Updated: Mar 13
Welcome back to TK’s playbook where I break down the winners, losers and black bookers from each game. I’ll do this in written and audio format which will be released every Monday.
Round 2 (DELETE APP ROUND)
Poor round of 721. Moved from rank 4,767 to 16,894. Really poor from Cleary, Stags, Thompson, Talau, Cheese and Ford. Didn’t play Alamoti either.
That was an outlier round. This is my 8th year of draft and third of classic and I've never seen so much carnage in terms of elite players playing poorly, HIA’s and injuries just rubbing players out intra game.
The limited preseason of the top teams is currently playing out leading to some outlier performances from players in the lower teams. Don’t panic with ranks right now, look for good assets with proven performers in form teams.
Right now find your balance between keeping with the pack and generating cash. 27 rounds is a long season and this is not the only round where you either outperform or underperform. If it's consuming your life just delete the app for a couple of days and chill out.
Trades on my mind
Nathan Cleary to Adam Reynolds (will go into this a little later in the article, but essentially I like what I see from Reyno and Broncos in comparison to someone I only took because Nicho wasn’t fit. The other thought is Jacob Preston and just sit on $700k to evaluate the round and not miss another cashie.
Brandon Smith to Reece Walsh (my team is called Eyeliner FC so its criminal not to have Walshy)
Look to key assets with a later bye and raise some cash to fix my cashies coming up.
Scott Drinkwater (shoulder charge) - 3 to 4 weeks
Pete Hiku (crusher) - 2 weeks
Maika Sivo (dangerous contact) - fine
Joseph Suaali'i (dangerous contact) - fine
Viliame Kikau (dangerous contact) - fine
Jermy Marshall King (dangeous contact) - 2 to 3 weeks
Tom Gilbert (dangerous contact) - fine
Jacob Saifiti sent off (HIA on Simpkin)
Jackson Hastings on report (HIA on Talau)
Jackson Ford - HIA
Charnze Nicoll-Klolkstad - HIA
Josh Curran - Hip
Corey Oates - Jaw (8 weeks)
Nathan Cleary & Jarome Luai - Foot (TBA)
Brandon Smith - Ribs
Nelson Asofa-Solomona - Knee (6-8 weeks)
Kalyn Ponga - HIA
Jayden Brailey - HIA
Tommy Talau - HIA
Tyson Frizell - Ankle
Jake Simpkin - HIA
Panthers vs Rabbitohs
This was easily the strangest fantasy game I've seen. Duds from last week flying and Fantasy GOATs struggling to fire.
Garner with a 63 that no one really saw coming. Given he dropped the ball over the line this could of been way more. Is actually 8.9% owned still. Salmon actually first came onto the right edge however the 66 minutes he played is crucial. I think long term the identifies he won’t be an 80 minute player so is one positive to take away for sellers as this looks like an outlier game after his coach called him out.
Cam Murray (45 FP) only got out 59 minutes in a tired performance. I think the 80 minutes against the Sharkies when they were undermanned took a toll in this game with his attacking stats much lighter than before. I can see this as a one off fail.
Nathan Cleary (41 FP) struggled with a high ankle injury before half time. Right now it is a combination of the team not scoring much in attack. In his 2 games he is yet to score a try or have a try assist and has only had 3 goals. His injury limited his running however he will need to improve his defence with 5MT in this game. I’d back him to bounce back with the next 5 games post the bye being Parra, Raiders, Manly, Newcastle, Souths, Tigers and Warriors. I actually am considering trading him out as I think there will be an adjustment period still to come, the injury, break away from the pack and really the only reason I got him was I felt he was the safest captaincy option with no Hynes and there is other players I can go to for safety (Hopgood and Haas) in the MID atm. Trading Cleary this early is BDE so don’t be encouraged to do the same if you want to stick to traditional fantasy rules.
Mitch Kenny was GUN in this game with his hybrid role. Knocked out 46FP and with all the talk of him not being a good attacker follows this with a 30 metre bullet cut out to Critta for the first try. Had a HIA check again, seems to get these a lot which would be a concern as he’s a little too tough for his own good.
Everyone talking about Bird, Holmes, Stags and Graham as the best fantasy centres, I think we add Critta to the argument. I know we got great value from his last year but this year just seems in really good form with the ball. Definitely one to keep an eye on when it comes time to buy a gun centre later in the year. Good to see him right edge mate To’o bounce back. I was a little worried about him but he was back to his best with 49 FP scoring a great try and just being the old To’o.
Trell Mitt again didn’t look like he did much but scored a healthy 54 FP. Souths bye schedule might make him very awkward to own this year.
Illias with only 26 and backs up the golden rule to not chase points. Not the best game from Thompson with a few handling errors, would be tough for his coach to drop him as his carries are actually really strong. However, there is always a chance with Milne around.
