Welcome back to another edition of ‘The Schedule’.
Before round 3, fantasy coaches may look to move on some duds that were given a second date. This will help increase your team’s cash generation and point scoring.
The Cheese ($531K) and Kotoni Staggs ($480K) should both be on the chopping block. Smith’s back/rib injury is a mostly a pain management issue but it impacted his performance in both round 1 and 2. NRL Physio indicated that middle forwards typically see a 10-20% drop in performance/scoring while playing through rib issues. Staggs’ defensive inefficiencies and lack of run metres in addition to the Broncos attacking more on their left hand side has seen him register fantasy scores of 26 and 20 to start the season. Hudson Young ($665K) has so far failed to back up his breakout 2022 season, with a significant reduction in his net tackles, run metres and attacking stats. Scott Drinkwater ($606K) and Kalyn Ponga ($471K) are both clear trade outs due to both having to spend an extended period on the sidelines. Matt Burton’s ($628K) defensive inefficiencies and lack of run metres hinder his output, while he also failed to register any attacking stats in a strong Bulldogs win.
Joseph Tapine ($772K) bounced back with 63 fantasy points. Izaac Thompson ($329K) was terrorised by Nathan Cleary, making four errors and failing to register any attacking stats. Jackson Ford ($353K), Tommy Talau ($226K) and Jayden Brailey ($642K) all failed their HIA. All players can be considered as holds heading into round 3.
The challenge for fantasy coaches is to fix these point scoring and cash generation issues. We will now look at five players you may look to bring into your team.
Adam Reynolds ($731K, owned by 4% in the top 100, 1.6% in the top 1000 and 1.30% in the top 5000) and Reece Walsh ($545K, owned by 3% in the top 100, 1.3% in the top 1000 and 1.10% in the top 5000)
Reynolds’ output in the opening two rounds has attracted the attention of fantasy coaches. Meanwhile, Walshy backed up his strong performance in the Broncos’ second preseason trial to register 54 fantasy points against the Cowboys in round 2. Both players recorded multiple attacking stats. Reynolds has an average base of 44 PPG including goal kicking, with Walshy’s being less at 21 PPG but only from a one game sample. After dealing with rib cartilage issues from round 14 onwards in 2022, Reynolds averaged 4 MT PG. Prior to this in 2022 and across the first two rounds in 2023, he has averaged 2 and 1 MT PG respectively. The issue with Reynold’s game in comparison to Cleary, Hynes and Doueihi is his lack of RM (averaged 21 PG in 2023 and 49 PG in 2022). Walshy’s 175 RM against the Cowboys was significantly up on his 2022 season average of 123 PG. It was also pleasing to see him register 60 KM in general play duties. The fact that the Broncos play in round 13, have their first bye in round 16 and fantasy coaches need to cover Nathan Cleary and Scott Drinkwater this week makes both players appealing options. Based off their output, both players have value, model consistency and may help maximise your total point scoring before the Origin period.
Harry Grant ($886K, owned by 52% in the top 100, 59.1% in the top 1000 and 55.06% in the top 5000)
Grant is a gun and needs to be in your team, averaging 70 fantasy PPG across the first two rounds. Grant has scored across the stats board, averaging 53 T, 80 RM, 3 TB and 105 KM PG. Grant’s average of 5.5 MT and 1.5 PC PG across the first two rounds is concerning. It is pleasing to see that Grant has played 80 minutes in both games even with the Storm carrying a utility on their bench. Grant said in an early season interview that he wants to be an 80 minute hooker. Grant shows upside through his attacking output, recording a 0.5 T, TA, LB and LBA strike rate across the opening two rounds. His previous fantasy track record indicates this attacking output will fluctuate but is sustainable.
