- Brendan Elliot picking up from the back of the scrum and racing 80 metres was the sort of run we normally see in black and white footage. It was an odd defensive lapse from the Sharks and let the Knights back into a game the Sharks largely controlled. That being said the Knights were super impressive and their defensive attitude was excellent, last season they would have lost that game by 60.
- James Segeyaro managed to match Jayden Brailey’s score in exactly half the minutes. Brailey’s BE is going to move into the teens next week and considering he’s probably just going to score in the 20’s I think he’s a sell. Hopefully you’ve been saving up lots of money because it will probably cost you, unless Robbie Farah ends up being out for a few weeks allowing people to grab Damien Cook to help bridge the gap to an AM( or CM9.
- Valentine Holmes had a strong game, although he picked up a lot of his points from one play. I’m not really sold on him being an elite fantasy WFB but at least you know he’s going up in value now.
- Worst defensive effort of the week will go to Jacob Gagan for his nonchalant effort on Gerard Beale’s try. For a guy getting his first opportunity this season it was not a good look and is especially poor considering the end result was so close.
- The HIA continues to be a big issue for fantasy sides and in this game it was Sione Mata’utia who was the highest scorer in the game when he left in the 33rd minute. We might spend the off-season petitioning Lone Scout to see if we can add an 18th man to our interchange to cover head injuries.
- Andrew Fifita will lose another $15k bringing his season losses to around $80k. He’s going to be a really appealing buy pretty soon although I’d like to see the return of some off his magic before I was prepared to pay over $500k for him.
- Paul Gallen only had one tackle break this week instead of six so his score suffered. His scores this season have been: 49, 47, 48, 81 and 50. There’s one score that screams fluke in there.
- Trent Hodkinson reminds me of this clip from Office Space. What is it that you do here Trent? In a game that the Knights made a lot of tackles Hodkinson made 12. Hodkinson kicked for just 85 metres. The only thing Hodkinson does do is kick goals and his three goals represent half of his 12 fantasy points.
An intense Thursday night affair led to some interesting observations, including rule #2...
1. Don't trade guns
It's been bandied about a lot this last week with some less than stellar performances but one Mr James Graham really showed us why this week. Yes he got some extra minutes but Graham was an absolute beast on his way to 72 points. He tackled all day and ran for almost 200m. This is why you picked him to start with and why you will hold him for the entire season.
2. Stats guys hate Tautau Moga
Another sub-par fantasy performance from Moga was not helped by some sub-par stat collecting. There were moments in the game where Moga's efforts were completely ignored (a 15m run with a tackle break springs to mind), or wrongly assigned (a Corey Oates penalty). I would expect some big updates but still, it is probably time to say goodbye to Moga unless Hunt and Milford switch sides and he starts seeing more ball.
3. Andrew McCullough is for real
Despite the pre-game rumours that Nikorima would find his way onto the bench, McCullough once again found himself playing 80 and making 60+ tackles. If he continues to play 80 there is no doubt in my mind that McCullough will come close to being the top fantasy scorer for the season.
4. Matt Frawley is for real
Adding a half that adds direction = good win for Bulldogs, coincidence? I think not. Hopefully Hasler saw how much better his team looked with Frawley in there and they find a permanent spot for him. He controlled the Dogs beautifully with his kicking game and will be a welcome addition to your fantasy team should he push one of the under-performing spine members out of the team.
5. Brad Abbey repays the faith
Finally playing with some confidence, Abbey showed what he is capable of with a solid 41 point performance. He nabbed his first try but also ran the ball back strongly and looked happy under the high ball. Abbey is definitely worth holding, especially if Hopoate decides to sit out on Sundays. He'll live off that 41 for a few weeks and make some decent cash along the way.
- First a non-fantasy thought – if that was the Warriors instead of the Titans everyone would be bagging them. But the Fox commentary spent the entire game talking about the Titans’ pluck like they hadn’t just given up 32 points and that the possession in the first half wasn’t so one sided because the Titans couldn’t control the ball. Just stop it.
- Dear Baby Jesus, I know asking you to influence NRL Fantasy might be considered a bit trivial, but it’s not, it is important. Anyway all I wanted to ask was please for the love of your father let Lachlan Coote be back next week. Thanks.
- Kane Elgey went a whole half without missing a tackle. Probably one of the ten most amazing things to happen on Super Saturday. He still found time to rack up six misses in the second half and his defensive fragility and general lack of actually doing anything on the field must make his spot in the team pretty questionable when Nathan Peats is back.
