Scout Report: Round 18 teams wrap
The final major bye round of the season is here, and NRL.com's Lone Scout has all the big NRL Fantasy talking points from the Round 18 line-ups.
Roosters: Mitchell Aubusson is back in the centres again for the reshuffled Roosters, with Connor Watson, Zane Tetevano and Isaac Liu into the starting side and Sio Siua Taukeiaho, Lindsay Collins and Mitch Cornish joining the bench. Ryan Matterson has made the most of his starting spot in the back row in recent weeks, averaging 56 in his last three games and getting dual position status as a HLF/2RF. Jake Friend has been in great form recently, scoring 82, 70, 67 and 56 in his last four completed matches (excluding his injury-affected zero in Round 14) and is an affordable back-up hooker option at $468,000.
Rabbitohs: No changes this week. Angus Crichton continues to dominate on the right edge for the Rabbitohs and is a great vice captaincy option this week considering Souths play first (if he scores big, sub your captain out of your 17, get Crichton's score doubled and your initial captain becomes your auto emergency). Adam Reynolds was terrific last week and has emerged as a keeper option in the halves at $400,000, while Cody Walker is also in good form. Tyrell Fuimaono doesn't look like an 80-minute back-rower long term but is still a handy scorer in the centres in Fantasy.
Panthers: Mitch Rein returns at hooker and Tyrone Peachey starts at centre with Dean Whare (broken jaw, four weeks) out of the side and Sione Katoa moving back to the bench. Josh Mansour is coming off his first quiet game of the season after being effectively shut down by the Rabbitohs but Dylan Edwards is still soaring with a season average of 55, while Nathan Cleary managed 46 last week despite losing 12 points through missed tackles and a penalty.
Sea Eagles: Lewis Brown is having minor cleanout surgery on his knee and will miss the next two weeks, making him a no-go as a cashout option this week. Jake Trbojevic is also out due to Origin duty, with Jarrad Kennedy and Darcy Lussick starting and Cameron Cullen and Shaun Lane joining the bench. Martin Taupau was a hugely popular buy last week and promptly produced his worst score of the year, a 32, but he remains a viable captaincy option this week against a Panthers side that was routed by the Bunnies in Round 17. Daly Cherry-Evans has a point to prove after being left out of the Maroons side and while he's in great form he needs to keep that up to continue hitting 50s, considering his base stats (ie. kick metres) are way down of late. Tom Trbojevic is coming off a 57 - his first good score since returning from injury - and is a good option at centre or wing/fullback for the run home.
Storm: Plenty of changes at Melbourne as expected with the Origin guns out of action. Jahrome Hughes, Ryley Jacks, Brodie Croft and Slade Griffin is the new Storm spine while Cheyse Blair returns from injury at centre and Nate Myles is set for his club debut from the bench. Cameron Munster's selection in the Queensland side is a blow for Fantasy coaches who picked him up in recent weeks for bye round cover, but then again his scores have been so good lately that he's been well worth it anyway. Curtis Scott is in sensational form in the centres and could be a keeper - but he faces competition from Blair to partner Will Chambers in the centres long-term.
Eels: Tepai Moeroa starts with Kenny Edwards bumped to the bench in Parramatta's only change. Nathan Brown is a captaincy option after piling on 65 points in 82 minutes at lock last round - his third 80-minute effort in his past four games. Mitchell Moses has been outscoring Corey Norman recently in the halves.
Bulldogs: Kerrod Holland, Asipeli Fine and Andy Saunders join the Bulldogs' 17 this week with Brett Morris, Josh Jackson and David Klemmer in Blues camp. Aiden Tolman scored 71 in an 80-minute effort last week with no James Graham in the side, but beware his minutes and scores will drop when Graham returns in about a month. Will Hopoate ran for a massive 329 run metres last week and is a borderline keeper at centre or winger/fullback.
Knights: With Dane Gagai on Queensland duty and Ken Sio and Josh Starling out, Chanel Mata'utia and Brendan Elliot start on the wings and Luke Yates returns from injury on the bench. Trent Hodkinson is again named alongside Jaelen Feeney in the halves and Jamie Buhrer is again named on the bench, but don't be surprised if there are late changes to this line-up. Gagai was pushed out wide for Newcastle last week and still managed to score a whopping 84 points against the Tigers to push his season average past 41 points, while Nathan Ross managed his second good score at the back in as many weeks despite a few errors. Sione Mata'utia has quietly notched scores of 38 and 46 which are very solid for a Fantasy centre.