Liam Martin is delivering in a big way. Stepped up huge with no Kikau and has become a base king atm averaging 104MG, 37 TKS, 5 TB and 2 OF. Given we have a host of good cheap edges no need to rush getting him but keep him on the radar. Koloamatangi for Souths also a standout. Can see both these lads sharing the right edge for NSW this year.
Michael Chee Kam is finally living to his promise. Will add around $50k after another performance of 43FP. Could be very interesting pick up. Would prefer to see Tatola, Arrow, Sele and Host all return next week and if he's still in the starting team thats a pretty good sign for job security which is his only concern. Moale was disappointing with only 20 FP in 27 mins he looked gassed and came off very early which Shaq is thriving with another 42 in 51 mins but I think next week if the above return will show where he truly lies.
Turuva again. Look only 29 points but i think once the offence gets going he will be a beneficiary. Keep watching post the bye but this lad loves drawing a penalty from his ability to fight in the ruck. Really like him as a player
Eels vs Sharks
Jesse Ramien and Bryce Cartwright are close to the two worst defenders in the NRL. Jesse has lost too much weight and is no longer a handful while Bryce’s defensive reads are placing too much pressure on Dyl Bags which can be seen in both Nikora’s and Kennedys try. Poor Dyl Bags defending between Cartwright & Blake, not sure what he did to BA t derserve that. Cartwright with another great fantasy game for owners but given the deficiencies all exist down the Eels left edge, BA would be a mad man not to bring Matterson straight in there. It is evident by the huge minutes the starting Eels middles are playing that Matto and Lane are required back ASAP. These minutes they are playing are just not sustainable particularly for Paulo and RCG who will be in the Origin mix.
Mitch Moses with a pretty stellar 2 try performance for 79FP. Still can’t believe his contract isn’t sorted, maybe it's the reason why he was such a sook on the field. Being at the game it was really strange they didn’t have a banner for him to run out for his 200th game. Dyl Bags really got going in this game also with a 62FP, given the late bye and him being Kiwi keep him in your sights.
HopGUNN the nickname Andy gave him in January with another stellar outing. 85 FP in 71 minutes including 2 TA and he had 14 demerits. I think I'm captaining him from now on and gives us comfort that if we need to trade a gun to create some cash flow then we can go down the path of doing just that.
Will Kenndy was outstanding against Souths and backed it up again for a man of match hatrick. Has always had great hands but lost his support play up the guts last year. But he is back in a big way and had a field day running off his halves all night.
Tricky Trindall again showing why he is a first grade standard half with a great performance leading the team around the park with his set up plays and boots. Unbelievably accurate goal kicker who added another $50k. This week against Canberra I think will be the make or break for us. Sharks win, I have a feeling we will see Nicho after the bye, if they lose pressure will be on to start playing him.
Teig Wilton and Blayke Brailey worked their asses off for nice 50’s, I wasn’t impressed with the Sharks starting middles who were outperformed by a very strong bench rotation.
Oregon Kaufusi is working really well into the season. Only playing 38 minutes at the moment and not an overly impressive PPM. However I do see him working his way into the starting team and I think his style of plays suits more from the start. Keep an eye on him.
Broncos vs Cowboys
Can see these two teams having some epic duals this year. Contrasting styles but some great footy from both teams
It's eyeliner season baby!!! Reece knocking out a 54FP performance and I think the best is still to come. You can look at a player from a qualitative perspective (eye test) and or quantitative perspective (stat), the reason I like the eye test first is too validate the players quality and different variables that stats cannot tell you. For example his stats from 2021 and 2022 paint two different pictures. But the key variables here as the Broncos middles, halves and outside backs which given their quality makes this guys opportunities endless. While there is a big place for stats look at the eye test and changing variables and circumstances of the player first. I’m tempted to get him riding into a draw of the Dragons, Dolphins, Tigers, Canberra and Titans.
That draw I mentioned is probably a reason to give Staggs at least 1 more game. The Broncos did just come up to the defensively sound Panthers and Cowboys so he could run riot against the next five. One thing that both the eye test and stats confirm is the Staggs needs to improve his defensive execution and increase his carries. His centre partner Herbie Farnworth was my pick for break out centre of the year and his not disappointing. He ran for 244MG and had 4 tackle breaks and I think the lad if he stays fit will average mid to high 40’s this year. On the opposition I really also like what I’m seeing from Val Holmes. A high output rep centre in a top 4 calibre team that kicks goals is always appealing.
Ezra Mam is the most improved footballer from the first two rounds. He now has the toughness of a look like in George Gregan. The lad is just a footy player and his combination with Mr Eyeliner Walshy is only going to get better. Only 1 MT this game as he folded plenty. Adam Reynolds might be a nice downgrade from Cleary for those who have the balls to pull the trigger on this.
