The Renegades Writers combine passion for the game, with a lack of editorial oversight. When they aren't next to the water cooler bitching about that try assist the stats guys missed, they are churning out sports articles that have been widely touted as "readable".
Game 1: Bulldogs vs Tigers
Odds: 1.70 v 2.15
Why Bulldogs: Well they are settling down now, Mbye is now back on the bench with Jmoz coming back, and big boppers, Sam Kasiano and Timmy Browne are back. The halves stepped up last week after copping a bash in the media and they beat the helpless Sea Eagles.
Why Tigers: Well they played a decent 40 minutes last week and didn’t look too far off, a mentally weak team that seem to lose the concentration needed to be ruthless. The line bending prop Galloway is out injured so starting comes Ava Seeyoumynewfunguy
Prediction: Tigers will bounce back under 12.
Game 2: Warriors vs Titans
Odds: 1.34 v 3.25
Why Warriors: I like the make up of this team this week with Fusitu’a coming back from injury and into the centres, expect him to score, another leaping target and powerful ball carrier. Sam Rapira, will add some experience to the squad to ensure no repeat from last week
Why Titans: If Nate doesn’t play I don’t expect much from a team that played well against the Panthers who’ve hit a slump, and the odds reflect this. They have some quality individuals, though they need to get their combinations working.
Prediction: Warriors under 12
Game 3: Knights vs Cowboys
Odds: 2.35 v 1.60
Why Knights: Well, 3 loss slump at the moment, maybe the home game will be the trump card coming up against the in-form Cowboys. I guess that’s what the bookies see. Last week I saw a better game from Mullen who needs to lead this side. I see them performing well.
Why Cowboys: Have form.
Prediction: Cowboys have their interchange going like clockwork, under 12
Game 4: Rooster v Dragons
Odds: 1.45 v 2.75
Why Roosters: An up and down start to the season this game will be an arm wrestle, if Roosters want to perform well, they will need to muscle up. Their halves have been outstanding, let’s see if they can keep it going, match ups all over the park.
Why Dragons: Their defence is not getting caught out, only way you can score is off kicks, so the Roosters better put ball to boot. Mike Cooper, how good is he? The next Merrin.
Prediction: Dragons by under 12, play of the week in my opinion.
Game 5: Storm v Sea Eagles
Odds: 1.22 v 4.30
Why Storm: Rutheless, know how to win, I put money on them H2H live last week and they did the business.
Why Sea Eagles: Well they have to win at some stage, don’t they?
Prediction: Not this week though, Storm by over 13.
Game 6: Broncos v Eels
Odds: 1.36 v 3.15
Why Broncos: Looked good against the Dragons, but the odds are too low to bet on them. Look out, Blair is back at prop giving up penalties. Weak in the backs, the forwards will have to front.
Why Eels: Underrated. John Folau, man he looks good, team is solid and ever improving.
Prediction: Eels under 12, my roughie.
Game 7: Panthers v Sharks
Odds: 2.20 v 1.65
Why Panthers: Segey is out, which means they will lose.
Why Sharks: Gallen’s back (maybe) and they won without him last week, so that can only be good news. Barba was used as a sub and went onto wing last week, his injection helps the tiring forwards later in the game.
Prediction: Sharks win, maybe even over 13
Game 8: Rabbits v Raiders
Odds: 1.30 v 3.55
Why Rabbits: A little bit of a mess at the moment, with halves troubles. In my opinion, Inglis needs to move to halves and AJ to Fullback, but what do I know.
Why Raiders: The Fence back, and guys, how good did Kurt Baptise look last week? Needs to keep control of the game.
Prediction: Rabbits, but under 12.
The Rabbitohs’ playmaker went down in dramatic circumstances seven days ok. Since this time reports have varied wildly from he’s out five months to he could be back at the end of this month. We might know more today with Reynolds due to visit a specialist this morning.
In Fluke or for real fashion we decided to pull some of the writers into the board room to offer their thoughts: trade or hold AReyn and if trade who to?
Here is what they came up with.
