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NRL Fantasy teams analysis: Round 3

A shortage of reliable cash cows and some underwhelming scores from some usually-reliable guns has Fantasy coaches scrambling early in the season.

Round 3 Analysis

Dragons: Moses Mbye takes over from Andrew McCullough (elbow) at hooker, Jackson Ford and Jack Gosiewski join the bench and George Burgess is out.

Talatau Amone (27) improved slightly and is worth persisting with for now – ideally outside of your playing 17. Ben Hunt (85) is always capable of monster scores but don't expect one every week. Jack Bird (47) is a set-and-forget at CTR.

Sharks: Siosifa Talakai starts for the suspended Teig Wilton, with Braydon Trindall back on the bench. How he gets into the game will be interesting.

Nicho Hynes (84) was awkwardly priced to start the year but that's already looking like a bargain with $59k in price rises so far. Andrew Fifita (26) is eking out some small price rises in limited minutes off the bench. Dale Finucane (57) has been consistent in big minutes but the reintroduction of Cam McInnes (18) could affect that.

Wests Tigers: Kelma Tuilagi (head knock) is out, James Tamou and Jacob Liddle return and Jackson Hastings has been named pending a trip to the judiciary on Tuesday night. Luke Garner starts, Alex Twal and Jake Simpkin drop to the bench, Alexander Seyfarth drops to the extended bench and Jock Madden in the reserves provides cover for Hastings.

The loss of Tuilagi off the back of a poor score is frustrating for Fantasy coaches but he's ideally a hold for now. Hastings showed signs of coming good in Fantasy and had picked up goal-kicking duties (but missing his only shot). He can be sold if out for three weeks but is worth holding this week if he gets his dangerous throw charge downgraded. Stefano Utoikamanu (27) would've scored a lot better if he hadn't dropped the ball over the try-line but is heading towards sell territory if better scores don't start to come soon.

Warriors: Just the one change, with Kodi Nikorima recalled at halfback in place of Ash Taylor. Euan Aitken (40) was quieter than in round one but still a keeper at CTR. Josh Curran (59) looks like he will be pumping out keeper scores at least until Tohu Harris returns in 6-8 weeks. Jesse Arthars is one to watch after notching 37 with no attacking stats. He's dual position and just over $300k but no guarantee to hold the spot when Viliami Vailea returns in a month or so.

Rabbitohs: Taane Milne starts at centre with Jaxson Paulo on the wing, which is how the pair finished up last week. Cameron Murray is named to return to the run-on side, although his game-day benching proved just the tonic for his Fantasy owners last week as he cranked out a monster 82 points, playing out the game after coming on early. Lachlan Ilias (18) is cheap enough to hold a bit longer but can't be relied on in your 17. Jai Arrow (41) came back down to earth after a big round one score.

Roosters: Angus Crichton has been benched for Nat Butcher while Connor Watson has been named to return to the run-on side, though could be benched again on game day.

Crichton has only averaged 45.5 over the first two weeks and his benching is frustrating news for the nearly 10% of teams running with him. If he spends time in the middle the work rate boost could alleviate the loss of minutes but he could be a sell sooner than later. Fletcher Baker (26) is a hold this week but isn't getting the minutes to be a viable cash cow. James Tedesco (63) should be a season-long keeper again. Billy Smith (17) is probably a hold if you have him in the hopes he finds some attacking stats soon.

Panthers: Taylan May takes over on the wing for Brian To'o (knee, 6-8 weeks) while Spencer Leniu is officially named on the bench this week and gun halfback Nathan Cleary nears a return after being named in jersey 24.

