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NRL Fantasy teams analysis: Round 18

It's sudden death from here on in in NRL Fantasy head-to-head leagues and there are two massive outs set to give Fantasy coaches headaches – especially if they are running low on trades.

Here's all the team news you need to know before locking in your 17 for round 18.

Round 18 teams news

Wests Tigers v Rabbitohs, Thursday 7.50pm at Bankwest Stadium

Wests Tigers: Unchanged. Harry Grant played the full 80 minutes last week despite the presence of Jacob Liddle in the side, but still could only match last week's season-low score of 47. It wasn't a great week either for popular forwards Luciano Leilua (34), Alex Twal (34) or Sam McIntyre (24), while barnstorming winger David Nofoaluma (80) remains one of the point-of-difference buys of the season.

Rabbitohs: Dane Gagai returns in place of Jaxson Paulo on the wing while Tevita Tatola is out with Liam Knight at prop and Jed Cartwright joining the bench.

Damien Cook (68) and Cody Walker (62) are coming off strong scores while Cameron Murray (51) continues to be solid if unspectacular in the back row. Campbell Graham (46) is a very solid option to cover centre or winger/fullback.

Bulldogs v Sea Eagles, Friday 6pm at ANZ Stadium

Bulldogs: Good news for Jake Averillo and Luke Thompson owners here. Averillo replaces the injured Kieran Foran at five-eighth and Jayden Okunbor returns on the wing with Reimis Smith and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak replacing Marcelo Montoya and Kerrod Holland in the centres. Thompson starts in the pack with Dylan Napa injured for the remaining three rounds, and Brandon Wakeham and Sauaso Sue join the bench.

Lachlan Lewis had a try, 582 kick metres and a season-high 34 tackles last week for 90 Fantasy points, but beware he failed to make 40 points in the two previous weeks.

Sea Eagles: Abbas Miski replaces Jorge Taufua (calf, season) on the wing and Cade Cust returns in place of Josh Schuster (ankle) at five-eighth.

Daly Cherry-Evans (74) had four try assists against the Tigers and is kicking goals again with Reuben Garrick (shoulder) sidelined. 

Panthers v Eels, Friday 7.55pm at Panthers Stadium

Panthers: Isaah Yeo (head knock) returns at lock with Moses Leota benched and Kurt Capewell dropping to the reserves.

Nathan Cleary (67) lost the captaincy battle with Payne Haas last week but is always capable of hitting a monster score, while it was a surprise to see Stephen Crichton (19) produce his lowest 80-minute score of the season against the struggling Broncos. The early return of Api Koroisau (56) was a handy boost for his owners last round.

Eels: Andrew Davey replaces Marata Niukore on the bench while Reed Mahoney has been named despite a shoulder injury last week. It was a case of more of the same for Parramatta's big guns last week with Mitch Moses (67), Ryan Matterson (66) and Nathan Brown (66) all scoring well against the Warriors.

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Dragons v Raiders, Saturday 3pm at WIN Stadium

Dragons: A few team changes here but none are really Fantasy-relevant. Debutant Cody Ramsey replaces Mikaele Ravalawa on the wing, cheapie Kaide Ellis and Paul Vaughan start at prop, and Josh Kerr and Blake Lawrie move to the bench.

Cameron McInnes (90) made the most of last week's extra-time game with his best score since round one, while it appears Ben Hunt (48) is no longer an 80-minute hooker under coach Dean Young. He spent 17 minutes on the bench last week while Billy Brittain got a chance at dummy-half.

Raiders: No changes to Canberra's 17, with Josh Papalii named after shaking off a shoulder problem. Tom Starling (54) has been one of the best buys of the second half of the season, earning a starting spot and playing 70 minutes at hooker in the past couple of rounds.

Titans v Broncos, Saturday 5.30pm at Cbus Super Stadium

Titans: Beau Fermor remains at centre after replacing the injured Brian Kelly (ankle) there last week, Corey Thompson joins the side on the wing, Moeaki Fotuaika starts for the injured Jaimin Jolliffe, Keegan Hipgrave starts in the second row and Jai Whitbread joins the bench.