Renegade Analytics Department
I'm guessing that we don't get a very reliable answer on how long he will be out for by lockout this week and even the best case scenario of 3 or 4 weeks is going to feel like a long time to hold a player worth that much for. Considering I ran out of trades with three weeks to go last year I use that as my cut-off for whether I want to hold or dump a gun player and I'm trading. In my view the alternatives are DCE, Hunt or SJ. DCE will miss one extra game during Origin but even when Manly are rubbish (expect that to happen a lot this season) he still scores pretty well. Hunt has bottomed out in price and probably won't be involved in Origin. My main concern on Hunt is whether he can get his attacking game back on track - he's only had one try, try assist, line break and line break assist (all in round 3) after making a habit of them in 2014. That does mean he is scoring pretty well in base stats although his kick metres have been as high as 700mpg and as low as 311mpg. SJ is the wildcard. He is near to bottoming out and watching him in the weekend it was only some poor execution that prevented him from scoring 60 rather than 40. The Warriors also have an appealing schedule with the Tigers, Titans and Sharks all on the schedule in the next month. Getting SJ now for him to get back into 2014 form could save your fantasy season. I have three red dots in my halves so I am trading in someone and right now that someone is Ben Hunt. Now tell me what the hell should I do with the other five red dots in my side?
This one’s tricky. If Reynolds is out for anything between 3-4 weeks I'm thinking he's a definite hold. He's unlikely to play Origin, and he's perfect for bye rounds, if you're overall. Anything over a month he might be a sell.
If he's out for less than a month he's a hold, but if he won't be back until after round 11 then definitely sell. It all depends on your back up as well with many having Cornish/Moses/Nikorima on the bench who aren't good enough to fill in for him
Keeping Aren could cause major headaches with being named early and not playing, then not being named and turning up. Do you really need that drama? I suggest trading in Hunt (Overall) or DCE (H2H) if he returns you squeeze him back in upgrading through Cornish if he hasn’t got his job back. Hunt has a good start to the tough first bye week and is starting to run the ball again and looking likely to average just below Aren anyways.
Depending on how long Reynolds faces on the side lines is the answer to if you trade him out or not. If you do plan on trading him out, both Ben Hunt and Jarrod Mullen are the two main options. Though Mullen has been rather inconsistent of late he is the Knights main playmaker and when they fire he will generally also score well. 2014 Cash Cow of the year Ben Hunt attacks the line and scores a lot of tries compared to other halves and has averaged well since the Broncos have recovered from their shaky start to the season. Both viable options.
Reynolds is a HOLD for now. But if he looks like missing more than four weeks he is a trade. Don't forget that the international break in four weeks gives him an extra week to recover so he could potentially only miss three games. If you must absolutely trade him out I'd be aiming for Thurston, DCE, Hunt, Mullen or (if you're really really brave) SJ. If you have the ability to bring Lolohea or Moses (ewwwww) back into your halves to purchase a WFB or CTR, Bird is obviously the number 1 option here and would give you plenty of extra cash to upgrade elsewhere. Other good options at the back include James Tedesco who is on a good run of form and fits in really well for the bye rounds. I should probably disclose that I have DCE and Sezer to start for me this week and Graham and Guerra to trade out so holding Reynolds for one week won't hurt me as much as it will others.
The general consensus is that if AReyn is out for about 3 to 4 weeks you might consider holding him but any longer he is a trade. It seems very possible that we won’t have any fixed timeframe by lockout and with Ben Hunt involved tonight getting the news over the weekend could be too late for getting a popular option.
JWarrior highlighted the frustration that comes with waiting for a player to come back from injury – if you decide to hold you’ll find yourself monitoring and over analysing every little bit of information and that can be a maddening distraction. However, AReyn has a history of overcoming what seems to be significant injuries (his 2014 owners can attest to that).
Here's a summary of options:
- Hold AReyn and revisit next week when more news might be available – this is a conservative route and will only really cost you one week of gun HLF scoring. You’ll have the same dilemma next week but hopefully with better information. AND remember if you do decide to stay the course and hold him until he is back you might have to be patient, the worst possible thing is to hold him for three weeks and get frustrated he wasn’t named and then trade him!
- Trade AReyn now to the likes of Hunt, JT, DCE, Mullen or *gulp* SJ. All of the gun HLFs have shown flaws this season so there is no “safe” choice. Roll the dice.
- Hold AReyn while trading one of your other red dot or under-performing HLF (Morts, Cornish etc). This helps buy another week while you wait for news on Reynolds but it could also cost you an extra trade next week if Reynolds is out long term and Morts or Cornish return to the fray.
