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A couple of pre-season Fantasy favourites have been promoted to starting spots this week while a few mid-rangers are on the chopping block.

Round 2 team news

Eels: Marata Niukore returns from suspension and replaces Keegan Hipgrave on the bench in Parramatta's only change.

Hooker Reed Mahoney had a superb game against Brisbane last week and became the first player to hit the 100-point mark in Fantasy, with 109. He's still outside the top 10 most-owned hookers with plenty of value elsewhere.

Junior Paulo (73) also scored a try in that game, as did Blake Ferguson (55), while Mitch Moses (67) is looking like a keeper again and former Warrior Isaiah Papali'i (54) made a huge impact in 56 minutes off the bench. Cheap centre Tom Opacic (35) made a promising start to the Fantasy season without a try.

Storm: No changes. Goal-kicking was just the cherry on top for Ryan Papenhuyzen (77) last week, with two tries, a try assist, five busts and 175 metres against Souths.

Cameron Munster (54) had a good score but one that included a try, and he finished with fewer kick metres than halves partner Jahrome Hughes (37).

Brandon Smith and Christian Welch (both 46) were also solid but don't yet look like early-season bargains despite injuries to Harry Grant and Dale Finucane.

Warriors: Euan Aitken (ankle) is set for eight to 10 weeks on the sidelines, with Adam Pompey replacing him at centre.

Addin Fonua-Blake (63) was one of the NRL's best performers last week with 202 metres, 22 tackles and five busts, while Bailey Sironen (62) and Leeson Ah Mau (61) both scored tries and got through plenty of work in the middle.

Chanel Harris-Tavita (50) got his season off to a good start, as did the typically strong Tohu Harris (61) in an arm-wrestle win over the Titans. Ben Murdoch-Masila managed just 20 points in 32 minutes off the bench.

Aitken one of several key injuries from Round 1

Knights: Connor Watson has been named to start after coming off the bench last week, while Phoenix Crossland is on standby in case Kurt Mann (knee) is a late withdrawal. Bradman Best (ankle) has also been named to play at this stage.

A rare try-scoring double helped Daniel Saifiti (86) to one of the best scores of round one, but the pleasant surprise for a lot of Fantasy coaches was the dominant performance of Jayden Brailey (78) at hooker. Brailey combined 50 tackles with a try assist, a couple of line-break assists and two turnover tackles.

Mitch Pearce (70), Tyson Frizell (67), David Klemmer (64) and a goal-kicking Mitch Barnett (62) all scored well in the win over the Bulldogs, while Watson (54) racked up a point-a-minute off the bench despite filling in at five-eighth rather than his planned lock role. Tex Hoy (28) is looking an increasingly risky buy for those who gambled on him in the absence of Kalyn Ponga.

Titans: Phillip Sami replaces Brian Kelly (hand, round 5) in the only change.

It's rare for a halfback to score well in a hefty defeat but Jamal Fogarty's base stats (117 run metres, 429 kick metres, 27 tackles) were excellent against the Warriors and helped him to a game-high 63 points with just the one goal and no other attacking stats.

David Fifita (60) scored well with five tackle breaks despite getting a 10 minute rest after being hospitalised with illness during the week. Tino Fa'asuamaleaui (41) got more game time than expected with 64 minutes but still struggled a little for points thanks to six missed tackles, two errors and a penalty.

Tyrone Peachey (49) played 51 minutes off the bench and could easily finished as the top-ranked "centre" in Fantasy this year.

Holbrook confident Titans will bounce back for Broncos blockbuster

Broncos: Tom Flegler replaces the injured Matt Lodge (hamstring, 2-3 weeks) at prop and Rhys Kennedy joins the bench.

Jake Turpin (53) and Pat Carrigan (64) met expectations with busy 80-minute performances in the middle for Brisbane last week but the big talking point is the return to Fantasy relevance of Anthony Milford (52) – who had his first 50-point game since round 2 last year.

Milford had 494 kick metres and would have scored even better if not for a career-high seven missed tackles. David Mead (44) scored a try and looked very good on the wing and has emerged as a sub-$300k cash cow candidate.

Bulldogs: Corey Waddell is a trade-out option after being benched with Raymond Faitala-Mariner starting in the second row, with Jeremy Marshall-King returning in place of Bradley Deitz on the interchange.

Kyle Flanagan (69) scored very well for a half in a losing side last week with three try assists and 500 kick metres, with Josh Jackson (50) the only other Bulldogs to make the half century without a try. Nick Cotric (46) made a very promising start to his new centre/wing role with seven tackle breaks and 158 metres.

Jake Averillo (20) didn't run the ball at all in a rain-affected loss and should improve on that showing but Jack Hetherington (23) struggled for points despite getting 57 minutes on the park.

Panthers: Unchanged. Nathan Cleary (96) more than lived up to expectations as Fantasy's most popular captain, racking up three turnover tackles, two try assists and a 40/20 along with his usual collection of stats across the board. It's early days but the initial signs suggests there could be a gap between Cleary and non-Cleary teams, at least in the early part of the season.

Brian To'o (79) had a dozen tackle breaks and a try on the wing, while Spencer Leniu (41) made 145 metres in 38 minutes off the bench. Api Koroisau (33) only played 48 minutes and could be a cut-price keeper in a month or so.

