Identifying value in mid-rangers or guns is one of the trickiest parts of NRL Fantasy. Last season 31 (2015: 20) players with a starting price over $200k peaked at a price greater than $100k of where they started, and a number of those turned from mid-ranger to keeper and from keeper to elite keeper. Some of those players got a chance because of a mid-season injury, but players like Joey Leilua, Josh Mansour, Elliot Whitehead, Jamie Buhrer and Bryce Cartwrght all had pretty clear indicators during pre-season that they possessed significant value. Those are the sort of players I’m looking to identify here.

 

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck

RTS averaged 36.8 in the games leading up to his season ending injury. Considering where his price is starting that’s some easy value. I doubt RTS can return to his Roosters level of play, mostly because 56.5 is an insane average for a WFB, but he could easily end up being a keeper if the Warriors are playing well. Should also be hugely popular negating any residual ownership risk. 

 

Starting average: 30          Starting price: $286,000

Possible average: 45          Season price: $427,000 

 

Risk: Moderate. RTS should be a really good bet to make at least half of this sort of value but the risk lies in how much more he can make on top of that.

 

George Burgess

Gurgess had a truly terrible season last year. He’s on this list because he can’t possibly be worse and he’s been a gun FRF in the past. After averaging 49.35 and 50.63 in 2014 and 2015 he slumped to 31.88 with his minutes dropping from 51 to 30 and his PPM from just under 1 to 0.82. 

 

Starting average: 32          Starting price: $302,000

Possible average: 50          Season price: $475,000 

 

Risk: High. Maybe Gurgess just sucks now? Who really knows. Fantasy is littered with players that rise to gun status and fall away, maybe that’s Gurgess now. 

 

Jarrod Wallace 

Wallace goes from being mostly an interchange player at the Broncos to a presumed starter at the Titans. He averaged 36 minutes last season while starting props at the Titans averaged 49 minutes (warning: only 42 minutes when you exclude Ryan James though). Let’s say Wallace plays 50 minutes though, with his PPM running at around 0.85 that would slap his fantasy average at about 42. Not bad. 

 

Starting average: 31          Starting price: $292,000

Possible average: 42          Season price: $399,000

 

Risk: High. The level of minutes is the real concern, if he only gets 42 minutes his average might get stuck in the mid-30’s. Still more than you are paying for but it would be a real let down.

 

Sione Mata’utia 

After being dropped all over the field Mata’utia seems set to line-up in the second row this season. He had four games there last season returning scores of 43, 35, 49 and 32 with between 71 and 80 minutes. There was no statistical noise in those scores as he had just the one try assist and two line breaks as his sole attacking stats. 

 

Starting average: 31         Starting price: $299,000

Possible average: 42         Season price: $399,000 

 

Risk: Moderate. The risk here is almost all in the role. If the Knights commit to playing Mata’utia in the back row for something approaching 80 minutes a game, he should average pretty close to this. 

 

Brock Lamb 

With Jarrod Mullen suspended Brock Lamb seems the most likely to slot into the line-up at fiveeight. Lamb had scores of 46, 37 and 30 in his starts last season and scored almost exclusively in base stats with just one try assist and one line break assist. 

 

Starting average: 30         Starting price: $282,000

Possible average: 38         Season price: $361,000 

 

Risk: Medium. Lamb has a pretty good chance to average 38 and I suspect he might get close to 40. 

 

Robbie Farah 

Farah played four 80 minute games last season and averaged 59 in them. However, he also had another five games in which he averaged just 52 minutes and in those games his average was 38.2. Those games drive his starting rice down and present some nice upside if he goes back to an 80- minute role. 

 

Starting average: 46         Starting price: $435,000

Possible average: 55         Season price: $522,000

 

Risk: Moderate. I’m most worried about Damien Cook. Cook was in and out of the line-up last year when Cameron McInnes was also at the Rabbits, Farah is a better player than those two but if Cook still ends up on the bench it would be a big concern. 

 

Will Chambers 

Chambers had averaged in the high 30’s since about 2009 but he fell right away last season. Chambers was on point through his first six games averaging 38.2 but when he came back from his injury his final 8 games came at just 24.6 with a solitary score over 30. Whether he was still impacted by the injury or not is unclear but there’s value if he was. 

 

Starting average: 30         Starting price: $288,000

Possible average: 39         Season price: $370,000

 

Risk: Medium. There’s a pretty decent chance Chambers is able to get back to something in the high 30’s.  

 

Apisai Koroisau 

With Matt Parcell off to Super League Koroisau is the presumed starter at Manly. His average as a starting hooker is only 41.5 so the real value comes if he’s an 80-minute hooker as that’s a role he averages 48.5 in. 