Good luck with your decision and let’s be honest this is a situation with a lot of variables so luck will have a heavy hand.
On the third day he rose and he scored a bucket load of fantasy points and carried the Sharks over the line against the Roosters. This week we look at two-game rookie, Jack Bird. He is averaging in the 50s after two games and has a breathtakingly low BE. But, can he keep it up? For the sake of argument, we define "for real" for Bird as averaging over 40.
PW – After the performances of every single player in the backline this season, Flanagan would have rocks in his head to drop Bird. I'd say he has a spot on the roster at least until Origin, off just one performance. Forget about base stats, he has the ability to make the first man miss, time after time, and will do so in the centres or at 6. The kid is for real ladies and gents. If you haven't already, jump on board.
The Fantasy Menace – Yes the bird bird bird, yes, the bird is the word! Jack Bird is for real! If he was anymore real you could use him to go fishing. He looks sharp on his feet and defends like a second rower. The Sharks have been searching for someone to spark their attack since Adam Dykes retired, and I think they've found their man. Already forging a dangerous combination with Luke Lewis on the right edge, expect these two to cause plenty of headaches for defenses. He will chip in with some kick metres, get involved in tackling, rack up a few tackle breaks, with a few tries and assists in between. Sounds for real to me and with a MotM performance against competition heavyweights, you would think he would hold his place for now. I'd love to say fluke because I've already got him and even played him, but I don't think I'll be able to keep this little birdy as a secret. A bird in the hand is worth two in my team so trade him in early before you miss the worm!
Dan Kelly – Bird is for real that is for sure. Regardless of if he stays in the halves or goes to centre, he will still be a great option. Whether he can average 40 points week in week out could be interesting. But Bird (like Aitken) can be a great trade in option simply cause he will make cash leading up to Origin. It could also be interesting to see where Barba will play when he returns after Bird’s performance.
POD King – He's for real. A lot of talk was about this kid preseason and he has handled the pressure from the get go. He’s a natural footballer, who plays with instinct. He reminds me of a young Brad Fittler in his days at the Penrith Panthers, and there are big things ahead for this future star of the great game we follow. If you haven't got him already like the POD King has, then make way and get him in. He will make you plenty of cash and solid points in a centre position where it's hard to find a partner with Soliola.
P.S. Young Bird and the other young guns are injecting enthusiasm in a team that just had their first win, like forever
The Garbage Man – He is for real. With the Sharks having little in terms of a decent 5/8, I’d say Bird is likely to take that spot permanently. Let’s face it, Barba has nothing to offer. I’ve had Bird from the start, so I am a very happy coach.
The Burglar – Bird is unquestionably FOR REAL! This guy is a gun and will be for years to come. He slotted into a vacant 6 jumper this week and by his performance, he should almost certainly keep it. Unlike some halves, he won't rack up huge kick metres per game, but his defensive ability is what makes him appealing. Add in his freedom to run to and through the line, he will be a star. This guy will average 45+ and be the best cashie behind Soliola.
Matthew Duggan – I am a little on the fence, but am leaning towards Bird being for real. I doubt he will be a consistent scorer, but he has the talent that will lead to him getting enough attacking stats to finish the year above a 40 average, provided he stays in the halves. With Flanno suspiciously noting he can play anywhere in the backline and Barba's return imminent, I would be wary of him shifting to the centres. Even in the centres I think he will still get a decent enough average to make some good cash, but he would be far less of a must have, so wait until team lists
The Defensive Centre – Fluke! Don’t get me wrong; I’ll be bringing him in, as he will make some very important cash coming into the trade-heavy Origin period, but I don’t see him averaging 40. Playing in the halves (as a running half), or at CTR, he won’t have the solid base stats to be a regular big scorer. He was huge against the Roosters, but I wonder how he’ll perform against a team that actually takes the park, because the Roosters were awful. Furthermore, while one huge game may get him a few more weeks, one bad game could also get him punted back to Reggies to get his confidence up.
So, there you have it; a fairly resounding “for real”, with a few cautions at the end. With so many injuries at the moment, a solid cash cow is waiting to be snapped up. The Bird is the word!
