Sione Mata'utia scores against Parramatta.

After three years in the wilderness as wooden spooners, the Knights' revival began in 2018 with star signings Kalyn Ponga and Mitchell Pearce exceeding expectations and more quality recruits on the way.

While the arrival of NSW and Test prop David Klemmer has only served to heighten expectations, coach Nathan Brown still needs to come up with the spine he will start the Telstra Premiership with.

Kalyn Ponga's expected move to five-eighth is likely to see Connor Watson at fullback, leaving a host of contenders to fill the No.9 jersey.

Here are four players who could see their NRL Fantasy values rise in 2019.

Connor Watson

While Pearce, Aidan Guerra and Shaun Kenny-Dowall have impressed since their switch from the Tricolours to Newcastle, one ex-Rooster who is still arguably finding his feet is young gun Watson.

At his best, he's the kind of tackle-breaking playmaker who is made for Fantasy, and he could be the big winner from Ponga's move to five-eighth if it means he wears the No.1 this season.

In 2018, Watson scored a solid 40 points a game but he averaged 49.5 in his four games at fullback with the Roosters in 2017 and made a season-high 77 in round 16 last season when Ponga went down injured.

With more room to move at the back, Watson's run metres and tackle break count should go up, he won't lose much in kick metres as he hardly kicks anyway and he could become the Knights' secret weapon in attack chiming in alongside Pearce and Ponga.

Newcastle Knights utility Connor Watson.
Newcastle Knights utility Connor Watson. ©Paul Barkley / NRL Photos

Herman Ese'ese

In 2018, only five front-rowers in Fantasy scored more than 50 points a game. Just three averaged more than 51. You need two front-rowers and at least one back-up in your Fantasy squad.

Herman Ese'ese was a standout in his first season as a Knight, averaging a steady 41 in the opening six weeks before busting out 52.3 points a game across the remainder of the year.

With a break even of just under 49, he's cheaper than Andrew Fifita, Martin Taupau, Ryan James, Daniel Alvaro and Jai Arrow and could be the third best scorer behind Fifita and Taupau.

Kurt Mann

Until now, Mann has been a utility at the Storm and Dragons, but the Newcastle recruit could slot straight into hooker with first-choice No.9 Slade Griffin sidelined for at least the first half of the season.

He's actually coming off easily his worst season as a Fantasy scorer, with an average off 22 points a game after spending the bulk of 2018 as a bench player for St George Illawarra.

That means he's a cut-price option this season, and if he edges Danny Levi to the starting hooker role – the busiest position on the field – he'll have great Fantasy potential, even if he plays 50 minutes a game. 

The flipside is Mann's versatility also makes him a prime candidate to play the bench utility role, which would double as back-up for any injuries in the backline.

While a 50-minute stint at dummy half could reap good Fantasy rewards, playing 30 minutes as a fill-in centre or winger is a recipe for single-digit scores.

Newcastle Knights recruit Kurt Mann.
Newcastle Knights recruit Kurt Mann. ©newcastleknights.com.au

Sione Mata'utia

Nathan Brown has already said he's planning to move Mata'utia back to the second row in 2018, with Jesse Ramien boosting the team's stocks in the centres and Tautau Moga also due back from injury.

The Knights are suddenly looking full of depth in the forward pack, with Fitzgibbon, Aidan Guerra and Mitch Barnett the established back-rowers and Herman Ese'ese also having spent time at lock, but if Mata'utia can nab an 80-minute role as an edge forward he could be set for a big price rise this season.

Mata'utia is priced based on his 30-point average in 2018 but he averaged more than 40 points when playing the 80 in the forward pack the previous season (which he did on 13 occasions).

Knights player prices & positions

Kalyn Ponga $784,000, WFB, HLF
Mitchell Pearce $745,000, HLF
Lachlan Fitzgibbon $744,000, 2RF
Aidan Guerra $740,000, 2RF
Herman Ese'ese $718,000, FRF
David Klemmer $665,000, FRF
Slade Griffin $621,000, HOK
Connor Watson $601,000, HLF, WFB
Jesse Ramien $568,000, CTR
Mitchell Barnett $517,000, 2RF
Daniel Saifiti $502,000, FRF
Tim Glasby $481,000, FRF
Danny Levi $467,000, HOK
Mason Lino $465,000, HLF
Sione Mata'utia $446,000, 2RF, CTR
Edrick Lee $432,000, WFB
Kurt Mann $379,000, HOK, HLF
James Gavet $377,000, FRF
Shaun Kenny-Dowall $377,000, WFB, CTR
Josh King $319,000, FRF
Nathan Ross $314,000, WFB, CTR
Hymel Hunt $310,000, CTR, WFB
Jamie Buhrer $276,000, 2RF, HOK
Sam Stone $253,000, 2RF
Jacob Saifiti $244,000, 2RF, FRF
Pasami Saulo $228,000, FRF
Tautau Moga $228,000, CTR
Zac Woolford $228,000, HOK
Brodie Jones $212,000, 2RF