CLEARY OUT! NRL FANTASY ROUND 18 PREVIEW

Round 17 saw the return of two Eels stalwarts that have struggled in recent weeks in Mitchell Moses and Isaiah Papali’i who both scored 79 and 67 respectively. Ramien has turned heads with 3 tries helping him get to a season-high 76 and providing a real POD option in the centres. But looking forward to Round 18, spanners have been thrown into the works, with Cleary being rested, and a host of other names out. Yet with that comes opportunities.


Who do you switch to with Nathan Cleary out?

BUY, BUY, BUY

With the buy rounds out of the way, load up on keepers for the final run home. Whether you’re playing head-to-head or overall, the players below are a sure-fire way to challenge for the top.


Damien Cook (HOK) - 12.7% Ownership

Why isn’t he in more teams? Damien Cook has an outstanding 2022 and sits in as the third-highest average for 2021, only 0.5 points per game behind Cleary. Yet while Cleary sits in 36.6% of teams, Cook is only in 12.7% of teams and isn’t rising quickly. He averages almost 10 points more than any other hooker. Not only will he score well, but he also provides an interesting POD captaincy option for the run home. If you can, buy him and reap the rewards.


Harry Grant (HOK) - 13% Ownership

Now if you can’t afford Cook, Grant offers an interesting option to coaches. Brandon Smith has been suspended for 3 weeks, and with his impending departure, Grant looks to have secured the 80 minutes for the foreseeable future. In games where he has played at least 70 minutes, Grant averages 58.3 points and at his price, he offers more value than Cook. One for the shrewd.


Cameron Murray (MID) - 9% Ownership

But back to Souths, regardless of their club’s form, they still offer some great options fantasy-wise. Much like Cook, Murray is also the clear standout option in his position. Despite reduced minutes in the origin period, he continues to impress with a 49 and 71 in his two appearances. Now with a fit and firing Latrell, and the origin period behind him, Murray is a must-have.


Daly Cherry-Evans (HLF) - 10.4% Ownership

For me, still the premier half in the fantasy sphere, ranked at no.2 in our preseason, and he has impressed with a stellar season. He has scored the fifth-most points of any player in the game despite missing games with origin which is a testament to his skills. With two 70+ scores on the trot, his price continues to climb ever higher. Pick him up before he gets out of reach.


ONES TO WATCH

The back end of the season sees the transition into a final squad. So, this week's ones to watch are all those keepers leaking cash after a couple of low scores. Have some funds set aside to get them at a discount.


Jayden Brailey (HOK) - 0.2% Ownership

The Knight's hooker was elite in 2021, particularly in the first half of the season. However, the second half of the season saw his attacking stats and turnover tackles fall away, resulting in much poorer scoring. His first stint on the bench saw him score 36 points in 40 minutes, albeit with a try-assist and turnover tackle propping up his score. Despite this, his price will continue to fall over the next couple of weeks and he may be a handy option later in the season if you can’t afford either of the previously mentioned hooker options. Put him on your watchlist.


Adam Reynolds (HLF) - 5.6% Ownership

Reynolds was a premier half option in the first half of the season. Yet a 38 and 28 in his last two games has sent his price into free-fall with almost 80K lost and more expected to come. There are a couple of things to note with Reynolds. He has been struggling with an injury and seems to be a shadow of his former self. As time goes on, Reynolds will hopefully regather his form, but right now chuck him on the watchlist and pick your moment.


James Tedesco (WFB) & Ryan Papenhuyzen (WFB) - 20+% Ownership

Honestly, I wouldn’t even call you out if you bought either of them this week. Outside of Nicho Hynes, both are the next best options and would form the ideal WFB setup. Yet both have come off poor scores and will see their prices drop further. Papenhuyzen has seen a poor run of scores as he struggles to return to form after injury. Meanwhile, Tedesco has seen his attacking stats fade in a tough run against the Storm, Eels and Panthers in succession. If you had to pick one, I would go Tedesco as he has the Dragons and Knights in succession over the next two weeks. Yet if you can, wait it out and buy them both at the bottom.


DROP


Ezra Mam (HLF) & Billy Walters (HLF/HOK)

Both of the Broncos bolters have made coaches significant cash but have hit their peaks. If you’re struggling to field a 17, then consider holding, otherwise trade them out and help fund the guns.


Will Penisini (CTR)

Penisini has produced his two worst scores in succession for Rounds 16-17 attributable to a large drop in tackles and tackle busts whilst also simultaneously increasing his errors. SELL.


 

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