We’re entering head to head finals territory this week, congratulations to those who’ve made it and best of luck for the weekend. If you’re struggling to find a decent point of difference for your finals this year, there’s a very good reason why which was recently highlighted by the NRLSCStats twitter account.
Rd20 stats are live. There are currently 21 x 60/60 players this year most of whom are must haves in classic. Compare this to 2018 (13) and 2017 (18). #nrlsupercoach https://t.co/DYOEhmAOQJ pic.twitter.com/Bkj4a3CF81— NRL SC Stats (@NRLSCStats) August 5, 2019
The numbers above are based the season up to Round 20, but if you add in Round 21 they’re not that different. Looking at players who’ve played more than one game, there are 18 60/60 players so far in 2019, just 12 for all of 2018 including four available at FLB and 15 for 2017, of which nine players were eligible for 2RF. Here’s the 2019 list:
There’s basically very little margin for error with PODS this year, as opposed to previous years where you had around 10-12 guns making up the nucleus of your team and filling up the rest of your team with PODS and players just below keeper levels. From the above table for 2019, if you take out an extra hooker (Jake Friend) and fullback (Roger Tuivasa-Sheck) due to position limits, you could have 15/16 of a final 21/22 sorted out. And that list doesn’t even include some other must-haves like Latrell Mitchell, Damian Cook or Cameron Munster. If you’re missing more than a handful of these players you’re likely to be struggling.
With that in mind, you’ll probably see a lot of common players in your H2H finals. With significant overlap between teams, you’re only going to need one or two of them at most, with captain choices and non-playing reserves a more important factor.
As with last week, Buy/Sell can be substituted for Start/Sit for the run home as most of you will be out of trades and just looking for line-up advice
Best call – SELL Andrew Fifita. Another sub 50 game off the bench, and hasn’t been named due to a knee injury this week.
Worst call – HOLD Kotoni Staggs. His golden run came to an end against the Cowboys with just 31 points. Hopefully you didn’t play him.
Manu Ma’u ($588,300 CTW|2RF – 82 last round, Average: 66.9, BE 65)
From the table above, Ma’u is one of the best points of difference left at 17%, although he probably won’t be one much longer as he’s the top traded in player this week. He’s one of just two players in that list (ignoring the injured Friend) with ownership under 20%, the other being Addin-Fonua Blake at 7%. His five-round average is 74.0 which is ridiculous for a CTW eligible player, and he hasn’t had a score lower than 64 since Round 13, and only two scores below 50 all season. There are no issues with minutes either, even with the Eels running a four forward bench, as he’s been consistently playing 80 minutes a game for the last two months. If you have trades left and you don’t own him, it would be well worth spending it this week.
Paul Vaughan ($521,000 FRF – 90, AVG: 61.3, BE 53)
With Fifita out, some coaches may be looking at bolstering their FRF stocks. Vaughan may be the best choice for a POD at just 7% ownership with favourable games against the Sharks, Tigers and Titans in his last four. He has scored 2 tries in his last four games, which has pushed his five-round average up to 65.4, but the best sign is that his minutes have hit 60 twice in his last three games, culminating with 65 against the Titans on the weekend. Ideally, you want a POD with a high ceiling, and with his ability to find attacking stats when the Dragons are firing, he’s a fantastic option for your front row.
Josh Papalii ($573,600 FRF|2RF – 71, AVG: 61.6, BE 44)
If you don’t trust the Dragons (and frankly who could after this season), then there’s another front-rower with a penchant for attacking stats that plays on one of the top four sides. Papalii has a five-round average of nearly 73, which has included two tries, but he has six of his last seven games with base stats above 50. If you own another dual position player like David Klemmer or Martin Taupau, his dual position status gives you extra flexibility with injuries and players resting likely in the final rounds.
Wade Graham ($527,700 2RF – 93, AVG: 69.6, BE -1)
At just 2% with a three-round average, Graham could be a sneaky late-season POD in the vein of Shaun Lane’s finish to 2018. The Sharks play their next three at home against the Dragons, Warriors and Raiders, before finishing up against the Tigers away. You may not play Graham in all of those games, but for the next two rounds at least he could be the difference in your H2H final. The main issue is that he’s only available at 2RF, where there’s hardly a shortage of options.
David Fifita ($481,600 2RF – 78, AVG: 47.1, BE 45)
He might not be as large a POD as Graham, but even at 5% ownership Fifita could be worth gambling on. He’s played 80 minutes on an edge in five of his last six games with base stats hovering in the low 40s, indicating the opportunity will be there for more attacking stats to boost his scoring. The Broncos have three straight at Suncorp before their final game against the Bulldogs in Round 25. With Andrew Fifita dropping down to $400k, you might be strapped for cash and Fifita represents a more affordable POD than some of the players listed above.
Brian Kelly ($465,400 CTW – 99, AVG: 56.2, BE 41)
Kelly may be the only Titan other than Jai Arrow worth owning for 2019. One of the biggest PODs left at just 1% ownership (only in 1,700 teams at the time of writing). His three and five round averages are in the mid-50s, but he can post big scores this week including three straight 80+ games mid-season. The Eels don’t concede a huge amount of points to left centres, but his next matchup is Melbourne, whose left side does concede more than it’s right. Kelly’s final opponents will be the Knights and Dragons, two more favourable matchups.