Egan ($652K) and Mahoney ($712K) are cheaper alternatives coaches may consider to replace the Cheese. Egan has not played 80 minutes but recorded a TO T in both games this season. Egan’s track record also indicates his attacking output PG may be inflated (1 T in 2023 vs 0.2 in 2022, 0.5 TA in 2023 vs 0.1 in 2022, 1 LB in 2023 vs 0.3 in 2022 and 0.5 LBA in 2023 vs 0.2 in 2022). Mahoney’s reduced T count (average of 48 PG in 2023), attacking output and RM (average of 51 PG in 2023) see him as currently being a tier below Grant. Mahoney’s net T count of 36 in 2022 is concerning, as he averaged 3.3 MT PG. To save $174K, it may be worth taking a punt on Mahoney who will most likely not play Origin, but he may not overtake Reece Robson ($799K) as a top three keeper HOK option. In Grant’s defence, he has a favourable bye schedule. He has a bye in rounds 13 and 19 but will miss games in rounds 12, 15 and 18 due to Origin duties.
Ben Murdoch-Masila ($256K, owned by 8% in the top 100, 14.1% in the top 1000 and 20.74% in the top 5000)
Fantasy coaches either used BMM as a round 1 looper or trade in come round 2 for a dud cash cow. A score of 24 fantasy points in round 2 when starting in the second row was underwhelming either way. The issue is BMM’s low work rate, registering 8 net T and 88 RM in 71 minutes. He has a six game sample starting in the second row, averaging 32 fantasy points in 50 minutes. This sample also notes that BMM has never played 80 minutes. Now priced at nearly 18 PPG, BMM may be a slow burn cash cow and only have limited value. Preston looks like a better option pending his job security even though he is a little more priced.
Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow ($452K, owned by 65% in the top 100, 65.7% in the top 1000 and 57.60% in the top 5000)
The Hammer’s existing sample when starting at fullback and view that the Dolphins would struggle to score points meant some fantasy coaches avoided him to start 2023. In 2023, the Hammer averages 1.5 T, 0.5 LB, 8 T, 2 TB, 175 RM and 6.5 KD PG. When starting at fullback for the Cowboys, he averaged 0.4 T, 0.6 LB, 6 T, 3 TB, 116 RM and 2.2 KD PG. There may be some regression in his T scoring strike rate but the stats indicate an increased work rate. An improved TA and LBA strike rate of 0.5 each indicates the Hammer has further developed his ball playing skills (0.1 TA and 0.1 LBA strike rate PG at the Cowboys). With a BE of 2 and projected average output of 40 PPG, the Hammer can potentially make $100K in the next three weeks.
Tom Chester ($230K, owned by 0% in the top 100, 0.50% in the top 1000 and 0.22% in the top 5000)
Chester was named at fullback for the Cowboys this week due to Drinkwater’s 3-game suspension. Chester made his debut of the bench last year for the Cowboys as a ball playing middle forward. In 2022, Chester started at fullback in 12 out of his 13 QLD cup appearances (played one game from the bench). He averaged 31.5 fantasy points across these 13 games, with a base of 13 PPG acquired through RM and net T. The Cowboys have a favourable upcoming draw. Although he does possess a strong kicking and attacking game, Townsend, Dearden and Robson may handle most of the offensive responsibilities. With a BE of 16, Chester would need to average close to 45 points across the three game period to generate $150K. Coaches may look to swap Talau to Chester, but he is unproven as an NRL fullback and Preston may be a better option.
Prior to the round 3 lockout, my team needs lifesaving surgery and for TK to play the bounce back song. I will be making two trades this week that focus on cash generation and point scoring. The Cheese is a definite trade out, while I have thought about trading Cleary out instead of Cotter to secure a gun hooker. If Cleary is traded out, I will need to immediately pick up Hynes when fit. This week, ‘The Professor’ has made a valid point by stating that coaches sideways trading guns are going to lock in losses and will then have a team value problem. I see Ford (unavailable due to HIA protocols) as a hold, while Talau needs to be moved on to help my cash generation. Grant, Mahoney, Preston and Walsh are trade in targets over the coming weeks.
That’s a wrap for ‘The Schedule’ in round 3. In two weeks time, I will look at the value of cash cows and start to show some consideration towards team structure around bye planning.
If you are going to the round 4 game between the Warriors and Bulldogs, be sure to head to the Garrison Public House in Auckland for a meet and greet and live podcast with TK, Kyle, Shoota and J Warrior from 12pm.
Be sure to check out Talking League’s weekly podcasts as well as other published articles. Remember, analysis and strategy are key to correcting your mistakes and bouncing back. Until next time, trade with a focus on cash generation and point scoring.
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