Scout Report: Round 22 Fantasy recap
Shaun Fensom is an 80-minute player again while familiar faces fire, Lachlan Coote flops and some mixed news on the injury front.
This week's standouts
The Dragons may have suffered an early injury crisis against the Warriors in Wellington on Saturday but they had no trouble romping to a big win anyway, thanks in part to a star showing from hooker Mitch Rein. Rein stepped up after Benji Marshall left the field with a hamstring injury, with a try, two try assists and four tackle breaks in an 87-point effort to be the top NRL Fantasy player of Round 22. Just behind him was Melbourne Storm hat-trick hero Cameron Munster (82), in-form Wests Tigers fullback James Tedesco (80), Roosters playmaker James Maloney (78), Bulldogs forwards Aiden Tolman (78) and Josh Jackson (76), Broncos Fantasy superstar Corey Parker (76) and Rein's fellow Dragons strike weapon Gareth Widdop (75).
In other notable scores, Raiders lock Shaun Fensom played the full 80 minutes as predicted following Iosia Soliola's season-ending injury last week, scoring 66 points, Trent Merrin hit 69 in 54 minutes off the bench in his first game for the Dragons since Round 16, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is averaging 63 points from his past three games after scoring 66 against Newcastle (including a hat-trick of tries), Aaron Woods bounced back to form with 66 himself, Jack Bird reminded us of his stunning start to the season with 59, and Paul Gallen continued a strong run as an NRL Fantasy captaincy prospect with 65.
Who's out this week?
Bulldogs hooker Michael Lichaa picked up a knee injury that was initially expected to rule him out for a couple of weeks, but the injury isn't as bad as first feared and with a nine-day turnaround he could play on Sunday against the Titans. The Rabbitohs are also hoping for Dylan Walker to be fit this week despite signs of a hamstring injury for the star centre on Friday night.
Dragons Marshall (hamstring) and Will Matthews (shoulder) both face time on the sidelines, along with Warriors winger Manu Vatuvei (shoulder). Vatuvei's teammates Bodene Thompson (ankle), Ryan Hoffman (calf) and David Fusitu'a (knee) could all be out for another week.
Front-rowers Matt Scott and Kade Snowden should play this week, after Scott was rested by the Cowboys and Snowden missed Newcastle's loss to the Roosters due to concussion. Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce was also rested in that clash and will be back this week.
Meanwhile on the judiciary front, Ben Matulino, Justin Hodges and Glenn Stewart are among six players facing possible suspensions this week.
The Round 22 flops
Cowboys fullback Lachlan Coote is in a bit of a rut, with his scores of 21 and 23 in the past fortnight his worst two returns of the season apart from a 20 in his return to the NRL after a long injury layoff back in Round 3. He managed only 59 run metres in the loss to the Sharks – easily his fewest in any game this season – and it was also the first time this season he's finished a game without a single tackle break. Coote did produce a couple of try assists (he would have scored just 13 without them) but his running game needs to improve fast if he is to deserve a place in your NRL Fantasy side.
For those who haven't sold them yet, early-season cash cows Ryan James (29), Solomone Kata (19) and Tui Lolohea (20) all really need to go (all three players are still in well over 30,000 NRL Fantasy teams), while fellow peaked cash cow Kyle Lovett no longer has a starting spot in the Tigers back row and made just 11 on Monday night.
And finally, yet another reminder of the Mitchell Aubusson Rule ("never buy Mitchell Aubusson"). The dual-position centre/second-rower loomed as a possible replacement for Sia Soliola last week, but scored just 9 after being moved to the bench for the Roosters' clash with Newcastle. As I've said before: he's a good player, but a hugely frustrating Fantasy buy.