Scout Report: Round 17 teams wrap
The injury and suspension news, key team changes and NRL Fantasy form guide heading into the 17th round of the 2017 Telstra Premiership season.
Eels: Base price cheapie Cameron King gets his chance at hooker with Kaysa Pritchard out for the season with a knee injury, with David Gower and Tepai Moeroa back in the side on the bench with Beau Scott out for the year with a biceps injury. Nathan Brown is still getting keeper-quality scores for now and is worth holding until at least after Round 18, while Clint Gutherson remains a keeper at wing/fullback after averaging 59 in his last three games. Corey Norman's price is on the way down and with a high break even he could be available for around $400,000 in a few weeks.
Bulldogs: James Graham (neck) is a surprise exclusion this week, along with Greg Eastwood (knee), while Brett Morris is back in place of Kerrod Holland and Francis Tualau and Matt Frawley join the bench. Graham's expected to miss a month with a nagging neck problem so is suddenly on the chopping block for Fantasy coaches. Adam Elliott is coming off his first price drop of the season and has a break even in the mid-40s. It's past sell-time for Matt Frawley who was dropped from the Dogs' 17 last week.
Titans: The return of Tyrone Roberts in the halves means cheapie Jamal Fogarty is out, while Chris McQueen returns and John Olive drops off the bench. Konrad Hurrell is in fine form with scores of 47, 45 and 66 in recent weeks, while Jarryd Hayne also grabbed a double last week on the way to 58 points. Jarrod Wallace has been consistent lately but he hasn't score more than 50 since Round 8 back in April.
Dragons: Front row gun Paul Vaughan is out for three to four weeks with a calf injury in a massive headache for coaches who have him. Jack de Belin and Euan Aitken are back, with Kurt Mann moving to halfback and Josh McCrone bumped to the bench. Josh Dugan was already a genuine keeper option at wing/fullback - and with a spot in just over two per cent of Fantasy teams he's a point of difference as well - but he's stepped up a gear with scores of 44, 53 and 79 lately. Cameron McInnes scored less than 40 for the first time all season against the Knights on Sunday but not much defending was required in that game so expect him to return to his usual tackle counts soon.
Broncos: Korbin Sims returns at prop this week with Joe Ofahengaue dropping out of the side. Ben Hunt scored 54 in 47 minutes last week but is once again named on the bench behind Kodi Nikorima who holds onto the starting halfback spot. Matt Gillett is coming off back-to-back 70s but he generally scores around 50 points a game, so not in the elite bracket occupied by the best Fantasy second-rowers.
Storm: All the big guns are back - Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk, Will Chambers, and, er, Joe Stimson. That means youngsters Curtis Scott, Jahrome Hughes, Brodie Croft, Brandon Smith and Mark Nicholls drop out despite impressing in recent weeks. Melbourne have a lot of Fantasy guns this season but Cameron Munster is suddenly in contention for a Queensland Origin spot which could put his his Round 18 availability in question (and keep in mind the Storm miss Round 19 with their final bye).
Roosters: No changes for the Roosters this week, meaning Boyd Cordner will spend another week out of the side with a calf injury. Mitchell Pearce has reeled off three straight scores in the 60s, but overall points coaches will need to be patient before snapping him up considering he'll miss Round 18 and 19.
Sharks: Fa'amanu Brown is the last hooker left standing at Cronulla and takes the No.9 jersey this week with Jayden Brailey out with a broken jaw and Daniel Mortimer having left the club for the Super League. Joseph Paulo is the new bench utility. Brown is dirt cheap for a starting hooker and will be a cash cow, but is only worth getting if you're not running out of trades (and it's also worth noting he's only available at half at this stage). Paul Gallen scored under 50 on the weekend for the first time since Round 3, but considering his season-low score is 47 he remains a great captaincy option. After a couple of solid but unspectacular scores in the 40s Andrew Fifita's massive price tag is starting to fall and he looms as a good pickup after Origin III.
Sea Eagles: Curtis Sironen is out for a couple of months with a pec injury, with Lewis Brown finally set to earn some Fantasy points with a starting spot in the back row and Cameron Cullen joining the bench. Tom Trbojevic hasn't quite fired since returning from injury although he played better than his 31 points suggested against Cronulla. It's a sign of how good Martin Taupau has been this season that his owners could be justifiably disappointed that he scored "only" 50 on the weekend.
Warriors: Issac Luke is out after dislocating his shoulder last week with Nathaniel Roache starting at hooker, while Kieran Foran's return means Ata Hingano moves back to the bench and Bunty Afoa gets a run on the bench for Sam Lisone. Simon Mannering remains one of NRL Fantasy's very best, scoring 80 on the weekend on the back of 61 tackles, while Shaun Johnson's superb Fantasy haul this season continued with a 65. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is looking more and more like a genuine keeper with a run of scores above 40, while Bodene Thompson has made two of this three best scores of the season in the Warriors' last two games.
Raiders: Dave Taylor has been named on the bench in place of Clay Priest, while Sia Soliola swaps places with Luke Bateman and is set to start at lock. Not much to be said for Canberra's Fantasy prospects these days except that Jordan Rapana's price tag is up to $536,000 - a staggering value for a winger.
Cowboys: New signing Te Maire Martin slots into the five-eighth role this week, bumping Kyle Laybutt out of the 17. He's not particularly cheap at $345,000 so unless you bank on him becoming a keeper he's not really worth buying. Jason Taumalolo continues to be a wrecking ball in the middle with 80 and 74 in the last fortnight and he's currently edging Cameron Smith as the best scorer in Fantasy.
Knights: Jamie Buhrer and Joe Wardle are back from injury, albeit only on the interchange at this stage, with Luke Yates out with a shoulder injury and Sam Mataora bumped from the bench. Dane Gagai has moved back to right centre in bad news for his Fantasy prospects, although he did still make a solid 35 against the Dragons, while Nathan Ross blitzed a hat-trick on the way to 73 points.
Wests Tigers: James Tedesco is back in a massive boost for the Tigers and Fantasy coaches alike, with Malakai Watene-Zelezniak dropping out. It took eight rounds for Aaron Woods to hit a 50 this year but he's back to his best since the Origin period began, reeling off scores of 54, 55 and 72 in recent weeks. Tui Lolohea has settled into scores in the mid-30s - so not keeper-worthy - while after a couple of big scores Elijah Taylor is back to his old ways of scoring almost exclusively through tackles with 39 tackles for 39 points last week.
Rabbitohs: Sam Burgess is back in some welcome news for Fantasy coaches, along with Aaron Gray and Dave Tyrrell, while Hymel Hunt has a thumb injury, George Burgess goes back to the bench and Kyle Turner drops out of the side. Tyrell Fuimaono played the full 80 last start for 58 points but it remains to been seen if he keeps that game time up with Sam Burgess back in the side. After an incredible run of try-scoring form, Angus Crichton will almost certainly take his value past $600,000 next week.
Panthers: No changes for Penrith. Dylan Edwards and Josh Mansour have both solidified their spots as Fantasy keepers with huge ball-running performances for the Panthers against North Queensland last week, while Nathan Cleary is back to form after his mid-season slump with a season-high 77.