NRL Fantasy

Round 26 of the NRL kicks off with the battle of the west, and a rematch of the 2022 Grand Final, as the Panthers host the Eels. With the Eels’ season over, can they get up for this clash, or will the Panthers continue their march towards a second straight Minor Premiership, and third in four seasons?

Draftstars has a $15,000 guaranteed contest for the Panthers and Eels, with several other contests available, there’s something for everyone, so get involved and make this game even more exciting!


Team News

The Panthers get one of their stars back, with Brian To’o set to return on the wing, at the expense of Tom Jenkins. No other changes to the 17 that beat the Titans last week, with Izack Tago, Mitch Kenny, and Scott Sorensen all still out through injury.

As for the Eels, they welcome back Shaun Lane to the bench, with Brendan Hands dropping out. No other changes to the squad, however Joe Ofahengaue reverts to the bench, replaced in the run-on side by Ryan Matterson.

Update: Dylan Edwards and Sunia Turuva have come out of the side on Wednesday and will be rested so Jesse McLean comes in at fullback for his NRL debut and Tom Jenkins keeps his place on the wing. 

Betting Markets

Penrith Panthers ($1.08) vs Parramatta Eels ($8.00)

Total O/U – 43.5

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What’s the motivation here for the Eels? They already beat the Panthers earlier this season in Round 4, in what was one of the games of the season. Now that their season is officially over, I just cannot see how the prospect of beating their rivals is enough to have them play at their top level for 80 minutes, against the best team in the competition. The Panthers are no doubt using this game as a tune up for the finals, with the likelihood of mass resting of players next week. After losing to their rivals earlier in the year, the Panthers will want to exact revenge, and could put a score on the Eels in front of their adoring fans on Thursday night.

Love It – Stephen Crichton - $13,020

Are the Bulldogs just going to leave Crichton at centre next season? Despite paying him fullback money to come to the kennel next season, the Bulldogs could do a lot worse than playing Crichton at centre, where in my opinion he has turned into arguably the best in that position in the NRL. His form over the past few months has been tremendous, with 7 tries in his past 7 games. Crichton doesn’t have a huge DFS upside, however his ability to be involved in attacking plays week in, week out, gives you a solid base.

Love It – Dylan Brown - $19,880

Hard not to pick Cleary here, given his form, however at over $25,000 it’s just too hard to pick him as the best value selection here. Dylan Brown wore the #7 for the Eels last week, and despite the Eels losing comfortably to the Roosters, Brown looked dangerous. He scored 72.6 points, and was involved in everything. He ran for 162 metres, made 32 tackles, and kicked for close to 150 metres. Will be the most dangerous player on the park for the Eels, and they will look to Brown to create against this elite defence.

Love It – Isaah Yeo - $21,150

Yeo is so consistent; you can just about set your watch to the Panthers lock. With a low score of 40.4 against the Storm, Yeo has averaged 64.8 for the season, with a ceiling of just 77.7. There’s not a whole lot to say about Yeo, other than you can pick him in your team and almost guarantee yourself 65+. In the previous game against the Eels this season, Yeo scored 77.2, another reason to pick him.

Hate It – Jack Cogger - $15,680

Cogger is priced up based on his performances this season in the halves, however given he’s named again to start at hooker, he’s well over-priced. Cogger started at hooker last week, playing 44 minutes and scoring just 23.68. This, despite a try assist and line-break assist. I don’t see any reason why Ivan Cleary will ask Cogger to play more minutes this week, so unless he can have a hand in 3+ tries, he is not worth this outlay.

Hate It – Junior Paulo - $14,610

Paulo is the forward with a big upside, but his median score just doesn’t stack up against the forward around his price point, and even slightly below. This is more about who I can get for less than Paulo, with JFH, Hosking, and RCG all better options in my opinion. Paulo has 15 scores between 30 and 47, out of 19 games, with an average of 40.8 in those 15 games. For this price, I need closer to 50 than the 40 points Paulo is likely to get me.

Who Knows – Tyrone Peachey - $12,300

Peachey has a new lease on life this season. Back with the Panthers after 4 uninspiring seasons with the Titans and Tigers, Peachey has looked alive on the end of the Panthers left edge attack, scoring 5 tries in his past 6 games. Despite looking great on the left, Peachey is still very inconsistent in regard to his DFS scores, with his past 7 scores reading 67, 22, 53, 26, 8, 72, and 60. Despite some great scores there, there are also some diabolical ones. Who knows how he will go week to week. Peachey is definitely someone I’ll have in a few of my teams, however he’s definitely not an auto-selection.

Draftstars Suggested Lineup

Updated for the withdrawal of Sunia Turuva on Wednesday



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