Game 1: Bulldogs v Rabbits
Venue: ANZ Stadium
Odds: $2.45 v $1.55
Why Bulldogs: Brett Morris, Josh Reynolds and Tim Lafai are all back and are all hugely instrumental to the Doggies. JRen the grub will be up to his old tricks and will try get into the heads of ARen and Keary.
Why Rabbits: No change to the Rabbits which is a great sign. GI has been quiet, but I feel Friday is his night to go boom!
Prediction: I think Rabbits by less than 12.
Game 2: Titans v Broncos
Venue: Cbus Super Stadium
Odds: $2.50 v $1.53
Why Titans: Last week they got off the doughnut. They had their first week, and no doubt that has brought a lot of confidence. Mosely and Matt White are back and will look to help the Tits to another win. Elgey looked okay in his debut, some poor, poor decision making all around but at least he executed okay.
Why Broncos: Are also riding high after some really great performances of late, a few calls went their way against the Warriors but you create your own luck. Put some $ on for a try to Copley, who has taken the spot of Hodges and will offer a threat to the Titans. Adam Blair is out so Broncos will give away less penalties. Jo Ofahengaue is also out
Prediction: Broncos to run rampant by over 13
Game 3: Sea Eagles v Raiders
Venue: Brookvale Oval
Odds: $1.53 v $2.50
Why Sea Eagles: The odds are short even though the team is riddled with injuries. Horo, Sao and Matai are in for Mateo, Lyon and Starling. Lyon and Starling are bad losses, but Mateo was shit last game so they’d better off with a poor man’s Mateo in Horo at the moment anyway. Home advantage is the only reason they are favourites. $ on BStewart to score Saturday.
Why Raiders: Well they must know something we don’t about Cornish, as he’s been more than capable but dropped for Sam Williams in the only change for this week. They got smashed by a rolling Roosters outfit, and need to improve even to topple a crippled Manly side.
Prediction: Manly by under 12 only because of home advantage.
Game 4: Knights v Dragons
Venue: Hunter Stadium
Odds: $1.45 v $2.75
Why Knights: Undefeated at Hunter Stadium with James McManus and Tariq Sims back in. They got this easy.
Why Dragons: Dugan fired last week but his team overall is struggling.
Prediction: Knights by over 13
Game 5: Roosters v Sharks
Venue: Allianz Stadium
Odds: $1.17 v $5.00
Why Roosters: They suffered a hit with Fergo out, just after he hit form, but they will be too good.
Why Sharks: Valentine and Jack are their only hopes. The fullback and first five will need to spark their side with their youth and talent.
Prediction: Roosters by under 12
Game 6: Eels v West Tigers
Venue: ANZ Stadium
Odds: $1.77 v $2.05
Why Eels: Folau is closer to the ball in the centers with Faraimo in on the wing. The Eels won last week against the Rabbits, playing really inconsistent rugby at the moment. Hard to pick.
Why West Tigers: Woods, Halatau and Richards are all back in. Lovett gets the nod over Sue and look for this to create some heat.
Prediction: Eels won last week so they will lose this one, Tigers by under 12.
Game 7: Storm v Warriors
Venue: AAMI Park
Odds: $1.40 v $2.95
Why Storm: Clinical as always, looking to hit back after a tough loss, Bellyache won’t be happy.
Why Warriors: History is on our side with the Warriors being the Storms bogey side. The players coming in are better than the ones coming out which is always an added bonus.
Prediction: Warriors for the upset
Game 8: Panthers v Cowboys
Venue: Pepper Stadium
Odds: $1.50 v $2.60
Why Panthers: Sege, Plum and Johns are back with Kite and Brown out. Sege is huge for the Panthers and that was made apparent last week. I’m looking for the Panthers to bounce back.
Why Cowboys: Well, they won! So ya know confidence is key. Their team on paper is great, Tanginoa the next Lolo is back, and they just gotta keep scrapping for their wins.
Prediction: Panthers too strong by over 13
We are doing the unbelievable this week; considering whether to dump last year's fantasy stud and heir to Cameron Smith's fantasy immortal title, Robbie Farah. To quantify the decision we are looking for Farah to average more than 60 if we say hold, otherwise he is a trade. Your decision is to decide which writers know their stuff and which writers are sniffing some snuff. Or you can cherry pick the appropriate points and make your own decision.
