The rounds immediately following Origin are quietly the toughest and usually ignored. This year seems to have caught many out, especially myself. Through some poor planning I ended up with only 15 scoring players last week after (incorrectly) assuming that Tui Kamikamica wouldn’t get on the field and the Sharks version of Sione Katoa would be my auto emergency. Thanks to the Roosters/Titans game I had three starters who were rested and two players for one AE.
With Jarrod Croker’s injury this week, things are so dire for keepers in the centres that people are talking themselves into Michael Chee-Kam again, seemingly ignoring Ivan Cleary’s selection quirks. Centre has been so random this year, you’d probably be better off using a dartboard to choose players that that position (coincidentally also how I pick my Perfect 8 each round).
There some obvious options to replace Croker, with most chasing Will Hopoate’s points from last week. Below you’ll find a few less obvious choices for CTW that could give you a real point of difference for the run home or head to head finals. They might only score 30 points but so could any of the CTW “keepers” this season. It really is a lottery.
Best Call – HOLD Villiame Kikau. Was even more important with the players rested last week and knocked out an impressive 94. People are even looking at bringing him in for the run home.
Worst Call – BUY Clint Gutherson. He did mange 41 which is fine for a centre, but with hindsight he wasn’t the best choice on his own team (see below).
Angus Crichton ($635,600 2RF – 94 last round, Average: 67.8, Breakeven 79)
Very pricey but an absolute must have for the run home thanks to Souths draw. He’s seventh overall for pure base stats at 51.3 per game and knows how to get across the line. Given the situation in the centres, it’s most likely your reserves will comprise of a hooker and three forwards meaning there’s plenty of room for Crichton if you already own the likes of Jai Arrow, Jason Taumalolo, Jake Trbojevic and Rhyse Martin.
Adam Reynolds ($443,800 HFB – 75, AVG: 51.7, BE 35)
If you’ve been holding off trading in Nathan Cleary as a backup half for Shaun Johnson, then you might want to have a look at Reynolds. His three round average is better than Cleary’s and he’s guaranteed to kick goals as long as he’s healthy (what a caveat that is). As mentioned above, the Rabbitohs draw is enticing, while the Panthers have a tougher run home. Plus, Reynolds is a bigger POD, with just 3% ownership versus 9% for Cleary.
Jordan Rapana ($479,700 CTW – 95, AVG: 52.9, BE 40)
The Raiders winger looked like he had no lingering issues from a hamstring issue on the way to 95 points last week and looks a great option to trade in for Croker. Just be aware that Aiden Sezer’s injury will most likely result in Blake Austin returning to the starting side and no one outside him will ever see the ball again. Only in 7% of teams but is the top player traded in, he probably won’t be a POD for long.
Jarryd Hayne ($461,100 FLB|CTW – 103, AVG: 49.1, BE -11)
Stop laughing. Seriously, stop laughing. Hayne averages 62 when you look at the six games this year he’s played 80 minutes, and since coming back in Round 14 he’s averaged 76.8 in four games, with scores of 82, 46, 76 and 103. He’ll be playing left centre this week which means he’s lining up against Kerrod Holland and Reimis Smith. Hayne is in just 4% of teams currently, but another who is in the top ten for traded in players. Do you dare to dream?
Waqa Blake ($359,700 CTW – 91, AVG: 50.4, BE -19)
Josh Mansour ($443,500 CTW – 0, AVG: 46.2, BE 70)
A pair of Panthers outside backs that are both serious PODs. Mansour is in only in 3% of teams and has base stat beast in previous seasons. This year he’s averaging 30 in base alone this year from six games. Blake is in only 2% and is a riskier play as he’s never averaged more than 41 for a full season, but he’s only $359k and has scores of 59 and 91 in his last two since returning from injury, with 30 in base both games (above his season base stats average of 23).
Solomone Kata ($419,600 CTW – 94, AVG: 48.1, BE 33)
Kata is the epitome of rocks and diamonds, with a third of his scores this season in the 20-30 range. But he does know how to cross the line when he gets inside the opponents 20m area and did average 52 in 2016. The Warriors do have some tough games coming up (Melbourne, St George-Illawarra and Penrith again) but they’re mixed in with some easier ones (Titans, Knights, Bulldogs, Raiders). In just 2% of teams as of the time of writing.
Curtis Scott ($303,600 CTW – 60, AVG: 35.4, BE -3)
Hasn’t put together a giant score all year – his two highest scores (60,54) have come in the last two weeks and maybe finding form at the right end of the season. He did average 54.3 in ten games last season but that was with Cooper Cronk and he scored half of those points over a three game period (rounds 15-17). A cheap and risky POD though at just 2% ownership on a team that can run up the scoreboard.