After a lean run in the middle of the season Fotuaika (83) scored a season-high 83 after replacing the injured Joliffe and playing 70 minutes last week. He's still good value at $675k. Usual suspects Jamal Fogarty (70) and Tyrone Peachey (64) remain excellent scorers as well.

Broncos: With Jordan Riki and Jamil Hopoate suspended, Alex Glenn starts in the second row, Ben Te'o moves to the bench and Xavier Coates and Joe Ofahengaue join the interchange.

Payne Haas (93) remains the safest captaincy option in the game, especially if he keeps playing the full 80 minutes like he did last week. Kotoni Staggs (61) is one of the most explosive centres around and could grab tries against the Titans, Eels and Cowboys in the run home.

Roosters v Knights, Saturday 7.35pm at Sydney Cricket Ground

Roosters: Jake Friend returns at hooker in place of Freddy Lussick in the Tricolours' only change.

James Tedesco is coming off scores of 112 and 101, and you can't rule out a chance of the superstar fullback hitting a third straight ton against a weakened Newcastle outfit here. Kyle Flanagan (58) has a three-game average of 60 and could rack up several goals and attacking stats with the Roosters getting back to something like full strength in the final rounds.

Knights: Big news here for Fantasy coaches with gun scorers Kalyn Ponga and Mitch Barnett both rested. Ponga was left battered and bruised after last week's stunning 108-point effort against Cronulla, while Barnett (70) has been playing through a sternum injury he picked up a couple of weeks ago.

They are both expected back next week and are players to hold in normal circumstances, although if you're losing a H2H knockout game come Saturday night you could make an emergency trade or two to stay alive. With that pair out Tex Hoy starts at fullback and Herman Ese'ese is at lock, Edrick Lee replaces Hymel Hunt (also rested) on the wing and Daniel Saifiti returns via the bench. Kurt Mann (61) has hit three straight 60s in a big-minute hooker role.

Storm steady after seeing off Rabbitohs

Storm v Cowboys, Sunday 4.05pm at Sunshine Coast Stadium

Storm: If one star fullback being sidelined wasn't enough this week, how about Ryan Papenhuyzen sitting this one out as well? Papenhuyzen has an achilles injury so teams without trades or much depth at WFB will be put to the test, with Nicho Hynes wearning the Storm No.1 this round.

Elsewhere Suliasi Vunivalu returns on the wing for Isaac Lumelume, who is on the bench, Nelson Asofa-Solomona starts at prop for the suspended Christian Welch, and Ryley Jacks replaces Chris Lewis on the interchange.

Papenhuyzen (75) had been really hitting his straps in the second half of the season and is a big loss, while big Tino Faasuamaleaui (64) now has five tries for the year. Cameron Smith and Cameron Munster (both 55 last week) are due big scores.

Cowboys: Gavin Cooper is named to start with Tom Gilbert switching to the bench in the team's only change. No sign of any early return from Jason Taumalolo yet. Big-minute hooker Reuben Cotter (59) jumped in value by $70k but is still a great low-cost bench option at $362k. Val Holmes (57) grabbed a try, five tackle busts and the match-winning field goal last week for his best score of the season but may find it tougher going against Melbourne.

Sharks v Warriors, Sunday 6.30pm at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium

Sharks: Shaun Johnson is back at halfback but Chad Townsend and Wade Graham are suspended. Sione Katoa replaces Bryson Goodwin on the wing, Connor Tracey replaces Braydon Trindall at five-eighth, Siosifa Talakai starts in the second row and Jack Williams and Andrew Fifita join the bench.

Johnson is in less than 5% of teams and could potentially be a dangerous late-season POD, although beware Cronulla do face last year's grand finalists the Roosters and Raiders in the final two rounds.

Warriors: Loan signings George Jennings and Daniel Alvaro return after last week's Eels game with Gerard Beale and Josh Curran dropping out of the 17.

It was another good week for Tohu Harris (65) and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (57) last round while Jazz Tevaga rebounded from a controversial sin-binning to post a solid 49. RTS looms as a potential trade for Kalyn Ponga if you're desperate for points this round.

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