Leniu's try-boosted 53 last week was great news for anyone who took a punt on him as a cheapie following Moses Leota's injury but his 31 minutes were less than ideal. May is only available at centre for now and already costs $300k but has some upside if he can bag a few tries while To'o is out. Isaah Yeo averages 70 after two games

Knights: Kalyn Ponga and Daniel Saifiti return, with Tex Hoy out and Mitch Barnett shifting wider to cover the loss of Lachlan Fitzgibbon (knee). Chris Randall (45) continues to make fast cash, but not as fast as Dane Gagai (72) who has gone up $94k in two weeks off an already-high price tag and is the top Fantasy scorer after two rounds. Jake Clifford (54) is putting up keeper scores, admittedly with the aid of tries in each game, while Dom Young (36) has also had a big start to the year. Leo Thompson (45) could make some good coin if he holds the spot but the Knights have a few forwards set to return in the coming weeks. Kurt Mann (30) has been underwhelming Fantasy-wise at lock so far.

Storm: Harry Grant was ruled out with COVID almost immediately after the team lists were submitted, with a replacement to be named later in the week. Brandon Smith (broken hand) could come into calculations after being named on the bench. Smith's impending return means Josh King (48) is not a buy, although he is a hold for now if you have him after a good score last week. Ryan Papenhuyzen (34) was strangely quiet in round two but is a definite hold, while Xavier Coates (30) is scoring tries and holding his value but nothing more than that.

Eels: Nathan Brown starts, Oregon Kaufusi reverts to the bench and Wiremu Greig replaces Jake Arthur on the pine after Arthur never got on against Cronulla.

Will Penisini (36) continues to push out reliable scores without yet getting any attacking involvement. Isaiah Papali'i (54) is holding his value, as is Mitch Moses (52). Dylan Brown (59) and Reed Mahoney (51) improved on their round one scores. Those five players look reliable options this year but there are no compelling Fantasy buys at the Eels right now.

Raiders: Jordan Rapana returns from suspension in place of James Schiller and Brad Schneider returns from COVID in place of Matt Frawley, who reverts to the bench at the expense of Adrian Trevilyan.

The Schiller (5) cash-cow experiment appears over but Schneider is a definite buy this week for non-owners. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (6) will be an urgent sell if he doesn't come good this week. Tom Starling (38) has some upside following the awful news of Josh Hodgson's season-ending injury but a middling score last week and presence of bench utilities make him far from must-have.

Titans: Unchanged. Beau Fermor (70) looks to have sewn up a big-minute edge role, with a try boosting him to a much-improved score in round two and he could almost be a cut-price keeper. David Fifita's been short on work rate and attacking stats so far with 44 points in 64 minutes against the Warriors. Erin Clark (31) has made a little money thanks to his round one try but is probably a sell from next week.

Broncos: Unchanged. Payne Haas (58) had a mortal score last week but is still the best captaincy option. Billy Walters (32) is a hold for another week after a decent score off the bench but there's not much else of interest for Fantasy coaches here at the moment.

Cowboys: Also unchanged, with Jamayne Taunoa-Brown (knee) named in the reserves.

Jeremiah Nanai (17) saved his round two score somewhat with a late try after producing a startling 28 demerits, which is hopefully a once-off. Tom Gilbert (24) played close to 80 minutes but got none of the attacking stats of round one while Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow (31) also dropped off. Jason Taumalolo had a pretty good game in real life but 40 points in 53 minutes is less than ideal all around in Fantasy.

Sea Eagles: Unchanged. Tom Trbojevic has lost $117k in two games, easily the most of any player, and will lose another $100k or so this week if he maintains his current average. Normally the play is to never sell a keeper but you can free up around $200k by moving him to James Tedesco or Nicho Hynes this week which is worth considering given the current shortage of reliable cash cows. Ethan Bullemor still has an achievable break-even but will be an urgent sell as early as next week if Andrew Davey continues to take the bulk of his minutes.

Bulldogs: Trent Barrett has named the side as he named it last Tuesday, with Tevita Pangai jnr on an edge, Luke Thompson in the run-on side and Corey Waddell on the bench – but that could change again come game day.

Pangai (56) was dynamic last week with seven offloads across three separate spells in the middle for 50 minutes in total. Matt Burton (62) came good with a healthy stats sheet while Max King (55) has made $107k in two weeks and looks like a must-own.

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