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NRL Fantasy teams analysis: Round 25

It's the final round of the NRL Fantasy season, big-name players are dropping like flies and many of us Fantasy coaches have run out of trades to replace them.

There is some massive team news in the week when head-to-head champions and overall prize winners will be determined for 2019.

Even if you're out of trades there's still a crucial captaincy decision to make, and teams that can field an entire playing 17 may have an edge over the competition.

Round 25 team news

Rabbitohs v Roosters, Thursday 7.50pm at ANZ Stadium

Rabbitohs: Tom Amone replaces Kyle Turner (quad) on the bench. Damien Cook scored just 48 last week – his lowest score since round 14 – and made 57 against the Roosters way back in the opening round of the season. He's got the third best average of all players this season but could be a slightly risky captaincy option against the second best defence in the league.

Roosters: Star duo Cooper Cronk and Boyd Cordner return, with Angus Crichton going back to the bench and Drew Hutchison and Siosiua Taukeiaho (rib cartilage) dropping out. James Tedesco has a three-game average of 70 and can be a popular Hail Mary captaincy option for an underdog in a head-to-head battle but his best scores tend to come against bottom-eight teams, and in his only clash with Souths this year he scored 18 – easily his lowest score of the season. Sam Verrils scored 68 including a try, a try assist and 50 tackles in 80 minutes last week.

Eels v Sea Eagles, Friday 6pm at Bankwest Stadium

Eels: Ray Stone and Tepai Moeroa replace Peni Terepo and David Gower on the bench. Mitchell Moses produced his season-low score at just the wrong time for his Fantasy coaches last week, with his 26 against Brisbane his first sub-30 score of the year and first sub-50 score since round 11 (back in May). He scored 66 against Manly in round 18 so should bounce back here. Manu Ma'u has transformed into a genuine Fantasy gun this year – he averaged 46 through to round 14 but 63 points a game since then.

Sea Eagles: Tom Trbojevic's season is over due to a pec injury, and Jack Gosiewski (knee) and Morgan Boyle (arm) are also out. Brendan Elliot starts at fullback with Corey Waddell in the starting pack and Sean Keppie and Lloyd Perrett added to the bench. Daly Cherry-Evans scored 63 in last week's loss to Melbourne, made 66 against Parramatta earlier in the year and becomes an even more vital focal point of Manly's attack with no Tom Turbo in the side. Jake Trbojevic (56 last week) and Martin Taupau (60) remain consistent performers.

Storm v Cowboys, Friday 7.55pm at AAMI Park

Storm: Cameron Munster (shoulder), Josh Addo-Carr and Brandon Smith are out with Brodie Croft returning to the side in the halves, Sandor Earl on the wing and Tui Kamikamica joining the bench. Cameron Smith scored 74 last week – one below Payne Haas – and is the best point of difference captaincy option if your rival is likely to select Haas. Ryan Papenhuyzen's record as a starting fullback has been sensational – he's scored tries in all five of his 80-minute appearances and averaged 69 points in those games.

Cowboys: Josh McGuire returns on the bench for Reuben Cotter. Jason Taumalolo is a captaincy contender, scoring 79 and 64 in recent weeks and averaging 63 for the season.

Trbojevic injury hurts Fantasy coaches

Raiders v Warriors, Saturday 3pm at GIO Stadium

Raiders: Fantasy favourite John Bateman is out, in yet another blow for teams who don't have any trades left. Bateman finishes his first NRL season with a Fantasy average of 59.9. The newly re-signed Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and star winger Jordan Rapana are also out, with Bailey Simonsson covering fullback and Michael Oldfield and Sebastian Kris on the wings, Hudson Young starting in the pack and Emre Guler and JJ Collins joining the bench.

Warriors: Peta Hiku, Chanel Harris-Tevita (arm) and Sam Lisone are out, with Blake Ayshford in the centres and Bunty Afoa and Adam Keighran added to the interchange. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was kept fairly quiet with 41 last week but still has a season average above 50. Jazz Tevaga recovered well from his 20 against the Roosters a few weeks back with 63 and 57 in the past fortnight.

Bulldogs v Broncos, Saturday 5.30pm at ANZ Stadium

Bulldogs: Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (knee) and Kerrod Holland (shoulder) are out, with Will Hopoate starting at fullback and Morgan Harper joining Reimis Smith in the centres. Aiden Tolman (54) and Josh Jackson (53) continue to score well despite the Bulldogs' winning run coming to an end.

Broncos: Jake Turpin returns from suspension and Sean O'Sullivan drops out. Izaia Perese replaces Gehamat Shibasaki on the bench, and Patrick Carrigan holds onto the lock positon. At the end of the most stunning individual Fantasy season ever, and having climbed a staggering $681k on his starting price, Payne Haas is the safest captaincy option this week after scoring 75 last round. Anthony Milford's 59 against Parramatta was his best score in five weeks, while David Fifita has left the best 'til last with scores of 100 and 90 in the past two rounds.

Fifita does it again

Titans v Dragons, Saturday 7.35pm at Cbus Super Stadium

Titans: Tyrone Peachey replaces Kallum Watkins in the centres with AJ Brimson starting at five-eighth, Mitch Rein returns at hooker and bumps Nathan Peats to lock, while Moeaki Fotuaika is out and Jack Stockwell joins the bench. Jai Arrow (58 last round) returns to prop and is the most reliable Fantasy option in this side at the moment.

Dragons: Cameron McInnes's broken leg is a huge blow for Fantasy coaches and the man himself at the end of a season when he was often carrying his team. Zac Lomax (concussion) is also out, with Corey Norman returning at fullback, Tristan Sailor moving to the wing and Reece Robson the new starting hooker. Blake Lawrie starts with Luciano Leilua moving to the bench. Ben Hunt scored 60 last round, 79 against the Titans just a few weeks ago and could be in for another bumper score here.

Wests Tigers v Sharks, Sunday 2pm at Leichhardt Oval

Wests Tigers: The Tigers have named the same 17 they did last Tuesday, although Robbie Farah and Moses Mbye have been included on an extended bench and could be late inclusions. Luke Brooks is finishing 2019 with a bang, scoring 64, 61, 56, 95 and 85 in the last five weeks. Paul Momirovski is unlikely to match last week's 96 against a Sharks team playing to keep its season alive.

Sharks: Shaun Johnson is named despite injuring his quad in the warm-up ahead of Sunday's loss to Canberra. Kyle Flanagan and Jayson Bukuya drop out, with Jack Williams returning on the bench. Andrew Fifita is consistently scoring more than a point per minute but he hasn't played more than 45 minutes in a game since mid-July.

Panthers v Knights, Sunday 4.05pm at Panthers Stadium

Panthers: Wayde Egan starts at hooker with Sione Katoa dropping out and Jarome Luai joining the bench. James Fisher-Harris has been alternating been scores above 60 and below 60 for the past nine rounds – if that trend continues he's due for a sub-par score after making 62 against the Roosters last week. Viliame Kikau (71) and James Tamou (55) were last week's other success stories while Nathan Cleary (40) has fizzled a little at the end of the season, with just one 50+ score since round 18.

Knights: Lachlan Fitzgibbon is back in the starting side with Aidan Guerra on the bench, while Kurt Mann replaces Jacob Saifiti on the interchange. Connor Watson (74 last round) has emerged as Newcastle's best late-season buy, getting through plenty of work with and without the ball as an 80-minute hooker, although David Klemmer (56) remains Mr Reliable. Mitchell Pearce (56) had a good score as he usually does in winning games while most of Kalyn Ponga's late-season scores have been in the 30s.

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