Trade. With 65-70 mins a game no fantasy coach can take the risk with Farah. He is still a work horse, but last week showed me enough to be worried about his future. 10-15 minutes off is about 10 or more points so he is no longer an elite option.
Farah is a trade. He is way too much money to be playing 70 minutes a week. Overall teams are probably going to trade him during Origin anyway it just makes more sense to me to suck it up and trade him now.
TRADE! No longer is Farah playing the full 80 anymore so he isn't just a set and forget choice. Not only this his work rate is seemingly lower then it has been in previous years. That combined with less minutes and as an origin player, this makes Farah a fantasy no go.
Hold but if it looks like he's not getting 80 then definitely look at trading him. He also misses 5 games over origin so you would probably have to trade him anyway before that time.
Hold. Although he hasn't played the full 80 in the last two matches, he still remains the Tigers' most potent attacking force and disregarding his abnormally quiet game against the Dragons (and reduced minutes), he is still a solid 60 point player who will feature as the focal point of the Tigers' attack and particularly in the big games, get through a high defensive workload.
Hold. There is a reason this bloke is the price he was. He can score 35-40 points just in tackles and if he plays 80 mins. He kicks, he runs at the line and is an integral part of the Tigers set up which makes him the set and forget player he is.
Trade. No longer an 80 minute player, Farah is a must sell this week. He's going to lose so much cash. Taylor also said he will continue to rest him. Why keep him when you can get Segeyaro for cheaper who will score roughly the same? I'm thankfully not in this position but if I was I wouldn't hesitate to pull the trigger.
Trade. Averaging only 40 tackles a game, in part due to his reduced role his chances of averaging near 60 are remote. With the halves looking more assured it has reduced the kicking metres of Farah thus making him closer to 50 than 60 and with a BE of 85 this week now is the time to give him up.
So the traders take this round 5-3 and certainly it is something to think about if you are from the "you don't trade guns" school of thought.
Game 1: Bulldogs v Eels
Venue: ANZ Stadium
Odds: $1.55 v $2.45
Why Bulldogs: A loss last week and they are still favourites. Not sure about that! I think that the Bulldogs didn’t offer much in attack last week and Panthers wore them out. Moses Mbye comes in for JRen, loss of experience in the halves.
Why Eels: No change to the Eels team that thrashed a poor performing Sea Eagles, they looked good. Sandow was on fire off the back of a pack going forward let’s hope it continues.
Pick: Eels over 13
Game 2: Sharks v Broncos
Venue: Remondis Stadium
Odds: $1.90 v $1.90
Why Broncos: Looked terrible. End of story. What a shit game to start the year. Two front rowers come in, Wallace and the much awaited debut of Ofahengaue!
Why Sharks: They looked okay, team remains unchanged. Michael Gordon looked uninterested and Fifita didn’t play many minutes but was really effective.
Pick: Sharks under 12
Game 3: Panthers v Titans
Venue: Carrington Park
Odds: $1.22 v $4.35
Why Panthers: A great performance for a team on the constant rise. Team remains unchanged. GJennings looked good on the edge and Idris looked hungry in defence which is great signs. Sika added a straight runner.
Why Titans: Well it wasn’t as bad a game from the Titans. The depth scares me and so does the question of if they can get up again for another game, after a first up loss and the scandal that surrounds the club.
Pick: Panthers over 13
Game 4: Sea Eagles v Storm
Venue: Brookvale Oval
Odds: $2.02 v $1.80
Why Sea Eagles: The only saving grace here is the venue, the fortress that is Brookvale Oval. Put some coin on BStewart to score in this one. I don’t see them beating a strong Melbourne side with the player contract negotiations and signings weighing large. Foran out and Littlejohn in who doesn’t have the quality of the New Zealand half, but is solid no doubt. Only other noteworthy change is Matai back in the centres, ready to stuff up his shoulders some more, tank.
Why Storm: No changes to the winning side, strong showing last week against the prepared Dragons. Captain fantastic played well and the young props did the job although not many meters were gained through the middle, Sea Eagles defence looked shit so that doesn’t worry me too much.
Pick: Storm under 12
Game 5: Cowboys v Knights
Venue: 1300 Smiles Stadium
Odds: $1.35 v $3.20
Why Cowboys: They are better than their last performance. They looked flat in attack with Lui being shit as usual. JT was uncharacteristically bad. Tanginoa in, let’s see if he can spark the team. Hard to beat at home usually. Was last week just a one off game?