Robson (42 FT) and Cotter (41 FT) joined Cleary and Murray with just one of those weeks. Robson had 10 demerits and got held up while Cotter played slightly less minutes and had 14 demerits which included an unusual 6 MT. This early in the season fatigue from week to week can be a big thing. I also think the Cows second middle rotation is a little soft atm particularly with Hess on an edge. Granville knocked out 26 minutes and I think that needs to reduce moving forward. Lolo (52 FP) was a handful and playing great footy but we know the coach likes to manage him at different points of the season.
Scott Drinkwater I think owners should be trading out straight to Reece Walsh. Might make it easier given he will be suspended for the hit on Oates. Its pretty obvious that he knew he was leading with the shoulder.
Roosters vs Warriors
Hats off to both halfbacks Sam Walker (69 FP) and Shaun Johnson (69 FP) thought both were fantastic. Zero missed tackles between them which is a miracle. Both directed the play, kicked well and set up play superbly. Walker could have been more if Teddy didn’t bomb a try in the second half. This close to the bye its hard for those without him to buy Walker. But SJ still presents value particularly if you want a massive downgrade from Cleary to fund some other trades.
Cheese is a massive SELL. We gave him a chance and he disappointed with 8FP. Will lose around $35k so time to offload with a massive BE next week. Unfortunately for those riding the hooker gauntlet with only Boyd and Cheese and a Cleary bye then you might have to make a couple of trades to get up to one of Egan, Grant, Mahoney or Robson.
HIA early to Ford and during the game to Nikore have some of the middles like Barnett (72 mins) play extended. Charnze also copped a HIA. Barnett produced the goods though as did Tohu Harris with a 69FP which again is just through heart and base. We need to try and get him in at some point.
Joseph Suaali’i is building. Had a 60 FP game but what was evident was his carries (232MG & 6 TB) while his defensive positioning was much better. I want to see him match up against Campbell Graham this week before making any decision to purchase him post the bye.
Joey Manu will be better for the run, we didn’t really see float much at all. Teddy was going off in the first half before a much quieter second which included that bombed try off Walker.
Dylan Walker had one of the worst games i’ve ever seen any one play. Moved into the halves in the second half and had some terrible kicks and dropped balls to really hurt the Warriors momentum.
If you haven’t yet I think TeMarie Martin is a sell. He is literally a pedestrian partnered with SJ. The only good thing he brings is availability.
Wayde Egan again with a really nice game. Another try for 65FP in a busy display both sides of the ball. Did cop a knock that looked like it killed him before a miraculous return. If you’re looking to trade out Cheese and don’t have a starting hooker than I think this guy is your man.
If you have Egan Butcher I don’t think you’re getting your money’s worth. Given other spot fires hold him a week. But round 4 bye I think move him on if he can’t smash a 50 against Souths. In his favor is Radley and JWH return to give some more go forward and his still working on his combination on the left edge with Keary.
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Dolphins vs Raiders
It's like Hammer is playing with the emotions of non-owners. Now the thing to ask yourself before rushing in is “can he continue to score tries” if you don’t believe that then there's no reason to get him.
I hate Ricky Stuart. How you play your best player for only 47 minutes is beyond belief. He loves blaming the NRL and the ref how about you start blaming the poor performances of your team on yourself bra. Tapine got a 63, but i'm not that confident of him continuing these performances with only those minutes. Atleast he's busier than we have seen him previously however he's gone a little into his shell with the off loads. Monitor.
Not sure why these coaches are deploying these little lock strategies. Apart from McInnes I don’t see it as very effective. Starling played well but can we trust Sticky hell no!!!
Of all the players who were outliers last week, Mark Nicholls was the best one and he got a few extra minutes with a few injuries in the game. Looks solid and getting through his work really well. Not a bad downgrade if you need it.
I think if you are a Fogarty owner it is time to SELL. Wighton is taking a lot of the general play kicking and Fogs is struggling at the moment with his running game. He’s not alone in the good halves that are struggling though for form. Cut your losses.
Harley Smith-Shields with a slow cash burn. Still think he would be better suited to the wing however hang on as these 29-30’s will become 50’s when the attack gets moving.
Hudson Young with a really slow start to the year. Will lose around $55k putting him in the high 600’s with a significant BE. Right now he has lost his work rate and Wighton with a more run first approach is hurting his attacking chances. However, we know his quality so he could bottom in the next couple of weeks and become an attractive proposition.
