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.
Melbourne Storm: Back row
With three of their starting forward pack leaving at the end of 2022, the Storm appear to be in a transitional period but having master coach Craig Bellamy and Origin stars Cameron Munster and Harry Grant will ensure the Storm continue to push for a top four spot in 2023. Following the departure of Felise Kaufusi and Kenny Bromwich, the preseason will provide fantasy coaches with an opportunity to see who will take their place in the starting pack with there appearing to be five contenders for the vacant spots.
The front runners for the positions appear to be new recruits Tariq Sims and Eli Katoa. The inclusion of Sims would be one of disappointment for fantasy coaches. Priced at 527k, Sims appears to be priced accurately for his fantasy prospects, if not underpriced by 30k, Having an average of 41.7 when playing in the second row Sims is ultimately a mid range player with no underlying factors that would indicate a change to keeper status or provide significant value to fantasy coaches.
Eli Katoa on the other hand could provide fantasy coaches up to 15 points of value if given the opportunity to start in the second row. Since coming onto the fantasy scene in 2020 as a must have cash cow, a decline in form and injury problems resulted in increased appearances on the bench for the Warriors. When playing over 60 minutes in the second row Katoa has an average of 47.3 fantasy points, and given Bellamy’s tendency to opt for big minute edges Katoa’s value seems apparent if given the opportunity. With an average of 40 points in base stats when playing 60-plus minutes, Katoa appears to provide a safe option for fantasy coaches while the added attacking stats playing alongside Hughes or Munster a cherry on top.
The smokey in this positional battle is Storm pathway player Trent Loiero. After playing three games in the second row in 2021, Loiero found himself more as a middle forward in 2022, and Bellamy may continue to play Loiero in this role after strong performances in 2022. Priced at 389k Loiero has shown some fantasy relevancy when playing second row with scores of 24, 77, 28 and 51. Regardless of where Loiero lines up he will provide value to fantasy coaches if given 40-plus minutes consistently. When playing over 40 minutes Loiero has a fantasy average of 39.9 points and if he is able to replicate these results in 2023 this would provide 10-13 points of value to coaches.
The final two players to consider are Jack Howarth and Joe Chan. Both at the basement price of 230k and yet to make their NRL debut, the inclusion of either would provide fantasy coaches with a must have fantasy asset. Signed until 2027 Howarth averaged 36.5 fantasy points while alternating between centre and second row in QLD Cup.and may find on the bench to start 2023 and become a slow burn cash cow for coaches. After coming over from Catalans Dragons, Joe Chan appears to be ready to take that next step in his Rugby League career. Scoring 7 tries in 24 games, Chan has shown an ability to find the try line and with good base stats, averaging just under 30 points per game, Chan appears to be in a similar boat to Howarth in terms of his fantasy prospects.
Unlike in years gone by there finally seems to be some uncertainty in the Storm forward pack and that brings some interesting options for fantasy coaches to monitor over the pre-season. Cheapies Jack Howarth and Joe Chan should provide value to coaches if named anywhere in the 17, while Tariq Sims would be an avoid come round 1 as he seems to be fully priced as a player. Trent Loiero and Eli Katoa appear to be the two players fantasy coaches hope to start come round 1. With both primed to provide 10-15 points of value they are nearly must haves if named in the starting 13 come round 1.
If you haven't yet check out the Dragons NRL Fantasy preview. TK & Kyle rip into the fortunes of Cameron Munster, Harry Grant, Josh King, Eli Katoa, Joe Chan, Remis Smith, Jack Howarth, Jahrome Hughes and Ryan Papenhuyzen.