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NRL Fantasy teams analysis: Round 18 – reinforcements arrive

All the Origin players have been named to back up while there were some good pieces of news on the injury front for Fantasy coaches in the round 18 team lists.

Here is all the key news for your NRL Fantasy team this week.

Round 18 team news

Titans v Eels, Friday 6pm at Cbus Super Stadium

Titans: The three Queensland representatives have been named to back up and David Fifita is free to play after serving his one-game suspension in Origin III in what is an unchanged 17 from the side that ran riot in Canberra in round 17.

Owners will be hoping Tyrone Peachey gets more involvement after his four points last start. Fifita should be rested and fired up after missing Origin. Jamal Fogarty has two 90-plus scores in his past three games.

Eels: Reed Mahoney returns from a month out with a shoulder injury at hooker pushing Joey Lussick to the reserves. Mitch Moses and Junior Paulo are named to back up from Origin, with Paulo starting at prop and Marata Niukore swapping to the bench.

Isaiah Papali'i has a three-round average of almost 83 and Mitch Moses has a three-game average of 76. Reed Mahoney could be a handy point-of-difference option for the run home but there's no urgency to get him this week.

Sea Eagles v Dragons, Friday 7.55pm at Cbus Super Stadium

Sea Eagles: Josh Schuster makes his long-awaited return in the back row, pushing Karl Lawton to the bench. Tom Trbojevic and Daly Chery-Evans have both been named to back up from Origin III with Dylan Walker heading to the bench and Moses Suli dropping to the reserves along with Cade Cust and Jack Gosiewski. Jake Trbojevic is still sidelined.

Cherry-Evans scored 122 backing up from Origin in round 14 but there have to be questions over whether Trbojevic will be risked two days after playing Origin III. Schuster's return is huge for the many coaches still holding him. Reuben Garrick averages 76 over his past four games. Jason Saab is the second most-owned Manly player but his seven-point return last round highlights his struggles to score points when he doesn't score tries.

Dragons: The infamous barbeque has wreaked chaos on the team sheet. Of the side that came back to beat the Warriors in round 16, Paul Vaughan (sacked), Matt Dufty, Tyrell Fuimaono and Daniel Alvaro (all suspended) are out. Jackson Ford starts at lock, Jack De Belin moves to prop, Tyrell Sloan starts at fullback and Poasa Faamausili joins the bench along with loan player Jamayne Taunoa-Brown. Tariq Sims and Ben Hunt are both named to back up from Origin.

The Dragons' most-owned player, Jack Bird, is named this week but has to serve a one-game ban in the coming weeks. Hunt averages a tick over 70 in his past six games but will have a huge workload at hooker in Origin III. De Belin's price has levelled out.

Raiders v Sharks, Saturday 3pm at Cbus Super Stadium

Raiders: Jack Wighton and Josh Papalii are named to back up with Matt Frawley in reserves and Dunamis Lui out with a calf strain and the team otherwise unchanged from the win over Manly, with Elliott Whitehead still unavailable.

Corey Harawira-Naera is easily Canberra's most-owned player but has been quiet of late with three sub-50 scores in his past four. Xavier Savage started brightly against Manly but wasn't heavily involved once his team got on the front foot and finished with 26, casting doubt over his value as a late-season cash-out.

Sharks: Josh Hannay has named the same 17 that got the job done against the Warriors, with Briton Nikora in the run-on side and Sifa Talakai on the bench at this stage.

The only players of interest in the Sharks squad are Shaun Johnson and Jesse Ramien. Johnson has a five-round average over 62 and hasn't scored sub-50 since returning from injury while Ramien averages over 50 when playing 80 minutes and has busted 10 or more tackles in a game three times this year.

Cowboys v Roosters, Saturday 5.30pm at Queensland Country Bank Stadium

Cowboys: Maroons trio Val Holmes, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow and Francis Molo are all named to return to the side. Daejarn Asi, Javid Bowen and Lachlan Burr drop to the reserves with Coen Hess reverting to the bench alongside Peter Hola, who is in for the suspended Heilum Luki.

Jason Taumalolo's price has started to creep back up after shedding over $200k and he now has three straight 50-plus scores.

Roosters: James Tedesco and Angus Crichton are named to return from Origin duty. Joey Manu returns to centre with Billy Smith dropping out, Isaac Liu moves to prop with Siosiua Taukeiaho out and Fletcher Baker replaces Ben Thomas on the bench.

