With eight clubs and all State of Origin players taking a break from the NRL this weekend, the players in action this weekend become all the more valuable to NRL Fantasy coaches.
You can make up to three trades this week with the start of the major bye rounds, but only use them if you're aiming to climb the overall points ladder. If your only focus is on winning your head-to-head league (and you don't have match-ups on this week) it's the time to keep an eye on the future and ensure you have trades up your sleeves down the track.
For those picking up players for the Origin period, the Cowboys, Roosters, Bulldogs, Dragons, Raiders and Wests Tigers play in two of the three major bye rounds, while Parramatta play in all three. Playing for overall? Buy players from those clubs. Playing head-to-head only? Focus on players from the rest of the competition.
Broncos v Wests Tigers
Broncos: With Corey Parker, Matt Gillett, Sam Thaiday, Josh McGuire, Corey Oates and Darius Boyd away on Maroons duty, there are wholesale changes for Brisbane this week. Jordan Kahu switches to fullback, Greg Eden is on the wing, Jo Ofahengaue starts at prop, while two debutants join the side in Jaydn Su'a and Tevita Pangai. Beware though, this is the only game of the season in which the Broncos will be unable to select their Origin players so those new faces are unlikely to stick around for too long.
Wests Tigers: Kevin Naiqama and Sauaso Sue return, with Aaron Woods and Robbie Farah on NSW duty and Michael Chee-Kam dropping back to 18th man. Dene Halatau will wear the No.9 again with Matt Ballin to come off the bench. Elijah Taylor has scores of 45 and 61 from his first two games as a Wests Tiger should be a handy pickup over the Origin period if he keeps playing big minutes, with his new club playing on two of the three major bye rounds. Josh Addo-Carr has made a great start to his NRL Fantasy career with tries in both his first two games and more price rises in store with a break even of -17.
Dragons v Cowboys
Dragons: Kurt Mann is back in the side on the wing, with Jason Nightingale shifting to fullback to cover for Josh Dugan, while Benji Marshall and Joel Thompson are back. Tyson Frizell has been left out after being named in the NSW squad.
Cowboys: Rookie Jahrome Hughes is set to make his NRL debut in the No.6 jersey with the Cowboys losing both starting halves, both starting props and centre Justin O'Neil to Origin duty. Javid Bowen returns in the centres, while Ray Thompson starts at halfback and Coen Hess and Rory Kostjasyn join the bench. Hughes is set to be a popular pick-up, coming at the rookie price and set to at least play a couple of games in the bye rounds, while Bowen remains fairly cheap at $188,000.
Raiders v Bulldogs
Raiders: Shaun Fensom has been named to return to the relief of 9910 Fantasy coaches, with cash cow Luke Bateman returning to the bench. Sia Soliola is also back, with Canberra at almost full-strength with Josh Papalii their only player on Origin duty. The Raiders play in two bye rounds and are stacked with quality Fantasy performers, with Elliott Whitehead, Jordan Rapana, Joey Leilua, Jarrod Croker and Fensom all likely keepers this season.
Bulldogs: Josh Morris has been named for the Bulldogs so presumably isn't making the cut for the NSW 17, but with Blues David Klemmer and Josh Jackson out of the side Adam Elliot and Danny Fualalo join the bench. James Graham continues to be a powerhouse this season, while Kerrod Holland is still scoring better than 42 points a game despite averaging a tick under 30 in the past three weeks. Tyrone Phillips ($171,000) will get a hefty price boost after scoring a hat-trick last week and seems set to remain on the wing for Sunday games with Will Hopoate away.
Knights v Eels
Knights: Brock Lamb joins the man he replaced Jarrod Mullen in the casualty ward this week, with Lamb sidelined for up to eight weeks with an ankle injury. Fellow Fantasy cheapie Jaelen Feeney returns in his place at five-eighth, while Cory Denniss and Sam Mataora are also back with Jack Stockwell dropped and Dane Gagai on Maroons duty. Lamb may not play again this season with Mullen expected to return late in the year as well.
Eels: If you're looking to charge up the overall ladder over the bye rounds the Eels are your team, as the only NRL club to play in Round 12, Round 15 and Round 18. Manu Ma'u may have forced his way into a few thousand teams after a season-high 75 last week, while Semi Radradra is the other potential keeper at the club. Corey Norman is an interesting option in the halves but with a season average of 43.5 probably won't be someone you'll want to keep in your 17 all season. Vai Toutai replaces NSW centre Michael Jennings this week and looks set to play in the centres for the three bye rounds.