2018 NRL Fantasy guide: Panthers

One of the most exciting young teams in the league, the Penrith Panthers are still aiming to break into the NRL's top flight after a mixed 2017. Matt Moylan has gone, but the arrival of James Maloney means they're still packed with attacking talent, and young No.7 Nathan Cleary has already established himself as an elite NRL Fantasy half. Bryce Cartwright will start the Telstra Premiership at a great Fantasy price after a quiet campaign last season and forwards Trent Merrin and James Tamou could be set for big seasons.

Fantasy gun: Nathan Cleary

Penrith's young halfback has made a rapid transition from NRL Fantasy cash cow to genuine star, scoring more than 55 points a game last season. His terrific kicking game is his main strength but he's also a solid defender and has an eye for a try, making him capable of producing the occasional massive score – like his record-breaking 126 against the Warriors in round 19. He's not cheap, but he's worth it.

James Fisher-Harris

The 22-year-old New Zealander has made an impact in his first couple of seasons in the top grade but could break into the starting side with fellow second-rower Corey Harawira coming off shoulder surgery and Bryce Cartwright having left the club for the Titans. Fisher-Harris averaged just 20 points from around 40 minutes a game last season, so he starts cheap in 2018 but an increased role would see those numbers climb. Beware he did have seven scores below 20 and none above 40 last season so if he remains on the bench more mediocre scores could be in store from him.

Penrith Panthers prop James Tamou takes on the Broncos defence.
Penrith Panthers prop James Tamou takes on the Broncos defence. ©NRL Photos

Wildcard: James Tamou

It's fair to say Tamou's first season as a Panther was a little underwhelming, with the former Kangaroos prop not quite producing the headline-grabbing performances that many expected. Still, he was a solid contributor with 41 NRL Fantasy points per game, including the occasional big effort (he managed two 60s and a 70 last season). Now comfortable at Penrith with a year under his belt at the club, Tamou could be set to return to the form that made him a Kangaroo in the first place.

2018 NRL Fantasy player prices

Nathan Cleary: HLF, $818,000

Dylan Edwards: WFB, $670,000

Trent Merrin: 2RF, $654,000

Josh Mansour: WFB, $631,000

Isaah Yeo: 2RF, $630,000

Corey Harawira-Naera: 2RF, $615,000

James Tamou: FRF, $613,000

Peter Wallace: HOK, $585,000

Reagan Campbell-Gillard: FRF, $539,000

Tyrone Peachey: 2RF, CTR, $503,000

Waqa Blake: CTR, $465,000

Dallin Watene Zelezniak: WFB, $464,000

Tyrone May: HLF, 2RF, $448,000

James Maloney: HLF, $405,000

Tim Browne: FRF, $341,000

James Fisher-Harris: 2RF, $296,000

Dean Whare: CTR, WFB, $287,000

Tyrone Phillips: WFB, $228,000

Sione Katoa: HOK, 2RF, $228,000

Viliame Kikau: FRF, $228,000

Moses Leota: FRF, $228,000

Sam McKendry: FRF, $212,000

Kaide Ellis: 2RF, $212,000

Jed Cartwright: 2RF, $212,000

Corey Waddell: 2RF, $212,000

Jarome Luai: HLF, $212,000

*2018 salary cap: 9.4m. Fantasy squad size: 21