- How quietly terrible has Michael Morgan been this season? He’s become the invisible man in this Cowboy side and it is impacting the entire right side of the Cowboys attack to the point they don’t even bother going that way on the final couple of tackles. He’s averaging about 21 over the last three games.
- Patrick Kaufusi anybody? He. Is. No. Felise.
- Jarrod Wallace is the gift that keeps on giving. He played 64 minutes tonight which is right around his season average. If he keeps getting those sort of minutes he is entering keeper territory. I’m not sure he gets there but you shouldn’t rush to upgrade him.
- The fact Ponga was going so well was compounded by the fact my only Cowboy, Coen Hess, seemed to be away from the action most of the game. But then the last 20 minutes happened and Hess managed 47 points on two plays and I can go to sleep happy. His price rise this week will be about $50,000 and along with the $41,000 he made last week, and the lowish BE he has next week he’s justified the trade. Thanks bug guy, I’ll be dreaming of you crashing through four tacklers all night.
- Valentine Holmes wasn’t listed as the fullback on the final team list but that’s the role he played and although he had some nice touches his fantasy score wasn’t impressive. I’m going to have a look at it next week but my impression is fullback scoring is well down this season.
- So, Kurt Capewell didn’t play. Hopefully you didn’t trade him in. That would suck.
- PG13 played similar minutes to the first three weeks but this week his PPM was through the roof. His tackle count wasn’t big but he had six tackle breaks and three offloads which bump his score up a lot. Despite Blocker’s fawning for his work rate I’m still not convinced that what we saw tonight was Gallen’s new normal, still it will hurt if you traded him this week (and listened to my Panic or Don’t Panic article) and you’ll love it if you kept him.
- Jayden Brailey got 58 minutes before James Segeyaro was introduced. He managed to score 35 points in that time, with 9 coming from a try. I would suspect Segeyaro will have a steady minute rise over the next few weeks and that will probably mean Brailey will have a couple more weeks with a low BE but he might be questionable as an option in your 17. As for Segeyaro he scored 10 and will lose about $10k this week while pushing his BE into the mid 30’s.
- Clinton Gutherson probably deserved a try assist when it looked like he’d put French away. But the Sharks cover defense picked up French and unfortunately that would be his best highlight in the game. Corey Norman was taking almost all the kicking and that could make Gutherson an up and down option but getting low a 45 in that sort of performance should be considered a real positive.
- James Maloney had the triple-triple with a stunning Paul Carter hat-trick as he managed five missed tackles, three errors and three penalties. He’s the undisputed king of negative plays. Seriously how does a halfback give away three penalties?
- Finally, Andrew Fifita’s slow start to the season got a lot slower as he managed 37 and will have about a $24,000 loss this week. If there’s some signs he is coming back into form he could be a handy pick-up soon. Fifita only had one tackle break tonight whereas he was averaging more like 6 a game last season.
- Most of us probably thought that the Sea Eagles win over the Cowboys was a fluke but they backed it up this week. Addin Fonua Blake and Martin Taupau, who weren’t involved last week, dominated the middle of the field. Jake Trbo was offloading and tackling his heart out. The spine was in superb touch, combining for two tries and six try assists and this was the best game DCE has played in years. They had a real willingness to attack laterally and with the forwards finally getting some go forward this makes their attack dangerous. My suspicion (and I’m a Manly fan) is this is not going to hold but at least they don’t look like a wooden spoon contender.
- As for the Bulldogs, that was a woeful performance and Des Hasler’s job must be pretty damn tenuous right now. That was lazy, sloppy and undisciplined and it is really hard to see the Bulldogs getting into the eight at this point. The Bulldogs’ efforts were reflected in fantasy points as they only had two of the top 11 fantasy players in that game.
- Brian Kelly managed a Paul Carter hat-trick in the first half with a missed tackle, error and penalty. Thanks to two tries he manages a very respectable 38. Cash cow CTR/WFB roulette is proving a lot of fun this season.
- I benched Curtis Sironen for Luke Yates this weekend but I’m not even mad. That score will at least kick start his price increases again, make trading him out less urgent and screw over the many, many people that would have tried him out. Nice work Siro.
- Brad Abbey is starting to look a lot like this year’s version of Jaelen Feeney. Just after the start of the second half a gap opened up that almost any fullback would turn into a line break but Abbey had no explosion whatsoever. He might add a few points to his initial score of 14 but that’s making no money and he’s going to be a season long dead spot on the roster now. I apologise if you traded him in because of me.