Why Knights: I still hate them, maybe it’s the jersey, but I should probably put my bias aside. Kurt Gidley comes back in but he is my most hated player and we all know he’s made of glass so that’s probably a bad thing.
Pick: Knights under 12
Game 6: Rabbitohs v Roosters
Venue: ANZ Stadium
Odds: $1.81 v $2.00
Why Rabbitohs: They looked great against the Broncos, GStewart looked to add a different option to the team and the 1 – 2 punch of the Burgess brothers worked well. GI always solid, and AJohnston played well. Aren ran the cutter well, overall great performance I would expect a strong second game from the defending champions.
Why Roosters: A surprise flogging of the Cowboys by all accounts. We welcomed Fergo back and RTS showed the #1 jersey was worth the wait. Cordner and Guerra both looked safe in their roles and they are SOO for their own reasons.
Pick: Rabbitohs under 12
Game 7: Raiders v Warriors
Venue: GIO Stadium
Odds: $2.07 v $1.76
Why Raiders: Looked good against the Sharks. Solid. Croker is always somehow a danger, and should wreak havoc on a young edge. Definitely have the experience in this team. Papa at 8 looks to be interesting but that’s where he played SOO right? Sia was a workhorse and should nullify the Warriors tireless defenders. Who is Luke Bateman?!
Why Warriors: Have increased in price, not sure why, maybe after team lists naming Lolo Jnr in the centres for the Warriors. JWright gets his Warriors debut and Tomkins returns after being injured for the first game. Their team looks better this week but Lolo in the centres confuses me. Not sure if they have a winning side yet.
Pick: Raiders under 12
Game 8: Tigers v Dragons
Venue: Campbelltown Stadium
Odds: $1.68 v $2.20
Why Tigers: Tapow looked a lock in at lock in the Tigers last minute victory over the up for it Titans. Richards was on fire all game and hasn’t aged at all during the off-season. Lawrence joins the squad with young offloading forwards to burn.
Why Dragons: I have to admit I didn’t see this game I was off caving. But I can imagine it was an arm wrestle of a game, one that the Dragons could’ve won. The Dugan injury gives me cause to be concerned, though Nightingale is a good fullback and I want Aitken to get some game time. Merrin on the bench is stupid, he should be getting 80mins at 13 like Gallen.
Pick: Tigers over 13
Sam Lisone impressed fans and fantasy owners with a strong round 1 performance. Can he keep up the pace and deliver fantasy owners with the 30 average that'll make him a boon cash cow.
Round 1 score: 42
Break even: -3
For Real if he gets minutes. He's tipped for big things. The advantage is he has a good work ethic and a big motor. He is also a strong runner. If he is to be a fluke it will purely be down to minutes. I think he is ahead of Rapira personally.
For Real. Seemingly ahead of Matagi, his job security is solid and he's a hard runner. Should average around 35 and make some decent cash. A perfect trade option for those with David Fifita, Klemmer or O'Brien.
For real - he looks to have a spot in the Warriors top 17 and although I don't think he'll play close to 40 minutes every week he should be good for 30's and has a good work rate. I wouldn't chase him too hard but he's a nice option if you have a cash cow that needs to be put down.
For Real. Looks like the third prop now at the Warriors. He has converted his incredible work rate in big minutes for the junior warriors into first grade. I'm expecting around 1 PPM from him.
For Real. He should be able to retain his spot in the side and even if he only gets 30 minutes his massive PPM will still score him well. He is one of the best, potentially the best, forward cash cow this year.
Always For Real! Had him from day dot.
POD King says bye bye POD Lisone. The kid was just busy in defence, has the motor and the enthusiasm to be a baller. For Real.
For real. Lisone won't be in the same category as the hopeful Tapau, who will get extended minutes, but with the minutes Lisone is looking at, he's shaping up to be a player that will meet that 30 points a game criteria. Get him while he's cheap!
For Real. His round 1 showing is a reflection of what he consistently delivered in lower grades. If he gets the minutes, he gets the points.
The NRL rules committee, have sped the game up, what does it mean for our slowest players and will Ryan James be a Fantasy factor this year…
He was a strong man, liked a beer or many, and was quick over 20 meters. He lived a full life, only to be cut down in his prime by committee. It’s a sad day today as we say farewell to our mate, prop. He leaves big shoes to fill only for the new breed to come in with smaller feet, frames and a faster style of play.
