Who else is finding picking their CTW tough? Boy oh boy there are some questions to be answered with this lot.
The next in our Six of Six series are the CTW’s, a position that has really broken out in recent years with some of the games biggest stars and most expensive assets residing here.
With you Saturday morning coffee in hand, enjoy.
The Heavy Artillery
Jordan Rapana ($630,900)
Rapana had an incredible 2017, lifting his average by 6 PPG to a new career high of 71. This was despite the Raiders falling from a second place finish in 2016 to missing the finals. Accumulating 27 points from base and 29 from evading statistics, he was not completely reliant on tries for SuperCoach output; however, he still scored 21 tries in 23 games, which was an increase of one from the prior year.
He, unlike many other players that I have discussed to date, performed better away from home than in Canberra with an average of 76 vs. 66 PPG. However, the Raiders played bottom eight sides five times away, compared to just three at home, suggesting that the visiting teams were quite tough. In 2018, the Raiders face the Titans, Knights and the Warriors (home) within the first month, which is certainly an appealing opening draw and something that Rapana could definitely feast on.
There is a hovering concern as to how the Raiders attack will go without Josh Hodgson and in the ridiculously small sample of one, Rapana scored 44 without the English import. In addition to this, the incumbent halves also look a bit all over the place as to how they will set-up.
He’s expensive, but with the Raiders opening draw he will probably be worth every cent.
Note: No recent trial match played.
Tim Lafai ($575,400)
Lafai turned the clock back in 2017, averaging 65 PPG across 24 games, a significant improvement on his 2015 and 2016 output of just 42 and 38 PPG.
His stats were effectively up in all areas, but it was his offloading and runs that really made the difference with Lafai averaging 2.5 offloads and 13 runs per game. These numbers dwarfed what he had produced in the 2015 and 2016. He offloaded more last year than in those years combined.
Can he do it again? Well it’s not as if this was a one-off for him given that he averaged 61 PPG across 21 games in 2014 at the Bulldogs.
He will enter the season with significantly lower ownership than Rapana and despite seemingly having a tougher draw with opening matches against the Broncos and Sharks (he also faces the Titans and Knights), he averaged 68 PPG against them last year.
With criminally low ownership at the moment, Lafai could be one of the better POD options once again.
Note: In his most recent trial match, Lafai produced 11 runs, one TB, eight tackles and four errors for 28 SuperCoach points.
David Nofoaluma ($563,600)
I have never owned ‘Nofo’, but that is going to change at some stage this season.
With past averages of 47, 52, 60 and most recently 64, he has risen to become a legitimate CTW gun despite playing in one of the worst performing NRL side.
A 2017 average that included 31 PPG from base and 26 PPG from evading statistics puts him in the same class as Rapana, with the key differentiator being the lack of tries. Nofo scored just eight tries last season (14 in 2016) compared to Rapana’s 21. In addition to this, Nofo made the most intercepts last year with six, but this only adds around 1-1.5 PPG to his prior year average.
Now that we are past all of the good stuff, let’s discuss the Tigers schedule…. Simply put, it’s a shit tough start to the season (refer below) with games against the Roosters, Melbourne (twice), Broncos, Parramatta (twice) and Manly (away) in their opening two months. YUCK! However, in 2017 he averaged a respectful 53 points against these clubs, which is by no means a disaster.
Whilst the opening draw is a shocker, with the base statistics that he produces Nofo shouldn’t be impacted as much as others and is still one to consider.
Note: In the most recent trial match, Nofo produced 10 runs and eight tackles for 28 SuperCoach points.
James Roberts ($533,300)
Roberts produced a career best SuperCoach season in 2017, finishing with an average of 60 PPG compared to a previous high of 55. With base stats close to 30 PPG, he is certainly more than just a lightning quick centre and he’s also proven to be extremely durable of late, missing just one game in three years.
On reviewing his 2017 statistics, four things stood out to me:
- He performs much better with Anthony Milford in the side, averaging 64 PPG in the 18 games that they played together compared to just 48 PPG in the five matches where Milford was missing.
- He averaged 78 PPG in four games without Ben Hunt, but this did include a massive 154 points in Round 7.
- He enjoys playing at Suncorp Stadium, averaging 63 PPG there compared to 57 PPG away.
- He scored almost half as many tries in 2017 with seven compared to 13 in 2016.
Whilst Milford is fit to start the year, the Broncos play at Suncorp Stadium just three times in their opening two months. The Hunt stats can also be interpreted in multiple ways (i.e. excluding the 154 he actually averaged 53 PPG in three games, but the 154 is there and is factual) and the reduction of tries year-on-year certainly provides a shot at upside.
