The NRL Fantasy form guide and all the team changes heading into round 20 of the 2018 Telstra Premiership season.
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Brisbane Broncos v Cronulla Sharks, Thursday 7.50pm at Suncorp Stadium
Broncos: Jamayne Isaako remains at fullback where he played last week, scoring 50, with Darius Boyd again named in the centres. Matt Lodge came off the bench last week but has been named to start, with Joe Ofahengaue on the interchange. Anthony Milford has been Brisbane's best scorer this season and he's averaging 54 in his past three games.
Sharks: Luke Lewis returns from a calf injury in the second row, with Scott Sorensen back to the bench and Joseph Paulo out of the 17. Fears of a late-season lull for Andrew Fifita appear to be unfounded after the barnstorming big man scored 81 including a try last week, while Val Holmes hasn't scored under 40 in more than two months, averaging 55 in that time. Paul Gallen bounced back from last week's 22 with 52 against the Raiders.
North Queensland Cowboys v Newcastle Knights, Friday 6pm at 1300Smiles Stadium
Cowboys: Unchanged, with Te Maire Martin remaining at fullback and Jake Clifford joining Johnathan Thurston in the halves again. Jason Taumalolo hasn't gone three weeks without a 50 all season, so he's due for a big one after scores of 44 and 47 in the past fortnight.
Knights: Kalyn Ponga is back, along with Sione Mata'utia, although Ponga and Connor Watson are battling ankle injuries. Ponga is expected to play, Watson is closer to 50/50. Looking for a point of difference? Danny Levi is in 0.6% of teams and has now played 70+ minutes in the past two rounds following Slade Griffin's season-ending knee injury, scoring 61 and 62 in those games. At $486,000 he is a whopping $450,000 cheaper than Cameron Smith, who has averaged 61.8 this season. Halves Mitchell Pearce (67 in his past three games) and Connor Watson (63 in his past three) are in fine Fantasy form, while Mitch Barnett and Lachlan Fitzgibbon both cracked the 80-point mark last week with tries.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs v Wests Tigers, Friday 7.55pm at ANZ Stadium
Bulldogs: Just the one change for Canterbury with Ofahiki Ogden replacing Clay Priest on the bench. Rhyse Martin has earned himself a new contract at the Bulldogs this week and he's been arguably the buy of the year in Fantasy this season, increasing a huge $516,000 on his starting value with his price now at $744,000. Will Hopoate couldn't quite keep up his scoring spree last week with 33, while Lachlan Lewis is looking less like a solid 18th man option after back-to-back scores in the 20s.
Wests Tigers: Luke Garner is promoted to the starting pack in place of the injured Josh Aloiai (broken hand) with Robbie Rochow joining the interchange. Robbie Farah's 33 against Souths was his first sub-60 score of the season. Esan Marsters is once again the No.1 centre in Fantasy this season after last week's 66, including just his second try of the season.
NRL Fantasy Preview - Round 20
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles v Penrith Panthers, Saturday 3pm at Lottoland
Sea Eagles: Dylan Walker returns at five-eighth and Jorge Taufua is back on the wing, with Tom Wright and Matt Wright dropping out. Shaun Lane starts with Frank Winterstein moving to the bench, while Kelepi Tanginoa replaces Toafofoa Sipley on the interchange. For a fullback on a team that conceded 50 points, Tom Tbrojevic managed to do a hell of a lot for the Sea Eagles last week for 73 points in a promising sign for his scoring ability regardless of Manly's form in the run home.
Panthers: Quite a shake-up here with Tyrone Peachey named at fullback with Dallin Watene-Zelezniak returning on the wing. Jarome Luai (ankle) and Christian Crichton drop out, Tyrone May joins the interchange and Trent Merrin is bumped back to the bench with Corey Harawira-Naera starting in the forwards. Penrith may have been smashed by the Broncos last week but they still had three players score 50s in Fantasy, including Nathan Cleary who regained the goal-kicking duties and did the bulk of the kicking in general play on the way to 53 points. Centre Waqa Blake also scored 49 to keep his three-game average at an excellent 58, while Viliame Kikau proved he's human with 39 points in 80 minutes with a season-high eight missed tackles.