1. The Knights are still terrible
Blame it on their defence. Right from the start of the game the Panthers forwards were easily making 60-70 metres every set which meant that Cleary, Martin and Wallace spent the majority of the game on the front foot. Big metres from forwards + front foot ball for playmakers = tries. Always has, always will
2. Home ground advantage is still strong
While the referee's weren't overly terrible there were some bad calls that always seemed to go the way of the Panthers. The second half 'knock on' call against Peter Mata'utia is the one that sticks in my mind. With a Panthers player still holding his legs, P-Mat tried to stand up to play the ball, fell back to the ground, maintained possession but was somehow pinged for a knock on. I sure didn't see it, doesn't seem like anyone else did either. How that wasn't a Knights penalty I will never know.
3. Barnett is not a keeper
He had a shocker. He's not a big minute player as he showed in the first half when he was struggling to keep up with the game. He was also bumped off a number of tackles and there was a hint of a shoulder-charge in there aswell. I feel for you if you chased him after his opening round 71 when he played against the struggling Warriors. He also looked to pick up a nasty injury at the end of the game. He could be a prime trade-out candidate next week
4. Especially if you traded out Trent Merrin...
That would make me ill. Thankfully I didn't do it but I have no doubt that somewhere out there, someone made that trade. Merrin got a big rest tonight with the Panthers so far ahead but 48 from 57 minutes is good and he'll lose a little bit of money making him ripe for the picking in a week or two.
5. Keep an eye on:
Corey Harawira-Naera - Braith, thats HA-RA-WI-RA NAE-RA... not Newera Nearer... now that thats over... He had a great game and with the news that Cartwright is out for another 4 weeks he should be included for a month at least. James Fisher-Harris should return next week but considering he should be priced at 138k and scored over 40 (at a guess), he's a perfect cash out option.
Brock Lamb - A half is never going to score well in an absolute pantsing but Lamb wasn't very good in many aspects tonight. His long kicking game never seemed to find the grass and he fell off tackles left, right and centre. He's got a low enough BE to continue making cash but he might need to be traded sooner rather than later.
Just a few observations from the opening match of Round Three, 2017.
1. Rabbitohs should drop Farah.
Despite a fine past as one of NSW's best hookers, Robbie Farah has lost his edge. In the first half, every time Farah touched the ball something seemed to go wrong for the Bunnies. He took a couple of kicks off Reynolds and Walker which did absolutely nothing and the Rabbitohs had no spark. As soon as Damien Cook came onto the field they looked a different team with Cook's darts from dummy half causing the Roosters some problems. Cook is also not without his faults - he seemed to only pass to the left on every play - but he has the speed and elusiveness the Rabbitohs need.
1. Josh Dugan is back
While the majority of headlines will surround the big Dragons win or Joel Thompsons 3 tries, Josh Dugan needs to be mentioned aswell. With 11 tackle breaks, Dugan didn't need to score tries or provide any assists as he tallied a strong 62 fantasy points. I mentioned in the Wing/Fullback rankings that he was probably undervalued to start the year and he definitely showed it tonight.
2. More 'guns' fail.
As has been the major trend so far this year, premium priced players have generally not returned on their prices so far in 2017. Bryce Cartwright (37), Euan Aitken (33) and Nathan Cleary (32) all failed to deliver leaving a slew of fantasy coaches racking their brains as to what to do next.
3. Jack. De. Belin.
Wow, what a game. Less than 24 hours after James Tedesco gouged the Rabbitohs for 91 points, JdB turned up and did the same thing to the Panthers. Some poor defence led to 7 tackle breaks and 5 offloads for the bearded man. Oh and he did all this in only 65 minutes. All those without both him and Tedesco could find themselves behind the 8 ball to start the season.
4. Paul Vaughan is a PPM monster.
Some people that have known me for a while (I'm looking at you K5!), will know that I have been touting Vaughan for a good few years. His PPM has always been around or over 1.00 and he continued that tonight with 45 points in 46 minutes. All we need now is for Mary to recognise this and give him the game time he deserves.
5. What happened to the Panthers.
With a fantastic squad filled with youth, talent and international experience, the Panthers were a popular tip to go all the way this year. After 80 minutes of being pounded by one of the Wooden Spoon favourites, many people will be rethinking their tips. Next week the Panthers face the Tigers who are coming off a ruthless performance against the Rabbitohs. Anyone brave enough to captain Tedesco?