The NRL Fantasy Front: Round 6

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Each week we will assess the week that was and analyse the upcoming round in light of Tuesday evening’s team announcements. As part of our analysis, we’ll provide a weekly episode of Blindside TV: The NRL Fantasy Front, revealing our own thoughts and plans on our personal fantasy line-ups, as well as some exclusive insight into a few players we believe are worth pursuing or avoiding. On top of that, our weekly article will cover everything from injuries to suspensions, team changes to minute adjustments, must-buys to must-sells. You needn’t go further for your one-stop shop for everything fantasy.

Team NameCoachRound RankingRound PointsOverall RankingRank MovementTotal Points
Hala GoodbyeJames Adler7915853345-974190
Pearce's PrideRoman Barbera29818892204+12614059

Don’t forget to read our Round 6 NRL Match previews and predictions.

In general, Round 5 was high-scoring, but at how much of a cost did temporary success come? Adam Reynolds and Aidan Guerra are injured, James Graham suspended. Paul Gallen, Robbie Farah, Glenn Stewart, Greg Inglis and Issac Luke all had injury-interrupted outings, whilst Josh Mansour, Jarrod Mullen, Daly Cherry-Evans, Sam Lisone, Euan Aitken (unfair, we know) and Suaso Sue all disappointed. Tyrone Roberts even managed a 2! We’re across your options, giving you the statistics and information you need to get the most out of your team this coming weekend. As always, if you have a question or research assignment for one of our writers, you can ask us on our NRL Fantasy Forum, on Blindside Sport’s Facebook page, on twitter @BlindsideSport or in the comments section below.

NRL Fantasy Analysis: Round 6

Hookers

Michael Lichaa’s owners would have been alarmed by Josh Reynolds’ early return from injury, however Tim Lafai’s timely injury removed the chance of the cash-cow hooker receiving reduced minutes. Lichaa played 78 minutes on Good Friday and following Moses Mbye’s shift to the centres for what looks like the medium term, he looks a definite hold through until Round 16 at the earliest. On the topic of Origin, Nathan Peats should find himself on your watchlist heading towards the byes. The Parramatta hooker is playing 80 minutes per game, even with Portuguese international Isaac De Gois on the bench. With byes in Round 15 and 18, Peats is the ideal cover for Cameron Smith, James Segeyaro or basically any number 9 except Robbie Farah or Issac Luke. Of course his point-scoring potential is equally important, however Peats’ average of 51.5 over the past 4 games makes him a legitimate, underpriced upgrade option for those 20,448 coaches with Thomas Leuluai or the 15,348 with Tyler Randell.

On the captaincy front, Robbie Farah’s ear injury is unlikely to keep him out of Saturday’s clash with the Warriors, rendering himself a feasible captaincy option alongside the likes of Cameron Smith and James Segeyaro.

Front Row

James Graham’s four week suspension will give 27,360 coaches an important decision to make. If you’re stocked on trades and have no other pressing concerns, Graham can likely be traded, however for many he should be considered a keeper, with good bye coverage and a definite return date. David Klemmer also finds himself suspended, however is a definite hold. Sam Kasiano is the third Bulldog suspended, however will only miss two games. Combined, the trio played 137 minutes against the Rabbitohs on Easter Friday, minutes which will have to be replaced. Expect Greg Eastwood to play the 80 minutes, however as last year showed, don’t expect those increased minutes to equate to increased Fantasy production. Tim Browne has been named to start, and at $211,000 he represents a potential point of difference, especially when you consider he is owned by just 0.51% of coaches. Having scored 1.06 PPM this season, guaranteed minutes would represent a serious coup. Aiden Tolman represents the safest option however, and owned in just 1832 teams, he comes in as a surprising point of difference. Having averaged 56 points per round over the past 3 weeks, he’s set to be a top 6 front rower over the course of the season.

George Burgess attends the judiciary on Wednesday night. We’ll update his situation as the news regarding his appeal breaks.

Ryan James’ 59 means he’s set to make money over the next few weeks, a great relief to the many coaches faced with more pressing issues than matured rookies. Sam Lisone is a sell having averaged 19.7 over the past 3 weeks and having a breakeven of 28. Mitchell Dodds’ 40 was heavily inflated by 2 tries and as such, he shouldn’t be invested in. Tom Burgess has been discussed in recent weeks and remains a moderately attractive ‘buy’ candidate, whilst James Tamou shouldn’t be purchased despite an encouraging showing on Monday night.