South Sydney Rabbitohs v Parramatta Eels, Saturday 5.30pm at ANZ Stadium
Rabbitohs: Unchanged. Sam Burgess has reeled off four straight 50+ scores for the first time this season – and he's still $110,000 below his round one starting price – while Damien Cook remains a great captaincy option despite scoring "only" 56 last week. (Cook has only one sub-50 score all year, and it came way back in round four. And it was 49.)
Eels: Jarryd Hayne switches to the wing with Brad Takairangi starting at centre, Tepai Moeroa in the second row and David Gower on the bench with George Jennings dropping out. Nathan Brown played the full 80 at lock for just the second time this season against the Bulldogs, scoring pretty much purely through base stats with 40 tackles and a massive 249 run metres. Marata Niukore may be holding a starting spot in the second row but he managed just 29 points in 50 minutes last week.
Melbourne Storm v Canberra Raiders, Saturday 7.35pm at AAMI Park
Storm: Cook or Smith? It's the captaincy decision that will be determining thousands of head-to-head Fantasy match-ups in the next few weeks as the greatest Fantasy player of all time challenges the lightning quick Rabbitohs sensation for 2018 superiority. Damien Cook has been the best scorer of the season but Cameron Smith has the edge on him recently, outscoring the Souths hooker in round 15, 16 and 19, and scoring 72 when Cook was on Origin III duty, while Cook edged Smith 79-61 a week ago. Both players can score big against any opposition so it's really a case of gut feel when it comes to picking your captain – do you go the old master or the young gun who will replace him as Kangaroos No.9 at the end of the year?
Raiders: Nine tackle breaks, two tries, three line breaks and a try assist – he's left it late but Joey Leilua may be back at last. The mercurial centre was at his damaging best against a quality Sharks side last week and is capable of going on a Fantasy scoring spree if he gets more chances close to the line, although he did score just 10 points against the Cowboys a week ago. Nick Cotric shifts to centre this week with Joseph Tapine back from suspension in the forward pack, Michael Oldfield returning to the wing and Sia Soliola moving to the bench. Josh Hodgson is averaging almost 52 since returning from injury this season and is on track for his best Fantasy campaign so far.
Gold Coast Titans v New Zealand Warriors, Sunday 2pm (4pm NZT) at Cbus Super Stadium
Titans: Will Matthews bumps Leilani Latu off the bench this week. Jai Arrow's 25 in 45 minutes against Newcastle was a bit concerning for his 26,000 Fantasy coaches but he did cop a knock early on to the knee he injured during Origin III. Ryan James scored 53 last week, almost entirely in base stats.
Warriors: Adam Blair is suspended while Tohu Harris, Blake Green and Simon Mannering return to the starting side. Mason Lino and Tevita Satae drop out, with Sam Lisone joining the bench. Shaun Johnson's average has fallen below 50 for the first time this season, and he hasn't scored above 42 since round 14. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has filled in nicely for Kalyn Ponga for my Scouts side in the last few weeks but will make way this week.
Sydney Roosters v St George Illawarra Dragons, Sunday 4.10pm at Allianz Stadium
Roosters: Isaac Liu and Mitchell Aubusson are back on the bench in place of Lindsay Collins and Nat Butcher. Jake Friend had a wow of a game against Manly for 81 points but most Fantasy coaches would have been happier to see James Tedesco (58) and Latrell Mitchell (76) living up to their potential. The Roosters have a good run home with three games in Sydney against fellow title contenders (the Dragons, Rabbitohs and Broncos) alternating with three games against bottom-eight opponents (the Cowboys, Raiders and Eels) and with the club seemingly starting to hit their peak in the lead-up to the finals it should be a good period of the season for their Fantasy guns.
Dragons: Tyson Frizell's return means Blake Lawrie drops out, with Luciano Leilua going to the interchange. Matt Dufty had a try, two line breaks and a season-high eight tackle breaks against the Cowboys last week for 65 points while with just 6.1% ownership Cameron McInnes is the least-owned elite gun in Fantasy with an average above 55 (by comparison, Jason Taumalolo has the same average and is in 46.8% of teams).