Fantasy by the Numbers: Round 25
Take 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 penultimate round of the regular season.
Popular picks out of form
A few Fantasy favourites haven't been at their best in recent weeks, proving costly in many head-to-head finals. But is it worth shipping them out with just two rounds remaining?
Jesse Bromwich (FRF, $394,000): In just over 26 per cent of Fantasy sides, Bromwich's last two scores of 37 and 39 have been somewhat worrying. While his tackle count has been consistent (30 tackles in each of his past three games), he's seen a drop in his metres and an increase in errors and missed tackles. He did score 57 in 64 minutes in Round 22, but needs a boost in his minutes (53 and 51 in his last two starts) to return to his scores from earlier in the season. However, the Kiwis captain does average 51.3 against the Broncos and 48.7 at AAMI Park, so a score closer to 50 could be on the cards this week.
Shaun Johnson (HLF, $445,000): The form half of NRL Fantasy for much of the season, Johnson's scores have taken a hit in the last three weeks. Returns of 40 (v Titans), 31 (v Rabbitohs) and 34 (v Cowboys) weren't anything to get too excited about, but two home clashes coming up against the Tigers and Eels look favourable. Johnson averages 61.8 from his last four against the Tigers, while he scored 75 in his last start against the Eels. He also averages just under 54 at Mt Smart Stadium. Keep the faith.
Ben Barba (WFB/HLF, $407,000): In 61,351 sides, Barba remains the most popular player in NRL Fantasy and relies heavily on attacking plays for points. Matches against a rejuvenated Roosters outfit and the Storm in Melbourne don't look favourable for the man who scored 21 against the Rabbitohs in Round 24, and it could be time to move the Sharks fullback on. Having said that, Barba did score 41 and 55 against the Roosters and Storm respectively earlier this season, and could still add to his tally of 14 tries and 17 try assists so far in 2016.
Your grand final captain
For many head-to-head finals, this is the week your premier will be decided. Who's going to lead your side into the decider (and claim that precious double score)? Options to consider below.
Cameron Smith (HOK, $538,000): Averages 63.4 against the Broncos, 65.7 at AAMI Park, and is Cameron Smith. You know what to do.
Sam Burgess (2RF/FRF, $477,000): Hit 69 against the Sharks and scored 61 against the Knights in a dominant showing in Round 2 this year. If you're backing the Souths lock to pick up some attacking points to go along with his usual workload, Burgess could be your man.
Andrew Fifita (FRF, $536,000): Needs to have a big game against a Roosters pack that have rediscovered their confidence. An average of 60.6 at Remondis Stadium makes Fifita a tempting alternative to Smith.
Cody Walker (HLF/WFB, $424,000): If Walker can score 81 against the Sharks, he's every chance of repeating that feat against a Knights outfit who have conceded 738 points in 2016. Scored 60 in his one and only game against Newcastle back in Round 2.
Simon Mannering (2RF, $524,000): Tackled everything that moved at 1300SMILES Stadium last week, finishing with 69 tackles, 70 run metres and a try save for 81 points. He's only bettered that score once this season, 83 against Wests Tigers in Round 1, the very side that travel to Mt Smart Stadium to face Mannering's Warriors this week.
Damien Cook (HOK, $299,000): In just 1,303 teams (or just over one per cent of sides), it's unlikely you own Cook and even less likely you'd be looking to captain the Rabbitohs No.9. That being said, he did score 75 against the Knights at Hunter Stadium last season during his time with the Bulldogs and is finally playing 80 minutes at South Sydney. A high defensive workrate coupled with his explosive pace out of dummy-half could mean Cook is in line for a bumper afternoon at Hunter Stadium on Sunday.
Top scores in Round 24
Cameron Smith (HOK, $538,000): 86
Blake Ferguson (WFB/CTR, $346,000): 85
Dane Gagai (CTR/WFB, $281,000): 85
Suliasi Vunivalu (WFB, $226,000): 82
Simon Mannering (2RF, $524,000): 81
Bottom scores in Round 24
Ken Maumalo (CTR/WFB, $176,000): 3
Marika Koroibete (WFB, $292,000): 4
Vai Toutai (WFB/CTR, $194,000): 7
Kevin Naiqama (WFB/CTR, $277,000): 9
Kurt Mann (WFB/HLF, $256,000): 9
Top Round 24 price increases
Blake Ferguson (WFB/CTR, $346,000): +$49,000
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (WFB, $266,000): +$34,000
David Nofoaluma (WFB, $491,000): +$30,000
Daniel Tupou (WFB, $335,000): +$29,000
Aaron Gray (CTR/WFB, $267,000): +$29,000
Top Round 24 price decreases
Shaun Johnson (HLF, $445,000): -$35,000
Kurt Mann (WFB/HLF, $256,000): -$32,000
Marika Koroibete (WFB, $292,000): -$32,000
Jarryd Hayne (WFB, $321,000): -$29,000
Blake Ayshford (CTR, $189,000): -$29,000