Scout Report: Prelim Finals Fantasy guide
Two absolute blockbusters this weekend will decide which teams reach the NRL Grand Final, and if you can predict which players will thrive you could be $500 richer next week.
That weekly prize will go to the highest scoring Fantasy coach of the round, and all you have to do to win it is select six players from each game, and the right captain and vice captain.
Here's my guide to the top contenders for each position.
Roosters v Broncos
Winger/fullback: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is the standout here, having top-scored with 70 points last week. The next best options are dual-position players who won't be spending any time in the back three – Roosters super sub Sio Siua Taukeiaho, and Broncos five-eighth Anthony Milford. If you predict a comfortable Broncos victory here, Milford could be your man at the back.
Centre: A bit of a lottery of a position, with each team featuring three outside backs who averaged scores in the 30s this year (Michael Jennings, Blake Ferguson and Shaun Kenny-Dowall for the Roosters; Jack Reed, Justin Hodges and Jordan Kahu for the Broncos). Pick the one you think is most likely to score a try or two, or if you can't make your mind up, then go dual-position forward Mitch Aubusson who is starting in the second row for the Roosters and scored 49 last week.
Half: Ben Hunt is your best bet, with the Broncos No.7 having a great attacking game plus the vast majority of Brisbane's kick metres. Mitchell Pearce or James Maloney are the alternatives if you're predicting a solid Roosters win.
Second row: Rep stars Matt Gillett, Boyd Cordner and Aidan Guerra are solid all-round scorers, but you're really taking a gamble if you don't pick Fantasy legend Corey Parker in this slot.
Front row: A bit of a gamble with each side's top Fantasy prop (Josh McGuire and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves) out of action. Sam Thaiday is the only other player in this position to average 40+ this season, although Kane Evans hit 61 last week and Dylan Napa and Adam Blair are both solid scorers.
Hooker: Andrew McCullough scored 76 in Brisbane's win over the Cowboys a fortnight ago and is the favourite to get the job done here, although Jake Friend scored 53 last weekend and like McCullough is a hard-working tackler with an underrated attacking game.
Storm v Cowboys
Winger/fullback: Lachlan Coote has been superb for the Cowboys this year but after a bright start to the Fantasy season he's become a bit of a Kieran Foran-style player – great on the field but just not a dominant Fantasy force. Cameron Munster has had no such problems, continuing a super finish to the regular season with 61 points against the Roosters a couple of weeks back. Dual-position half Michael Morgan is probably his biggest rival in this position, and tends to score well when the Cowboys win.
Centre: Another lucky dip. Will Chambers and Kane Linnett are the best scorers here – maybe pick the one you expect to end up on the winning side.
Half: Cooper Cronk is good, but Johnathan Thurston is pretty much untouchable these days. Unless you see a dominant Storm win coming, go with JT.
Second row: This one's almost impossible to predict, with Cowboys Gavin Cooper, Ethan Lowe and Jason Taumalolo and Storm duo Tohu Harris and Kevin Proctor all solid mid-40s Fantasy scorers. Taumalolo needs to bust some tackles to score well which could be unlikely against the Storm in Melbourne, while Cooper and Proctor have been the best performers in the finals so far.
Front row: Jesse Bromwich looks to have the edge over Matt Scott here, with more metres and tackles per game than his Cowboys counterpart. James Tamou is also capable of a big performance and is the dark horse in a high-quality positional battle.
Hooker: If the Cowboys win this one there is every chance Jake Granville will be in the thick of things, and he is probably the quickest and possibly the most dangerous dummy-half runner in the competition. On the other hand, Cameron Smith is Cameron Smith. Pick Smith and make him one of your captains unless you reckon the Cowboys are going to win and win big.