With some huge names sidelined and two new cheapies emerging with starting spots, it's yet another bumper week of trades for NRL Fantasy coaches.
The key team changes and NRL Fantasy form guide for all 16 clubs ahead of the Magic Round at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium.
Round 9 team news
Titans v Sharks, Thursday 7.50pm
Titans: AJ Brimson replaces Tyrone Roberts (concussion) in the halves and Jesse Arthars joins the bench. Jai Arrow has bounced back from a round-three 29 to average 56 points in his last five games. Mitch Rein has earned $161k in price rises so far in the absence of Nathan Peats, while Bryce Cartwright will go close to $250k in earnings this season.
Sharks: Sosaia Feki replaces Sione Katoa on the wing in Cronulla's only change. Andrew Fifita (45) was a little underwhelming as a captaincy option last week but could wreak some havoc here, while Kurt Capewell's price is on the way down after scores of 19 and 34 in the past fortnight. Kyle Flanagan has a break even of zero after scores of 39 and 40 this season, but may only have three more weeks in the starting side until Shaun Johnson returns from injury.
Norman, Bateman & Yeo set for long stints on sidelines
Wests Tigers v Panthers, Friday 6pm
Wests Tigers: Benji Marshall returns at five-eighth, pushing Ryan Matterson back to the pack and Elijah Taylor to the reserves. Josh Aloiai (concussion) is out with Matt Eisenhuth starting at lock and Oliver Clark joining the interchange. Robbie Farah's price may have bottomed out at $753k after he scored 65 last week (the same as his break even this week) and encouragingly still played the full 80 despite Jacob Liddle getting on the field for the final 18 minutes against the Roosters. Alex Twal resumed his strong scoring with 62 in 54 minutes after a couple of middling scores.
Panthers: Malakai Watene-Zelezniak (ribs), Isaah Yeo (shoulder), Liam Martin (suspended) are out but Viliame Kikau (ankle) is still some chance after being included in the reserves. James Maloney faces the judiciary on Tuesday night. Dean Whare starts at centre, Frank Winterstein and Hame Sele are in the back row and Tyrell Fuimaono joins the bench. James Tamou is scoring like a keeper in the front row. Nathan Cleary's Fantasy form isn't quite back to its best – he needed a try to pass 50 on the weekend – but he still looks underpriced for a player of his potential.
Sea Eagles v Broncos, Friday 8.05pm
Sea Eagles: Apisai Koroisau is in the halves for the injured Lachlan Croker (hamstring) and Toafofoa Sipley starts up front for Addin Fonua-Blake (knee), with Manase Fainu at hooker and Kelepi Tanginoa and Morgan Boyle joining the bench. Martin Taupau still can't get big minutes despite Fonua-Blake's injury last week, but it's been good news for Corey Waddell's prospects with the youngster now up to $237k in price rises with a break even of zero. Reuben Garrick had a field day opposite Jayden Okunbor on the wing last round and has several more price rises in him.
Broncos: Big team news here with Andrew McCullough (knee) out injured and James Roberts and Jamayne Isaako dropped, with cheapie Jake Turpin starting at hooker and Kotoni Staggs and Gehamat Shibasaki joining the backline. Tom Flegler starts at lock with Tevita Pangai jnr shifting back to the bench. Tom Dearden is the cash cow of the week after scoring a solid 35 on debut, despite his team being on the wrong end of the scoreline. Those who have held on to Jack Bird have been rewarded in the last two weeks with a couple of great scores, another $65k in price rises and quality coverage in the centres for injured Fantasy star John Bateman. Payne Haas hasn't scored below 50 in four matches and is a keeper at prop.
Injured Bateman heads list of Fantasy strugglers in Round 8
Bulldogs v Knights, Saturday 3pm
Bulldogs: Ofahiki Ogden has been dropped with Sauaso Sue joining the bench. Kieran Foran is named in the reserves and could be a late inclusion. Dylan Napa's return coincided with a dramatic drop in game time for Aiden Tolman, who played just 50 minutes for the second time since round two. Corey Harawira-Naera unsurprisingly came back down to earth from his 100-point round-seven effort to score 31 in round eight. Jayden Okunbor probably has another week of price rises in him.
