Shaun Fensom in action for the Raiders during their opening round win over the Sharks.

NRL Fantasy guide: Second-rowers

The second-row forwards are an integral part of scoring big in NRL Fantasy. Their position calls for plenty of tackles, run metres, tackle breaks, offloads and the occasional try, which means plenty of points on offer for Fantasy coaches. With six players to choose in your team (the most in any position in Fantasy), it is one of the most important decisions to get right when picking your team. 

Here are a couple of options at the different price ranges. 

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Corey Parker (Brisbane Broncos, $559,000)

'CP13' as he is better known Fantasy circles is one of the most loved players in the game. The goal-kicking forward just continues to get better with age, his ability to break tackles and offload seemingly at will makes him one of the best in the business. He's a bonafide Fantasy stud plain and simple.

Pros: He averages over 62 points per game and rarely has a bad game. That's basically all you need to know. 

Cons: It's a lot of money on one player and he will be heavily involved in the representative schedule including the Test match and State of Origin. Coach Wayne Bennett has hinted Parker might not play the full 80 minutes again in 2016 and there is always a risk he could be rested during the season. 

 

Paul Gallen (Cronulla Sharks, $536,000)

The Cronulla captain is one of the busiest players in the game and is always a popular fantasy option. Can he continue to be a fantasy stud in 2016?

Pros: He gets criticised for doing too much for the Sharks at times, but as a Fantasy coach, that is worth the weight in gold. You know what you are getting with the Cronulla skipper, a big engine and plenty of running metres, tackle breaks and offloads. Also has the ability to play 80 minutes if required.

Cons: Has a history of missing sections of the season through the Origin period and has carried some injuries throughout the years. Gallen's body has been put through the wringer over the course of his career thanks to his courageous playing style and perhaps that will start to slow his scores this season.

 

Simon Mannering (Warriors, $535,000)

He's given up the captaincy to concentrate on his footy and that could be a big win for Fantasy coaches.

Pros: Any player that averages a tick under 60 points a game is worth highly considering for your Fantasy team. As a proud Kiwi, he won't be involved in the Origin series and that might come in handy around the bye period.

Cons: While Mannering is Mr Consistent, the same cannot be said for recent Warriors outfits. For such an expensive player, is can be alarming not knowing which Warriors side will turn up, meaning Mannering's scores may be affected by those around him.

 

Shaun Fensom: (Canberra Raiders, $499,000)

He may be continually snubbed by representative selectors, but not by his adoring Fantasy fans who know just how hard the Canberra forward works. 

Pros: Tackles everything that moves and some things that don't. Spent the off-season training unaware that he had a broken arm, it shows the kind of determination and work ethic he has. This transfers straight onto the Fantasy field.

Cons: While he can play 80 minutes, coach Ricky Stuart prefers to use him in stints, possibly limiting his scoring ability. Relies heavily on tackles, so if the Raiders are playing well, his points can actually take a hit.

 

Sam Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs, $492,000)

The Rabbitohs' inspirational Englishman is back after a brief stint in rugby union. Can Burgess recapture the form that won him a Clive Churchill Medal and helped South Sydney to a drought-breaking Premiership?

Pros: Burgess is back with a point to prove after a disappointing year in the other code. If he can replicate what he did in his last stint with the Rabbitohs, he'll be a steal and one of the must-have players. Tackles hard, runs harder and has the ability to rack up some massive scores.

Cons: How long will it take Sam to find his feet again after 12 months out of the competition? If he takes a few weeks to get going, his price is likely to drop significantly. That high price tag is a little risky.

 

Martin Taupau (Manly Sea Eagles, $446,000)

The big Kiwi enforcer had some massive solo highlights in 2015 and has declared his intentions to aggressively lead the Manly pack this season.

Pros: He averaged just under 50 points a game including a season-high 87 points last season. In a stronger forward pack at Manly this year, Taupau could unleash his best season yet. Expect plenty of tackle breaks, offloads and metres.

Cons: Moving to Manly with a host of high profile recruits, it is unknown how the new-look forward rotation will work at the Sea Eagles, and whether they will just end up stealing minutes and therefore points off each other. 

 

Gavin Cooper (North Queensland Cowboys ($435,000)

A cornerstone of the Cowboys Premiership campaign last season, Cooper's partnership with Johnathan Thurston on the left edge caused opposition teams havoc. 

Pros: A consistent, hard-working, ball playing forward with the happy knack of scoring regular tries. What's not to like?

Cons: After winning the competition, the Cowboys will be a marked side and perhaps defensive structures will do a better job stifling the Thurston-Cooper combination this season, limiting the unheralded forward's point-scoring ability. 

 

Aidan Guerra (Sydney Roosters, $415,000)

The State of Origin forward is tough as nails with deceptive ball skills and a big motor. He has been a consistent performer for the Roosters for several seasons.

Pros: With injuries rocking the perennial premiership heavyweights, Guerra shapes as a massive beneficiary in the Roosters pack. The losses of Boyd Cordner and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves for up to the first 12 weeks of the season means Guerra can expect some more work in the middle of the field.

Cons: Guerra is not the only forward likely to see more game time, with Dylan Napa, Sio Suia Taukeiaho and Isaac Liu all a chance to steal points off each other. Needs to score above 46 each week to make money. 

 

Mitchell Aubusson (Sydney Roosters, $336,000)

He's one of the most versatile and underrated players in the game, but does that make him worth a punt in Fantasy?

Pros: Aubusson is one of the most underrated players in the competition with a hard working ethic and a team-first approach. Has the ability to rack up big scores when playing in the forwards.

Cons: The Mitchell Aubusson rule - never buy Mitchell Aubusson. His greatest strength - his utility value - is his greatest weakness in Fantasy. When he is playing in the forwards he can put together decent scores, but too often Aubusson gets pushed out to the centres or somewhere else to fill a hole, which limits his appeal. 

 

Sauaso Sue (Wests Tigers, $325,000)

Pros: The Samoa international is good value in a relatively inexperienced Tigers back row.

Sue will start at lock and has the potential to score a heap of points at the start of the season.

Cons: With a season-high 57 and a low of 19 points, there are probably better options in the second row despite the seemingly bargain price. 

 

Agnatius Paasi (Gold Coast Titans, $267,000)

Pros: Was one of the players of the NRL Auckland Nines and was named in the team of the tournament, with a take no prisoners approach to running the ball and a very handy offload. If he can replicate his destructive form in the 13-a-side version, he'll make you a heap of money.

Cons: While the Nines showed his potential, the forward rotation at the Titans might mean Paasi isn't the nugget of gold he appears.

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