The Origin stars return while the Bulldogs, Cowboys, Raiders and Wests Tigers kick up their heels for the final bye round of the 2016 Telstra Premiership season.
Dragons v Titans
Dragons: Returning NSW forward Tyson Frizell has been named in the front row, with Jacob Host in the back row and Leeson Ah Mau on the bench. Kurt Mann replaces Tim Lafai at centre. Still no sign of Mike Cooper, who could theoretically take some minutes off fellow lock Jack de Belin when he returns. Josh Dugan is traditionally a Fantasy gun and is a straight swap option to replace Semi Radradra.
Titans: Ashley Taylor returns in place of Cameron Cullen at halfback, while David Mead and Konrad Hurrell join the backline, Chris McQueen returns to the pack, Agnatius Paasi shifts to the bench and Lachlan Burr and the injured Karl Lawton drop out. Ryan James has risen a massive $243,000 in value this season thanks to an average score approaching 62 points a game, but unless he can top 80 this week he's due a few price drops.
Sea Eagles v Warriors
Sea Eagles: With Brett Stewart out for six weeks with a knee injury and Dylan Walker to miss a month after punching a door, and Matt Parcell not quite back from a hamstring injury, Lewis Brown and Matt Wright start in the centres with rookie Bradley Parker named on the wing. Jake Trbojevic owners would love to see the lock go back to 80 minutes after playing around 50 in his past couple of games.
Warriors: Tui Lolohea is back to the Warriors bench (and is a sell) with Manu Vatuvei returning on the wing. Ryan Hoffman is back in the second row, with Simon Mannering returning to lock and Charlie Gubb moving to the bench, while Ben Matulino replaces Albert Vete in the front row. Bodene Thompson is owned by less than 4500 Fantasy teams (that's just over 4 per cent of teams) despite averaging a superb 58.9 points per game this season. Even without the goal-kicking duties in recent weeks Shaun Johnson is averaging 70 points across his past three games.
Rabbitohs v Broncos
Rabbitohs: George Burgess is back on the bench in a welcome boost for the Bunnies. Nathan Brown has been a surprise performer for Souths, coming off the back of scores of 53, 57 and 59. Cody Walker's great run of form came to a bit of a halt with a last-start 21, but he remains a quality option at winger/fullback.
Broncos: Jordan Kahu and Sam Thaiday both return for Brisbane this week, with Lachlan Maranta and cheapie Jaydn Su'A dropping out. Andrew McCullough played the full 80 minutes in Round 17 – the first time that's happened since Round 1 – and at $332,000 he's a whopping $167,000 cheaper than he was at the start of the year. He's a good value option if you're looking to bring in a back-up hooker.
Knights v Storm
Knights: Jarrod Mullen is back in a welcome bit of good news for the Knights, replacing Jack Cogger in the halves, while Danny Levi replaces the injured Tyler Randell at hooker. Newcastle's best Fantasy performer this season has been new recruit Mitch Barnett, who has averaged 50 across his three games at the club so far and is well priced at $284,000 if you're hunting for a cut-price potential keeper.
Storm: Felise Kaufusi replaces Jordan McLean at prop, while Matt White joins the bench, but the big news is the continued absence of fullback Cameron Munster. Craig Bellamy has hinted that Maroons stars Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk will get some kind of rest this week, either at training or during the game on Sunday. They should play, but don't be surprised to see either one of them spending time on the bench if Melbourne have the game in the bag.
Panthers v Eels
Panthers: Origin duo Matt Moylan and Josh Mansour return, along with Tyrone Peachey who has been named on the bench. Bryce Cartwright is now a dual-position second-rower/half after making the five-eighth role at Penrith his own, Josh Mansour is in super form and Trent Merrin is back to being a top-level gun after a fairly quiet start to the season at his new club.
Eels: Clint Gutherson has been bumped to the wing to cover for the injured Semi Radradra (knee, six weeks) with Michael Jennings and Brad Takairangi in the centres, Manu Ma'u returning to the pack and Kenny Edwards shifting to the bench. Michael Gordon's been scoring reasonably well of late but news that Parramatta are keen to bring back Jarryd Hayne could soon spell the end of Gordon's value as a Fantasy player.
Roosters v Sharks
Roosters: Ryan Matterson replaces Jackson Hastings at five-eighth, while Origin duo Blake Ferguson and Aidan Guerra have been left out – although with the Roosters playing on Monday night Ferguson at least must a be a good chance to back up, which would mean Joseph Manu would drop off the wing. Boyd Cordner and Mitchell Pearce haven't been able to revive the Roosters' season but they have been the club's best Fantasy performers recently with scores in the mid-50s. Jake Friend is playing the full 80 minutes and making about 50 tackles a game but a lack of output in attack means he hasn't produced a genuinely big score since Round 10. Latrell Mitchell's 73 last week will hold off the axe for Fantasy coaches who have him.
Sharks: The cavalry returns in the form of Paul Gallen, Andrew Fifita, Wade Graham, Jack Bird and James Maloney, with Gallen and especially Fifita both elite Fantasy scorers. As I've been saying for a while, Ben Barba is a probable keeper – even when he doesn't score a couple of tries like he did last week. Five of Cronulla's next seven opponents are bottom-eight sides, so Barba should get his fair share of attacking chances in the run home.