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 16 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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WARRIORS v KNIGHTS

OVERVIEW

This shapes as a great clash with two attacking football sides. The Knights are building nicely leading into finals and I expect them to prove too classy, but the Warriors have shown in past months they won’t buckle in the hunt to keep their finals aspirations alive.

I’ll be favouring Knights attacking players and spending up big on a few gun forwards.

GUNS

Kalyn Ponga

This one is a little on the fence. I thought KP would lose kicking duties to Mason Lino, but Adam O’Brien said on Friday he’s likely to keep them with an eye to the future. Regardless, Ponga is in sublime form and should score well even without kicking.

Kurt Mann

Mann is by far the best option at hooker in this contest as the only big minute option. Despite the shift from the halves, he’s still fancying his running game and is a key point in the Knights attack. Chris Randall is likely to spell him at some point, so hopefully it doesn’t impact his minutes too drastically.

Mitch Barnett

Injury free for the first time in a while, Barnett has been in stunning form over the past month. He’s playing the full 80 minutes and has been Newcastle’s best player of late.

O’Brien clearly trusts him with big minutes, and he’s proven capable of finding attacking stats to bolster his tackle/run numbers. The third gun position could easily go to him, Jazz Tevaga or Tohu Harris, I just like the fact that Barnett is locked into an 80 minute role, while the Kiwi pair’s time is more sporadic.

STARS TO AVOID

David Klemmer

Absolutely no knock on Big Klem who has been in typically strong form of late. The problem is there’s a stack of gun forward options who will score well in this and you can’t have them all.

Klemmer has played big minutes lately due to injuries during the game, so if the Knights do get out to a lead I expect him to earn an early shower.

VALUE

Eliesa Katoa

Katoa doesn’t have the work rate of the gun second-rowers in this contest, but his attacking upside is greater than all of them. At just over $10k he’s a bargain pick up that frees up valuable cash to spend elsewhere.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck

A day game in dry conditions will suit RTS perfectly. At just $11.5k he looks a standout pick alongside Ponga in the W/FB position.

COMBINATION

Jazz Tevaga and RTS

Tevaga has one of the most lethal offloads in the game, and RTS is one of the best support players in the game. The skipper will be sniffing around the ruck all day and can latch onto Jazz, once he’s in space it’ll take a minor miracle to stop him.

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SHARKS v COWBOYS

OVERVIEW

The late withdrawal of Shaun Johnson changes the complexion of this game entirely. Matt Moylan is also out, while the Cowboys are without Jason Taumalo, so this game has all of a sudden been harder to get a gauge on.

I still expect the Sharks to win well, but both sides are throwing out very different outfits to normal. I’ve gone heavy on Sharks attacking players, and selected the players to benefit in Taumalolo’s absence.

GUNS

Josh McGuire

The Moose will almost certainly play greater minutes without JT. His workrate has gone through the roof in 2020 and hasn’t really looked like slowing down when given greater game time. Even at just under $16k I expect him to exceed his value.

STARS TO AVOID

There’s so few guns in this game that there’s none in particular to avoid. Fitting the better players in your squad shouldn’t be an issue.

VALUE

Francis Molo

Molo should play bigger minutes without JT, simple as that.

Blayke Brailey

With Connor Tracey playing in the halves, Brailey should return to 80 minutes and is the clear pick of the hookers.

Wade Graham

Graham is one of my first picked at just over $12k with Johnson and Moylan out. The Sharks will direct a large amount of attack through him on the left edge as a result. This also brings Sione Katoa right into play.

COMBINATION

Wade Graham and Sione Katoa

For the reasons mentioned above, I think this pair could link up a fair bit, whether it be a cut ball from Graham or his crafty kick in behind the line.

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PANTHERS v TIGERS

OVERVIEW

The ladder leading Panthers are on a tear, while the Tigers are capitulating. Penrith should stamp their authority and beat the Tigers well. I’ll heavily be favouring Penrith attacking players here.

GUNS

Nathan Cleary

My first picked player in Penrith clashes each and every week, particularly when facing opposition with poor defensive records.

STARS TO AVOID

Harry Grant

Grant returns from injury and unfortunately for his Draftstars scoring Jacob Liddle is on the bench. As a result I don’t expect Grant to play the full 80 so it’s hard to see him exceeding his value at almost $16k.

Mitch Kenny should play 60-80 minutes for Penrith with Api Koroisau out and is almost $6k cheaper.

David Nofoaluma

Nofa is in career best form, but Penrith are a new level to what they’ve played this year. He rescued his score last week against the Roosters with a try on the bell. His stunning try-scoring form in 2020 may come to an end at the foot of the mountains.

VALUE

Stephen Crichton, Brian To’o and Josh Mansour

Basically every player in Penrith’s backline could go very big if the result pans out as most are predicting. You can squeeze all three in, or even opt for Brent Naden as a lower ownership point of difference.

Alex Twal

With Josh Aloiai out, Twal may be forced into decent minutes on return from injury. Provided they come he’s comfortably the biggest worker in the Tigers pack.

COMBINATION

Crichton and Mansour

I’ve utilised this combo most weeks and it’s paid off of late. As mentioned in previous articles, opposition defences are doubling up efforts on Crichton due to his rapid rise as a young NRL star, so it’s simply a tip on to Mansour who thrives with the open space.

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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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