A closer look at some of the key recent NRL Fantasy performances, and what they mean for your planned trades for the upcoming round.
Heavy hitters up front
At a time of the season where bye planning is becoming even more of a pressing concern for some, a six-week injury to a nailed-on scorer in Jack de Belin (2RF/FRF, $506,000) is causing headaches for almost 12,000 Fantasy coaches. Whether you're looking for a de Belin replacement or are looking to upgrade somewhere across your front or second row, the following are premium options to consider.
Paul Gallen (2RF/FRF, $521,000): The Cronulla skipper has been in excellent touch since returning from injury in Round 5, with an average of just over 62. Gallen was also named Man of the Match for the Kangaroos in their win over the Kiwis, with 227 metres, 32 tackles and 58 Fantasy points. He'll miss just one extra game (Round 18) due to Origin commitments outside of the Sharks' two byes, but injury could strike at any time, with the NSW captain having missed large portions of the rep season in previous years. Undoubtedly a Fantasy weapon, but is Gallen worth the risk? There are probably safer options elsewhere.
Jesse Bromwich (FRF, $492,000): Durable and reliable, the Kiwis captain is in over 23 per cent of sides, and should see his ownership increase in the coming weeks. Averaging close to 60 minutes in his nine games so far this season, Bromwich is more than capable of bringing up a big score through base stats alone. Will play in the Round 15 multi-bye round, and looks like an essential buy at some stage this season.
James Graham (FRF, $492,000): If you're after another safe option who's hitting form, the Bulldogs skipper could be your man. Scored 75 in Round 9 in 56 minutes, with a huge 48 tackles, four tackle breaks, 167 metres and a try save providing the bulk of his points. Much like Bromwich, Graham won't come cheap, but plays in rounds 12 and 18, so is a handy selection for players chasing overall points.
Jake Trbojevic (FRF/2RF, $480,000): The Manly lock has been a revelation in 2016, but is no longer that affordable after climbing $132,000 in value. More than capable of assisting a try or finding the line himself, those attacking stats are comfortably supported by a big tackle count (average of 42 tackles per game) and run metre totals (110 metres per game). Dual position flexibility also might come in handy for your squad.
Andrew Fifita (FRF, $500,000): Returning to some of his best form in 2016, the former NSW and Australia front-rower isn't as consistent as some of the other options on this list, but does tend to go big. It remains to be seen whether a return to the Blues is on the cards, but will play in Round 18 if not selected for Game Three. Unlike some of his front-row counterparts, a large portion of Fifita's points come from attacking stats, so a big return against the Knights in Round 10 might sway those looking to draft him into their sides this week.
Bodene Thompson (2RF, $465,000): Perhaps a more left-field selection, Thompson returns for the Warriors this week with a point to prove. While edge forwards often don't deliver the sort of consistent scores you would want from your back row, Thompson averages 54 from his five appearances this season, with his lowest total being 51. The Kiwi does play in Round 15 and of course isn't eligible for Origin selection, and could be a handy point of difference for those Fantasy coaches needing to chance their arm.
Tohu Harris (2RF, $495,000): Perhaps a victim of his own versatility, Harris has been called on to play a number of positions for both club and country. He's New Zealand's answer to Mitchell Aubusson, if you will. If Harris is named to start in the centres an hour prior to Melbourne's Round 10 meeting with the Cowboys he will earn dual position status next week, meaning if he can return to the forwards then he is an essential buy at CTR. Is it then worth bringing him into your side this week with a view to moving him down into your Fantasy backline later in the season? Can you afford to spend almost $500,000 on a centre? Where will Harris play in future rounds? An average of 53.3 seems reasonable despite having played different positions, but he's certainly one to think about.
Top scores in Round 9
Clint Gutherson (WFB/CTR, $269,000): 85
James Graham (FRF, $492,000): 75
Jackson Hastings (HLF, $417,000): 73
Jarrod Croker (CTR, $369,000): 71
Nathan Peats (HOK, $437,000): 70
Bottom scores in Round 9
Joe Burgess (WFB, $227,000): 3
Will Pearsall (HLF, $128,000): 4
Jacob Host (FRF/2RF, $130,000): 4
Lewis Brown (2RF/CTR, $202,000): 5
Edrick Lee (WFB, $145,000): 7
Top Round 9 price increases
Clint Gutherson (WFB/CTR, $269,000): +$45,000
Joseph Leilua (CTR, $378,000): +$42,000
Jordan Rapana (WFB, $438,000): +$39,000
Ryan Matterson (HLF, $200,000): +$33,000
Suliasi Vunivalu (WFB, $207,000): +$32,000
Top Round 9 price decreases
Tim Mannah (FRF, $285,000): -$37,000
James Tedesco (WFB, $449,000): -$34,000
Dylan Walker (CTR/HLF, $257,000): -$33,000
Anthony Milford (HLF, $457,000): -$30,000
Isaac De Gois (HOK, $223,000): -$29,000