Scout Report: Gamble or play it safe?
What's your strategy for picking your Fantasy Finals teams this week – stick with reliable scorers or take a few risks? If you did well last week you're probably better off choosing the safe options, but if you're towards the back of the pack and need a move on to be in the running for the $2000 Fantasy Finals top prize, it's time to make a few gambles.
Those who took the risk and picked Melbourne rookie Cameron Munster over Roosters sensation Roger Tuivasa-Sheck in the winger/fullback position of last Friday's game were rewarded handsomely, with Munster outscoring RTS 61 to 32. But will you be bold enough to leave Tuivasa-Sheck – the most valuable player in NRL Fantasy at the end of the regular season – out of your team for tonight's game?
Remember there is also $500 up for grabs this week, so you're still a chance of winning even if you didn't pick a team at all last week. Also remember to pick your captain and vice captain when choosing your teams – captain gets triple points, vice captain gets double.
Roosters v Bulldogs
Minor premiers the Roosters are the favourites in this one, but the absence of Mitchell Pearce – who was ruled out on Thursday – is a blow for the Tricolours. The Bulldogs only just got past the Dragons last weekend and are missing their own first-choice halfback, but they overachieved in last year's finals series and are renowned September specialists.
Safe team: Damien Cook, Aidan Tolman, Josh Jackson, James Maloney, Michael Jennings, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
Three workhorse Bulldogs forwards and three dangerous Roosters backs – this side would suit a game in which the Dogs are forced to do most of the defending. Cook has been a tackle machine in his short NRL career so far, Tolman and Jackson both score close to 50 points a game while Maloney, Jennings and Tuivasa-Sheck are all brilliant attacking weapons for the Bondi boys.
Risky team: Jake Friend, James Graham, Sio Siua Taukeiaho, Jackson Hastings, Tim Lafai, Brett Morris.
All of these players have performed at times this season – with Graham, Taukeiaho and Morris all hitting big scores last week – but have been less consistent than a few rivals in their respective positions. Taukeiaho is a great tackle buster on his day, but isn't as reliable as 80-minute men Boyd Cordner and Aidan Guerra. Hastings managed a very solid 47 in a losing effort against Melbourne last week and won't be short on confidence stepping into Mitch Pearce's boots again. Friend and Lafai both have strong histories as Fantasy players and are more than capable of passing 50.
Cowboys v Sharks
North Queensland are the favourites but more and more observers are jumping on the Sharks bandwagon after they routed the Rabbitohs last week.
Safe team: Michael Ennis, Paul Gallen, Wade Graham, Johnathan Thurston, Jack Bird, Michael Morgan.
These players have the top averages in their respective positions, and one or two of them are just about must-haves in your team. Gallen and Thurston have scored close to 60 points a game this season and will be the most popular options for captain and vice captain in this game. Elsewhere, Graham and Ennis are rock solid defensive players who are also capable of creating a try or two, while Bird and Morgan are dangerous five-eighths who are handy dual-position players in Fantasy, available at centre and fullback respectively.
Risky team: Jake Granville, James Tamou, Gavin Cooper, Michael Morgan, Kane Linnett, Lachlan Coote.
If you're predicting a big Cowboys win here, why not go all-North Queensland for your side? Granville is an attacking weapon and is more likely to post a big score than Ennis, even if his season average is lower, so isn't much of a risk. The rest of these names are genuine gambles. Tamou scored 52 last week but averaged less than 40 during the season – much less than front-row partner Matt Scott. Cooper is an underrated forward who has scored nine tries this season. Leaving Johnathan Thurston out of your team might be a crazy move but Morgan and Bird are both decent options as mentioned, while Linnett and Coote are only likely to score well if they are involved in a few Cowboys scoring plays.