide a try assist or two. Granville is a keeper on current form. Ethan Lowe remains a somewhat frustrating player to have with so much of his work happening off the ball, but he's worth holding if you've got him already.
Raiders: Last week's two-try hero Paul Vaughan will start at prop this week with Frank-Paul Nuuausala shifting back to the bench. Shaun Fensom grabbed a try last week on the way to 65 and could be an option to replace Taupau or Fifita in your side if you have a dual-position forward in your second row. Don't be carried away with Vaughan's 68 last week – he's a solid scorer but won't score a double again this season.
Sea Eagles v Broncos
Sea Eagles: Manly were hit with four injuries last weekend and while Steve Matai will back up from a concussion Tom Symonds, Ligi Sao and Luke Burgess are out. In their place are new starters Justin Horo and Blake Leary while Michael Chee Kam joins the bench. Daly Cherry-Evans had a relatively quiet game last week but he did play and is up there with Johnathan Thurston, Ben Hunt and Adam Reynolds as one of the best replacements for Shaun Johnson.
Broncos: Dale Copley drops out with Jack Reed returning from suspension, which sees Jordan Kahu move to the wing and Corey Oates to the bench. Adam Blair is suspended, with Joe Ofahengaue getting a bench spot. Ben Hunt was sensational last weekend with 98 points with a terrific running game and two try assists. Corey Parker hit 84 on the weekend and could be the safest captaincy option again in what could be a tricky match for Brisbane – particularly as Cameron Smith's Storm are playing strugglers the Tigers and Simon Mannering has been shifted from lock to an edge role for the Warriors.
Dragons v Knights
Dragons: Craig Garvey replaces Heath L'Estrange on the bench this week while Ben Creagh returns to the starting side after Will Matthews started on the weekend. The Dragons' losing streak hasn't hurt their forwards' ability to score Fantasy points, and Josh Dugan still managed 50 last weekend. Dugan could be set for a big one against Newcastle after seeing what Greg Inglis did to them last week.
Knights: Not as many changes for Newcastle as you'd expect under interim coach Danny Buderus, with Carlos Tuimavave moving into the halves, Kurt Gidley slotting back to fullback and Sione Mata'utia shifting to centre. Tyler Randell also replaces Danny Levi as the bench hooker. Despite their on-field woes Kade Snowden is a genuine buy option up front this week – his Round 20 score was inflated a little by a try but he's averaging better than 70 points a game in the past three rounds.
Rabbitohs v Panthers
Rabbitohs: Kyle Turner has been named to make his return from a neck injury in place of Ben Lowe. Greg Inglis, Dylan Walker and Alex Johnston had a field day against Newcastle last week, as did the Burgess brothers and Adam Reynolds – who is now a cut-price replacement option for Shaun Johnson. Greg Inglis is absolutely flying, coming off scores of 79 and 90 and with a break even of 9 this week. Reynolds and Walker both hit 66 against Newcastle.
Panthers: The Panthers have lost Peter Wallace (ACL) and Dean Whare (thumb) for the season to injuries, with Josh Mansour back on the wing and Isaac John partnering Jamie Soward in the halves. Sam McKendry starts at prop for Nigel Plum (concussion). James Segeyaro (94) and Elijah Taylor (70) could both be good point-of-difference options late in the season after big Round 20 scores.
Titans v Eels
Titans: Nate Myles and Lachlan Burr return to the starting side, Daniel Mortimer is back on the bench, while Dave Taylor is 18th man. Not much to say about the Titans on the Fantasy front these days...
Eels: ...And the same goes for Parramatta. No changes at this stage for the Eels despite a heavy loss to the Cowboys on Monday night. Semi Radradra has been great this year but Greg Inglis is a better trade target.