The cavalry returns this week in the form of Kalyn Ponga, James Tedesco and Tom Trbojevic but some big names have been rested with several teams also affected by suspension this round.
With four rounds of head-to-head Fantasy leagues to go before the finals and eight rounds remaining in the season, it's time for your team to start firing on all cylinders in the run home.
This week's team news
Broncos v Bulldogs, Thursday 7.50pm at Suncorp Stadium
Broncos: The return of Corey Oates means Xavier Coates drops out in Brisbane's only change. Cheapie Herbie Farnworth keeps his spot in the centres. Payne Haas's average of 65.5 has nudged him ahead of Jason Taumalolo as the best Fantasy player of 2019 so far. He's scored tries in his last two games and is a definite captaincy option, with no score below 50 this year. Anthony Milford smashed out 99 points last week, without a try, with the positional switch to fullback leading to more run metres and tackle breaks without hurting his kick metres. Tevita Pangai jnr ($570k) has played 80 minutes in his last three games, scoring 52, 64 and 48.
Bulldogs: The Bulldogs have lost Sauaso Sue to a season-ending ACL injury while Aiden Tolman is out for a week with a ribs injury. Ofahiki Ogden and Adam Elliott start in the pack, Chris Smith is back to the bench and Danny Fualalo joins the interchange. Lachlan Lewis (ankle), Kieran Foran (hamstring) and Christian Crichton (concussion) are all another week away from returning. Will Hopoate ($586k) is coming off scores of 61, 59 and 76, with tries in all three games.
Milford racks up the points
Warriors v Sharks, Friday 6pm at Westpac Stadium
Warriors: No changes. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's average is back up above 50 after his brilliant 82 against Brisbane, when he broke the NRL record for most run metres by a player in a game (367). Jazz Tevaga made 72 tackles in 90 minutes at lock last week, scoring 82, and should continue to score well at least until Tohu Harris returns to the Warriors back row in round 21.
Sharks: Matt Moylan and Paul Gallen return but Josh Morris (broken nose) and Josh Dugan (hamstring) are out, with Kurt Capewell moving to centre, Aaron Gray to the wing and Scott Sorensen into the second row. Matt Prior goes back to the bench. Shaun Johnson is named despite speculation he is in doubt with an ankle injury he suffered while bouncing back into form with 67 against the Storm. Briton Nikora's scoring has trailed off recently – he did spend some time in the centres last week but he's had at least six missed tackles in each of his last two games, having never done so before round 16. His base stats remain solid but it's now been a month since he scored 40 and about three months since he scored a 50.
Is it time to worry about Nikora?
Panthers v Dragons, Friday 7.55pm at Panthers Stadium
Panthers: Nathan Cleary is back, and looms as an interesting point-of-difference option in the run home. Jarome Luai moves to the bench with Jed Cartwright dropping out. James Fisher-Harris (58 last week) and James Tamou (57) continue to be strong scorers for Penrith, while Brian To'o (54) was a great player to have in your squad last round with some big-name WFBs on the sidelines. Brent Naden (46, $351k) is becoming a handy low-price backup centre option while Dylan Edwards' 96 against the Titans was his first score above 50 this year.
Dragons: Ben Hunt and Jeremy Latimore (knee) are out but James Graham returns at lock, with Darren Nicholls starting at halfback. Josh Kerr replaces Reece Robson on the bench. Cameron McInnes was the Dragons' only big scorer in last week's loss to Canberra, with a try assist, three busts and 59 tackles. His price has bottomed out at $736k.
Roosters v Knights, Saturday 3pm at the Sydney Cricket Ground
Roosters: James Tedesco and Boyd Cordner return, bumping Brett Morris and Nat Butcher to the bench and Sitili Tupouniua and Poasa Faamausili to the reserves. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is named despite facing a possible two-match ban at the judiciary on Tuesday night. Jake Friend returned from injury with a bang, scoring a try and 73 Fantasy points against the Cowboys last week. Butcher's last month of scoring has been excellent (71, 45, 68, 56) but he's likely to remain on the bench for now.
