Sunday

New Zealand Warriors v Parramatta Eels @ Central Coast Stadium – 4:05 pm AEST

First Try-Scorers: Adam Pompey – $14

As is often the case in these sort of games, the value lies with the underdog early. However, the Eels have been awful in attack over the last five rounds. The Warriors, on the other hand, have been one of the best attacking teams in the competition in the same period. Adam Pompey ($14 – BetEasy) isn’t the flashiest player. He doesn’t offer the finishing quality of the regular Warriors wingers. But if they can keep up their current form in attack and get a few past the Eels, Pompey presents as a value option in this one.

Draftstars Suggested Plays: Jack Murchie ($9,990), Chanel Harris-Tavita ($9,130)

With Jack Murchie and Chanel Harris-Tavita both presented with opportunities to lock down a first-grade spot in recent weeks, both have produced improved performances to justify their continued inclusion in the side.

Murchie has looked dangerous on the Warriors edge and scored two tries in Round 15. He backed that up with 116 running metres and three tackle breaks for 42.6 Draftstars points in Round 16. He’s projected to keep bringing the value with a projected score of 43 points on Sunday. Meanwhile, Harris-Tavita is a lot more comfortable in his role now that he knows it’s his to lose. Growing in confidence every week and coming off a 47-point performance in Round 16, Harris-Tavita is projected to score 36 points in this one.

DFS Fade: Ryan Matterson ($16,700)

Ryan Matterson is at his most valuable when the Eels attack is humming. With his side struggling to score points and an individual projected score of 57 points for Sunday, consider fading Matterson.

North Queensland Cowboys v St. George-Illawarra Dragons @ Queensland Country Bank Stadium – 6:30 pm AEST

First Try-Scorers: Euan Aitken – $17

North Queensland’s right edge combination of Kyle Feldt and Esan Marsters was the worst defensive pairing in the competition before Marsters was dropped. They’re now back together and Euan Aitken ($17 – SportsBet) is set to benefit. It’s surely going to be a target for the Dragons attack with a cutout pass from right to left one of Matt Dufty’s favourite plays too. As we know from ‘Your Edge‘ this week, Aitken is a lot more likely to take the line on and try to barge over himself before passing to Jordan Pereira on his outside.

Aitken will back himself more than ever to cross the line against this Cowboys edge defence.

Draftstars Suggested Plays: Reuben Cotter ($9,230), Mitchell Dunn ($10,630)

Reuben Cotter took his chance to play 72 minutes with both hands last week with Josh Hannay not bothering to carry Jake Granville on the bench on Sunday. A dangerous runner out of dummy half with 47 running metres and three tackle breaks while also making 50 tackles in Round 16, Cotter is projected to score 42 points on Sunday. At $9,230 and only 4% ownership last week, Cotter is a value play here. So too is Mitchell Dunn. Gavin Cooper’s best days are behind him with Dunn the more likely of the two to feature in attack. While managing just 35.7 points against the Sharks in Round 16, our predictive model projects Dunn to bump that up to 45 points in this one.

DFS Fade: Mikaele Ravalawa ($10,410)

A feast of tries across five rounds saw Mikaele Ravalawa rise in the wing ranks, but as he comes back down to earth, so too do his DFS scores. With only 25.7 points last week and a projected score of 35 points at $10,410 on Sunday, look elsewhere.

Thursday

Brisbane Broncos v Penrith Panthers @ Suncorp Stadium – 7:50 pm AEST

First Try-Scorers: Josh Mansour – $8.50, Kotoni Staggs

Josh Mansour ($8.50 – Neds) left it late to cross the line last week, but he got there in the end. We’re going back to the well given the form of the Penrith Panthers left edge. While the Brisbane Broncos right side defence has displayed the slightest of improvements, they’ve still conceded the most tries down that side of the field in the competition. Mansour is likely to be in the mix of try-scorers again on Thursday night.

Meanwhile, Kotoni Staggs ($20 – TopSport) is always a threat despite playing within an awful attacking team. He still managed to bag a try while the Roosters hung 58 points on his Broncos last week. So too did David Fifita ($5 anytime). The young duo are Brisbane’s only consistent attacking threat and will see plenty of the ball as they look to upset the top of the table Panthers.

