Grand Final Fantasy Preview
The team lists are in for the biggest game of the 2017 NRL Telstra Premiership season and it's time to pick your six-man line-up for the final week of NRL Fantasy Finals Match Day.
Both teams are unchanged but predicting the right Fantasy combination for a one-off contest is notoriously tricky. Here are the stats behind all the key players for Sunday night's blockbuster between the dominant Storm and in-form underdogs the Cowboys.
Cameron Smith is the standout, obviously. Jake Granville is a quality player capable of producing big attacking performances, but Smith plays 80 minutes, makes a lot of tackles, kicks goals and 40/20s, lays on tries, and is the best Fantasy player alive. In saying that, these two have only faced off once this season in Round 22, and on that occasion Granville outscored Smith 56 to 53.
Still, Smith's 62-point average stacks up well against Granville's 35 and the Melbourne skipper has a knack of stepping up for the big games, so only go for Granville if you're chasing the pack in your Match Day league and need to take a gamble.
Felise Kaufusi and Scott Bolton have been the leading candidates from both sides this season and both are in good form too, with Kaufusi hitting a game-high 68 against the Broncos last week and Bolton making 60 against the Roosters. They're the only two players available at prop who have averaged better than 40 this season, and they're both averaging in the mid-50s in the finals, so the simplest option is to pick the one you expect to finish on the winning side on Sunday. Otherwise, Jesse Bromwich made 61 against the Cowboys in Round 15 in one of his few big Fantasy performances of the year. Matt Scott is in the Cowboys' extended squad again but is long odds to take the field.
Are you brave enough to ignore Jason Taumalolo? The Cowboys wrecking ball is averaging a massive 73 in the finals and scored 80 against the Storm in Round 15, and is Smith's obvious rival for the Fantasy Match Day captaincy in this one. Elsewhere, Ethan Lowe is kicking goals like Thurston and could get the edge over his teammate if the Storm manage to contain Taumalolo, while Melbourne's Tohu Harris made 62 in that Round 15 clash and is averaging 54 in the finals.
It's all about Michael Morgan here, with the halfback scoring a staggering 69 Fantasy points a game throughout the Cowboys' unlikely finals charge, including 71 last week. Tackle-busting Storm five-eighth Cameron Munster is his nearest rival and could thrive if the Storm get a big win (although Munster is also available at WFB) with Cooper Cronk not a major Fantasy factor in 2017.
It's a wide open race in the outside backs, with Cowboy Kane Linnett the in-form option with 47 points per game in the finals - 20 above his regular-season average - while Mebourne's Will Chambers has been a reliable mid-30s scorer all year. Young gun Curtis Scott made an impressive 41 points per game in the regular season but his average has dropped below 30 in finals footy, while Justin O'Neill has had a quiet season with just the one try but has scored in grand finals for the Cowboys and Storm in the past. It's a bit of a lottery in this position.
This choice really depends on which team you expect to win - you want to pick up a try-scorer here and can afford to gamble. Josh Addo-Carr scored twice against the Cowboys in Round 22 for 60 points, and he and rival winger Kyle Feldt are both averaging 43 in the finals. Cameron Munster is arguably the safest bet, having made 62 at fullback against North Queensland back in Round 15, although Billy Slater was injured in that game and could very well steal the show on the big stage on Sunday.