A closer look at some of the key recent NRL Fantasy performances, and what they mean for your planned trades and captaincy options for the upcoming round.
Finding your point of difference
As every coach looks to finish with their "perfect" side, more teams are taking on a familiar feel. For those NRL Fantasy coaches who are either restricted by their budget or are looking to take a risk in the hopes of a big finish to the season, here are some in-form options to consider.
Mitch Moses (HLF, $380,000): With Luke Brooks injured and Robbie Farah playing reserve grade, Moses has taken the reins at the Tigers and has flourished in recent weeks. Scores of 70 and 71 in his past two starts show his attacking potential, with a boost in kick metres and goal-kicking duties helping his cause. The Tigers' last four opponents of the season (Titans, Panthers, Warriors, Raiders) doesn't exactly make for an easy run home, but Moses is the creative heartbeat of this outfit and is at a budget-friendly price for a player capable of scoring in the 70s.
Boyd Cordner (2RF, $450,000): With a last-three average of 65.3 and impressive form since his return from injury in Round 18, Cordner is one to monitor. A try, line break and score of 71 in each of his last two starts shows he's not just a workhorse in defence but can pick up points in attack. Currently in just under 1,500 sides, Cordner won't have it all his own way against the Cowboys in Round 23 but will be out to prove a point in the Tricolours' final four fixtures of 2016.
Josh Hodgson (HOK, $422,000): You probably (read: should) have Smith as your hooker of choice, but Hodgson is definitely one to look at as your bench dummy-half. The Raiders rake is playing 80 minutes (or close to it) each week despite the presence of Adam Clydsdale on the Canberra interchange, and an explosive 89 against the Sharks shows what he's capable of on his day. A match against Melbourne and Cameron Smith in Round 23 should provide Hodgson with the perfect platform to go big yet again.
Ethan Lowe (2RF, $407,000): After starting the season with an impressive 85, Lowe's scores dropped away considerably, with 23 in 80 minutes against the Raiders in Round 18 the low point. But the North Queensland back-rower has turned things around in a big way, with a last-three average of 69. With 40 tackles, three tackle breaks, 91 metres, a line break and a try against the Tigers, Lowe showed a good mix of attacking and base stats that should interest those looking to roll the dice.
Round 23 captain options
It's hard to look past Cameron Smith every week (especially this week), but like those who opted to hand Jack de Belin captaincy duties in Round 22 will tell you, sometimes it pays off to be smart with your skipper.
Cameron Smith (HOK, $529,000): It would be risky to overlook Smith as your captain this week (as is the case generally anyway). He averages 71 in his past five against the Raiders, and scored 71 in his last game at GIO Stadium… What's not to like?
James Graham (FRF, $445,000): Finished with a season-low 39 against the Knights, but Graham should hit back against a tough Sea Eagles pack. The Canterbury-Bankstown skipper averages just under 60 against Manly, scoring 69 against Trent Barrett's side in Round 1 this season.
Josh Mansour (WFB, $486,000): Like a risk? How about captaining a winger who scored 20 in his last start? You'd expect the Panthers tackle-bust machine to return to form against the Knights, a side he averages 47 against. Doesn't mind the trip to Hunter Stadium either, having scored 81 there in a past fixture.
Johnathan Thurston (HLF, $424,000): Scores of 33 in 47 minutes against the Bulldogs and 36 in his return game against the Tigers isn't exactly the most promising Fantasy form line, but Thurston is every chance of scoring well against the Roosters. Averages just under 50 against the Tricolours, and it wasn't too long ago that Thurston put the Rabbitohs to the sword with 87 in Round 17. Risky, but could be worth a punt.
Top scores in Round 22
Josh Hodgson (HOK, $422,000): 89
David Nofoaluma (WFB, $417,000): 86
Nathan Cleary (HLF, $428,000): 85
Jack de Belin (2RF/FRF, $495,000): 81
Ryan James (FRF/2RF, $497,000): 76
Bottom scores in Round 22
Zak Hardaker (WFB, $166,000): -3
Elijah Taylor (2RF, $371,000): 6
Valentine Holmes (WFB, $290,000): 7
Kurt Mann (WFB/HLF, $308,000): 7
Lachlan Coote (WFB, $225,000): 8
Top Round 22 price increases
Taane Milne (CTR, $238,000): +$41,000
Mitchell Moses (HLF, $380,000): +$41,000
Konrad Hurrell (CTR, $287,000): +$38,000
Josh Hodgson (HOK, $422,000): +$36,000
Nathan Cleary (HLF, $428,000): +$35,000
Top Round 22 price decreases
Adam Clydsdale (HOK, $209,000): -$41,000
Gavin Cooper (2RF, $313,000): -$31,000
Hymel Hunt (WFB/CTR, $248,000): -$29,000
Michael Morgan (HLF, $325,000): -$27,000
Elijah Taylor (2RF, $371,000): -$27,000