Draftstars Suggested Plays: Viliame Kikau ($10,600), Brian To’o ($10,960)

Viliame Kikau will no doubt be feeling better for the week off while also fancying his chances against a lacklustre Broncos edge defence on Thursday night. He’s not receiving the ball as often as earlier in the season, but he still presents as an appealing DFS option. The big Fijian is a value play at $10,600 with our predictive model projecting him to score 47 points. On the right side of the field for the Panthers, Brian To’o is looking to continue his DFS form following a promising return from injury last week. Scoring a try while running for 224 metres, To’o scored 61.6 points in his first game back. While only projected to score 46 points on Thursday night, his ceiling rises much higher if this game goes the way many think it will.

DFS Fade: Dylan Edwards ($13,090)

Dylan Edwards wasn’t able to continue his sparkling DFS form to score just 34.1 points last week. Projected to score only 45 points at $13,090 on Thursday, he’s worth considering as a fade option once again.

Friday

Newcastle Knights v Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks @ McDonald Jones Stadium – 6:00 pm AEST

First Try-Scorers: Starford To’a – $11, Enari Tuala – $15

The Newcastle Knights were awful last week. Absolutely awful. So, how are they going to play themselves into form? Their best bet is to go left and feed Kalyn Ponga the ball. That brings Starford To’a ($11 – BetEasy) and Enari Tuala ($15 – Neds) into play. The pair have scored five tries between them over the last month, and that’s with the Knights playing some awfully bland football. Look for the Knights to go back to what works against a leaky Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks defence and for To’a and Tuala to benefit.

Draftstars Suggested Plays: Blayke Brailey ($9,920)

Plenty will be excited over Kurt Mann’s three consecutive 60+ point performances, but it’s the guy on the other side that is worth looking at in the hooker position for this one. While Mann ($15,080) is projected to score 55 points on Friday night, Blayke Brailey’s 46 points at $9,920 is the value play. In a game that is expected to be played out through the middle in a lengthy arm-wrestle, Brailey’s defensive involvement can make up for his lack of running metres from behind the ruck.

DFS Fade: Kurt Mann

Further to the above, our predictive model has highlighted Kurt Mann as a fade option. While his recent form is impressive and he’s played well in his move to hooker, that form isn’t expected to continue from a DFS perspective with a projected score for this week of 55 points.

South Sydney Rabbitohs v Melbourne Storm @ Panthers Stadium – 7:55 pm AEST

First Try-Scorers: Dane Gagai – $17, Brenko Lee – $19, Alex Johnston – $17

There is no shortage of value in a blockbuster match that many expect to be close on Friday night. The loss of Latrell Mitchell is a big factor for South Sydney’s edges but Dane Gagai ($17 – TopSport) is still worth a look at left centre. Out for the last fortnight, Gagai scored in three of his four games in the centres before injury. Standing opposite Gagai, Brenko Lee ($19 – SportsBet) has been a consistent performer throughout his eight appearances this season. He knows his role in a lethal right side and is always a scoring threat with a running Jahrome Hughes playing so well inside him.

Replacing Mitchell, expect Alex Johnston ($17 – Neds) to be in the action early. He’s going to want to have an impact in this match to secure the number one jersey for the remainder of the season while putting his case forward to sign elsewhere in 2021.

Your Edge: Replacing Latrell

Draftstars Suggested Plays: Bailey Sironen ($9,100), Tino Fa’asuamaleaui ($11,310)

Bailey Sironen is starting to show us what he can do with the ball in hand and some consistent game time. He broke two tackles while running for 121 metres in a 51.1-point performance in Round 16. This week, our predictive model projects him to continue bringing the value at $9,100 with 45 points.

Tino Fa’asuamaleaui’s move to lock presents as an opportunity to pile up points this week. He’s going to see plenty of the football through the middle of the field and there is little doubt a goal line play has been drawn up for the massive 20-year-old. While he averages more when starting on the edge, Fa’asuamaleaui has cracked 40 points in both starts at lock this season. Projected to score 47 points on Friday night, he’s a value play at $11,310.

