NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS

PROJECTED STARTING 17, ROUND 1 2022

FULLBACK: KALYN PONGA $600K 48BE (21 AVG 49.4, 54.6 WHEN 70+ MINS, 1 PT GK)

Fantasy Outlook (R): A real roller caoster of a year for Ponga, who was slowed by injury as every turn. With 2 injury affected games in 2021, he’ll come into this year priced at a discounted 49 points. There’s no doubt we didn’t see Ponga at his best last season but he still managed a solid 53 point average in 70+min games with goal kicking subtracted. With a full pre-season under his belt this year I can’t see any reason for Ponga not to return to a mid 50s average with upside to 60 if he was to take over the goal kicking due to Clifford being injured/suspended/dropped. Unfortunately, the extremely tough early season schedule probably makes him a skip. NEW SCORING IMPACT: With Ponga relying heavily on tackle busts (to the tune of 6+ per game) to generate good scores, he is naturally heavily impacted by the changes. Add to this that he is unlikely to be the goal kicker, and what you get is sub keeper level scores from the Queensland #1. He may be a target later in the year if Newcastle can get their combinations right but for now he is not fantasy relevant.

RIGHT WING: DOMINIC YOUNG $367K 29BE

RIGHT CENTRE: DANE GAGAI $581K 47BE (2021 AVG 47.2, ONLY 3 UNDER 30 POINTS)

LEFT CENTRE: BRADMAN BEST $470K 38BE (21 AVG 36.9, 43.9 IN 70+ MIN IN 2020)

Fantasy Outlook (M): Bradman would have likely been an intriguing option to start 2021 had it not been for the NRL giving the Knights the proverbial bird with their early season schedule. Best had a poor season in 2021 in comparison to 2020, but still managed to average 41.3 against bottom 6 sides. Unfortunately, 50% of his matches to start the year are against top 4 sides where he averaged just over 30. That just won’t get it done from a value perspective.

LEFT WING: ENARI TUALA $388K 31BE

RIGHT HALF: JAKE CLIFFORD $521K 42BE (21 AVG 45.4, 48.8 AT KNIGHTS)

Fantasy Outlook (R): With the departure of Mitchell Pearce, Jake Clifford now looks set to take the reigns of the Newcastle spine. Clifford partnered with Crossland three times in 2021 and took the lionshare of the kicking duties averaging 365m per game with Crossland averaging 203m over that same stretch. There’s likely a few points of value here in Clifford with an increase of his 2021 average of 300 kick metres but likely not enough to put him into a buy category with Crossland as his partner. If Crossland were to go down injured and Kurt Mann was to come into the vacant 5/8 role then Clifford would likely become an instant buy.

LEFT HALF: ADAM CLUNE $371K 30BE

RIGHT BACK ROW: TYSON FRIZELL $729K 59BE (2021 AVG 56.8, NO OBVIOUS CHANGES)

LEFT BACK ROW: MITCH BARNETT $699K 56BE (2021 AVG 54, AVG 56.2 ON EDGE NO GK)

Fantasy Outlook (M): With Mann moving into the lock role, we likely see Barnett assume his post out of the left edge again in 2022 aside young half Phoenix Crossland. Barnett does have a few points value due to his time spent in the middle in 2022, but given the limitations of the salary cap and embarrassment of riches at the edge position, you may want to look in another direction. That said, Barnett is a solid option with upside, so you could do worse.

LOCK: KURT MANN $472K 38BE (21 AVG 39.3, MOVING INTO WATSON ROLE)

Fantasy Outlook (M): With the departure of Connor Watson, Kurt Mann has been asked to fill this role for the Knights in 2022. Like Watson, we would expect Mann to be injected off the bench as a middle forward, and cover whatever minutes Brailey needs a rest for. When starting at lock, Watson played 64.5 minutes, but off the interchange it moved to 51 minutes, which is what we will use for Mann, being a base of 40-45 minutes plus injury cover. There is definite upside here and a “floor” being able to use a middle forward at half, so if you want to roll the dice on Mann being able to do the same job as Watson you could be rewarded. FOR OUR IN FOCUS ARTICLE CLICK HERE.

PROP: DANIEL SAIFITI $604K 49BE (2021 AVG 46.3, 48 WHEN PLAYING 40+ MINUTES)

PROP: JACOB SAIFITI (2021 AVG 38.2, 45.7 WHEN PLAYING STARTING PROP 50.8 MIN)

Fantasy Impact (M): TRAP ALERT. On face value, Saifiti is an option for 2022, with 50+ minutes in the final 7 games of 2022, but across that time he only scored over 50 points once with an 80+ score with a try. He even managed another try but still only got 48 in 50 minutes. Like his brother, Jacob will be a try dependent, highly volatile option in 2022, and one to avoid.

HOOKER: CHRIS RANDALL $350K 28BE (OBVIOUS CASH COW)

BENCH 1: DAVID KLEMMER (2021 AVG 45.8, 45.5 IN 49.2 MINS FROM INTERCHANGE)

BENCH 2: SAUASO SUE*

BENCH 3: BRODIE JONES

BENCH 4/UTILITY: PHOENIX CROSSLAND

PROJECTED FORWARD PACK MINUTES

PLAYER NAMEPROJ. MINS
DANIEL SAIFITI50-55
JACOB SAIFITI45-50
KURT MANN50-55
MITCH BARNETT80
TYSON FRIZELL80
CHRIS RANDALL60-65
DAVID KLEMMER45-50
SAUASO SUE25-30
BRODIE JONES15-25
PHEONIX CROSSLAND15-20+

*SAUASO SUE will miss the first 2 rounds due to suspension

FRINGE PLAYERS NOT PROJECTED FOR TOP 17

Lachlan Fitzgibbon

Starford To’a

Bailey Hodgson

Dominic Young

Brayden Musgrove

Simi Sasagi

Pasami Saulo