 

Starting average: 39         Starting price: $374,000

Possible average: 48         Season price: $456,000 

 

Risk: Moderate. Jackson Hastings seems like a strong chance to slip onto the bench and the new team list announcement process won’t help as Manly play in the last game of round 1. If Hastings doesn’t play there’s a decent chance Koroisau will hit this sort of number but he’ll have some bad and great scores mixed in there to test your patience.

 

Nathan Peats 

Another hooker with a chance to play 80 minutes which would present some decent upside. Peats has been an 80-minute hooker on 22 occasions and averages 54.6. That’s a reasonable sample size to think he should do that if the role presented itself this season. 

 

Starting average: 45         Starting price: $424,000

Possible average: 54         Season price: $513,000 

 

Risk: Moderate. The Titans have three halves and one will probably end up on the bench. Peats can also slot into lock but it is a serious risk to his game time. 

 

Konrad Hurrell 

Hurrell averaged 43.4 with the Titans and 11.5 with the Warriors! Those four games with the Warriors really push his price down.

 

Starting average: 33         Starting price: $311,000

Possible average: 43         Season price: $408,000

 

Risk: Medium. 43 is a very good average for a centre so I wonder if he’d be able to hold that all season. 

 

Bevan French 

French played most of the season on the wing but two games at fullback showed a hint of his potential as he dropped scores of 57 and 50. Those two games come with a massive asterix though: he scored six tries. Most fullbacks would have scored significantly more than 57 and 50 if they dotted down three times in each game. In fact, in three years fullbacks have scored hat-tricks on nine other occasions and in those games they have averaged 79. French’s two scores are the worst at fullback for a player who scored a hat trick. 

 

Starting average: 31         Starting price: $296,000

Possible average: 50         Season price: $475,000 

 

Risk: High. Those two scores scream out fluke. If you are content with an average in the high 30’slow 40’s you’ll avoid some disappointment. French will need to do more of the traditional things a fullback does (run metres, break tackles) if he wants to be an elite WFB. 

 

James Maloney 

Statistics suggest Maloney didn’t have anywhere near the season he was credited as having. His average fell 10 points compared to 2015, with decreases in nearly every stat category. Whether this was Maloney having an off year or whether this is how he’ll play for the Sharks remains to be seen. Counting on a bounce back is a leap of faith really. 

 

Starting average: 33         Starting price: $319,000

Possible average: 43         Season price: $410,000 

 

Risk: High. This is a flip of a coin. He’ll probably be better but without the ability to understand his decline and how much is to do with the way the Sharks play you’re flying blind. 

 

Cameron McInnes 

There’s no shortage of possible HOK on this list. McInnes looks a strong chance to play 80 minutes for the Dragons. In that role with the Rabbitohs he averaged 60.6! I don’t think he’s going to approach that sort of number over the course of a full season but I think he’ll be a top five fantasy hooker come season’s end. 

 

Starting average: 49         Starting price: $473,000

Possible average: 55         Season price: $522,000

 

Risk: Moderate. Always tricky when you are dealing with big averages from small sample sizes but I think McInnes has the tools to be a good fantasy player should he play 80 minutes. 

 

James Segeyaro 

The last hooker on this list. Segeyaro is still not signed to the Sharks but if that happens you’d have to expect he’ll play something between 60-80 minutes compared to the 50 he got in four games with the Panthers last season. Because he only played four games his price will also be further discounted by about $56,000, so even if he plays equal to last season he makes money.

 

Starting average: 27         Starting price: $255,000

Possible average: 55         Season price: $522,000

 

Risk: Moderate. But you’ll be happy with a lot less. If Segeyaro gets a run at the Sharks, you get him.

 

Peter Mata’utia 

Mata’utua is the front runner to get the coveted Knights fullback spot so why am I so pessimistic on his possible average? Well the Knights suck and Mata’utia isn’t a very good player. Last season Knights’ fullbacks averaged 27.6, even when you throw out Jaelen Feeney’s debacles Mamo and Gagai only combined for a 29.3 average. The Knights will be better this year but not heaps better, they still suck. As for Mata’utia he’s been a below average centre (average of 29 compared to 32 average by all centres) and winger (average of 24 compared to 29 average for all wingers). All fullbacks have averaged 37 but we know Mata’utia is underneath that. He’s also played one game at fullback and scored just 24. Mata’utia’s skills combined with playing for the Knights and a 30 average feels generous even. 

 

Starting average: 23         Starting price: $220,000

Possible average: 30         Season price: $285,000

 

Risk: Medium. Surely he can at least average 30, right? Really Mata’utia could average anywhere between 24 and 34 and I wouldn’t be shocked. We’d be better off hoping for Phythian who at least starts at base price.