Knights: Kalyn Ponga's return shifts Connor Watson to the bench, with Kurt Mann moving to five-eighth, Tautau Moga to centre and Mason Lino dropping out. Mitchell Barnett's return from suspension bumps Jamie Buhrer to the interchange and Josh King to the reserves. Watson has been a great scorer lately but expect to see his numbers drop now. Mitchell Pearce (55) again looked a keeper last round after a few lean scores.
Raiders v Wests Tigers, Saturday 5.30pm at GIO Stadium
Raiders: Josh Hodgson suffered a knee injury on Sunday night after racking up 80 Fantasy points but he's been named this week anyway. Nick Cotric is suspended for three weeks for a dangerous throw, giving Michael Oldfield a shot at centre, while Josh Papalii is named to start after coming off the bench last week. After scoring above 55 just twice in his first 14 games this year, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad has done it in both of his last two games (after myself and many other coaches sold him). After back-to-back 39s John Bateman was back to his usual self with a strong 68 against the Dragons.
Wests Tigers: Robert Jennings is dropped with Paul Momirovski replacing him on the wing in the only change. David Nofoaluma hit a two-try 73 last week but Alex Twal (48 tackles and 52 points last week) and Ryan Matterson remain the reliable options in this stage.
Try of the week: Round 17
Cowboys v Rabbitohs, Saturday 7.35pm at 1300Smiles Stadium
Cowboys: Javid Bowen replaces Jordan Kahu (fractured eye socket) at centre with Murray Taulagi joining the side on the wing. Jason Taumalolo has been so good this year that when he scores 60 points in 58 minutes, as he did against the Roosters, it seems underwhelming. Excitement over Scott Drinkwater has waned a little after he followed up a 57 on his club debut with just 25 points last week.
Rabbitohs: The Burgess brothers remain on the sidelines with Liam Knight (suspended) replaced by Dean Britt in the front row and Ethan Lowe returning to the second row after being rested following Origin III. Mark Nicholls replaces Bayley Sironen on the bench. Adam Reynolds has been super-consistent this year while Damien Cook is a prime captaincy candidate after a full week off, having scored 62 backing up from Origin last week.
Titans v Storm, Sunday 2pm at Cbus Super Stadium
Titans: Plenty of changes here since Garth Brennan's axing as coach. Michael Gordon returns via the bench from a worrying blood clot in the leg, Brenko Lee replaces Anthony Don in the backline, Jack Stockwell and Jai Whitbread return to the starting side, Moeaki Fotuaika is on the interchange alongside Leilani Latu and Sam Stone. Shannon Bod (arm) is out but Ryley Jacks (rib) is named. With Jai Arrow sidelined Tyrone Roberts has emerged as the Titans' most reliable scorer, scoring 63, 54, 43 and 48 in the last month. After a run of good scores Moeaki Fotuaika has dropped back to the pack with 39 and 29 in his last two games.
Storm: After playing their Origin stars in Cameron Smith's 400th match Melbourne are resting Cameron Munster, Josh Addo-Carr, Will Chambers and Felise Kaufusi this week, while Christian Welch is suspended. Marion Seve, Sandor Earl, Tom Eisenhuth, Tino Faasuamaleaui and Tui Kamikamica are the new inclusions. Cameron Smith is looking for a hat-trick of scores in the mid-70s.
Tackle of the week: Round 17
Sea Eagles v Eels, Sunday 4.05pm at Lottoland
Sea Eagles: Tom Trbojevic is a very welcome inclusion for Fantasy coaches. Daly Cherry-Evans is coming off his first 50+ score since round six, with an excellent 72 including three try assists and a try save. Jake Trbojevic scored 66 last week and is $139k cheaper than he was at the start of the season.
Eels: No changes for Parramatta. Mitch Moses has a three-game average of 68, scoring 69 last round. Nathan Brown was back to his old self with 60 in 65 minutes last week, while Reed Mahoney looks a candidate for upgrading after scoring 37 including six mixed tackles.