Scout Report: Round 14 teams wrap
The injury news, team changes and NRL Fantasy form guide for Round 14 of the Telstra Premiership from NRL.com's Lone Scout.
Sharks: Cronulla's State of Origin stars are back this week while James Segeyaro could be set for a return after being included on the extended bench. Andrew Fifita has been in superb form for club and state, dominating Origin I for the Blues up front and averaging close to 72 Fantasy points in his last three games for the Sharks. He's a great buy for head-to-head, while Paul Gallen remains an excellent buy for overall points considering the Sharks have one bye out of the way and they play in Round 15. Valentine Holmes is hitting some consistent 40+ scores at fullback while Jayden Brailey's price continues to rise with some solid scores of his own.
Storm: Cameron Smith is back, with rookie hooker Brandon Smith dropping out of the 17 and Slade Griffin moving back to the bench. Jordan McLean and Tim Glasby switch spots between the bench and the front row. Smith's absence last week was a cruel blow to Fantasy coaches and prompted a few massive mid-year trade decisions for the best player in the game, while Billy Slater's superb 70 last week was good and bad news for his Fantasy owners - the score was great, but the performance pretty much guarantees he'll now play Origin II and III. Cameron Munster hit 54 last week and is a good option at half or WFB considering Melbourne play the next two bye rounds.
Sea Eagles: Jono Wright replaces Jorge Taufua (ACL) on the wing in Manly's only change. Just when you think Martin Taupau's scoring is starting to wane this season, he goes and smashes out a 79 (including a try). Jake Trbojevic is still averaging 60 in his last three despite a 38 last round, while Tom Trbojevic looms as a popular buy in the outside backs in the coming weeks. Daly Cherry-Evans scored a try, had a try assist and kicked the match-winning field goal on the weekend and still only managed 52 - a good score no doubt but not the kind of monster score he's been capable of producing in the past.
Knights: Not much going the Knights' way of late, with cash cow Sam Stone having peaked in price and now out of the side and Sione Mata'utia struggling to produce consistent scores. Mitchell Barnett is named to start after this week's pack reshuffle. Dane Gagai was one of Queensland's few bright spots in Origin I and scored 49 in a beaten side for Newcastle last week. He's a point of difference option at centre (and he's due to get DPP status as a winger/fullback as well next week).
Broncos: Anthony Milford and Kodi Nikorima are back in the 17 this week with Benji Marshall and Jayden Su'A dropping out. Nikorima is a sell considering he's likely to spend the rest of the season on the bench with Milford, Ben Hunt and now Marshall ahead of him in the pecking order in the halves. Hunt is a cut-price keeper option at half at $423,000, while James Roberts hasn't scored less than 40 since Round 8 and is proving to be one of the few consistent centres available this season.
Rabbitohs: Cash cow Tyrell Fuimaono drops back to the bench this week with Bryson Goodwin returning at centre, while Robbie Rochow is out of the top 17. Angus Crichton's price tag has shot up to $528,000 and he's well on track for keeper status, while Adam Reynolds' price could drop to around $400,000 after scoring in the low 30s in three of his past four games. George Burgess holds his starting spot in the front row where he scored 40 at last start - he's now got a price tag of just $235,000 and a break even of 14 so is undervalued, but he has a long way to go to get back to keeper status.
Titans: Nathan Peats is back but the bigger news for Fantasy coaches is the return of Jarryd Hayne to his favoured fullback position, which should see an improvement in his scores. Hayne has scored 13, 20 and 8 in his past three games at centre and he'll surely earn some better scores with a bigger role in the Titans' attack. Another bonus: after playing four games at centre Hayne's now a dual position player as well. Will Zillman joins the starting side on the wing this week with Tyrone Roberts the bench utility. Prop Jarrod Wallace remains a borderline keeper after last week's 50 so there's no rush to trade him out yet.
Warriors: James Gavet is out this week, Bunty Afoia joins the bench and Jacob Lillyman starts at prop. Shaun Johnson is coming off his worst performance of the season (and his only sub-40 score this year) but Simon Mannering just keeps getting better, smashing out 74 in 73 minutes against the Eels including a try. Bodene Thompson is a sell with just two scores above 50 in 13 games this season.
Panthers: Penrith are unchanged, as you'd expect. Sunday's thumping win over the Bulldogs could be a turning point for the Panthers and their Fantasy prospects as well, with Trent Merrin looking more and more like a genuine gun (averaging 65 in the last three weeks) while Nathan Cleary and Josh Mansour are also looking like keepers again and Dylan Edwards ($242,000, average 43) continuing his promising start to his Fantasy career at the back.
Raiders: Canberra have lost Shannon Boyd and Dunamis Lui to injuries with Luke Bateman returning to the starting side and debutant Royce Hunt (FRF/2RF, $138,000) named on the bench. Jordan Rapana is in incredible form after reeling off scores of 86 and 93 in the last fortnight, and things are looking up for Joey Leilua as well after last week's 44. Josh Papalii remains a keeper despite last week's 32 (although his break even is now around 70), while Elliott Whitehead continues to score more 40s than 50s and may be worth upgrading in the long run.
Eels: Tim Mannah and Nathan Davis start for injured duo David Gower and Josh Hoffman, while Corey Norman has been given some chance of returning after being included in the reserves. Semi Radradra is proving a more than useful mid-season buy after scores of 54, 41 and 55, while Clint Gutherson continues to score well after last week's 67 and on current form could hold a spot in the spine at fullback when Corey Norman returns from injury.
Cowboys: Justin O'Neill returns at centre while Kyle Laybutt has been named to debut in the halves, although with Johnathan Thurston included on an extended bench Laybutt might not get much time in the top grade. With Kalyn Ponga out of the side and Coen Hess struggling to make 40 even when he gets the occasional bullocking close-range try, Jason Taumalolo is the only truly Fantasy-relevant player at the Cowboys these days with a staggering average of 63 points a game.
Wests Tigers: Chris Lawrence is out with a hamstring injury and Sauaso Sue starts in the back row. Tui Lolohea made a strong start to life as a Tiger, Fantasy-wise at least, with 54 in his first game for the club, getting through 28 tackles, 129 kick metres and five tackle breaks - all season-highs for the former Warrior. Fullback James Tedesco is back to his brilliant best after a fantastic couple of performances for the Blues and Tigers last week.
Roosters: Halfback Mitchell Pearce is back, bumping Connor Watson to the bench and Zane Tetevano out of the side. Jake Friend has been outstanding in the absence of Pearce in the last couple of weeks, like he was at the start of last season, but don't expect him to keep up those massive numbers with Pearce back in the side.
Bulldogs: The cavalry has returned in the form of James Graham, Brett Morris, Josh Reynolds and Chase Stanley, bumping Matt Frawley and Sam Kasiano back to their old bench roles and Kerrod Holland, Craig Garvey and Francis Tualau out of the side. Adam Elliott's bid to become a Fantasy keeper took quite a hit on Sunday with just 27 points in 80 minutes as the Dogs were routed by Penrith, although in fairness no Bulldog scored well last week.
Dragons: Unchanged. Josh Dugan is in just 2 per cent of Fantasy teams so is a quality point-of-difference option at the back. Paul Vaughan, Cameron McInnes, Jack de Belin and probably Tim Lafai are the other keepers at the Dragons, and if Gareth Widdop can maintain his excellent form he'll join them.