PROJECTED STARTING 17, ROUND 1 2022
FULLBACK: RYAN PAPENHUYZEN* $636K 51BE (2021 AVG 50.9, 2021 FULLBACK AVG 73.3)
Fantasy Outlook (R): Lil Papi’s ascendance to elite fantasy fullback was probably my best prediction of 2021 (of course once he got the goal kicking everyone was on) and I don’t see any reason to jump off the Pap express this year. He was absolutely electric before a Fuimaono swinging arm almost ended his year, averaging 71 in 60+ min performances. With Hynes now gone there’s little doubt who the 1 is here and as long as he can avoid the dreaded swinging arm he looks set for the season we were promised in the early rounds of 2021. NEW SCORING IMPACT: With 5.9 tackle busts per game in 2021, you can expect a bump down for Papenhuyzen, which should be offset slightly by the offloads and escaping the in goal. Expect high 60s rather than low 70s, still an elite scorer at the position.
LEFT WING: XAVIER COATES $330K 27BE (2021 AVG 26.1, PROJECTED ATK +7 PPG)
Fantasy Outlook (M): This one is purely speculative, but we have enough data now on what happens to players who move to Melbourne from poor clubs to be able to comfortably project a significant uptick for Coates, who already had a reasonable attacking resume. Realistically, athletically speaking, we need to use Josh Addo-Carr to try and project Coates in 2022. Melbourne were absurd in 2021 so we cant give Coates a straight prediction of 43 (JAC in 2021), but based on what we have seen there is legitimate reason to give him at least a 7 point boost off his Broncos numbers, which makes him an intriguing option in 2022. NEW SCORING IMPACT: A significant portion of the attacking uptick we gave to Coates in the above would have been tackle busts, and we now have him projected for low to mid 30s instead of mid to high 30s. There is almost guaranteed to be some value with Coates, but we wouldn’t go so far as to label him a “must”.
LEFT CENTRE: JUSTIN OLAM $462K 37BE (2021 AVG 37.9, LOW TRY % BUT INC. BASE)
RIGHT CENTRE: REIMIS SMITH $470K 38BE (2021 AVG 37.2, NO OBVIOUS CHANGES)
RIGHT WING: GEORGE JENNINGS $443K 36BE (2021 AVG 35.5, NO OBVIOUS CHANGES)
LEFT HALF: CAMERON MUNSTER* $716K 58BE (2021 AVG 60.9, NO OBVIOUS CHANGES)
RIGHT HALF: JAHROME HUGHES $734K 59BE (2021 AVG 61.6 WHILE CARRYING AN INJURY)
LEFT BACK ROW: KENNY BROMWICH $532K 43BE (2021 AVG 41.2, 44.1 IN 70+ MINS)
RIGHT BACK ROW: FELISE KAUFUSI $555K 45BE (2021 AVG 42.4, NO OBVIOUS CHANGES)
LOCK: BRANDON SMITH $678K 54BE (2021 AVG 53.9, MIDDLE FWD 44.2 IN 48.7 MIN)
Fantasy Outlook (R): Cheese scored as many tries as his new right winger Xavier Coates managed last season. With the departure of Finucane it has opened a vacancy in the forward pack that Smith has occupied at times. It’s possible he spends some time at hooker to spell Harry Grant as well but I’d expect his average to be similar to last season with little starting value. The confirmed move to the Roosters is an added incentive to avoid. NEW SCORING IMPACT: Cheese does not like to offload the ball, but averages about 2.5 tackle busts per game, so expect his scoring to take a hit of about 3 points per game.
PROP: JESSE BROMWICH $430K 35B3 (21 AVG 32.8, 35 WHEN 40+ MINS (49.5MIN AVG)
PROP: CHRISTIAN WELCH (2021 AVG 45.1, 50.9 WHEN FINUCANE UNAVAILABLE)
Fantasy Outlook (M): With Finucane departed, the obvious candidate to play additional minutes for the Storm is Christian Welch, who averaged 39.9 when playing alongside Finucane and 50.9 when playing without him. In fact, Welch only scored under 40 once when Finucane was unavailable, a memorable week 3 matchup against Penrith which had Fantasy managers on tilt. Not only did Welch improve by 6 minutes per game, his ppm improved from 0.82 to 0.92. Clearly, Welch enjoys the leadership aspect and he will be looking to establish himself as a premier forward in the NRL as the new leader of the Storm forward pack. NEW SCORING IMPACT: Welch is an offload machine, and should actually have a net positive from the new scoring as he isnt a big tackle buster. I would push that 50.9 without Finucane up to about 53-54 with the changes. FOR OUR IN FOCUS ARTICLE CLICK HERE
HOOKER: HARRY GRANT* (2021 AVG 55.2, 66.3 AVG WHEN PLAYING 60+ MIN – 25% TRIES)
Fantasy Outlook (R): Grant’s 2021 campaign was hampered by injury but he impressed in limited opportunity. His ppm continued to be outstanding averaging 55 in 59mins and found the try line regularly. With the potential of Smith moving to lock, if Grant sees an increase of minutes he could hold some value in a position that was hard to fill last year. If he stays around the 55 to 60 minute mark then he’ll be a pass. UPDATE: With the recent developments around Brandon Smith, I (Mark) believe the floor of Grant just raised, and I will be strongly considering him for round 1 even though he will miss week 1 with a suspension. The “go” sign will be Jayden Nikorima at hooker week 1. NEW SCORING IMPACT: Grant should be pretty close to net neutral from the new scoring, with the offloads and tackle busts offsetting each other.
BENCH 1: JOSH KING $319K 26BE (2021 AVG 24.5, AVG 43.3 IN 42.2 WHEN PLAYING 30+)
BENCH 2: NELSON ASOFA-SOLOMONA $500K 40BE
BENCH 3: TOM EISENHUTH $418K 34BE
BENCH 4/UTILITY: NICK MEANEY $424K 34BE
*Cameron Munster & Harry Grant are unavailable week 1 due to suspension
*Ryan Papenhuyzen is in doubt for round 1 with calf injury
PROJECTED FORWARD PACK MINUTES
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FRINGE PLAYERS NOT PROJECTED FOR TOP 17