Tedesco is a huge candidate for a rest depending on how Origin III pans out. In Sam Verrills' past two games as a starting hooker he averages 65 minutes but hasn't made it count on the scoreboard. Despite making around 40 tackles in both games he has scored a total of two points from run metres and -16 from demerits making him a very slow-burn cash cow and unreliable for a spot in your 17.

Storm v Knights, Saturday 7.35pm at AAMI Park

Storm: All five Origin players have been named to back up, with Craig Bellamy naming the same 17 players that thrashed the Roosters in round 16. The only tweak is Christian Welch named to start with Tui Kamikamica on the bench.

Brandon Smith's habit of scoring a try per game since round eight has to come to a stop at some point. Jahrome Hughes is coming off 48 against the Roosters – his first score under 50 since round four. Nicho Hynes continues to get the job done in the absence of Ryan Papenhuyzen with 69 in round 16.

Knights: Tyson Frizell (ankle) returns in the back row with Mitch Barnett shifting to lock and Sauaso Sue out. Kalyn Ponga is named to back up from Origin while Daniel Saifiti has been named despite missing Origin III due to a rib injury.

Ponga will want to play after missing so much footy this year but having just got over his niggling groin issue there is still a chance he will be rested, although his two tries and two assists last game show he will be a huge asset for the run home. Connor Watson scored 86 off the bench with two tries against the Cowboys.

Warriors v Panthers, Sunday 2pm at Suncorp Stadium

Warriors: Josh Curran (COVID protocols) and Kane Evans return on the bench in place of Ben Murdoch-Masila and Jack Murchie. Tohu Harris and Chad Townsend may make early returns this week or next with each named in the reserves list.

Reece Walsh had a very mixed game against the Sharks but did enough to finish with 59 points. Harris suddenly looks like a hold after appearing on the extended bench. Wayde Egan has a five-round average of 65 but the looming returns of Townsend and Chanel Harris-Tavita could cut into his minutes.

Panthers: Dylan Edwards returns, allowing Charlie Staines to return to the three-quarter line and Matt Burton shifts to the halves (for real this time) to replace Jarome Luai (knee). All five Origin players have been named to back up but that could change depending how Origin III pans out.

Burton had one of his worst scores of the year stuck in the centres in a grinding game against the Eels in round 16 but his worst score in the halves so far this year is 55 from three starts.

Broncos v Wests Tigers, Sunday 4.05pm at Suncorp Stadium

Broncos: Brisbane's three Origin players have been named to back up in what is an unchanged starting 13 from the round 16 win over Cronulla. Cory Paix and Tom Flegler displace Jesse Arthars and Ethan Bullemor on the bench.

Haas scored a superb 84 against the Sharks and has shown he can back up from Origin. Gamble is looking like a good hold for those that still have him with a three-round average of almost 55.

Wests Tigers: Adam Doueihi rejoins Luke Brooks in the halves with Moses Mbye dropping to the bench and Fetalaiga Pauga to debut at centre. A rejigged forward pack sees Stefano Utoikamanu and Tom Mikaele start, Alex Twal benched, Alex Seyfarth and Shawn Blore dropped and Tukimihia Simpkins debut on the bench.

The Tigers continue to be a lottery for Fantasy coaches, making Pauga a highly risky proposition despite his price tag. Daine Laurie's price is in freefall after three scores in the 20s.

Rabbitohs v Bulldogs, Sunday 6.15pm at Cbus Super Stadium

Rabbitohs: The full Origin cohort is named to back up so Latrell Mitchell, Dane Gagai, Damien Cook and Cam Murray may all play if they come through Origin III unscathed. Blake Taaffe, Braidon Burns, Peter Mamouzelos and Hame Sele all drop out.

Backline stars Gagai, Alex Johnston and Campbell Graham have each put up some huge scores of late but rely heavily on tries to do so. Latrell Mitchell hasn't scored over 50 since being suspended in round six (unless you count State of Origin games).

Bulldogs: Ave Seumanufagai returns from suspension in place of Ofahiki Ogden on the bench and Josh Jackson swaps to an edge with Renouf Atoni at lock in the only changes from last week.

Jake Averillo's run of huge scores appears to be over, with his price dropping fast after consecutive scores in the 30s and Lachlan Lewis now taking some kick metres from him. No Bulldogs player has been scoring well of late except Josh Jackson but there are better Fantasy options elsewhere.

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