Sea Eagles: Cheapie Lachlan Croker (24) had 34 tackles, five misses and nothing else in 80 minutes last week and now has competition for dummy-half minutes with Cade Cust added to the bench after impressing with a hat-trick in the lower grades last week.

Andrew Davey (32) scored well in his 35 minutes off the bench and has been promoted to the starting side on an edge ahead of Jack Gosiewski. Davey scored 52 and 53 in his only two starts at the Eels last season.

Sean Keppie also joins the interchange with Tevita Funa and Morgan Boyle dropping out.

Jake Trbojevic (52) was his reliable self but there wasn't much else to speak of from Manly's heavy loss to the Roosters, with Daly Cherry-Evans (42) set to take a few dips in price after making seven missed tackles and three errors.

Suaalii, Walker and Cust star in NSW Cup first round

Rabbitohs: Jacob Host (26) is a sell after being dropped to the reserves along with Josh Mansour, with Keaon Koloamatangi and Jaxson Paulo into the starting side. Koloamatangi is an interesting prospect at $384k, having scored 28 in 34 minutes in the middle last week. He's only available as a middle forward but could be eligible for dual-position status if he holds an edge spot until the next DPP updates after round six.

Latrell Mitchell (84) burst out of the blocks with a brilliant first-up performance against Melbourne, featuring a try, a try assist, four offloads, 180 run metres and a whopping 11 tackle breaks. It easily surpassed any of his scores from 2020, although he did also produce a score of 63 against the Storm last year before averaging 37 across the season.

Jai Arrow (74) had a monstrous performance in just 45 minutes from the bench, while Damien Cook (37) could be a bargain in a month's time after an unusually quiet first game. 

Cowboys: Unchanged. Jason Taumalolo (33) was already a no-go due to his minutes reduction this season but his output was his worst in years, with just 73 metres in 51 minutes. It's the first time he's made less than 100 metres while playing more than 40 minutes since 2016.

Val Holmes (23) also struggled for points on the wing. In more positive news Michael Morgan (52) and Reece Robson (59) both produced good scores in a one-sided loss to Penrith.

Dragons: Just one change here with Corey Norman back from his ban in place of Adam Clune at five-eighth.

Andrew McCullough (67) did the job his owners asked of him with a league-high 64 tackles in his Dragons debut, while Ben Hunt (71) had two try assists and 119 run metres at halfback.

St George Illawarra have two middle forward cash cows up for grabs in Tyrell Fuimaono (44), who scored well in 59 minutes at lock, and Daniel Alvaro (40) who went at better than a point a minute off the bench.

Jack Bird (13) will surely improve after leaking seven missed tackles in his first game since early 2019.

Wests Tigers: A big win for rookie Daine Laurie (44) with the 21-year-old retaining the fullback spot despite Adam Doueihi's return at five-eighth, with Moses Mbye bumped to the interchange and Russell Packer dropping out. It makes Laurie just about a must-have cheapie at WFB.

There were some good signs for the Fantasy prospects of Luke Brooks (64) and Joe Ofahengaue (58) against Canberra, with the pair making four tackle breaks each and Brooks coming up with three turnover tackles. Ofahengaue's score came from a very busy 43 minutes and was the third best of his career.

Cash cow Jacob Liddle (51) lost 18 points through demerits but countered that with a try and 51 tackles. There is some risk he could lose a few minutes to Mbye this week. Fellow cheapies Stefano Utoikamanu (23) and James Roberts (19) were much quieter in their first games at the club but should improve as the year goes on.

Inside the decision to grant Suaalii's exemption

Roosters: Angus Crichton (67) has copped a one-match ban for a crusher tackle and is replaced by Nat Butcher, while Freddy Lussick starts at hooker for Jake Friend (head knock) and Drew Hutchison replaces Adam Keighran (wrist) on the bench. Fletcher Baker is the new name on the interchange, and likely drops out again when Crichton returns.

Lussick is cheap but is not a buy with Sam Verrills due to return from injury in the next round or two.

As one of the few elite edge forwards in Fantasy, Crichton is worth holding – even if you're desperate to make a trade for Nathan Cleary.

The "James Tedesco starts slow" theory was disproven on Saturday when Tedesco (75) scored a hat-trick in the Roosters' flogging of Manly, with Brett Morris (85) also grabbing three tries.

Sitili Tupouniua (62) was excellent on the opposite edge to Crichton, while Lindsay Collins (61) and Luke Keary (60) were also standouts.

Siosiua Taukeiaho (51) only got 43 minutes on the park but kicked four goals while Lachlan Lam (31) will need to get more involved to be a moneymaker this season.

Sharks: Jesse Ramien has copped a three-match ban, with Mawene Hiroti replacing him at centre.

The absence of Shaun Johnson meant Chad Townsend (59) did almost all the kicking for Cronulla on Sunday, with a huge 528 kick metres and six goals to go with a couple of try assists. His halves partner Matt Moylan (37) ran the ball well and did all he needs to be a quality moneymaker at his price.

Raiders: Unchanged. After replacing the suspended Corey Harawira-Naera in the starting line-up, Hudson Young (77) did his chances of holding his spot no harm with a try, 35 tackles and five busts in Sunday's win over the Tigers.

Joe Tapine (74) made seven tackle breaks in 42 minutes, while George Williams (61) had two try assists and five goals in the absence of Jarrod Croker.

Cash cow Bailey Simonsson (24) should improve after making a career-low 56 run metres on the wing, although he did chip in four tackle breaks and a nice try assist.

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