David Nofoaluma ($467,000 CTW – 87, AVG: 49.3, BE 63)
He’s averaging 54.3 in games where he’s played the full 80 minutes (off injured in round 13 and was sin binned in round nine) this season and has been a keeper in previous years averaging 60 or more. His base stats are great in 2018 (27 per game in pure base) plus he’s averaging nearly 15 points per game from tackle busts alone, trailing only Mahe Fonua in that category for centres. Another super POD who is only in 1% of teams. The Tigers draw is mixed though, with two games against Souths and one against the Dragons mixed with games against Canterbury, Newcastle, Canberra and Manly.
Daniel Tupou ($402,900 CTW – 43, AVG: 38.7, BE 76).
Has had an injury affected 2018 and it has shown in his scores. Tupou is averaging only 38.7 this year after 57.1 last year and 49.6 in 2016. Since returning from injury he is averaging 46 and the Roosters will be back to full strength after Origin. Last year he scored 71, 54 and 111 after the Roosters final bye before succumbing to injury. Is in just 1% of teams and probably the biggest POD in this article but could also average 35 for the next month. Or get injured again. Or both. Most teams will already have a number of Roosters backs and it would be hard to justify running Tupou with some combination of Mitchell, Tedesco, Ferguson and Matterson.
Jarrod Croker ($510,700 CTW – 5, AVG: 54.5, BE 44)
Unfortunately, Croker out for the season with a dislocated kneecap. If you played him last week then it hurt, but probably not as much as the 700+ coaches who had the captain’s armband on him.
Tevita Pangai ($455,100 2RF|FRF – 0, AVG: 51.6, BE 88)
It might be appealing to hold Pangai as something of a POD now he looks to have secured a backrow spot with Jayden Su’A’s broken ankle putting him out for the season. The flip side to that is that he’s not scoring anywhere near enough to justify playing at either forward position in your final 17 and he missed last week with yet another hamstring injury.
Coen Hess ($432,500 2RF|FRF – 44, AVG: 58.6, BE 83)
Hasn’t scored more than 47 since Round 10, which just doesn’t cut it in the forwards this season with so many options. Hess is also no longer playing 80 minutes as he was pre-Origin. Non-Taumalolo Cowboys players are probably more toxic than Eels players were a month ago, I’d be jumping off all of them ASAP.
Peta Hiku ($318,500 CTW – 24, AVG: 46.4, BE 67)
Named on the bench this week, but even if Hiku was starting his form has been well below par in the last month and couldn’t even be trusted as a backup centre in your squad.
Ashley Taylor ($373,900 HFB – 20, AVG: 45.7, BE 109)
Seemed like a good POD option for bye coverage but has a wretched three round average of 24.3 and has scored a total of 28 points in his last 160 minutes of football.
Kurt Mann ($306,200 CTW – 20, AVG: 24.5, BE 16)
Mann looked to be the beneficiary of a mid-foot sprain for Nene McDonald, but the latter has been named on the wing this week despite talk of him possibly missing 1-4 weeks. If McDonald is ruled out the Mann would be a hold, but the Dragons play the late Saturday game, meaning you may not want to risk it.
Ryan Matterson ($537,700 CTW|2RF – 36, AVG: 63.0, BE 111)
Named in jersey #14 but could be a late swap into the starting line-up as he was on the weekend. His base stats are still fantastic – 12ppg more than the next highest CTW. If he’s on a minute restriction (just 46 on the weekend as a starting backrower) then the allure drops, even if the other CTW choices are slim. If he goes back to 80 minutes then you’ll kick yourself for trading him out.
Cameron Munster ($594,800 FLB|5/8 – 0, AVG: 59.8, BE 105)
Munster has been picked at 5/8 this week suggesting he’s over his finger injury sustained in Origin game three, but with Bellamy who knows if he’ll actually take the field. A larger cause for concern is Brodie Croft being named as his halves partner. If you recall from Buy, Sell, Hold previously, Munster averages only 37.8 at 5/8 with Croft at #7, compared to 70.1 with Ryley Jacks as the other half.
Paul Gallen ($558,900 2RF – 22, AVG: 54.8, BE 111)
A virus knocked Gallen out last week, producing just 22 points in 48 minutes for a point per minute of just 0.5. Hopefully he will have fully recovered this week and be back in the 0.9-1.0 range. He’s still only in 6% of teams so he’s a genuine POD if he’s getting big minutes.
Jamayne Isaako ($489,400 CTW – 24, AVG: 52.5, BE 69)
A very quiet game on the weekend as the Broncos couldn’t handle playing in direct sunlight. He’s still valuable as a 4th/5th centre option for the run home, most trades at this stage would be sideways.