The first big casualty of the offseason seems to be Knights hooker Jayden Brailey, who has been scanned for an apparent Achilles injury. Our good friend the NRL Physio tells us that “hands on tests extremely accurate here so scans will likely confirm what the Knights already know”, meaning that Fantasy coaches need to be prepared to understand what this means for the Knights moving forward.
On first glance, it seems as though the misfortune of Brailey will work to the benefit of fantasy coaches, who are absolutely desperate for some cheap cover at the hooker position. Enter: Chris Randall.
Randall shows us a very healthy profile of games where he played at least 30 minutes, with 7 games in the sample size. His average here is 47.3 in 65.9 minutes, with only 1 try, try assist and linebreak, with the bulk of the scoring being made up of tackles and run metres. We would expect Randall to play probably 60 minutes, with the other 20 being covered by Kurt Mann who alternates between the hooker role. This would give us a high and low side projection as the below:
With a break even of 28, a minimum 9 points of value with upside to 15+ points value seems like a no brainer, but are there other options?
Given the experience of Mann and the time before the start of the season, the Knights may choose to simply move Mann into the Hooker role, and either have Randall coming off the bench or even using Jack Johns or Adam Clune as the utility style player – this is a role Clune has filled before for the Dragons. Kurt Mann is a gun hooker in his own right, averaging 55.6 in 75 minutes across 7 starts in 2020. I actually think this is the way they go which would be a shame for everyone relying on Randall but would make Mann a buy in the halves.
The Knights may also choose to go shopping for a hooker who is looking for an opportunity, there are a few that immediately come to mind with Kodi Nikorima, Ben Marshke, Freddy Lussick and Jayden Nikorima all on one year deals or the last year of their deals where they are unlikely to be retained. The other logical option is to chase one of the young Tigers hookers considering they are already in talks with them.
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Basically, Randall is the man we want. This solves a huge issue in our team construction puzzle and opens up a lot more options. More than this, it means that Kurt Mann has a better chance of getting that 55 minute threshold with 20 minutes at hooker. His PPM is about 0.75 at hooker, meaning we would get 15 points from Mann before any time spent in the middle – with 35 minutes in the middle not being a huge chunk in this rotation.
All we can do for now is keep an eye on the news from the Knights and hope that they don’t sign someone or do something weird.