There are no new players at the position we’d consider selling on performance grounds. Andrew Fifita is a bona fide keeper, whilst Jesse Bromwich is receiving good minutes and will hopefully start earning them in the near future.

Second Row

Aidan Guerra’s injury has thrown a spanner in the works for many coaches. Consecutive poor scores have also seen him lose value, removing the prospect of an attractive sideways trade. Players we’d consider are Glenn Stewart, Tohu Harris, Ethan Lowe, Elijah Taylor, Shaun Fensom and Trent Merrin. We’ll rank them in this week’s NRL Fantasy Front video. Stewart’s primary attraction is his bye schedule, however for those who don’t own the former Sea Eagle, removing a point of difference isn’t the greatest of ideas, especially if you’re chasing overall success. Harris, Taylor and Lowe benefit from being 80-minute workhorses, however the latter’s better bye schedule should be a consideration.

After Round 2 we referred to St George’s defensive prowess and how it was leading to inflated scores for the side’s tackling forwards. Those opening matches however were no fluke. Not only have the Dragons still made the most tackles by a considerable margin, but they’ve completed the 3rd most sets, allowing a fast pace of play and inflated scores for themselves and their opposition. Tyson Frizell, Jack de Belin and Trent Merrin have benefited, all averaging over 50 points per game. With Ben Creagh reportedly on the mend, Trent Merrin is the only one we’d invest in with confidence, at this stage.

Suaso Sue falls into the same category as James Graham. Whilst selling him may be an appealing option, Sue averages terrific bye coverage and should only be abandoned if you have no other pressing concerns. He will average 45 over the 3 major bye rounds and should consistently break 30 points on other occasions. We’ll be holding for at least another week. Josh Jackson becomes an attractive proposition in the absence of the Bulldogs’ suspended trio, with the back row of Williams, Jackson and Eastwood potentially needing to account for 240 minutes in each of the side’s fixtures over the next fortnight.

Mitchell Aubusson doesn’t divide opinion anymore. Everyone is united on the fact that he’s a terrible fantasy proposition. Regardless, with Guerra injured and Aubusson named to replace him in the starting line-up, several Roosters are in the frame to benefit. Isaac Liu, Sio Siua Taukeiaho, Kane Evans and Dylan Napa should all increase their role, however Napa’s Origin prospects should count against him in your decision-making process. Aubusson’s dual-position eligibility and proven scoring record if given opportunity should entice all, even his greatest detractors. Through Round 1-10 last season, Aubusson played 75 minutes or more on 5 occasions, scoring over 45 every time. He’ll be ‘reliable’ (and we use that term with hesistation) for 4-6 weeks whilst Guerra is out, and in Round 14 when Cordner and Guerra are on Origin duty.

Halves

Adam Reynolds’ injury is the major talking point at the position this week. Compounding Mitchell Cornish’s fall from favour and Daniel Mortimer’s injury, Reynolds has created ‘must-trade’ situations for many. Our rule of thumb is that if his knee injury is revealed to be serious enough to keep him out for only 1-2 weeks, he should be held. Anything from 5 weeks onwards is a must-sell and anything in the 3-4 week range is a call to be made in context. If you have a Daly Cherry Evans, Johnanthan Thurston, Jarrod Mullen or Ben Hunt to fall back on, Reynolds is a hold, whilst for those with Cornish, he should be moved as a first priority unless the added salary cap freed up by Reynolds makes a substantial difference. These situations are discussed in greater detail in this week’s video.

Our rationale behind the Reynolds situation is as follows: If Reynolds returns in Round 10 and continues to average 60 points per match, he’ll produce 420 points for your team in the 13 matches between Round 6 and Round 19. You’ll obviously have to cover for his absence with a reserve (hypothetically we’ll say that reserve will score 30 points per match). In total, across those 13 rounds you’ll score 600 points (at an average of 46.15 per week) from that one position (from a combination of Reynolds and your selected reserve). You’ll have spent no trades and will have Adam Reynolds, a premium half, to show at the end of it. If you trade Reynolds to Johnson (we’ll assume Johnson will score 45 points per week across those 13 weeks), you’ll receive 495 points once you account for his two byes (in which the 30-point averaging reserve will be inserted). In all, that option sees you spend a trade, score only 555 points over the 13 rounds and finish with Shaun Johnson as your ‘keeper’. The final option is to sideways trade Reynolds to Ben Hunt (we’ll hypothesise Hunt to average 53 points per week). Under this model, you’ll score 643 points over the 13 rounds, have spent 1 trade and have Hunt as your keeper. Whilst there are obviously variables such as additional salary cap by virtue of selling Reynolds, the potential to bring Reynolds back into your side (in which case you’ll expend a minimum of 2 trades to secure yourself 60 points under the Johnson option or 92 points under the Hunt option) and the potential for our proffered averages to not eventuate, it seems that the best way to deal with the situation of a short-term injury is hold Reynolds and ensure your temporary replacement is as good as possible.

