As the NRL Preseason gets into the full swing of things, there are a few positional match ups from each team that all fantasy coaches should keep an eye on. In this article we will dive into how each team's pre season moves could help decide some tough fantasy decisions.
Manly Sea Eagles: Prop and Middle Rotation
Appearing to be on the slide after an impressive 2021, the health and form of their key duo, Daly Cherry-Evans and Tom Trbojevic, are generally indicative of a successful Manly season. There is intrigue around the fantasy prospects of five-eighth Josh Schuster, but he appears to be locked in come round 1 and has very limited competition in that space. How Anthony Seibold looks to rotate his middle forwards should be of interest to fantasy coaches as it could revive a fallen gun and also provide value to some bottom-price players.
With a seemingly weak middle rotation the main beneficiary appears to be Josh Aloiai. Following the departure of Martin Taupau, there appears to be additional minutes on hand. Priced at 559k, with a breakeven on 40 the additional time on the field could reap massive rewards for Aloiai’s fantasy prospects. In his 15 games playing prop and getting over 50 minutes Aloiai has been able to average 50.5 fantasy points. Strong base stats (30 tackles per game and 150 metres), coupled with the ability to break tackles and a strong offload, Aloiai could provide 100k of value and prove to be an underpriced keeper if coaches are willing to take the punt.
It will also be interesting to see what minutes Sean Keppie plays in 2023. Now in his fourth season, he should see an increase in his minutes after averaging 31.8 minutes per game in 2022. If Keppie was to see an uptick in minutes he should see his fantasy average increase to 30-35 points, and see steady price rises throughout the season.. The main concern for Keppie is his low ppm when playing limited minutes and low workrate from a fantasy perspective. In 2022, Keppie only managed a ppm of 0.66 in his 31 minutes and averaged 17 tackles and 60 metres per game. Front rowers typically take a long time to mature in the NRL, and fantasy coaches would hope that Keppie is ready to be the leader in Manly’s pack.
The pillars of consistency in the Manly pack, for better or worse, are Taniela Paseka and Toafofoa Sipley. Priced between 400k and 500k, Sipley and Paseka both appear to be fully priced as a fantasy prospect. Both players have a point per minute close to 1, but given they both only play 30 minutes on a consistent basis, their fantasy value would sit around 420k. If Sipley or Paseka were able to play an additional 10 minutes on a consistent basis both would see around 100k in price rises however.
Strong pre-seasons could also see Samuela Fainu and Viliami Fifita push for a place in the forward rotation come round 1. Both in their first season in the Manly Top 30, they have both shown strong ball carrying ability and good agility for bigger bodies. Either priced at 230k (Fifita) or not in the game just yet (Fainu), both would give excellent value to coaches if given consistent minutes, and provide a great option for coaches to put at the end of their emergencies come round 1.
The strength of Manly’s pack has dropped off considerably in the past years and the ability for their pack to get on the front foot has always been the catalyst of success for their spine. The emergence of Sean Keppie and reemergence of Josh Aloiai as forward leaders could provide success for both fantasy coaches and Anthony Seibold alike, while strong offseasons for Viliami Fifita and Samuela Fainu should see them make strong pushes for middle rotation minutes and provide coaches with basement price players to fill their emergencies. If you haven't yet check out the Dragons NRL Fantasy preview. TK and Jason rip into the fortunes of Daly Cherry-Evans, Haumole Olakau’atu, Jake Trbojevic, Morgan Harper, Kaeo Weekes, Sean Keppie, Ben Trbojevic, Kelma Tuilagi,Reuben Garrick, Josh Schuster and Tom Trbojevic.