Draftstars preview: Saturday NRL fixtures

Check out our Draftstars preview of the three Saturday clashes, with the key players to target and avoid.

DraftStars preview

Draftstars is back for Round 15 of the NRL season and with it comes the chance to back your fantasy knowledge to win some cash.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, you can enter competitions for each game from as little as 50c and win major jackpots.

Let’s take a look into today’s fixtures.

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TITANS v RAIDERS

OVERVIEW

Despite an improved recent showing from the Titans, I expect the Raiders to show too much class in this clash. If they’re genuine contenders in 2020 this is a game they know they’ll have to get up for and win well.

Even if their attack isn’t clicking to its full potential, their defence should get them home. John Bateman’s return has changed the entire dynamic and level of belief in this side.

GUNS

John Bateman

Bateman has returned from injury as if he hasn’t missed a match. He’s playing the full 80 and Ricky Stuart is likely to avoid resting him in games, even blowouts, to get his match fitness up to scratch come finals time.

Josh Papalii

As mentioned last week, there’s risk in Papalii in that he can get early spells in games the Raiders are well up in. That occurred against the Broncos where he played just 46 minutes. The Titans should put up a better fight than their Queensland counterparts, so hopefully there will be no need for the early shower again. He’s comfortably the best front-row option in the contest.

Mo Fotuaika

Jai Arrow’s absence means Fotuaika shifts to lock which can only be good for his minutes. He’ll get through stacks of work and could easily exceed his value. There aren’t too many guns in this contest, so fitting in the above three at hefty prices shouldn’t be difficult.

Brian Kelly

Kelly isn’t a gun as such, and at $12,550 he’s certainly affordable, but he’s in exceptional form and he’s the go-to man in attack for the Titans at the moment. He’s a fairly clear pick of the centres for mine.

STARS TO AVOID

Joe Tapine and Elliott Whitehead

Tapine is an easy avoid as his minutes have been shot ever since Bateman returned. Whitehead flourished with more attacking ball off Jack Wighton in Bateman’s absence, but since he returned the Raiders have sent plenty of attack to the right edge of George Williams. Whitehead doesn’t have the run/tackle stats to warrant buying at that price at the moment.

VALUE

AJ Brimson

Brimson has fired since returning from injury and has been a key factor in the side’s reinvigorated attack of late. The Titans will no doubt give him plenty of good ball in attacking territory and he can sniff out points from any situation.

COMBINATIONS

George Williams and John Bateman

I backed these two as the combination to target last week and it paid off big time. I’ll be doing the exact same again by locking in both men who are on a tear on the right edge.

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TIGERS v ROOSTERS

OVERVIEW

With so many injured stars out of action this is an intriguing NRL and Draftstars contest, and also a hard one to assess. From a Draftstars perspective, it gives ample opportunity to pick a unique squad which is always fun to play. Despite the injuries, I’m backing the Roosters to edge the Tigers who are extremely fragile in defence.

GUNS

James Tedesco

A form slump, I say slump by Teddy’s freakish standards, has led to some poor scores and a price tag of just $14,590. It’s as cheap as he’ll probably ever be again, bargain!

David Nofoaluma

I never advise picking wingers against the Roosters, but they’re fielding a severely depleted team so hopefully Nofa can continue his try-scoring run. Even if not, his base stats are elite so he’s a safe pick. The high price for a winger isn’t an issue due to the lack of guns in the contest.

STARS TO AVOID

Jake Friend

Friend is the highest priced hooker in the contest, but his form has regressed this season significantly. Having half your forward pack out doesn’t help, but his decision making and running game has been below par. Jacob Liddle returned last week and has more attacking upside, so I’m happy to save $2.5k there.

VALUE

Sitili Tupouniua

I’ve spruiked the livewire back-rower for a few weeks now without too much reward. The positive is that he’s still very cheap at under $9k. He’s playing 80 minutes and has serious attacking potential, so he’s a lock in for me.

COMBINATIONS

James Tedesco and Sitili Tupouniua

I expect the Roosters to play far tighter with their attack with key link man Luke Keary out of action. This will see far more short plays to the likes of Butcher and Tupouniua. When they do, Teddy will be flying off their hip for the offload.

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RABBITOHS v SEA EAGLES

OVERVIEW

The returns of Marty Taupau and Addin Fonua-Blake make this a really interesting contest. Manly are now in with a real shot. I’m backing the Rabbitohs in a tight one, but an upset wouldn’t shock at all. I’ll favour Rabbitohs attacking players and a few Sea Eagles work horse forwards.

GUNS

Jake Trbojevic

Jurbo has lifted in the absence of his front-rowers recently. Yes they’re back, but I expect him to maintain similar enough output as the big men return to full fitness. He’s significantly upped his running game which is integral to his scoring, while he’s more of a focal point of the side’s attack with brother Tom out.

Damien Cook

The only 80 minute hooker in the contest, a must-have selection even if his lethal running game has been down in 2020.

STARS TO AVOID

Addin Fonua-Blake

Reports suggest AFB will play this week. He is normally one of my first front-rowers picked, but he’s returning fairly early from injury as Manly desperately seek wins to stay in the top eight race. Minutes may be limited, while his output surely will be, so I’ll avoid till I get a better look at his fitness. 

VALUE

Cody Walker

If South Sydney are serious about threatening come finals time it’ll be off the back of Cook and Walker. The left edge is showing promise, with Dane Gagai hitting his best form in years with the shift.

COMBINATIONS

Cody Walker and Alex Johnston

Johnston is in a hot run of form and it can continue against Manly. Their backline is depleted due to injuries so there may be a lack of defensive cohesion out wide. Hopefully Cody does the trademark deep dig into the line then long floater to AJ to finish off in the corner.

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StatPoints value
Try8
Try-assist5
Field goal5
Linebreak4
Tackle break3
Goal2
Linebreak assist2
Offload2
Tackle 1
Run metre gained0.1
Kick metre gained0.05
Error-2
Missed tackle0.05

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