The rule changes from the NRL committee have in my opinion killed the old school prop. The faster game will lend itself to more conditioned athletes that play through the middle, hit the deck, play the ball fast, or tackle and get up to repeat the effort. As a prime example a Sea Eagle favourite and now Dragon, George Rose has no place in the game anymore. However, let’s be honest a faster sport is more entertaining, but who benefits in Fantasy? Not most props that’s for sure.
Key positional challenge
The challenge with Fantasy 2015, like every year is “how many guns do we buy in our starting team and whom?” Front row forward (FRF) is a key position where I feel guns are a must. Picking the guns that will stay consistent taking into consideration rule challenges will be challenging. Another consideration is the top FRFs are all State of Origin (oranges) stars, with most Fantasy guns knowing the bye period is extremely important that we ensure we are not burning through trades for oranges.
There is a clear top 10 FRFs in NRL Fantasy at this current point in time and the drop off after them is huge. A few of the top FRF players are also dual positional players so the question is where will they be more effective? My strategy for 2015 is that cheap, effective, high scoring and money making 2RF will come out as injuries strike the competition. I therefore like to stack my FRF to start.
Andrew Fifita ($535,000) is a possible exception to the rule. He is averaging 60 points per game, and I don’t see this slipping. A big prop, who can break tackles (TB’s), he will take advantage of tired opposition getting in behind the defensive line similar to that of George Burgess ($437,000).
I’m liking a lot of players from the Broncos this year and believe Wayne Bennett is walking into a championship contending side. With Corey Parker moving back to 2RF (surely), Josh Maguire ($445,000) is someone who has shown spark before. A known workhorse all he needs is minutes from the master coach and he will produce massive numbers far greater than his current 50 point per game average.
I see Aaron Wood ($427,000) and James Graham ($448,000) like players struggling, the new speed of the game will not suit them, and their tackles will decline as their fitness will be tested. I still rate their value to respective teams away from Fantasy but don’t see Fantasy value this coming season.
Break out players
David Klemmer is someone to think about, his repeat effort is outstanding and has a .99 point per minute rating. Surely this budding international will gain more minutes. WARNING: Antonio Kaufusi’s impact at the club has yet to be determined. While other fantasy guns expect David’s minutes will stay the same I believe the rule changes suit him, and pressure from national selectors to see development from him will culminate in a starting spot and 40-50 minutes by week 6 with Sam Kasiano’s minutes declining.
I’m looking for a lot out of Jordan McLean ($280,000) this season. After a really rough season this young kid has a bright future with .90ppm, an increase to 50 minutes a game as a starter could see his value in fantasy stocks grow exponentially. A tall 2RF looking player he will be looking to push past the adversity he faced in 2014.
High risk/high reward
Let’s start our risk and reward conversation with one of my favourite players, Paul Gallen ($554,000). This machine will come back into form in 2015 no doubt, with a work ethic that is out of this world his 64.56 average will be the benchmark for any FRF out there. Gallen has been discounted and if you can put up with his oranges bullshit you may get some good value out of him.
David Hala ($146,000) has a massive opportunity at the Titans, if he doesn’t get good minutes come round 1, hold out for the oranges period, where he should make his mark scoring big from run meters and TB’s. My opinion on this former Bronco is high and if he can get into a good shape fitness wise he will bend and break a defensive line. The risk is Mark Ioane ($270,000) his body-frame brother, seriously big chests these two, the question marks surround who will take big bench minutes for the Titans.
James Gavet ($135,000) is another star saved by Wayne Bennett. His interview on his life was impressive but leaves me with questions around his ability to stay out of trouble. He played well in patches for the Tigers and finished the season with a rock bottom price. He will have to buy-in to Bennet’s culture if he’s looking for game time. Be wary.
Let’s face it, props are lazy. None more so than Adam Blair (298,800), swinging arms, not back 10, not releasing the tackled player, and hands in the ruck are his specialty. How he gets picked for the world champions is beyond me. He is lazy and again will be a fantasy dud.
Sam Rapira ($232,000) you’re old, let go, no one listens to techno (credit to Eminem). But seriously another fantasy bust that by now everyone should be aware of.