As a general rule this season I am going to steer clear of Broncos expensive backs early on, so unfortunately that rules Roberts out for me. However, I can certainly understand it if he is in your plans.
Note: In his most recent trial match, Roberts produced four runs, one TA, one LBA and 13 tackles for an estimated 40 SuperCoach points.
Suliasi Vunivalu ($531,700)
Vunivalu’s coefficient of variance for 2017 was 56%, with 60% being considered bad and 20% good. A coefficient of variance is defined as a measure of variability and in the SuperCoach world it is an extremely important statistic as it provides us with view of the difference between a player’s scoring floor and ceiling. It’s safe to say that Vunivalu is on the wrong side of this spectrum for us.
Playing on the wing for the best side is an obvious positive and he’s try scoring output has been consistently great in each of his two seasons at 23 and 22. Should the tries dry up any stage then with base statistics hovering around 20 his scoring floor is a massive concern.
Note: Vunivalu did not partake in the weekend’s trial matches.
Greg Inglis ($519,200, FB)
Inglis is returning from an ACL injury that prevented him from playing more than one game last year. Despite being priced at a 58 average, a slight discount on prior years, it remains a significant risk to an invest over $500k in a 31-year-old who is returning from that sort of injury. Given that he may also not start the season at fullback, he’s a late season target for me.
Note: In the Charity Shield match Inglis played just 20 minutes off the bench.
Daniel Tupou ($506,300)
Tupou broke out in SuperCoach terms last year with his season average increasing from 50 to 57. What I loved about his 2017 season was that his improvement didn’t come from increased tries (with year-on-year reduction of five), but rather from incremental increases in both base and evade statistics. He also improved his consistency dramatically, scoring over 60 PPG in 42% of his games compared to just 24% the year below. I am certainly buoyed with optimism given that the Roosters should be very strong once again in 2018, and this may result in Tupou crossing for more than just the 11 tries. The addition of Cronk nullifies the loss of Pearce, whilst the continued development of Latrell Mitchell should only help Tupou’s output.
What is alarming however is that Tupou does have a history of being a slow starter, with an improvement noted over the second half of his season including last year where he averaged 66 PPG in his final six games of the season, compared to just 53 up to that point. There is also that annoying starting price, but it’s not that bad if you consider him as being under-priced, which I do.
Note: In the most recent trial match, Tupou produced 11 runs, two TB’s and one tackles for 25 SuperCoach points.
Will Chambers ($491,200)
Chambers has failed in the last three seasons to match his career best SuperCoach output from 2014 of 60 PPG across 21 games, with averages of 56, 47 and 55 since.
With base statistics at a whopping 34 PPG (best for all CTW’s), Chambers’ name is perennially bandied around as a potential top five CTW. However, with the likes of Josh Addo-Carr and Vunivalu in the side stealing all the tries, any real uplift in output is limited to power statistics. At the age of 29, I am happy to look past Chambers this year.
Note: In his most recent trial match, Chambers produced five runs and seven tackles for just 16 SuperCoach points.
Jarrod Croker ($490,900)
Croker, like the Raiders, had a disastrous 2017, with a season ending average of 55 PPG. A drop of 17 PPG from his 2016 average.
Historically, Croker has been one of the most consistent CTW options with past averages of 60, 61 and 72 from 2014-2016, so was 2017 just a blimp? Taking a detailed look at his 2017 statistics, his stats were down just about everywhere and for a back that relies heavily on attacking stats, you’re never going to have a great year when you score half as many tries and kick 27 less goals.
With this being said, the Raiders have by far one of the easier early draws (refer above to Rapana) and given that he starts priced at an average much lower than in any recent year, he does offer value.
If you think the Raiders will fire early, then you should probably consider picking Croker in your SuperCoach side.
Note: The Raiders did not take part in the weekend trial games.
Latrell Mitchell ($483,100)
Arguably, Mitchell is the most talked about CTW option right now and his most recent trial match performance did little to dampen that.
In racing terms, Mitchell is a ‘genuine progressive type‘ with averages of 43 and 54 in his first two seasons; is he set to take the next step in his third full season?
Having a closer look at his output I was mildly surprised with the breakdown of his output (refer below) with just 19 of his average PPG coming from base compared to that of Tupou’s 27.
Mitchell also goes big a little bit less than Tupou with scores over 60 PPG at 38% compared to Tupou’s 42%. He scored 13 tries in 2017 compared to Tupou’s 11 so he also relies a little bit more on tries (which is evident in his output breakdown above).