Nice bounce back for Katoa owners. While he has some defensive deficiencies, his poise for a young bloke is incredible. Great bomb to force the error from Hopoate and the delivery of the match winning try to Hammer just shows how good he’s going to be. When Sully got binned they needed someone to step up and the kid just smashed it out the park.
Shout out to Cocaine Bear Kaufusi for another rampage. Makes watching footy really fun.
Mason Teague - a nice 35 from 43 minutes. Great workrate in the middle. Not overly big but has nice agility. Will probably be only in for Ray Stone a couple of weeks but keep him in the book for later in the season.
Storm vs Bulldogs
Doggies bro!!!! Great first win for Ciraldo who tactically outsmarted the Legend of Belly Ache.
It's like Joseph Tapine died and resurrected as Jacob Kiraz who has become an offloading machine. Add strong carries and finishing and this lad is a serious proposition. I love his combo with Averillo and give Jakes ball playing ability half chances are being put straight on his chest from good delivery. They do have the Tigers and Warriors next so might be worth a consideration.
Alamoti and Perham rewarding coaches with the balls to start them with handy performances. Given the opposition of the next two weeks they might become permanent fixtures.
Matt Burton’s kicking is giving away that there is something up with his fitness atm. There were reports of off season ankle surgery and he is not striking the ball anywhere near as well as he did last season. Given how much he kicks I would actually put him in the 7 jersey and make him own the team like Hynes at the Sharks. Flanno is also a better goal kicker so not sure if it's his ego that is keeping him from giving it up. Monitor though as he will bottom in the next few rounds.
Eli Katoa was easily the most impressive for the Storm. Struggled to get into the game then they started to pick off a tiring Kikau. Those lines he was running off Hughes were equal in quality to the lines that Briton Nikora runs. Really positive signs and can only improve as he had 10 demerits with some sloppy defence.
Storm needs Tui and Sims back ASAP. As soon as Welch and big Nelson got taken off they got dominated. Harry Grant had 2 runs in the first half for limited metres and really got taken out of the game, us owners are lucky he ended up with 64FP in th end.
Jacob Preston - love this guy as he is all heart and determination. I think he will be the perfect trade-in when it comes to departing from a Tricky Trindal or Carty Party.
Tigers vs Knights
Frizell was on absolute fire and back to his best and was just unlucky with his ankle injury after the HIA. Will lose around $20k. Owners should find a way to Loiero or Katoa if they don't have. Be patient some good edges are about to bottom out.
I feel sorry for Adam Doueihi having to play at the Tigers, why did he resign? Imagine what this bloke could be at a top 4 team.
Tommy Talau may become the next Cini stuck in our app. I’m raising cash to get him out that is for sure. Surely when he got knocked out that was both a TA and Off load #justicefortalau
The Tigers bought the WISH version of Api and Ipap, both are well off the pace and should be nowhere near your fantasy team but you may have too many other fires to put out for round 3.
Stefano scored a try to inflate his score despite the bunker saying that he promoted the football. Very strange call but hey this is a very strange round.
HIA’s to Ponga and Brailey really hurt their owners. Ponga’s brave 9% of owners will need to raise some cash for Walsh or can just afford Hammer. Nothing really else of fantasy chat on the Knights. Brave performance with the amount of defence they had to do in the second half. Actually shout out to Eeyore Thompson for knocking out a 46 in 53 minutes. He might get some big minutes if Saifiti's suspension ends up a big one. Hastings underwhelmed fantasy wise with a 32 FP performance and could be in a spot of bother for that hit on Talau, with the Tigers players not happy both in game and post game with the ex Tiger.
Do you want more players from either of these teams?
Dragons vs TItans
Bird with a nice 52 FP. Looked great with the ball and terrible in defence (5 MT). Only played a concerning 47 minutes in the middle. I think the next game against the Broncos will let us know where he is really at. Don’t buy just yet.
Sloan looking lively for his 42 with a try and try assist. It is only the Titans though so this could possibly be close to a ceiling against the low teams. Is super talented so may be our way out of Talau. Ben Murdoch-Masila knocked out 72 minutes but could only manage 25 FP with his defensive limitations coming to fruition. How does an edge back rower only make 13 tackles.
Tino (70 FP) and Fifita (61 FP) both scoring well to reward owners despite both still conceding a heap of demerits. Tino did score a try in junk time to boost his fortunes. Clark disappointed with 35 FP in 44 minutes, was ok just not busy.
If we didn’t have enough fires to put out, Boyd got hooked with 6 minutes to go. Had 10 demerits in an uninspired performance. The coach does need to take some blame though. So they train an entire preseason with Fifita and Boyd on the right. A few days before season kick off Fermor goes down and he switches Fifita's edge and leaves the inexperienced half with Stimson.
Atleast Khan-Pereira managed 26 FP to have a grand season average of 13 now.
Sloan - see above