Scout Report: Round 17 teams wrap
Mitchell Pearce and Andrew McCullough make their returns, Jack de Belin is starting at lock once again and all the other key changes with NRL Fantasy implications this week.
Roosters v Bulldogs
Roosters: Mitchell Pearce and Origin duo Blake Ferguson and Aidan Guerra return, with Joseph Manu, Ryan Matterson and Chris Smith dropping out of the 17 and Sam Moa moving back to the bench. Jackson Hastings keeps the five-eighth role while Sio Siua Taukeiaho is named at lock. The Roosters have had both of their byes so are ripe for the picking for Fantasy coaches chasing overall points. Jake Friend is the best of them, although with a break even of 77 he will be cheaper next week.
Bulldogs: Greg Eastwood returns to the pack, pushing Asipeli Fine back to an extended bench. Will Hopoate is averaging 50 in his past three games and looks likely to hold onto the fullback spot despite the return of Brett Morris last week.
Broncos v Storm
Broncos: Andrew McCullough is back at hooker, pushing Travis Waddell back to the bench. Tom Opacic's brief first stint in the top grade lasted only 23 minutes before injury struck last week, with Kodi Nikorima replacing him in the centres for Brisbane while Jaydn Su'A moves back to the bench with Alex Glenn starting in the back row and Lachlan Maranta replacing Greg Eden on the wing. Matt Gillett went off injured last week and also made seven missed tackles last week on the way to a season-low 26. Just a couple of games ago he scored a superb 88 featuring two tries and seven tackle breaks, but that's his only score above 50 since Round 7.
Storm: Nelson Asofa-Solomona is out with a knee injury, replaced on the bench by Matt White. Tohu Harris bounced back into scoring form with 67 last week and is just one game away from becoming available at half in Fantasy after again being named at five-eighth.
Warriors v Titans
Warriors: After being relegated to the bench last week, Tui Lolohea is back in the Warriors starting side but only on the wing… he looks like a sell in Fantasy unless he gets that fullback spot back soon. Nathanial Roache is into the side at fullback this week, while Jonathan Wright drops out. Bodene Thompson was the player of the round last week and remains the Warriors' best Fantasy scorer, although he, Simon Mannering and Shaun Johnson have all been great in recent weeks.
Titans: Will Zillman is back while Nathan Davis is out with a season-ending ankle injury. Ryan James is the most expensive player in Fantasy right now and ranks fourth in terms of price rises this season. He's about to hit $600,000 in value but it's hard to argue he's overpriced.
Wests Tigers v Panthers
Wests Tigers: Robbie Farah is back, again named on the bench. James Tedesco has dropped $75,000 on his starting price and is good value at $407,000, although he could potentially play his way into a NSW jumper with a big performance against Matt Moylan's Panthers – which would rule him out of the next two rounds (with the Tigers having a bye in Round 19).
Panthers: Sam McKendry returns from suspension on the Penrith bench. Tyrone Peachey is suddenly a point-of-difference option after being made available at centre in Fantasy, where his 42-point average makes him a strong scorer. Josh Mansour is a hold at the back, while Bryce Cartwright continues to impress in the halves and is a couple of weeks away from being made dual position as well.
Sharks v Eels
Sharks: Sosaia Feki returns from injury on the wing, with Ricky Leutele dropping back to the bench and Joseph Paulo 18th man. Andrew Fifita has averaged almost 73 points a game across his last five NRL appearances and is a great captaincy option.
Eels: Michael Jennings is back, replacing Vai Toutai, while Cody Nelson replaces the injured Kaysa Pritchard on the bench. Semi Radradra has been named so is worth holding for now.
Raiders v Knights
Raiders: Luke Bateman and Junior Paulo have been promoted to the starting pack this week with Sia Soliola and Paul Vaughan starting on the bench. Shaun Fensom is again nowhere to be seen and is a sell. Attacking weapons Joseph Leilua, Jarrod Croker, Jordan Rapana and Elliott Whithead could be set for big scores against the struggling Knights this week.
Knights: No changes for Newcastle this week, meaning cash cow Pauli Pauli remains out of the side. Former Raider Mitchell Barnett has been a surprise success story at Newcastle so far, playing big minutes and earning 75 Fantasy points last week.
Rabbitohs v Cowboys
Rabbitohs: Adam Reynolds is back, with Aaron Gray shifting to centre and Ed Murphy dropping out of the backline. Jack Gosiewski also returns on the bench. Sam Burgess almost carried the Rabbitohs to a win on his own last week with two late tries and 76 points. Cody Walker is in terrific form, averaging 58 in his past five games and 60 in his past three, and is now one of the elite winger/fullbacks in Fantasy after becoming a dual position player.
Cowboys: Ray Thompson comes into the side at five-eighth, with Rory Kostjasyn dropping back to the bench and Patrick Kaufusi out of the 17. With Kostjasyn used in the halves last week it looks like cheapie Jahrome Hughes may have played his one and only game of the season.
Sea Eagles v Dragons
Sea Eagles: No changes. Matt Parcell is expected back in Round 19, with Manly having the bye in Round 18. Tom Trbojevic is now a dual position player after his fourth game in the centres. Daly Cherry-Evans is back and again a keeper option in the halves.
Dragons: Tariq Sims re-joins the side on the bench. Jack de Belin is back in the starting side at lock but with a break even of 76 there's no need to rush him into your squad just yet if he's not there already.