We have two mouth-watering games setup for Prelim Final weekend in the NRL. The Storm have been on fire, beating Manly easily in week one of the finals and then seeing the Panthers lose to the Rabbitohs and beat the Eels in an 80 minute Origin-like game last weekend. Manly were impressive last weekend against an understrength Roosters but come up against an impressive Rabbitohs team who beat the Panthers in week one and are well rested.
Draftstars have a huge $40,000 contest on Friday night and a $15,000 contest for the Saturday afternoon game. We’ll break down the contests in our preview below but if you want to dive into our projections and more advanced stats, check out our ‘NRL Draftstars Stat Bible‘
Storm v Panthers, $15,000
Saturday 25/9, 4PM
The Panthers have been excellent over the last two seasons. However, they have struggled in the finals so far scoring two tries in two finals games. They look to be showing signs of weariness after many of their young players played Origin for the first time this season & the injury concerns over a few players in their squad. Moses Leota has been ruled out, Brian To’o is on the reserves list as he looks to return from injury and Viliame Kikau could only get through 30 mins last week.
The Storm have gone from strength to strength over the last few weeks. Ryan Papenhuyzen returned to form in Round 25 and was on fire in week one of the finals as they overcame Tom Trbojevic and the Sea Eagles with ease. The best way to show how impressive this Storm team is would be to go through their bench. Harry Grant, who could arguably be the Hooker for the Australian team. Nelson Asofa-Solomona who is one of the biggest bodies in the game and has learnt how to get the most out of his 40 minutes of game time in 2021. Nicho Hynes, who is the Sharks’ marquee signing for 2022, is only there to cover Munster, Hughes & Papenhuyzen. And Tui Kamikamica who would be a starting forward at almost any other NRL club.
This contest will be decided by Nathan Cleary. His $18,020 price tag makes him the most expensive player in the contest but you can see why if you look across the advanced stats on our ‘NRL Draftstars Stat Bible‘. Draftstars have a $15,000 contest with 1st prize winning over $1,100 as well as High Roller & $2 competitions so there’s something for everyone.
Moses Leota being ruled out for the Panthers is a big loss. Liam Martin has been named in his start spot with Spencer Leniu coming on to the bench. Leniu & Mitch Kenny will likely play 10-20 minutes each and Viliame Kikau usually plays around 60 in the second row. So immediately, we’re looking at the Panthers forward pack to find value.
Liam Martin, Kurt Capewell & Isaah Yeo are three of the best value players according to our projections. Yeo has played 80 minutes in both finals so far and has been in great form, scoring 76 and 61 in those games. He’s the most expensive of the trio at $13,800, however we think he’s an attractive pick especially as he’s usually not as highly owned in 2021 with an average ownership of 25%. Martin will get more time in the middle of the ground so his base stats should be even better than usual whereas Capewell will likely play 80 minutes now and can be played at centre so he becomes a great option also.
Viliame Kikau. He only managed to get through 30 mins last week and we have him rated as a 3/10 in our value ratings. Penrith struggled to overcome Parramatta last week in a classic, Origin-like game last week. Since then they have lost Moses Leota, Brian To’o still isn’t confirmed to return and they are up against the Storm who are well rested. So the Panthers might be tempted to risk playing Kikau, but he’s unlikely to be 100% and relying on a tackle-busting second rower to score well against the Storm isn’t the most sensible strategy anyway. At his $11,450 price tag we’re happy to suggest that you leave him out of your team!
Rabbitohs V Sea Eagles $40,000
Friday 23/9, 7.50PM
It’s almost impossible to decide on which team has an advantage going into this game. The Rabbitohs lost Latrell Mitchell on the eve of the finals and were up against the red hot Panthers in week one. They beat them in clinical fashion and now, with a weeks rest, look primed to send Wayne Bennett and Adam Reynolds out with a Grand Final berth. Tom Trbojevic’s run this year has been compared to Jarrod Hayne in 2009 & Ben Barba in 2012. Both of those fairy tale runs ended in losing the Grand Final. Can Tom take them one step closer? They’ve played their full strength team the last three weeks and have no excuses going into this contest.
This DFS contest could be decided by which team you think will win the game. If you the Rabbitohs can do well, players like Cam Murray, Alex Johnston & Cody Walker are high ceiling range options that could propel you to the towards the $3915 first prize. If you think Tom Trbojevic and Manly can continue their form, spending $17,020 on him and players like Cherry-Evans and Reuben Garrick would be a great decision, even if it takes up the majority of your salary cap.
Last week we suggested Daly Cherry-Evans was a more attractive DFS selection than Tom Trbojevic. Tom ended up scoring 11 more points, but we’re going to stand by our call and double down this week! They have similar stats across the board, however Tom has a noticeably higher ceiling range. With most of his top scores being against bottom 8 teams though, we’re confident DCE will be a better pick over the course of the finals series.
Dylan Walker and Reuben Garrick are a great combination to select in your WFB spots. Walker has been consistently scoring well since playing the roving lock role off the bench with a rolling average score of 43. We have him rated 7/10 for value even with a projected score of 38. Garrick gives you exposure to the third highest ceiling range in the contest (93). If Manly can continue their form, playing DCE & Garrick would be a great way to be exposed to that upside without having to pay the hefty $17,020 price tag to pick Tom Trbojevic.
Cam Murray and Jaydn Su’A are two strong picks in the 2RF, especially if you think the Rabbitohs will do well. Murray has traditionally been a low ownership player in 2021 (27%), however he has been in great form (57) and has the fourth highest projected score (57) in this contest. Su’A is rated a 10/10 in our value ratings and if he can match our projected score and his form (44) he’ll be a great pick at 2RF.
Some of the best attacking weapons across both teams are the worst value picks according to our projections. The Rabbitohs’ left edge has been lethal this year, but Alex Johnston, Dane Gagai, Keaon Koloamatangi & Cody Walker all have a value rating of 5 or lower. Unsurprisingly, they all have ceiling ranges in the 70s and average ownership around 40% in 2021. If you think the Rabbitohs can roll through the Manly pack and win by a big margin, then we would understand why this advice wouldn’t make sense for you. But we’re going out on a limb and suggesting you fade the Rabbitohs’ left edge!
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