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NRL Fantasy teams analysis: Round 1

Team Lists for round one are in and there is a ton of crucial news for the start of the NRL Fantasy season.

Read on for all the crucial information for the bargain buys and players to avoid.

Round 1 team news

Eels v Bulldogs, Thursday night at Bankwest Stadium

Eels: Parramatta have a dream draw to start the season with games against six teams that missed the eight last year, which is good news for attacking players – most notably goal-kicking gun Mitchell Moses ($760k). Ryan Matterson ($772k) and Nathan Brown ($701k) are both potential guns in the back row while popular cheapie Stefano Utoikamanu missed the 17 as expected.

Bulldogs: Jeremy Marshall-King ($544k) gets the nod at hooker with Kerrod Holland the bench utility. It makes Marshall-King a cash cow prospect with a break even of 37 – especially if he can play big minutes (he averaged 48 when playing 70+ minutes at hooker last season). Joe Stimson ($390k) looks great value as a starting second-rower with a break even of 27, although Corey Harawira-Naera has been stood down this week and could claim Stimson's spot when he returns. Five-eighth Brandon Wakeham ($340k) is another potential cash cow with a break even of 23, having scored 40 (with a try assist) and 39 (with a try) in his two starts last year. Will Hopoate ($621k) is one of Fantasy's most reliable centre options, and is also available at WFB.

2020 NRL Fantasy point scoring system

Raiders v Titans, Friday night at GIO Stadium

Raiders: Corey Horsburgh ($465k) replaces the injured John Bateman in the second row, will become a dual-position player and could be good value with a break even of 32. Joe Tapine ($485k) is also a cash cow contender after being named at lock, although his best scores have come when playing an 80-minute role on an edge rather than 50 minutes in the middle.

Titans: The most popular Titan in Fantasy AJ Brimson ($462k) has been named in the reserves list due to a back injury, with Phillip Sami at fullback in his place, but Fantasy coaches will at least know before the second game of the round whether Brimson is in or out. He's priced as a 32-point player and has scored 45 points per game at fullback in the past. Moeaki Fotuaika (wrist and knee) is also in the reserves list, while rookie winger Greg Leleisiuao will have to wait for a debut after missing the cut. Sam Lisone ($334k) starts in Fotuaika's absence. Ash Taylor ($495k) has a break even of 34 and has moneymaking potential if he can get back to his best. Bryce Cartwright ($479k, priced at 33) is named to start in the second row; he's been an erratic scorer but averaged 44 as an 80-minute edge forward last year.

Cowboys v Broncos, Friday night at Queensland Country Bank Stadium

Cowboys: Dual-position HLF/WFB Scott Drinkwater ($405k) has beaten Jake Clifford ($540k) to the five-eighth role and just needs to score in the high 30s to earn big bucks. Jason Taumalolo ($874k) is one of the top five players in Fantasy and a good captaincy option. Val Holmes ($600k) will be popular with casual players but will need to produce his greatest Fantasy season to be a good buy. Coen Hess ($471k) starts on an edge and is a potential cash cow option if he can crash through for the occasional try.

Top Fantasy buys: Front-rowers

Broncos: There's a lot to like in this team for Fantasy. David Fifita ($680k) is close to a must-have after being named to start on an edge, while Payne Haas ($999k) is the game's best captaincy pick despite that massive price tag. Pat Carrigan ($430k) is looking like a very good buy at lock and will become a dual-position forward, likewise Jack Bird ($561k) could become one of the few elite Fantasy centres after earning the fullback role (he'll become dual position in Fantasy also). Brodie Croft ($536k) needs more kick metres than halves partner Anthony Milford to be Fantasy-relevant, but if he can get them he should jump in price fast. A bench featuring Jamayne Isaako and Andrew McCullough suggests the starting forwards should get big minutes.

Knights v Warriors, Saturday afternoon at McDonald Jones Stadium

Knights: No sign of popular cheapie Starford To'a or the injured Bradman Best (due back in round four), but there is value in the centres with Gehamat Shibasaki ($324k) and Enari Tuala ($300k) getting the nod in round one. An average in the mid-30s for any of them will result in upwards of $150k in price rises. Kurt Mann is named at five-eighth where he averaged 36 last year and has a break even of 24. Herman Ese'ese ($524k, break even 36) is named at lock where he averages 48 from four games. Star duo Kalyn Ponga ($737k) and Mitchell Pearce ($647k) can both improve on their 2019 performances.

Warriors: Chanel Harris-Tavita ($447k) has been named at five-eighth ahead of Kodi Nikorima and is about five points underpriced based on last year's scores. Skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck ($738k) is a gun WFB but the value buy here is hooker Wade Egan ($384k) – although his game time isn't very secure with both Nikorima and hooker Karl Lawton on the bench. If the Warriors do run with that interchange it could be good news for the game time of base-price bench forwards Jamayne Taunoa-Brown ($228k) and Eliesa Katoa ($228k). Fellow forwards Josh Curran (calf) and Agnatius Paasi (ankle) are out injured. David Fusitu'a has been moved to centre and will become a dual position player.

