Scout Report: Round 5 teams wrap
The key team changes, injury and suspension news and NRL Fantasy form guide heading into Round 5 of the Telstra Premiership season.
Bulldogs: Moses Mbye is suspended this week for a shoulder charge, with Matt Frawley taking his place in the halves. Frawley is base price, but will almost certainly be gone in a week's time. James Graham scored a disappointing 36 in Round 4 but it was his first sub-50 effort of the year so he's a definite hold. Brad Abbey needs to produce a decent score or two to live up to his cash cow status.
Broncos: Unchanged. Andrew McCullough is in supreme Fantasy form with 60+ tackles in the past couple of weeks, and is actually the top-scoring player in the league so far, while Ben Hunt and Josh McGuire are also scoring like keepers. Cash cow Tautau Moga's price has just about peaked unless he can manage a big score on Thursday.
Roosters: Jake Friend returns from injury while Blake Ferguson has only made the extended bench, with Paul Carter bumped out of the 17 by Friend. Despite their on-field success the Roosters don't have any players averaging better than 50 points a game - but the closest is utility man and Fantasy trap Mitch Aubusson, who could actually be a decent buy this year. (I still won't be buying him.) Latrell Mitchell is probably the best bet for a keeper at the Roosters, despite see-sawing scores at centre.
Sea Eagles: Unchanged. Curtis Sironen lives to fight another day in a lot of Fantasy teams after conjuring 58 points last week, while Tom Trbojevic continues to impress while not quite hitting James Tedesco heights as a Fantasy fullback. Daly Cherry-Evans was brilliant last week with four try assists, but it's slightly concerning he "only" scored 61 in that match (by comparison, Corey Norman scored 54 in a losing Eels side, with 13 points from kick metres compared to DCE's 5).
Cowboys: How good is Coen Hess? The barnstorming back-rower was just about unstoppable in the second half last week with two tries that raked in the Fantasy points, and he's now earned a massive $153,000 in price rises from four games. But now he's back to the bench with Jason Taumalolo returning from suspension at lock, while Lachlan Coote returns from a calf injury to bump Kalyn Ponga out of the side. Hess played just 34 minutes off the bench in Round 1 and he could go back to that kind of game time - although his superb form since then (and the absence of Matt Scott) could mean his minutes increase.
Rabbitohs: Braidon Burns returns from suspension on the wing, replacing rookie Sitiveni Moceidreke. Cody Walker has been a gem in Fantasy so far this year, averaging 54 and available at half or winger/fullback. Siosifa Talakai and Zane Musgrove are still earning cash, while Robert Jennings needs a decent score to give his price a push along.
Sharks: Jayden Brailey holds onto the No.9 jersey for another week with James Segeyaro to again play off the bench, while Valentine Holmes has officially been named at fullback this week. Brailey is a hold and has another one or two price rises in him. Paul Gallen showed why he's an established Fantasy gun with a season-high 81 last round, while Jayden Brailey still has a very low break even so should earn another price rise this week. Andrew Fifita is a hold despite a relatively low 38 last week.
Knights: Brendan Elliot returns from concussion at fullback, with Sione Mata'utia returning to the back row in a reshuffled side and Luke Yates dropping back to the bench after copping a head knock last week. Brock Lamb has been named despite failing to train on Monday but Jaelen Feeney is on standby in the reserves. Sione Mata'utia is still a hold in my book despite a couple of low scores in the last fortnight - he is still a 40-point player in his usual role in the forward pack.
Raiders: Elliott Whitehead is out with a one-week suspension for tripping, Dave Taylor joins the Raiders bench with Sia Soliola moving into the starting pack. Josh Papalii and Jordan Rapana are both averaging more than 50 points a game this season, while Josh Hodgson is under an injury cloud and is probably a sell with a high break even this week (and with the likes of Andrew McCullough and Cameron McInnes posting big scores at hooker). Nick Cotric continues to earn cash.
Eels: Tepai Moeroa is back from suspension, bumping Frank Pritchard to the bench and David Gower out of the 17. Corey Norman and Clint Gutherson have been great Fantasy scorers and are both probably keepers (Norman at half, Gutherson at WFB). Suaia Matagi has just about peaked in price.
Storm: Jordan McLean returns from injury, with Christian Welch going back to the bench and Vincent Leuluai out of the side. Billy Slater has a break even of 7 after a couple of good scores in his return to the NRL, although he's a tricky price at $239,000. Cash cows Ryley Jacks and Felise Kaufusi are worth holding for another couple of weeks at least.
Panthers: Bryce Cartwright is again out with a foot injury, meaning cheapie Corey Harawira-Naera ($138,000) holds his spot in the starting side. He looks like a decent cash cow if he can get another decent score this week and then hold a bench spot when Cartwright and James Fisher-Harris return (beware Fisher-Harris is on the extended bench this week). Nathan Cleary bumped his average up past 50 with a dominant 74 against the Knights, while James Tamou is probably a sell after last week's 29.
Warriors: Kieran Foran missed Sunday's loss to the Dragons after suffering a hamstring injury in the warm-up but has been named to make his club debut this week, with Tuimoala Lolohea dropping out of the side and Nathaniel Roache replacing Bunty Afoa on the bench. Shaun Johnson continues to score well in Fantasy despite his team's poor on-field results, while gun back-rower Bodene Thompson has probably bottomed out in price at $409,000 after making 50 tackles last week. Hold onto Roger Tuivasa-Sheck even though he only managed 20 last week.
Titans: Agnatius Paasi is out with a shoulder injury, with new recruit Chris Grevsmuhl joining the bench and Leivaha Pulu starting at lock. Ryan James will play after successfully challenging a possible two-match ban for a shoulder charge at the judiciary on Tuesday night.
Wests Tigers: Jack Littlejohn replaces Luke Brooks at halfback, with Brooks picking up a hamstring injury on the weekend, while Jamal Idris gets his first start as a Tiger as Michael Chee Kam moves back to the bench. James Tedesco is being outscored by tackle-busting winger David Nofoaluma so far this year, with both averaging more than 50. Moses Suli could hit $100,000 in price rises in a couple of weeks.
Dragons: Unchanged. Paul Vaughan is the second-highest scorer in Fantasy a month into the season and could be this year's Ryan James, producing massive scores without needing big minutes. Josh Dugan hit 56 last week and could thrive if the Dragons keep winning games, while Cameron McInnes scored less than 50 for the first time this season after being given a brief stint on the bencha against the Warriors.