John Sutton and Luke Keary will occupy the halves in Reynolds’ absence, however we’re unconvinced by the potential of either. Sutton was underwhelming when playing in the halves last season, and in his lone appearance alongside Keary, didn’t assume primary kicking responsibilities. On that occasion, Keary kicked for 279 metres, compared to Sutton’s 154. Souths lost, but that doesn’t necessarily excuse Keary’s 29 points and Sutton’s 30. Despite the fact that bringing in either would represent a simple solution, we’d advise against it.

More ideal replacements include Ben Hunt, Daly Cherry-Evans, Jonathan Thurston, Shaun Johnson, Jarrod Mullen, Aidan Sezer or Kane Elgey. The other option is to use dual-position players to engineer an opening elsewhere on your roster. Jarrod Mullen will bounce back and should be held, however his breakeven of 68 means he shouldn’t be invested in just yet. Ben Hunt faces a Roosters side which reduced the Raiders to 340 kicking metres, Penrith to 373 metres and Souths to 403 metres. Mitchell Cornish is the only player to kick for over 300 metres individually against the Roosters all year. We’re expecting Hunt to underwhelm this weekend, however he’s moderately discounted at present and should average close to 50 for the rest of the season. He should be preferred to Daly Cherry-Evans, who has relinquished more responsibility to Kieran Foran than even we anticipated. In all, ‘DCE’ averaged 73.5 in games without Foran, whilst averaging a still respectable 48.67 alongside the New Zealand international.

Shaun Johnson is an interesting prospect. No matter how you look at his potential selection, it is a risk. He did begin last season with 24 in Round 1 and 38 in Round 2, however his current form clump has endured for five weeks. Of greater concern, in his two most recent clashes with Round 1 opponents Newcastle, Johnson had averaged 56.5 points per outing. This year, he churned out a 41. The trend continues with Parramatta (scored 34 after a producing a 68 last time out), Canberra (scored 28 after averaging 72) and Melbourne (scored 43 after producing a 73 last year). At the same time, Johnson is regarded as an eratic scorer, even if he did score under 40 on just 4 occasions last season. The positive news is that Johnson’s career average against this weekend’s opposition, West Tigers, is 68.5. His average against the ensuing two opposition both exceed 59. We can understand picking him up given his price and breakeven of 52, however there is substantial risk involved.

Kane Elgey should be pursued if you cannot afford any of the above options. He won’t average more than 33 in his maiden season and will provide average cover during the byes.

Centres

Jack Bird will lead discussion at the position this week, however whilst we’re sold on both his ability and Fantasy merit, we don’t believe he is a ‘must own’. Part of that opinion stems from the fact that most sides will have more pressing issues this week, whilst the other part comes from our stance on trade management. There is no point investing in a cash cow you don’t have enough trades to sell on and benefit from. In theory, you need to spend 2 trades to combine two cash cows into a ‘keeper’. Most sides will have between 24 and 28 trades remaining after this week, so whilst you can probably afford to spend on on bringing in Bird and his -31 breakeven, is it worth it? For teams with Aitken, Kata, Coote and Soliola, the investment isn’t necessary, however for those who missed out on Aitken, now is a good time to play catch-up. Look at your trade strategy and calculate whether you can afford to spend one to bring Bird in and another to move him on and reap the benefits. Keep in mind he’ll offer little in the way of Origin coverage. For those debating whether to start Euan Aitken or Bird, we’re favouring the former.

