Nathan Cleary is out for a tricky three weeks and a stack of low to mid-range cheapies have been named for round one.
You can't fit them all in, so who are the best options for round one?
This week's big questions
Besides Randall and Ilias, which other cash cows should be on my radar?
This is the big question this week. Brad Schneider at the Raiders will be the other very popular one. The rest all have question marks over either their job security or price rise potential but Brisbane's Billy Walters, Viliame Vailea at the Warriors, Wests Tigers back-rower Kelma Tuilagi, Roosters centre Billy Smith, Dragons playmaker Talatau Amone and Eels duo Sean Russell and Will Penisini all have some moneymaking potential.
Is Taumalolo a round one option with his big minute lock role 'confirmed'?
Taumalolo's minutes didn't actually drop much last year: he averaged 59 minutes in 2021, 61 the year before and 64 in 2019, which was the highest they'd been since 2014. If they do go up this year, we're probably talking about an average of up to five minutes per game. His age and the increased pace of the game make it hard to see where any drastic improvement in his Fantasy output comes from.
Your NRL Fantasy questions answered - Part 3
Do you see Turbo's price dropping due to Manly's tough first few games?
Tom Trbojevic's frankly ridiculous 2021 output make it almost mathematically impossible for his price to stay as high as it is. A tricky opening fortnight against the Panthers and Roosters won't make scoring any easier so there's a chance you'll be able to pick him up a bit cheaper. But he's also likely to be in the best couple of Fantasy players all year and with Nathan Cleary missing the first three weeks, if you really want Turbo you're probably better off getting him now, taking the points and saving a trade.
What are your thoughts on Xavier Coates this year?
The theory is that a move from the Broncos (the second-worst attacking side of 2021) to the top-scoring side of 2021 in the Storm should boost Coates's try-scoring output. It probably will a bit, but Storm wingers don't tend to be great Fantasy options and Coates also isn't the metre-eating, tackle-busting style of winger that suits Fantasy. He averaged 106 metres per game with just under 1.5 tackle busts per match last year. He also scored 11 tries at Brisbane in his 17 games – other than Josh Addo-Carr's 23, no other Storm player scored more than 14 last year as they shared it around so even the big increase in tries may not eventuate.
Who should I start with between Matt Burton and Nicho Hynes?
Burton is priced at 48 but averaged 62 at Penrith for games he started in the halves, with plenty of kick metres, and also appears to have picked up goal-kicking duties (he kicked just six last year). He's set to be the focal point of Canterbury's attack and should get plenty of work so it's pretty much all upside for Burton.
Hynes has also moved from a dominant team to a re-building team and is also priced around 48. He'll also kick goals at his new club, but was Melbourne's main goal-kicker for most of last year already. He looked really good in the trials in his switch from fullback to the halves and should be good this year but of the two, Burton appears the safer bet.
Is TPJ a value buy?
Tevita Pangai jnr has arrived at the Bulldogs from Brisbane via a short stint at the Panthers and is set for a big-minute edge forward role. He averaged around 61 minutes last year, taking the Penrith stint into account, so could easily bump that up a bit. But at $668k and a break-even of 54, he's probably not set for much in the way of price rises. One thing in his favour is the offloads to hand increasing from two points to four, with TPJ set to be one of the main beneficiaries.
Is Capewell an option after moving to the Broncos?
Kurt Capewell was already a big-minute starting player at the Panthers last year, averaging close to 70 minutes per match. He doesn't get the number of busts and tries of the elite Fantasy EDG players so I think there's better options around.
Aitken or Bird in the centres - who has better job security?
CTR is traditionally the worst-scoring position in Fantasy, so stacking it with players who are available there but actually play in the forwards is often a good strategy, as long as they are big-minute players. Both Jack Bird at the Dragons and Euan Aitken at the Warriors have recently moved from the centres to the pack. Both have plenty of other players who could play there (eg Tariq Sims at the Dragons and Bayley Sironen at the Warriors) but each appears to be preferred by their respective coach. I'd guess both are set for a decent run at a starting edge forward spot and they're almost exactly the same price so just go with your gut on this one.
NRL Fantasy analysis: Warriors
Is it worth having a suspended player such as Latrell in your side for Round 1?
I tend to try and avoid it unless it's someone really compelling. If Nathan Cleary was back in round two rather than round four, for example, or Harry Grant is one I'm looking closely at. Latrell is definitely back in round two, so if you're desperate to have him this year you're better off starting him than wasting a trade getting him in in the early rounds.