We have a new No.1 player in NRL Fantasy this week while an unlikely name goes close to joining the 100 club.
Rabbitohs hooker Cameron McInnes is hardly a household name in NRL Fantasy circles but he came oh-so-close to becoming the first member of the 100-club this season with a scorching 97 against Manly, featuring two rare tries and 47 tackles. That remarkable score overshadowed the fact that hooker-turned-half Apisai Koroisau made a similarly stunning 89 for the Sea Eagles in that game, thanks to three line breaks and a try. (For the record, I don't recommend buying either of those guys – McInnes's score is surely a one-off and Koroisau isn't a first-choice member of the Manly side.)
James Tedesco is now the most valuable player in NRL Fantasy, with the Wests Tigers fullback bouncing back from an early head knock against the Sharks to score 68, including two tries and an assist, while Canberra skipper Jarrod Croker scored twice in a 70-point effort on Monday night and Bryce Cartwright rewarded the faith of those who have held onto him with a two-try 73 against Parramatta.
Ryan James is shaping as a point-of-difference purchase in the forwards with 68 following last week's 77, Andrew Fifita scored a powerful 64 despite Paul Gallen's return to the Sharks pack, and Mitchell Aubusson kept the faith alive for those who have him with a season-high 65.
A lot of Fantasy favourites came up with the goods as well, with Cameron Smith (60), Cooper Cronk (60), Shaun Johnson (58), James Graham (58), Josh Mansour (56), Ethan Lowe (56), Matt Parcell (56), Paul Gallen (55), James Roberts (54), Manu Ma'u (53), Matt Gillett (53), Ben Hunt (52), Aaron Woods (51), Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (49) and Jackson Hastings (48) all having good weeks.
Anyone who picked up Manaia Cherrington as a potential cash cow and hasn't ditched him already should do so now after he scored 7 off the bench against Cronulla, while Jayden Nikorima (18) and Konrad Hurrell (6) are also struggling with limited minutes off the bench.
Lewis Brown and Jamie Lyon are a couple of reasonably popular options in the tricky centre position and both struggled for points in Round 5, scoring 18 and 20 respectively.
There were a few outside backs stuck in the negatives in Round 5 as well, with Gold Coast rookie John Olive scoring -1 while Sione Mata'utia scored -2 before leaving the field with concussion six minutes into Newcastle's loss to Melbourne.
Sam Burgess (34) and Anthony Milford (30) are a couple of genuine stars worth holding onto despite low scores this week. Burgess was returning from injury – and playing at prop rather than lock, where he can be relied on to post bigger scores – while Milford was always going to be a hit-and-miss player this season depending on how many attacking stats (tries, line breaks, etc) he can produce on any given week. As I wrote last week, he can't keep up his sensational try-scoring (and field-goal-kicking) form that he showed over the first month of the season, but he should still have enough big games to justify holding onto in your squad.
On the other hand, Trent Merrin (28) is a bit of a head-scratcher at the moment – he's mixed some decent scores with some low ones, and with four missed tackles, a penalty conceded and an error in Round 5 he finished with a season-low 28. He was a Fantasy star during his time at the Dragons but now's the time to decide whether he's just started slowly at his new club or whether the Panthers' free-flowing style doesn't suit his Fantasy scores as much as the Dragons' tendency to grind out low-scoring contests. He's only dropped $41,000 in value so far this season and is capable of hitting this week's break even of 68 so I'd be giving him another week, but another poor score probably makes him a trade out option soon.