Solomone Kata appears to have held his centre spot, however the Warriors have no shortage of talented backs returning from injury. A potential shift to the wing looms, however until then Kata should still make money. Josh Dugan has discovered the form we expected him to bring into the 2015 season, breaking tackles at will and racking up mammoth totals at the back. With an average of 198 metres, 7 tackle breaks and 2 offloads over the past fortnight, Dugan is ready to be picked up. He’s currently $26,000 cheaper than he began the year and has a breakeven of 21. Shaun Kenny-Dowall returned to the centres with a respectable 37 points on the weekend. We touted him as a point of difference candidate last week and given the Roosters lost last start, our advice stands.

Jamal Idris and Will Chambers were the only elite centres to disappoint this past weekend, with Idris’ move to the back row a reason to sell the former Bulldog. He may have played 45 minutes defending more centrally, but it was obvious the $379,000 centre was entirely lost. We’ve waited for the emergence of Waqa Blake all season, and whilst the youngster wasn’t exceptional, his talent is obvious. Once Dean Whare returns in Round 7, the fate of Idris and Blake will be inexplicably linked. One will become a reliable centre whilst the other will be either dropped or moved into one of the most congested back-row rotations in the NRL.

Wings and Fullbacks

A knee injury clearly hampered Greg Inglis on Good Friday, and whilst Souths say their star fullback will manage the pain, we’re unsure as to whether to hold. In his favour, Inglis is a star, capable of scoring at will. Against him, the representative centre has seemed disinterested and distracted at times this campaign. Currently, his breakeven stands at 58 and he is a hold, however given that he should be sold by Round 13 at the latest given his bye schedule, owners have an ‘out’ if they wish to jump ship early. Fellow premium Josh Mansour got his 2015 off to the perfect start, however two underwhelming outings has seen him shed $60,000 and enter Round 6 with a breakeven of 81. Sit back and watch his price crumble with the view to picking him up after his Round 14 bye (assuming he doesn’t get an Origin call-up).

Brett Morris should be sold after being ruled out for up to two months with a hamstring injury, with James Tedesco and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck the obvious replacements. Whilst both are respectable options, we favour Josh Dugan’s scoring potential. James Tedesco’s bye schedule is the other factor to be considered however. Jack Wighton has continued to score well, however his success seems inextricably linked to the Raiders’ ability to perform. With matches against the Storm, Tigers, Reynolds-less Rabbitohs, Dragons and a Bulldogs outfit without its Origin players upcoming, we feel he should continue to score consistently. Billy Slater has also been ruled out for up to a month with an AC joint sprain. His injury shouldn’t be of much relevance to fantasy coaches, save for it has the potential to interfere with Queensland’s Origin selection should the issue manifest into something more significant. Cameron Munster replaced Slater for portions of 2014, and at $142,000 is a potential cash cow, however with Lachlan Coote (21), Tom Trbojevic (-15) and Jack Bird (-31) all boasting negative breakevens, he’s far from the best cash cow back on the market.

Lachlan Coote’s involvement at the Cowboys has been impressive, however with North Queensland now stringing wins together, his job security has grown exponentially. An average of 40 isn’t out of the question, whilst his bye schedule is also relatively favourable. It isn’t too late to invest, however this week is probably your last opportunity given the $210,000 fullback’s breakeven is -21.

Another candidate earmarked by us in recent weeks has been Valentine Holmes. His involvement from fullback was scintillating against the Roosters, with his 8 tackle breaks coming in Roger Tuivasa-Sheck style. Whilst Michael Gordon still looms as a rival for the custodian jersey, we’re expecting Holmes to make it his own over the coming month. He doesn’t have a brilliant bye schedule, however if he can emulate the success of the Warriors-bound ‘RTS’, owners would have a serious bargain on their hands.

Don’t forget to read our Round 6 NRL Match previews and predictions.

As always, if you have a question or research assignment for one of our writers, you can ask us through the following channels:

Don’t forget to LIKE us on Facebook or follow us on twitter @BlindsideSport for a reminder as to when our Predictions are published each week! Roman Barbera can also be found on twitter @rombarbera.

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On twitter @rombarbera. Australian sports by day, international sports by night. Co-founder of Blindside Sport. Fantasy sport addict.

13 Comments

  1. I’ve got a bit of a problem with my Front Row Forwards and was wondering if you have any advice on what I should do.

    James Graham
    George Burgess
    David Klemmer
    Rory O’Brien

    I’ve got $82k salary remaining and 2 trades to work with.

