Manly & Penrith were outclassed in week one of the 2021 finals series. They will be looking to make the most of their second chance against the Roosters & the Eels in Mackay this weekend. Both favourites are around 12 point favourites this weekend, and even though it’s hard to see Tom Trbojevic & Nathan Cleary’s teams being bundled out in straight sets, anything seems to be possible in the NRL in 2021!
We have two huge $40,000 contests on Draftstars as well as a High Roller contest for each game & $3,000 Full Round contest. With no AFL contests this weekend, it’s going to be a cracking round of NRL DFS action. As always, we’ll have our projections & advanced stats available on the ‘NRL Draftstars Stat Bible‘ to help you have the best shot at nailing your line-ups.
Panthers v Eels $40,000
Saturday 18th September 7.50PM
This mouth-watering elimination final between these bitter Western Sydney rivals promises to be an epic. They played each other two weeks ago but it’s hard to read into the 40-6 win for the Panthers given they were close to full strength whereas the Eels rested most of their marquee players.
Similar to Tom Trbojevic, Nathan Cleary has been one of the standout players in the NRL but had a quiet game last week as the Panthers went down to the Rabbitohs. It showed in his DFS performance, he had his lowest score of the season – the first time he went below 50 this season. It’s an intriguing DFS contest given Nathan Cleary is the standout player whichever way you look at it on our NRL DFS Stat Bible. Whether you pick him or not will have a huge impact on your chances of taking away the $3,915 first prize!
Edit: Brian To’o has been ruled out and Brent Naden has been named to replace him as the left winger for Penrith.
We backed Nathan Cleary & Kurt Capewell as value plays last week and they let us down. They were 12 point pre-game favourites against the Rabbitohs & eventually lose by 6 points. They are 12 point pre-game favourites again this week against the Eels. We think it’s a pretty simple equation. If you think the Panthers have lost their momentum in 2021 and will be knocked out in straight sets, then leaving Nathan Cleary out of your team could be a great decision at his hefty $18,680 price tag. However, if you agree with us that the Panthers will comfortable dispose of the Eels then both Cleary & Capewell are great selections. Cleary has the highest projected score & ceiling by far in this contest and Capewell has the added bonus of dual position availability in 2RF & CTR.
We also think Isaah Yeo is an excellent pick in this contest. Our model has him projected to score 56 points which gives him a 7/10 value rating at his $13,520 price tag. However, given it’s a must-win finals game, there is upside for Yeo in the Panthers back. His form (60) & score in last week’s loss against the Rabbitohs (76) shows us what he is capable of as the season gets to the point end and the Panthers are looking for their first premiership in 18 years.
Isaiah Papali’i has been one of the buys of the year in the NRL. However, with the Eels full strength forward pack we don’t like his chances of getting enough of an opportunity to wrack up a big score. Which he needs to at his $14,090 price tag. Another reason to leave him out is there are some great value options in both the 2RF & FRF positions. Our picks would be Yeo & Capewell at 2RF and Junior Paulo at FRF.
If you agree with us and think Nathan Cleary is a strong value play, then you will be leaving out Mitchell Moses. We’ve also suggested leaving out Isaiah Papali’i. If your salary cap allows you to pick him, Brian To’o ($14,240) would be an excellent pick. He’s coming off his second lowest score this season but he showed great signs with almost 200 running metres. If he can score a try or get closer to his average of 6 tackle breaks per game against the Eels, it’s easy to see why he’s a standout pick at WFB.
Sea Eagles v Roosters, $40,000
Friday 17th September 7.50PM
The Sea Eagles went into last week missing Lachlan Croker and up against a red hot Melbourne Storm team who always grow an extra leg going into September. But that doesn’t excuse their performance last Friday. Tom Trbojevic touched the ball half the amount of times he usually does & it showed in his stats. No tries, assists, line breaks or line break assists. 20.1 DFS points. On the flipside, James Tedesco led from the front as the Roosters won a nail-biting clash against the Titans. With both players having a hefty price tag over $15k, their fortunes will likely decide yours in this contest!
Dylan Walker had four weeks in a row of scoring around 50 points but crashed back to earth with a score of 27 last week. We still think he’s a great pick at $9,960, especially if you’re picking two of Tom Trbojevic, James Tedesco and Daly Cherry-Evans and need a reliable yet affordable scoring at WFB or HALF.
After seeing what could happen if Manly’s attack is well contained, Daly Cherry-Evans seems a more attractive option than Tom Trbojevic. They are in the top two for almost every stat that we have one our ‘NRL Draftstars Stat Bible‘ but it’s the last 3 scores that are really interesting to look at. When Manly dominated the Cowboys in Round 25, Tom scored 148 points & Cherry-Evans scored 106 points. However, when they were defeated by the Storm last week, Tom scored 21 & Cherry-Evans scored 63. They’ve both been in impressive form, but for the top-level price tag, we prefer the consistency and reliability of Daly-Cherry Evans.
Tom Trbojevic. He should win the Dally M in 2021, could yet take the Sea Eagles to a Grand Final, and potentially their first premiership in 10 years. However his DFS scores are significantly different in games against top 8 opposition compared to bottom 8 teams in 2021. If you think Manly is going to win comfortably or you are only entering one team, it’s probably worth including Tom Trbojevic in your team.
But if you are entering multiple line-ups and/or thinking it’ll be a tight grind, then leaving him out of your line-up opens up so many more possibilities. An alternative would be to choose better value players such as Dylan Walker and Reuben Garrick or Daniel Tupou.
Matt Ikuvalu is another player we would suggest you don’t include in your team. He’s turning into a good NRL player, however paying $10,500 for someone who relies mainly on tries in a finals game where they are 12 point underdogs doesn’t seem a wise decision. For a similar price-tag, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves or Lachlan Croker seem like significantly better value plays.
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