Rabbitohs v Sharks, Saturday afternoon at ANZ Stadium

Rabbitohs: New lock Liam Knight ($570k) scores at close to a point a minute and could be a gun scorer if he gets 50-55 minutes in the middle (locks averaged 51 minutes last season), and will become dual-position. Jayden Su'A ($412k) is a value option in the second row. Cameron Murray ($801k) will get more minutes but probably less involvement after switching from lock to an edge, while Latrell Mitchell's ($661k) scoring will probably also remain fairly stable despite a switch to fullback. Braidon Burns ($500k, break even 36) could be a cut-price keeper at centre, where he averages 45 – as long as he stays fit. In three NRL seasons he's yet to play more than 10 games. Damien Cook ($938k) is a Fantasy machine, although don't be surprised if his run metre numbers drop this season.

Sharks: With Matt Moylan (calf) and Josh Dugan (knee) out Will Kennedy ($246k) starts at fullback, but he's not likely to hold the No.1 jersey for too long. Blayke Brailey ($400k) is unlikely to play 80 minutes at hooker at the start of the season but is great value anyway, while Jack Williams ($472k) is a great price as Paul Gallen's replacement at lock. Andrew Fifita ($782k) could be a cut-price keeper if you're not worried about his knee problems which caused him to fade at the end of 2019. Popular cheapie Billy Magoulias ($246k) didn't make the 17 while Toby Rudolf ($228k) could be a handy option off the bench.

Top buys: Cheapies

Panthers v Roosters, Saturday night at Panthers Stadium

Panthers: Jarome Luai ($249k) has been the most-owned player in Fantasy all pre-season but don't expect big scores with Nathan Cleary ($785k) to handle the vast majority of playmaking duties after James Maloney's departure. Apisai Koroisau ($493k) is a great buy, with an expected 80-minute role at hooker after playing around 45 minutes per game at Manly last year. Caleb Aekins ($335k) has a break even of 23 so could make some fast cash in the opening six weeks at fullback before Dylan Edwards returns from injury. Isaah Yeo ($544k) has won the lock role with James Fisher-Harris named on the bench.

Roosters: Jake Friend ($612k) keeps hold on the No.9 jersey and looks good value despite the presence of Sam Verrills on the bench. Mitchell Aubusson ($501k) is a great price for a starting second-rower but could be a trap if new centre Angus Crichton ($695k) returns to the starting pack – which will become much more likely if the Roosters recruit Josh Morris from the Sharks in the coming weeks. Sitili Tupouniua ($356k) also starts in the second row for the Boyd Cordner (rested for "load management") but he's likely to be out of the starting side when Cordner is back. James Tedesco ($870k) is a sensational Fantasy scorer but will be too expensive for most teams at the start of the season. Halves Luke Keary ($589k) and Kyle Flanagan ($533k) will probably split the points between them.

Top buys: Hooker

Sea Eagles v Storm, Sunday afternoon at Lottoland

Sea Eagles: Fantasy gun Jake Trbojevic ($800k) has been named at lock despite off-season shoulder surgery which was expected to keep him out of the early rounds. Tom Trbojevic ($687k) is about five points per game underpriced and is one of the elite Fantasy fullbacks when fit. Daly Cherry-Evans ($823k) and Marty Taupau ($788k) are both keepers, while Danny Levi ($518k) is a mid-range cash cow candidate assuming he locks down an 80-minute role after getting inconsistent game time at Newcastle (but beware bench utility Lachlan Croker could take some minutes off Levi at dummy-half).

Storm: Nelson Asofa-Solomona's hamstring injury gives Tui Kamikamica ($382k) a start at prop. Ryan Papenhuyzen ($600k) produced some astounding numbers last season and looks a cut-price keeper at the back if he can go anywhere near matching those performances in 2020. Cameron Smith ($907k) is always a strong candidate and is now a point-of-difference option in less than 10% of teams. Potential Wests Tigers loan signing Harry Grant ($246k) is named on the bench.

Daly Cherry-Evans picks his NRL Fantasy team

Dragons v Wests Tigers, Sunday night at WIN Stadium

Dragons: Brayden Wiliame ($246k) will become a dual-position player after being named ahead of Euan Aitken, and is a potential cash cow (albeit one who only scored about 21 Fantasy points per game from his 29 NRL appearances so far). New fullback Zac Lomax ($389k) is a very popular option as a goal-kicking dual-position player, although he was kept pretty quiet in the Charity Shield. Cheapies Tristan Sailor and Jason Saab missed out on wing spots with regular duo Jordan Pereira and Mikaele Ravalawa preferred. Issac Luke will lose the No.9 jersey when Cameron McInnes is fit, while Trent Merrin ($578k) is probably a no-go after being named on the bench behind lock Blake Lawrie ($578k).

Wests Tigers: Billy Walters ($246k) is a great value starting hooker – also available at half – although there is a risk he could lose his starting spot to Moses Mbye (currently out with a knee injury), Josh Reynolds or even Storm target Harry Grant in future weeks. Adam Doueihi ($457k) is named in the centres along with new signing Joey Leilua ($500k), meaning there's no place for cheapie Tommy Talau even with Paul Momiroski (ankle) in the reserves in jersey 21. Luciano Leilua ($503k) could be the team's best Fantasy buy as an attacking weapon priced at 35 and capable of hitting 50s.

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