Knights: Newcastle are unchanged. Mitchell Pearce is a trade target after scores of 66 and 74 (both including tries), with a tempting price tag of $637k and a break even of 19. Kalyn Ponga is still below his starting price despite averaging almost 62 in his past three games.
Warriors v Dragons, Saturday 5.30pm
Warriors: New signing Kodi Nikorima is straight into the halves in place of cash cow Chanel Harris-Tavita, David Fusitu'a returns in place of Gerard Beale, Nathaniel Roache starts with Issac Luke in the reserves, Adam Blair is suspended and Jazz Tevaga, Bunty Afoa, Ligi Sao and Karl Lawton join the interchange. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is coming off just his second sub-50 score of the year, but remains a possible upgrade option for Harris-Tavita if you've got Kalyn Ponga (who could be switched from WFB to the halves). Lachlan Burr has kept his spot despite an injury concern.
Dragons: Cheap speedster Jai Field replaces the injured Corey Norman (cheekbone) at five-eighth. Blake Lawrie kept his price rises ticking along for another few weeks with a 58 against the Eels.
Latrell leads the way in Round 8 Fantasy ranks
Storm v Eels, Saturday 7.35pm
Storm: Brandon Smith returns on the bench, with Patrick Kaufusi dropping back to the reserves. Cameron Smith was traded in and made captain by a lot of Fantasy teams last week, and promptly delivered his second-worst score of the season (an even 50). Cameron Munster, meanwhile, had his worst score of the year (37) in last week's loss to Cronulla.
Eels: Tim Mannah returns on the bench in place of Kane Evans. Maika Sivo is proving to be a much better cash cow than he first appeared; after averaging less than 30 points a game across the first five rounds he's reeled off scores of 47, 58 and 70 with four tries, five line breaks and 20 tackle busts in that stretch. Reed Mahoney has averaged 62 in his last three games and could prove to be a keeper.
Roosters v Raiders, Sunday 2pm
Roosters: Matt Ikavalu returns on the wing, with Joseph Manu pushing back into the centres, Mitch Aubusson on the bench and Lindsay Collins out of the 17. Latrell Mitchell is already in more than one in three teams and will be in high demand after a monstrous 98-point performance against the Tigers. James Tedesco is now $110k cheaper than he was at the start of the season and will bottom out in the next week or two.
Raiders: John Bateman is, unfortunately, a sell after being ruled out for 6-8 weeks due to surgery on a fractured eye socket. He's replaced in the starting side by $213k cash cow Hudson Young, who scored a try on the way to 46 points in 55 minutes last week. Jordan Rapana returns on the wing with Bailey Simonsson dropping back to the bench. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad's price has started to slip and his scoring hasn't been amazing despite a couple of tries in the past couple of weeks – there's no rush to trade him but he's a rung below the elite keepers at WFB (Tedesco, Ponga, Tuivasa-Sheck, Trbojevic).
Rabbitohs v Cowboys, Sunday 4.05pm
Rabbitohs: Unchanged. Adam Reynolds is a rock-solid keeper upgrade option for Chanel Harris-Tavita, averaging 55. Damien Cook has resumed his mantle as the best scorer in Fantasy with an average of 67 in his past five games.
Cowboys: Josh McGuire (calf) is out with Coen Hess starting in the second row and Mitchell Dunn added to the bench, while Kyle Feldt makes his long-awaited return as Tom Opacic drops out. Jason Taumalolo didn't miss a beat in his return from injury, scoring 54, although with a break even in the mid-70s his price is set to slide. Michael Morgan did practically all of North Queensland's general play kicking last week and still only scored 42 (half of which came in kick metres).