Canterbury second-rower Rhyse Martin.

NRL Fantasy teams analysis: Round 25

This is it: the final round of the NRL Fantasy season. Champions will be decided, dreams will be made (and crushed), prizes will be awarded, and plans will begin for 2019.

Here are all the big talking points for the last round of the season.

Round 25 NRL team lists | Casualty ward | Fantasy winners & losers

South Sydney Rabbitohs v Wests Tigers, Thursday 7.50pm at ANZ Stadium

Rabbitohs: Robert Jennings returns from injury on the wing, bumping Hymel Hunt to the bench. Dean Britt is named to play his first game of the year via the interchange with Tyrell Fuimaono and Tevita Tatola dropping out. Angus Crichton is in terrific Fantasy form while Damien Cook bounced back with a strong 64 last week. Greg Inglis scored a season-high 60 against Canberra.

Wests Tigers: Elijah Taylor is back but Russell Packer is out, with Matt Eisenhuth to start at prop. It's been four weeks since Robbie Farah last played an 80-minute game, with Jacob Liddle replacing him in the final 20 minutes of the Tigers' last three games. He's still scoring pretty well (46 last week) but not the heights of his early scores this year. The always reliable Esan Marsters (54) scored more than Latrell Mitchell, Euan Aitken and James Roberts combined last week.

Rabbitohs v Wests Tigers: Round 25 preview

New Zealand Warriors v Canberra Raiders, Friday 8pm NZT (6pm AEST) at Mt Smart Stadium

Warriors: After making back-to-back 70s Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was one of last week's most popular trade targets, only to slump to his quietest game since round 7 with 20 points. He did score 55 against Canberra earlier this year, but the Raiders have finally found some form with wins over the Roosters and Rabbitohs. Shaun Johnson meanwhile made a season-high 127 run metres against Penrith for 70, after scoring 77 the week before.

Raiders: No changes. Josh Papalii has been one of Canberra's best in their recent run of form, scoring 70, 60 and 55 in the last three weeks, and at $704,000 could be a cut-price POD option this week.

Warriors v Raiders: Round 25 preview

Melbourne Storm v Penrith Panthers, Friday 7.55pm at AAMI Park

Storm: Tim Glasby is named to start, with Cameron Welch moving back to the bench. The Cameron Smith v Damien Cook captaincy decision is as tough as ever; since Origin Smith has outscored Cook three times in seven games, including two of the last three with 75 points in round 22 and 80 last week. Smith averages 62 against Penrith while Cook scored 56 against South Sydney's opponents the Tigers earlier this year. It's a coin flip.

Panthers: James Maloney returns from injury at five-eighth with Tyrone Peachey shifting to centre to cover for the injured Dean Whare (broken arm). Nathan Cleary has proved to be a superb late-season buy in Maloney's absence – he had scored just 42 points per game heading into round 20 but has averaged 67 since then, including 77 and a season-high 80 in the past couple of weeks.

Storm v Panthers: Round 25 preview

Newcastle Knights v St George Illawarra Dragons, Saturday 3pm at McDonald Jones Stadium

Knights: Connor Watson (groin) and Lachlan Fitzgibbon (concussion) join Kalyn Ponga on the sidelines – they're obviously sells if you're still holding any of them. Jack Cogger and Jamie Buhrer join the starting side with Jacob Lillyman and Tom Starling joining the bench, as Luke Yates drops out. Aiden Guerra's recent run of form has hit a snag with 30 points in 70 minutes last week. Mitchell Pearce was held to 41 in a heavy loss to Cronulla but should bounce back at home to the Dragons.

Dragons: Jason Nightingale and Euan Aitken are out injured, replaced by Matt Dufty and Zac Lomax in the starting side with Jai Field joining the bench. Cameron McInnes was on track for a monster score last week before being sidelined with concussion on 61 points after 55 minutes, and has been named to play this week,  while Luciano Leilua backed up his 83 against the Tigers with 55 (including 47 tackles) against the Bulldogs.

Knights v Dragons: Round 25 preview

Gold Coast Titans v North Queensland Cowboys, Saturday 5.30pm at Cbus Super Stadium

Titans: Unchanged. Jai Arrow has only scored 50 once since Origin and is currently being outscored by the Gold Coast's find of the season, AJ Brimson, who pipped last week's 69 with a 70 against Melbourne. Ryan James made 42 last week but will be keen to lift in his team's final game of 2018 against star-studded Cowboys trio Taumalolo, Scott and McLean.

Cowboys: Te Maire Martin returns in the halves and Shaun Fensom is back on the bench, with Jake Clifford and Francis Molo dropping out. Jason Taumalolo is coming off scores of 64, 73 and 61, and Jordan McLean is faring almost as well with 64 and 56 in the past fortnight.

Titans v Cowboys: Round 25 preview

Parramatta Eels v Sydney Roosters, Saturday 7.45pm at ANZ Stadium

Eels: There's a big reshuffle at Parramatta with the only real Fantasy-relevant point being Jarryd Hayne's return to fullback, with Corey Norman back in the halves and Bevan French recalled on the wing. Hayne managed to score 44 in last week's heavy loss to the Cowboys. Hopefully there are no other Eels in your Fantasy squad at this point.

Roosters: Jared Waerea-Hargreaves returns from a ribs injury as Dylan Napa takes a three-week suspension. Jake Friend made a whopping 73 tackles (for 72 Fantasy points) in last week's loss to Canberra, while James Tedesco somehow managed to make a season-high 288 run metres and 11 tackle breaks on the way to 71 points.

Eels v Roosters: Round 25 preview

 

Your Youi Team of the Week for Round 24! #NRLFantasy

Posted by NRL Fantasy on Monday, 27 August 2018

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs v Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, Sunday 2pm at ANZ Stadium

Bulldogs: Rhyse Martin is named despite picking up a knee injury last week, with the Dogs unchanged. Reimis Smith looked like a superstar in last week's 84-point effort, including a hat-trick, while Lachlan Lewis continues to excel with 63 on the back of 601 kick metres against the Dragons.

Sharks: Matt Moylan is over his hamstring injury and back in the side in place of Kyle Flanagan. Val Holmes (83 last week) keeps scoring tries and Andrew Fifita (69) is still fired up, which is good news for Fantasy coaches.

Bulldogs v Sharks: Round 25 preview

Brisbane Broncos v Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, Sunday 4.10pm at Suncorp Stadium

Broncos: Andrew McCullough is out after being KO'd by Dylan Napa's head last week, replaced at hooker by Jake Turpin. Anthony Milford leads the league for kick metres and is one of the most talented ball-runners in the competition, so it's a little surprising that he has averaged "only" 49.6 this season. His 615 kick metres on Saturday were the most of any player in a single game this year, but a lack of run metres and five missed tackles kept him to a good-but-not-great 54 points.

Sea Eagles: Matthew Wright replaces Jorge Taufua on the wing, Martin Taupau is named to start after coming off the bench last week, with Shaun Lane back to the interchange and Taniela Paseka joining the bench.Forget the headlines and the on-field results; the Manly Sea Eagles may be the most popular NRL Fantasy club in 2018. Taupau, Tom Tbrojevic and now Daly Cherry-Evans have all joined the exclusive 100 club this year, Manase Fainu has been a super cash cow and a borderline keeper, and Jake Trbojevic is the best of the lot of them with 57.5 points a game and an average pushing 70 in the past few weeks.

Broncos v Sea Eagles: Round 25 preview