  2. Ben, my first preference would be to trade our O’Brien, move James to FRF, Soliola to 2RF and bring in Jack Bird. It’ll use most of the cash you have stockpiled but it means you can at least fill your front row. I would still try and hold Graham and Klemmer for their use throughout the bye period, especially if you’re going for overall.

    Ryan James is probably only worth keeping for another 2 weeks or so, meaning that you can look to upgrade him to pretty much anyone in the front row seeing as you’ve already got cover for Rounds 11 and 14 at the position.

    It also means you still have a spare trade to address any other issues with your team. If you don’t have Reynolds, you could probably save it as well if you wanted.

  3. Love that trade. Makes so much sense. I do have other issues mostly in my halves. Here is the rest of my team. See if you can work some magic.

    HOK
    Robbie Farah
    Michael Lichaa

    HLF
    Shaun Johnson
    Tuimoala Lolohea
    Kane Elgey
    Issac John

    WFB
    Greg Inglis
    Euan Aitken
    Will Hopoate
    Jordan Kahu
    Eto Nabuli

    • So if you go O’Brien to Bird as one trade, you should be left with $30k. With byes around the corner moving Isaac John is a consideration, but you can’t do much with him this week. Hopoate has been terrible but is handy for byes, even if he’s on your bench. Lolohea can’t be upgraded to anyone of note with 30k, there are rumours Jennings could be given a call up as early as this week so he’s worth holding too.

      Kata to Aubusson is the only trade I’d make but that is fairly sideways. You’re better off saving the trade I think. Lolohea to Moses is another you could consider for Origin/bye reasons, especially if you’re not playing Lolohea as is. Would give you about $130,000 to work with next week but it obviously compromises your scoring depth a little.

      • Unfortunately I am 9K short for the Kata to Aubusson trade.
        I do play Lolohea over Elgey, so I might hang onto him at the moment.
        As you said I think I may be better off saving a trade this week.

        Thanks for the advice

  4. I think these are some of the most useful write-ups going around – great work.

    I have a question this week. I am torn between three options.

    Guerra > E.Taylor
    Reynolds > Hunt

    or

    Guerra > Fensom/Merrin
    Reynolds > SJ

    or

    Guerra > Bird via DPP
    Reynolds > Anyone, with varying amount of $ left over

    Any advice welcome!

    • Cheers PJ.
      I’ve been presented with a similar situation this week. Hunt is an interesting proposition and you’re unlikely to regret it even if he performs poorly (as I think he might this week). You’ll kick yourself if you pick up Johnson and he continues to suck.

      By the same token, in trading our a couple of guns, you want to bring in at least one keeper. Taylor is a good pick-up but I would have more faith in Fensom or Merrin. Bird is another decent option if you’re looking for a cash cow. To be honest, you can’t go wrong with any of them, but seeing as DCE, Johnson, Mullen are all going to go down in price whilst Fensom, Merrin, Taylor are all going to go up, I’d try and put off bringing in an elite half. For that reason I’d go with option 2 if you’re happy with your cash cow situation, or option 3 if you feel you need some cash and have trades left over.

      I think the ideal trade would be Merrin/Fensom and Bird, meaning you’d sit on Reynolds for a week and capitalise on Johnson/Mullen/DCE falling in price. I’m going to go Guerra and Sue (reluctantly) to Bird and Merrin, or potentially Guerra and Reynolds to Merrin and Johnson.

      Hope that helps.

      • Thanks for the tips. I needed a half to field a 17 so went for Johnson and Merrin in for Reynolds and Guerra. Put the C on Merrin. Oh how I regret those trades in hindsight! Hunt and Bird was the way to go but who could have predicted all those tries and Merrin’s epic second half rest!

        • Merrin should come back strong this week with Frizell out. I’d put the C on him, especially against a Broncos side which has forced an awful lot of tackles this year (most completed sets in 2015 so far). I’m pretty happy with my Merrin/Fensom and Bird advice, even if missing Hunt’s 90 was very frustrating. Bird scored 50 and was $300,000 cheaper. I’m still not sold on Johnson as an option. He score 48 in a game he would have scored 90 in last year. Still has good fixtures to come though so you’ll be alright holding him. This week’s article should be up tonight (maybe tomorrow morning) so if you’ve got another question this week, chuck it on there. If not, our FB page or @rombarbera on twitter is the way to go.

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