Kotoni Staggs ($516,000 CTW|2RF – 31, AVG: 43.1, BE 103)
The last cash out of the season? Staggs had an ordinary game against a very ordinary opponent and it’s hard to picture any situation in the final four rounds where you would play him with confidence over some of your other CTW options. Doubly so now that he’s no longer kicking goals. Thankfully due to his dual position status, he could be traded for nearly any forward this round, and a straight swap to someone like Vaughan could be a sneaky move.
Brian Too ($476,100 CTW – 30, AVG: 55.5, BE 86)
Like Staggs, Too has peaked and posted by far his lowest score of the season against the Sharks. Unlike Staggs, he does have some favourable matchups coming up with the Broncos and Cowboys in his next two. He’s not a priority sell by any means as he’s shown he has an excellent ability to generate base stats, but he might be worth sitting this week as even though the Broncos concede a lot of points to right centres (worst in the NRL), they don’t concede a lot to right wingers (seventh).
Anthony Milford ($446,400 5/8 – 42, AVG: 51.0, BE 102)
42 including a try is the stuff nightmares are made of when looking at your starting halves. The move to fullback has seen Milford look more dangerous but it’s not translating to improved Supercoach scores unless the Broncos are punching down on a team like the Titans. One to sit as an NPR, only break glass in case of emergency.
Robbie Farah ($447,300 HOK – 16, AVG: 56.2, BE 71)
As unlikely as it is, it would be great to see Farah end his NRL career on the field rather than being carried off it. A tibia injury is likely to rule him out for the rest of the season, meaning you can’t give this former gun a testimonial send-off in the final round.
Brandon Smith ($505,200 2RF|HOK – 0, AVG: 46.8, BE 56)
An ankle injury is likely to keep Smith out of the Storm line-up until the finals. He’s quietly pushed past the $500k mark and can easily be traded out to a keeper or one of the forward PODs listed above. Not bad for someone who was downplayed as an option pre-season because back up hookers don’t tend to generate a lot of cash.
Bailey Simonsson ($384,800 CTW|FLB – 16, AVG: 43.4, BE 32)
Just 16 points against the Roosters last week and being named in the #14 jersey indicates it’s time for Simonsson to be moved on or at least left as an NPR. He could be worth holding just in case Joey Leilua’s body doesn’t hold up for the final four games of the season.
Kalyn Ponga ($616,100 FLB|5/8 – 41, AVG: 72.3, BE 137)
There are nearly 200 coaches trading him out for Munster this week, which is one of the most egregious of chasing last week’s points I’ve seen even considering how good Munster has been. The Knights run home would be considered great for any team, with the Cowboys and Titans at home among their final four. If you really want to take a risk, just sit him this week rather than trading him out.
Ken Maumalo ($586,400 CTW – 96, AVG: 65.1, BE 70)
There’s been talk of trading Maumalo out with the Warriors tough schedule to end the season, but when you have a winger who can score 96 in shocking conditions with 44 in base stats you have to not only keep him but play him every week. It’s pretty clear he’s the best fourth option outside the top three CTW choices (Ma’u, John Bateman and Latrell Mitchell).
Jazz Tevaga ($560,200 HOK|2RF – 78, AVG: 57.6, BE 50)
Another Warrior worth holding this week. With three and five round averages in the 70s, Tevaga is definitely not a sell but with a game against the Roosters at home this week he’s a definite sit candidate. His 78 looks impressive given the weather last week in Auckland, but if not for that 76th minute try he’d have been looking at a score below 50 in just 62 minutes. Another game with minutes in the 60s could be a sign his run as a lock for your top 17 is over.
Andrew Fifita ($411,900 FRF – 47, AVG: 60.8, BE 53)
A knee injury is keeping Fifita out this week, which isn’t the worst news as he’s currently unplayable with minutes below 50. The good news is that his price has likely bottomed out so there’s little value in trading him out unless you’re short a front rower as it will take nearly $100k to replace him with a keeper or decent POD, and no one has that sort of cash lying around at this time of the season. If you can cover him, just let him sit on your bench and hope that he gets some minutes upon return.
Dylan Brown ($384,500 HFB|5/8 – 61, AVG: 48.4, BE 6)
With a BE of 6 and a three round average of 57, there’s still some minor cash to be made with Brow if you want to trade him out eventually. If you can upgrade him to one of the top halves like Mitchell Moses, Shaun Johnson, Nathan Cleary or Munster who would move in your top 17, then you have to pull the trigger this week. Otherwise, you can wait a week and save the trade until you really need it.
Villiame Kikau ($472,200 2RF – 41, AVG: 57.9, BE 89)
Another very pedestrian game for Kikau, who sports a three-round average of 40.7. There’s no point in trading him now unless you’re swimming in cash or trades, as he could put up some big scores against the Broncos and Cowboys over the next fortnight. For those keeping track, in those last three games, he’s still not scored as much as Kenny Bromwich did in just one game against the Broncos. Imagine making that trade…
Clint Gutherson ($452,100 CTW|FLB – 56, AVG: 57.1, BE 73)
Two tries and a mid-50 score is some peak Alex Johnson, but Brad Arthur’s decision to play him for 20 minutes a game at hooker is severely hampering Gutherson’s output. He may have ended up in the 70s if he wasn’t just shovelling the ball from dummy half for a quarter of the game. The Eels are playing the Titans this week, which means that as much as I’d like to sit Gutherson due to being misused, I couldn’t leave him sitting as an NPR.