So why is he so popular? Talent. He has been hyped as the second coming of Greg Inglis for a while and having two full seasons now under his belt, he is being tipped from far and wide to break-out in 2018. This hypothesis is also supported by the recruitment of Cronk and Tedesco. However, on face value I am struggling to understand the popularity of him over Tupou (but happy for this to continue…).
Note: In the most recent trial match, Mitchell produced two tries, four runs, two LB’s, eight TB’s and seven tackles for 84 SuperCoach points!
Euan Aitken ($470,400)
Aitken has been extremely consistent since make his debut three years ago, averaging 50, 55 and 53 in a total of 56 games. However, he has not quite been able to make that leap into the real elite CTW category as of yet.
With great base stats of 30 PPG in 2017 and 37 PPG in 2016, it has been the lack of attack that’s prevented him from taking the next step. He has averaged six tries per year since joining the NRL, which brings into question whether this is just the norm and in addition to this, compared to the likes of Rapana, Lafai, Nofo and Chambers, his offloading statistics have also been historically poor at 0.55 per game.
The presence of Kurt Mann is also concerning as they appear to be set for a positional battle all year.
Note: In his most recent trial match, Aitken produced nine runs, one, LBA, two TB’s and 10 tackles for 39 SuperCoach points.
Josh Addo-Carr ($461,900)
Addo-Carr almost replicates Vunivalo’s inconsistency with a coefficient of variance of 54%. He can go big, but boy he can bad too, scoring under 20 five times last year.
I wouldn’t be confident at all in suggesting that he won’t meet his 2017 try scoring total of 19, but even if he does then that alone is not enough to really make him relevant.
Note: In his most recent trial match, Addo-Carr produced three runs and six tackles for just 11 SuperCoach points.
Josh Mansour ($451,900)
Mansour is proving to be a bit of enigma in SuperCoach circles at the moment. Is he a gun? Is he undervalued? Will Peachey ruin his SuperCoach season? Why did he shave his beard? Answers to each are subject to interpretation.
With past averages of 57, 66, 54, 63 and 51 he has been right on the cusp of being one of the more consistent CTW options going around and he also has a funny knack of scoring above 60 every second year…
In 2016 where he produced his best output, he scored 15 tries at a rate of 0.7 per game compared to a rate of 0.4 in 2017. His base stats were down by 5 PPG year-on-year when comparing 2017 and 2016, while his line-breaks also took a nose dive, dropping from an average of one per game to almost half that. To me, this is all symptomatic of a guy who has just returned from an ACL injury. It’s worth noting also that Mansour has clearly averaged more in the years where he has played almost the whole season, i.e. free from injury.
Is Mansour a top 4/5 CTW? It’s debatable. Is Mansour under-priced in 2017? I think you’d have to be a brave man to suggest that he isn’t. Do you start with him at the risk of requiring to upgrade him later? The choice is yours to make.
Note: In his most recent trial match, Mansour produced 18 runs, two TB’s and three tackles for 43 SuperCoach points.
Valentine Holmes ($451,400, FLB)
Holmes will once again play fullback at Cronulla and his year got off to a cracking start with an estimated 100-point SuperCoach performance in his most recent trial match.
Past season averages of 45, 46 and 49 have put Holmes firmly into category of ‘mediocrity’ and given that in rounds five to 26 last season at fullback he produced an average of just 53 PPG, I am not expecting him to be relevant again this year unless he takes over the goal kicking duties.
Note: In his most recent trial match, Holmes produced two tries, 11 runs, one TA, one LBA, two LB’s and three TB’s for 101 SuperCoach points.
Jarryd Hayne ($420,300, FLB)
It’s impossible not to take a double look at Hayne regardless of what he produced at the Titans, which were pathetic averages of just 47 and 37 PPG.
He is back now at the Eels where he produced an incredible 85 PPG across 21 matches in 2014 and 61 PPG in 2013. Albeit, this output was produced from fullback and all the pre-season noise has been that he will start the season in the centres. However, he did play the second half of the most recent trial match from his preferred position and shone.
Flip a coin, this one could go either way.
Note: In his most recent trial match, Hayne produced 10 runs, one TA, one LBA, 2 TB’s adn six tackles for 50 SuperCoach points with most of his output produced in the second half from fullback.
Joseph Leilua ($413,800)
Urgh, what a horrible season 2017 was for Leilua. Similar to Croker, Leilua’s SuperCoach output fell dramatically, finishing the year with a dismal average of 47 PPG compared to 72 PPG the year before.
