Round 1 action picks are up for today’s games. Let’s take a look at each match and who you should (and shouldn’t) target in your daily fantasy NRL contests.
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New Zealand Warriors vs. Canterbury Bulldogs
The Warriors begin their post Shaun Johnson era with all kinds of questions that can only be answered by the kind of consistent football that has alluded them throughout their history. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck now acts as the lone superstar on a team that is yet to convince anyone they are anything but a flash in the pan. They come up against a Bulldogs team that are equally as unreliable and unfancied, particularly given the loss of coach Des Hasler. This game could go either way, but let’s hope for an avalanche of points.
Gun: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck ($12.9m)
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck claims the ‘Gun’ role in this edition because of the uncertainty of this fixture and his price tag. With both teams undergoing heavy face lifts, who knows what to expect in terms of results, but what we do know is that RTS will produce points, as he has always done. Last year’s Dally M medalist led the way for a perennially inconsistent Warriors side and I expect him to do the same here. Underpriced and reliable.
Dud: Lachlan Lewis ($10.1m)
A super talented kid, but at that price tag, given the plethora of changes at Belmore and the return of the ball dominant Keiran Foran, I cannot justify the money being spent on Lachlan Lewis. An average of 680 last year is hardly setting the world on fire and in a position of real intrigue, there are just so many better options than the Dogs’ no.7. There are much better ways to spend your money.
Point of Difference: Nathaniel Roache ($9.2m)
An easy selection in this match. The absence of Isaac Luke makes this an easy choice. Nathaniel Roach looks like he was created in a test tube, with legs the size of trees and a physique unlike many in the game. He is also a very talented hooker, with a strong combination of athleticism and spark out of dummy half combined with a good football brain and effective passing game. A starting hooker at $9.2m is a no-brainer.
Wests Tigers vs. Manly Sea Eagles
The absence of mega-star Tom Trbojevic takes some sting out of this game, but we will still be treated to an open, expansive classic at Leichhardt. The Tigers open their season against a Manly side without their most dangerous weapon, and they should be able to subdue the remaining troops from their north-eastern opponents. Both sides have had interesting off-seasons, with Manly bringing back Des Hasler while the Tigers lost Ivan Cleary to Penrith, and both experiencing a number of personnel changes. The Tigers should be too strong at home but this famous ground often conjures up something special.
Gun: Esan Marsters ($12.6m)
Unfortunately only available as a forward, Esan Marsters appears the go-to Tiger for the upcoming season. A break-out year last season that saw him become a consistent and significant output of points despite scoring just three tries, Marsters has emerged as one of the best fantasy scorers in the game and against a Manly team that were utterly woeful in defence last year, he could be a winning play for your side.
Dud: Daly Cherry-Evans ($15.7m)
Without Tom Trbojevic I just cannot see anything remotely resembling value for Daly Cherry-Evans, particularly at his price tag of nearly $16 million. A hugely talented player who will come into calculations once Tommy Turbo is back, at that cost and without his greatest attacking weapon I cannot see how you can be overlooking other alternatives in the favour of the Manly halfback.
Point of Difference: Luke Garner ($6.5m)
A starting back-rower at $6.5 million? Yes please. Coach-favourite Luke Garner has snared the second row position following the long-term injury to Chris Lawrence, meaning he is severely underpriced and should be in every team. A work horse in every sense of the word, Garner should be a comfortable source of points and could prove a deadly threat in attack if he can find the right lines off halfback Luke Brooks. A must have.
North Queensland Cowboys vs. St George Illawarra Dragons
The Cowboys and Dragons are two of the more fascinating prospects this season. North Queensland move out of the Johnathan Thurston era but still with huge representative pedigree. They could be anything. The same goes for St George, a team stacked with rep stars who really should be a top 4 side come September. A string of off-field controversies will test their resolve, and fans will be pessimistic given their recent history. This should be a great litmus test for both sides.
Gun: Gareth Widdop ($10.5m)
Interestingly it took until what will be Gareth Widdop’s final season for him to play fullback but I believe the Englishman will finally get prolonged time in his best position. A natural and instinctive runner of the ball, Widdop will now have a free roam to join the attack on both sides of the field in more dangerous positions. He was already an elite level fantasy option and I believe that has only increased with his swap to the no.1 jumper. He’s a must-have for me.
Dud: Josh McGuire ($11m)
Josh McGuire made the controversial move north from the Broncos to the Cowboys, but his role in the team is still unknown. As a Queensland and Australian representative it was expected he slotted straight into the starting side, but a stacked North Queensland forward pack has seen him named on the bench. The late mail suggests he may come into the starting side but I wouldn’t go near him until we’ve got a clearer idea of how they’re going to use him.
Point of Difference: Tyson Frizell ($13.5m)
The price-makers haven’t done us a favour but with Tyson Frizell moving to lock I think he could be a huge POD for us this season. He greatly increased his fantasy scoring last year playing outside a proper halfback and not Josh McCrone, and with an increased work rate through the middle and the absence of Jack De Belin, Frizell could become an elite fantasy option. Worth the investment.