Fantasy by the Numbers: Round 17
A closer look at some of the key recent Fantasy performances, and what they mean for your planned trades for the upcoming round.
Time to trade Barba?
The most popular player in NRL Fantasy, Ben Barba (WFB/HLF, $322,000) has failed to deliver in his past two starts with scores of 14 and 20 disappointing the 60,000 coaches with the Sharks fullback in their squad. That's seen his season average fall below the 40-mark that tends to indicate a WFB keeper and his price plunge accordingly.
Barba's run metres have been fairly consistent, but it's a drop in attacking stats (tries, try assists, line breaks) which has seen his scores follow that downward trend. In his past two starts, the Cronulla No.1 hasn't had any direct involvement in his side's four-pointers, compared with three tries and four try assists in his previous three matches before that.
Things are looking up for Barba owners however, with the Sharks to face three sides currently in the bottom four (Knights, Rabbitohs and Roosters twice) on the run home, as well as a Raiders side who he scored 64 against earlier in the season.
Given that trades are becoming more valuable at this time of year, and that the Sharks enjoy a reasonably favourable run to the finals with both their byes out of the way, there's no harm in holding Barba. But if you've got trades to burn there are certainly plenty of other options to consider.
Raiders' right-edge bounceback
One of the big success stories earlier this season, Elliott Whitehead (2RF, $435,000) has had a few more quiet performances of recent weeks, prompting many coaches to look at trading out the England international. Ignoring his 60 in Round 13, scores of 37, 38 and 46 in his last four starts are somewhat below what we've come to expect from the hard-running back-rower.
If you've held Whitehead, don't even think about moving him on this week.
Newcastle's undoubted weakness in the past two rounds has been their new-look, young left edge defence. In Round 14, with Shaun Johnson pulling the strings, David Fusitu'a (four tries, four line breaks), Blake Ayshford (two try assists) and Bodene Thompson (one try, two line breaks) had a day out as the Warriors romped home at Hunter Stadium.
Fast forward to Round 16 and it was a similar story as Kalifa Faifai Loa (one try, one line break), Euan Aitken (one try, one try assist, four tackle breaks, 71 Fantasy points) and Jacob Host (one try, one line break) all crossed for a try each, with Benji Marshall (one try, two try assists, three line-break assists, 69 Fantasy points) also enjoying his best display of the season.
On this occasion it was Nathan Ross, Brendan Elliot, Mitchell Barnett and Jack Cogger who were exposed. Canberra's trio of Whitehead, Joey Leilua and Jordan Rapana have often been their strength (combined 17 tries, 14 try assists, 24 line breaks, 18 line-break assists and 5,036 metres this season) and if Newcastle's charges don't muscle up in defence, it could be another long afternoon for the Knights.
Top scores in Round 16
Bodene Thompson (2RF, $471,000): 82
Jason Taumalolo (2RF, $434,000): 81
Ryan James (FRF/2RF, $598,000): 79
Luke Brooks (HLF, $311,000): 78
Sam Burgess (2RF/FRF, $468,000): 76
Bottom scores in Round 16
Kurt Baptiste (HOK, $128,000): -1
Ben Hampton (HLF, $170,000): 3
Nathan Davis (CTR, $166,000): 3
Dene Halatau (2RF/HOK, $200,000): 4
Tuimoala Lolohea (HLF/CTR, $303,000): 7
Top Round 16 price increases
Nathan Cleary (HLF, $270,000): +$61,000
Mitchell Barnett (2RF, $248,000): +$36,000
Travis Waddell (HOK, $220,000): +$30,000
Luke Brooks (HLF, $311,000): +$30,000
Cody Walker (HLF/WFB, $433,000): +$27,000
Top Round 16 price decreases
Jordan Rapana (WFB, $398,000): -$33,000
Sia Soliola (2RF, $314,000): -$31,000
Jack de Belin (2RF/FRF, $445,000): -$29,000
Valentine Holmes (WFB, $306,000): -$27,000
Sam Perrett (WFB, $237,000): -$25,000