No doubt I will get slammed by this and probably contradicted by RFS’s other writers but I think Ryan James ($192,000) will be a bust player. I don’t think he has the focus to stay in the game when the fatigue starts. He will make errors miss tackles and be ineffective in Fantasy this year.
Ben Hannant ($326,000), I personally think it’s another trap. The work horse will never tire, and will look finish tackles, but that’s the point. He won’t get points for contributing at the last minute to a tackle, something he perfected in 2012. With his solid .91ppm rating he will still be a valued mid-range player but I see his falling away from the pace of the game, polar bears are not meant to run with the cheetahs.
Like I said I’m high on Broncos fever this year and Joe Ofahengaue ($124,000) is a bright prospect coming out of NYC feeder competition. His points will come mainly from meters gained although if he could chuck in a few TB’s here and there it would not go amiss. I’m excited to see his trial game form, one to watch out for and hopefully Wayne Bennett flip flops on previous statements that he won't play first grade this year.
Sam Lisone ($124,000) is the new breed of athlete, the dude has no quit in him. I once saw him run from a scrum midfield to the side-line as the opposition shovelled the ball though their attacking line and he nailed the winger out of play in the process of attempting to score a try. He’s a BEAST! I think he will definitely get some minutes this year and I will be on that gravy train when it comes.
Jake Trbojevic, one of the ghosts of 2014, I expect him to make his mark during this season. A talented player the Sea Eagles can not keep him out of top grade if they want to bleed the future into their team. Look for him to try push out James Hasson and Dunamis Lui for minutes, something which isn’t impossible.
Shockwaves were sent through the NRL after the new rule changes for 2015 were released. Referees are now going to call “MOVE” early and penalise wrestling, slow release by each tackler, and choosing to separately release the tackled player.
The rule now states: “the player in possession shall be immediately released ... by all defenders”.
Wayne Bennett, a member of the NRL Rules Committee, said it’s an interpretation change rather than a rule change. An interview with the Warriors shows an unhappy Cappy (Brian Mclennan), who was upset with the communication channels.
We will concentrate on these two coaches to compare their possible 2015 fortunes.
For Fantasy players, the question remains; who are the big winners, team and player-wise? Renegades Fantasy Sports are here to shed some light.
We have 2014 statistics that reveal the percentage of play the balls that were defined as "slow" and "fast", for each team and against each team. Below is a snap shot of these stats.
Percent of play the balls that were slow (i.e., teams with slowest play the balls)
1. Tigers 12.2%
2. Brisbane 12.0%
3. SGI 11.7%
16. Warriors 7.9%
Percent of play the balls that were fast (i.e., teams with fastest play the balls)
1. South Sydney 16.7%
2. Sydney Rooster 16.1%
3. Canberra 15.1%
6. Warriors 14.7%
15. Brisbane 11.8%
Percent of opposition play the balls that were slow (i.e., teams that best slowed the opposition play of the ball)
1. South Sydney 13.9%
2. NQL 12.3%
3. Gold Coast 12.12%
14. Brisbane 9.2%
15. Warriors 8.7%
Percent of opposition play the balls that were fast (i.e., teams that were unable to slow the opposition play of the ball)
1. Brisbane 17.4%
2. Penrith 16.9%
3. Newcastle 16.7% (Bennett’s old team)
4. Warriors 15.8%
To conclude, we believe it is fair to say these rule changes will help Brisbane’s chances this year. Last year they played slow and allowed their opposition to play fast, which should be less pronounced when the referees begin to control the ruck more.
The Warriors, as always a mixed bag, ineffective at slowing the ball down, and low slow play of the ball percentage themselves. On attack they may not gain, but on defence this new ‘interpretation’ may even up the playing field.
Individually we can look at how many times a dummy half looks to run, rather then pass.
1. Isaac Luke 9.42%
2. Robbie Farrah 7.85%
3. Apisai Koroisau 7.69%
8. Michael Lichaa 5.03%
10. Cameron Smith 4.30%
As we would all guess, Isaac Luke may see some more line breaks or even tackle breaks. Robbie Farrah is not far behind, Api is not a bad pick up, and Lichaa has a tendency to run. Cam Smith is only 10th, and so if he does not adapt to the potentially faster ruck speed, he may be overtaken by a new cohort of fantasy gods.
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