A couple of speedsters got their groove back and a new rookie arrived on the scene in a big way in a quality weekend of NRL Fantasy scores. With many head-to-head leagues set to kick off next weekend, here are the players to watch (and avoid) when making this week's trades.
With two tries, a try assist, 10 tackle breaks and four offloads – in a losing effort no less – Anthony Milford was the Fantasy player of the round, hitting 88 points in Brisbane's one-point defeat against Penrith.
The other star of that game was Panthers debutant Te Maire Martin, who scored a try, split the Broncos defensive line twice and nailed the match-winning field goal for 72 points, and he's certain to have played his way into a lot of Fantasy teams this week. Likewise Matt Parcell, who got limited minutes off the Manly bench in the opening two rounds, exploded into NRL Fantasy contention with 77 points in 73 minutes as the Sea Eagles' starting hooker on Monday night.
Elsewhere two-try hero Semi Radradra (86) was simply superb for Parramatta against the Bulldogs, Johnathan Thurston bounced back with a slick 66 in the Cowboys' thrashing of the Roosters, and forwards Sia Soliola (71), Paul Carter (69), Tyson Frizell (68), Sio Siua Taukeiaho (67), Bryce Cartwright (66), Jake Trbojevic (66), Jack de Belin (64), Shaun Fensom (62) Tepai Moeroa (62) all went big.
There was also good news for those who kept the faith with Eels fullback Michael Gordon (58), Broncos half Ben Hunt (56) and Warriors custodian Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (56), with the latter sure to become a key trade target in the weeks to come.
Meanwhile cheapies Pat Mata'utia (57), Clint Gutherson (43), Latrell Mitchell (41), Jacob Saifiti (40) and Ashley Taylor (40) all posted quality scores and earned big price rises.
Dale Copley was a popular Fantasy buy at the start of the year but copped a double blow on the weekend – he suffered a torn pec which will keep him out of the game for a few months and finished the game with two missed tackles, resulting in a score of -4.
The man to replace Copley in the centres for the Roosters was – surprise, surprise – Mitchell Aubusson, who finished with a disappointing score of 20 and once again looks like a potential Fantasy flop this year. (Always remember the Mitch Aubusson rule: never buy Mitch Aubusson.)
Melbourne Storm rookie Curtis Scott enjoyed a brief wave of popularity in Fantasy last week, with a lot of coaches snapping up the outside back who was named on Tuesday to fill Billy Slater's role in the backline (with Cameron Munster switching from centre to fullback). But Scott was a late withdrawal ahead of Sunday's game against the Warriors and won't be making much cash if he can't force his way back into the Melbourne 17.
Manly's Martin Taupau came crashing back to earth with just 34 points in 80 minutes on Monday night – a huge drop from last week's 92 – and he could spend some time on the sidelines after being put on report for a bad-looking high tackle on Jack Bird.
And the injury toll is mounting for NRL Fantasy coaches, with four of the top 10 most-owned players in the game – Sam Burgess, Ben Henry, Copley and Jaelen Feeney – either injured or, in Feeney's case, no longer in the first-choice 17 at his club.
The season is only three weeks old but we've already seen the benefits of showing patience with sub-par scorers.
For the record, here are the players I said Fantasy coaches should keep the faith with in this section last week: Ben Barba, Clint Gutherson, Dale Copley, Ashley Taylor, Bryce Cartwright, Elliott Whitehead, Johnathan Thurston, Semi Radradra and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. Leaving out the injured Copley, here are those players' Round 3 scores: 43, 43, 40, 66, 56, 66, 86, 56.
This week I'm suggesting you hang on to Daly Cherry-Evans if you've got him. Yes, he's dropped in value by $30,000 this season and is averaging only 43 points a game (not the 50+ average you'd expect from him) which makes a trade to someone like the much cheaper Martin look tempting.
But on the other hand, so far this season Cherry-Evans has zero try assists, line-break assists or line breaks. That means the scores he's posted so far have come almost exclusively from base stats. Last season DCE made 18 try assists, 15 line-break assists and nine line breaks, and as Manly's new-look team starts to gel this season he should start racking up those stats and some big Fantasy scores.