So how did it all go wrong?
Incredibly, Leilua only scored one less try year-on-year, but it was the significant reduction in base attacking statistics that really hurt. His total offloads were down by 24, while he made 32 less tackle breaks and in addition to this he made six less line-breaks, and 12 less line-break assists (yet the man standing outside of him, Rapana, had a career year?). All this in two less games!
Unlike Croker, Leilua doesn’t have the SuperCoach pedigree that makes you as confident of a bounce back year. However, he does have an average of 57 in 2014 alongside his 2017 career best year.
At the price and given the Raiders early draw, I would be lying to you if I said that I wasn’t at least a little bit tempted…
Note: The Raiders did not take part in the weekend trial games.
Brett Morris ($338,200, FLB)
2017 was a shocker for Morris, finishing with his worst ever (from what I can gather) season average of 38 PPG. Roll the clock back to seasons gone by and Morris was a consistent 50 PPG kinda’ guy. However, at 31 years of age, perhaps it’s no longer possible to turn back the clock.
Before you completely shut the door on him as a mid-range option, there is an air of freshness sweeping through Belmore this year with new coach, Dean Pay, looking to revive the stagnated club. Perhaps the Bulldogs go on the attack a bit more this year and Morris is one of the key benefactors?
To get to the bottom of it, I thought that it would be wise to ask a passionate, long-term Bulldogs supporter about Morris’ mid-priced prospects.
Hey Joe, what are your thoughts?
“If one-legged, aging wingers are your thing, then why not?”.
Note: Morris did not play in the weekends trial games.
Corey Thompson ($319,500)
I’ve listed him here because it is almost certain that he’s ownership stocks are likely to rise once he is named as the Tigers’ starting fullback.
Please don’t do this!
He’s not even that cheap and have you seen the Tigers’ opening two months? YUCK! Also, his initials are not JT.
Note: In his most recent trial match, Thompson produced one try, 11 runs, one LB, six TB’s and one tackle for 60 SuperCoach points. Not bad..
Cheap as Chips
Peta Hiku ($279,100, FLB)
We don’t really need to go into too much detail here. He looks to be one of the safer cash cow options in the CTW position. He is priced almost 20 PPG lower than past averages and is all but assured a starting role in the Warriors centres. Lock.
Note: In his most recent trial match, Hiku produced nine runs and 15 tackles fro 32 SuperCoach points.
Richard Kennar ($239,600)
Kennar is one that has crept up on us over the pre-season with strong performances in the Rabbitohs trial matches, including the most recent match against the Dragons where he scored a try.
Having crossed over from the Storm during the off-season, Kennar looks likely to be named on the wing for Souths come TLT and whilst this could provide us with a potential money spinner he does not start the season priced at rock basement levels.
Note: In his most recent trial match, Kennar produced one try, 10 runs, one LB and four tackles for 51 SuperCoach points.
Taane Milne ($192,800, 2RF)
Tanne ‘the myth’ Milne. Owned in almost 50% of all SuperCoach teams has gone from being almost a lock for your CTW / 2RF to facing extinction. He is yet to be selected in either of the starting trial sides for the Tigers with others preferred and his position in our teams all depends on TLT.
Note: In his most recent trial match, Milne produced seven runs and four tackles for just 18 SuperCoach points, but did come off the bench.
Jamayne Isaako ($192,800)
Isaako has been filling in for the injured Darius Boyd at fullback and whilst he has been performing well there is likely no room for him in the Broncos back line with Jonus Pearson seemingly the preferred option for Corey Oates’ vacated wing spot.
Note: In his most recent trial match, Isaako produced 10 runs, one TA, one LBA, one TB and seven tackles for 49 SuperCoach points, but he played at fullback.
Sione Katoa ($164,600)
Hold onto your hats ladies and gentleman, we could have a good one here. Well, that is if Katoa is able to break free from the Tom Sangster man crush and take the field for the Sharks in Round 1.
Jokes aside, Katoa has done everything that we would want to see from a rookie CTW in the trials. He looms as an almost must have for your Round 1 squad.
Note: In his most recent trial match, Katoa produced one try, nine runs, one LB, two TB’s and three tackles for 52 SuperCoach points. Beast!
Zac Lomax ($164,600, FLB)
Lomax appears unlikely to feature in the Dragons Round 1 side, but has been included here for future consideration. There are huge raps on this bloke and he is definitely one for the watch-list should TLT not work in his favour.
Note: In his most recent trial match, Lomax produced six runs, two LBA’s, one TB and three tackles for 33 SuperCoach points, but did come off the bench.