At least one Fantasy superstar is out, several players are back from injury, there are three must-have fullbacks and a new batch of players are now available in two positions in Fantasy.
Those new dual position player updates: Anthony Milford (HLF, WFB), Darius Boyd (WFB, HLF), James Fisher-Harris (2RF, FRF), Jai Whitbread (2RF, FRF), Isaah Yeo (2RF, CTR), Jake Turpin (HOK, HLF), Adam Doueihi (HLF, WFB).
This week's team news
Sharks v Cowboys, Thursday 7.50pm at PointsBet Stadium
Sharks: Andrew Fifita has copped a one-match suspension after scoring just 11 in 31 minutes last round (including -5 for a sin bin). Apart from an injury in round 9 it was easily his fewest minutes in a game this season – his next lowest has been 46 minutes, which he's played twice for scores of 53 and 72. Braden Hamlin-Uele starts up front and Billy Magoulias joins the interchange. Matt Moylan is out, Josh Dugan replaces him at fullback, Josh Morris is back in the centres, Kurt Capewell returns to the back row and Scott Sorensen is out of the 17. Briton Nikora repaid the faith at last with 75 including a try last round, while Shaun Johnson in averaging 56 in his last four games. Kyle Flanagan's game time is likely to be limited for the rest of 2019 after signing on with the Roosters from next season.
Cowboys: North Queensland are unchanged. It's Jason Taumalolo and the rest this season in terms of Fantasy scorers at North Queensland, with the star lock outscoring the next best Cowboy by 19 last week and by 17 points per week over the course of the season. He's on track to eclipse his best ever Fantasy season, when he helped carry his team towards the grand final in 2017.
Fifita fails to fire
Knights v Wests Tigers, Friday 6pm at McDonald Jones Stadium
Knights: No changes. With Newcastle's form shaky of late David Klemmer (average 54) has become the team's most reliable Fantasy scorer, making 62 last week as attacking weapons Kalyn Ponga (38) and Mitchell Pearce (42) were contained by a rampant Roosters side. Connor Watson remains a reliable reserves option if you've got him, scoring 38 in 44 minutes off the bench last week, although his price is likely to drop in the coming weeks.
Wests Tigers: Corey Thompson returns at fullback with Moses Mbye shifting to centre and Michael Chee-Kam in the back row. Ryan Matterson moves to lock with Matt Eisenhuth out. Oliver Clark and Luke Garner start with Chris Lawrence and Fantasy favourite Alex Twal benched. Robbie Farah played his first 80-minute game in a while last week after two Tigers went off with HIA checks, with Tom Mikaele not returning, so don't expect that to become a regular occurrence again if the team avoids injuries.
Rabbitohs v Dragons, Friday 7.55pm at ANZ Stadium
Rabbitohs: No changes to the Souths 17, although Sam and Tom Burgess are some chance of returning after being included in the reserves. Cameron Murray had a wow of a game last round, laying on the match-winning try and scoring another himself to put a cherry on top on the way to a season-high 82 points. Damien Cook hasn't made a line break in the NRL since May but is still coming off three straight scores in the 60s, thanks largely to big tackle counts.
Dragons: Gareth Widdop and Zac Lomax are back, leading to a big reshuffle. Corey Norman moves to fullback, Matt Dufty is on the bench, Lomax and Jason Saab replace Mikaele Ravalawa and Jonus Pearson on the wings and Pat Kaufusi drops out. Cameron McInnes has a three-game average of 68 and he's not just a tackle bot, making five tackle breaks last week and adding try assists in the two previous rounds.
Try of the week: Round 18
Eels v Warriors, Saturday 3pm at Bankwest Stadium
Eels: Shaun Lane (finger) and Jaeman Salmon are out, with Marata Niukore starting and Daniel Alvaro and Oregon Kaufusi joining the bench. Salmon's absence could mean a slight bump to Reed Mahoney's minutes. Waqa Blake makes his club debut at centre with Josh Hoffman moving to the wing and rookie Ethan Parry bumped to the reserves. Mitch Moses is coming off a superb run of Fantasy scores – his last six games have produced totals of 80, 55, 71, 65, 69 and 66. That run features nine try assists and 27 goals and includes two games where he made more than 600 kick metres. Manu Ma'u scored 59 last week and has a three-game average of 58, featuring his three best scores of the year.
Warriors: Ken Maumalo returns for Adam Pompey on the wing. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has averaged 63 in his past five games, while Jazz Tevaga (58 last week) continues to thrive in his starting role.
Titans v Broncos, Saturday 5.30pm at Cbus Super Stadium
Titans: Michael Gordon starts at fullback, AJ Brimson is named at fullback, Ryley Jacks drops out, English signing Kallum Watkins will make his Titans debut at centre, and Tyrone Peachey returns on the bench. Nathan Peats played 80 minutes last week for the first time since round 2, scoring a season-high 63, in an encouraging sign for a hooker who costs less than $500k. Peats could retain an 80-minute role in the post-Garth Brennan era, with no Mitch Rein in the 17.
Broncos: Matt Gillett returns for the suspended Tom Flegler. Payne Haas is going to go down as one of the all-time great NRL Fantasy buys, progressing from cash cow to keeper to arguably the safest captaincy option in the game within the course of a single season.
Tackle of the week: Round 18
Storm v Sea Eagles, Saturday 7.35pm at AAMI Park
Storm: Origin stars Josh Addo-Carr, Cameron Munster, Will Chambers, Felise Kaufusi and Christian Welch return to a Melbourne side that looks full-strength again. Munster's recent form has been excellent, averaging 62.7 in his past three. Cameron Smith's last three scores are 76, 75 and 74 – pretty staggering considering they were the 399th, 400th and 401st games of his career.
Sea Eagles: Manly are unchanged. Tom Trbojevic has two tries, three try assists, three line breaks and 22 tackle busts in his last three games. After a run of below average scores Daly Cherry-Evans is back in the points after scores of 72 and 66.
Bulldogs v Roosters, Sunday 2pm at ANZ Stadium
Bulldogs: Marcelo Montoya (knee) is out for the season with Kerrod Holland his replacement. Lachlan Lewis and Aiden Tolman return for Brandon Wakeham and Ofahiki Ogden, and Kieran Foran is among the reserves. You probably don't want any Canterbury players in your team at this stage of the season.
Roosters: Joey Manu returns, bumping Brett Morris to the bench, while Victor Radley replaces the injured Jake Friend (arm, eight weeks) at hooker with Isaac Liu into the side at lock. Sam Verrils replaces Nat Butcher on the bench. The Roosters are through the Origin period and are coming off their best attacking display – and that's good news for James Tedesco who piled on 93 Fantasy points with 14 tackle breaks and 287 metres against the Knights.
Panthers v Raiders, Sunday 4.05pm at Panthers Stadium
Panthers: Penrith are unchanged, with Viliame Kikau challenging a shoulder charge ban at the judiciary on Tuesday night. Nathan Cleary has three scores above 60 in his past four games, while James Fisher-Harris has a three-game average of 65. Brian To'o is coming off back-to-back try-scoring doubles, while Brent Naden has become a surprisingly solid scorer at centre.
Raiders: No changes for Canberra. John Bateman is back amongst the points while Josh Hodgson's best two scores of the year (80 and 62) have come in the past two weeks.