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2018 NRL Fantasy guide: Knights

The three-time wooden-spooners are full of optimism after a terrific recruiting drive, with a combination of young talent and experienced veterans joining the club along with the blockbuster signing of Mitchell Pearce. The Knights already had a few strong NRL Fantasy options in the form of young guns Lachlan Fitzgibbon and Mitch Barnett, but now look like a crucial club for coaches hunting for a bargain.

Mitchell Pearce on life as a Knight

Fantasy gun: Mitchell Pearce

While Pearce's move to Newcastle is great news for the Knights it's also good news for NRL Fantasy coaches, with Pearce one of the elite Fantasy halves in 2017. Had he moved to the Sea Eagles he and Daly Cherry-Evans may have split the playmaking duties and effectively cancelled each other out as genuine NRL Fantasy options, but instead Pearce could take on even more responsibility at the Knights after already dominating at the star-studded Roosters. Pearce ranked second in the league for kick metres last season and first for line-break assists, and while his former half partner Luke Keary did some kicking in general play his new likely partner Connor Watson did barely any – registering just 65 kick metres for the season (coming in one of two starts at five-eighth). That suggests Pearce should cash in on kick metre points along with his usual steady numbers for run metres, tackles and assists.

Kalyn Ponga at Newcastle Knights training.
Kalyn Ponga at Newcastle Knights training. ©Paul Barkley/NRL Photos/NRL Photos

Value buy: Kalyn Ponga

Newcastle's prized recruit is a star in the making but only had limited game time as a back-up fullback at the Cowboys this year, including an injury-affected game on the wing in his last appearance for North Queensland. He scored -4 in that game to drag down his starting price but in his previous six games he had averaged an excellent 49. If he can match that at the Knights he'd be great value, and also a potential keeper.

Newcastle Knights recruit Connor Watson at training.
Newcastle Knights recruit Connor Watson at training. ©Paul Barkley/NRL Photos/NRL Photos

Wildcard: Connor Watson

Watson is making the switch from super-sub at the Roosters to starting five-eighth at Newcastle, and the increased role will almost certainly lead to more NRL Fantasy points this season. He averaged 27 points per game in 2017, but in the six games when he played the full 80 minutes he scored 42 points a game. Only two of those matches were at five-eighth – in Round 12 and 13, scoring 19 and 36 – but the potential is there for Watson to earn some big price rises in his first year at Newcastle.

2018 NRL Fantasy player prices

Mitchell Pearce: HLF, $824,000

Lachlan Fitzgibbon: 2RF, $669,000

Jamie Buhrer: 2RF, HOK, $659,000

Mitchell Barnett: 2RF, $655,000

Aidan Guerra: 2RF, $638,000

Brock Lamb: HLF, $571,000

Tautau Moga: CTR, $559,000

Kalyn Ponga: WFB, $552,000

Daniel Saifiti: FRF, $521,000

Danny Levi: HOK, $519,000

Sione Mata'utia: 2RF, CTR, $512,000

Jacob Lillyman: FRF, $495,000

Nathan Ross: WFB, $488,000

Herman Ese'ese: FRF, $472,000

Shaun Kenny-Dowall: CTR, WFB, $441,000

Luke Yates: 2RF, FRF, $425,000

Josh King: FRF, $412,000

Connor Watson: HLF, HOK, $401,000

Slade Griffin: 2RF, HOK, $382,000

Jacob Saifiti: 2RF, FRF, $364,000

Chris Heighington: 2RF, $358,000

Sam Stone: 2RF, $354,000

Tyrone Amey: FRF, $321,000

Ken Sio: WFB, $307,000

Jack Cogger: HLF, $256,000

Pat Mata'utia: CTR, $228,000

Cory Denniss: WFB, $228,000

Dylan Phythian: WFB, $228,000

Tom Hughes: WFB, $212,000

Jack Johns: HLF, $212,000

Christian Hazard: HLF, HOK, $212,000

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

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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