DFS Fade: Jahrome Hughes ($13,970)

Picking the right times to get behind Jahrome Hughes is a balancing act. Just in his last two games he’s scored 93.5 points and 28.4 points. Capable of putting up big scores, picking when they will come is the tough part. Our predictive model doesn’t expect Hughes to catch fire this week with a projected score of 46 points – 2.4 points below his season average.

Saturday

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs v Gold Coast Titans @ ANZ Stadium – 3:00 pm AEST

First Try-Scorers: Phillip Sami – $11, Raymond Faitala-Mariner – $26

If the Titans are to start this game as they should, and that’s as the better attacking and more in-form team, then Phillip Sami ($11 – PointsBet) is a strong contender here. He’s in excellent form already. With four tries in four games, Sami is a regular feature on the Titans scoresheet. Look for him to be involved early as well as an anytime try-scorer consideration.

The Bulldogs struggle with the ball in hand. Sure, they scored 20 points against a strong Raiders defence last week, but there was an element of luck involved in three of their four tries. If they’re to score consistent points this week, Raymond Faitala-Mariner ($26 – PointsBet) will be a centrepiece to their attack. His combination with Kieran Foran is Canterbury’s best bet at consistently troubling the Gold Coast defensive line in good ball sets.

Draftstars Suggested Plays: Ofahiki Ogden ($8,650), Mitch Rein ($11,340)

Lucky for Ofahiki Ogden, letting in soft tries isn’t penalised heavily in DFS scoring. He still scored 31 points despite featuring on a couple of low-light reels defending in the middle of the field. A strong runner of the ball and capable of putting up some consistent numbers, he’s averaged 30.2 points while playing 40+ minutes over the last three weeks. Projected to score 40 points at $8,650 on Saturday afternoon, Ogden is a value play for this one.

Meanwhile, Mitch Rein is coming into this one off a 57.9-point performance last week and will be licking his lips at the thought of going up against a defensively inconsistent Bulldogs middle. Projected to score 49 points and with relatively low ownership throughout the 2020 season, Rein is worth considering here.

DFS Fade: Will Hopoate ($9,480)

Will Hopoate’s strengths – consistency, his hands, positioning – don’t translate into DFS points. He managed just 15.6 points against the Raiders last week despite the Bulldogs running up a score in the first half. Projected to score just 33 points in this one, Hopoate is a fade option.

Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles v Wests Tigers @ Lottoland – 5:30 pm AEST

First Try-Scorers: David Nofoaluma – $10, Curtis Sironen – $26

If Benji Marshall produces a vintage performance in response to being given his marching orders for 2021, David Nofoaluma ($10 – BetEasy) is set to benefit. Perched on Marshall’s right edge and an active player in his own right, Nofoaluma will be in the mix as the Tigers look to reproduce some of their early-season attacking numbers. Daly Cherry-Evans needs to do similar to Marshall, although, he’s running out of attacking weapons. The Sea Eagles are struggling to put a side together at the moment. With players dropping like flies and very few offering a consistent source of points, expect Curtis Sironen ($26 – PointsBet) to be on the end of a fair few short balls as a lead runner.

Draftstars Suggested Plays: Tevita Vuna ($7,000)

We’re relying on him to clean up the errors in his game after spilling the ball seven times over the last fortnight, but Tevita Vuna presents as a value play here. He’s shown plenty of promise with the ball in-hand. With 164 running metres and three tackle breaks last week, he’s dangerous on the occasions he manages to keep hold of the ball. Low ownership and likely to be somebody many keep avoiding, Vuna could be a cheap point of difference with a projected score of 30 points this week.

DFS Fade: Danny Levi ($9,650)

Danny Levi had his minutes cut down to 40 in Round 16 to score just 22.5 points. With our predictive model projecting him to score just 33 points should he play 50 minutes, Levi is a risky option in this spot.

Canberra Raiders v Sydney Roosters @ GIO Stadium – 7:35 pm AEST

First Try-Scorers: Brett Morris – $8.50, Nick Cotric – $12

While the Raiders had their way with the Roosters through the middle in Round 10, expect both teams to hold firm in the centre-third and force the attack to go around them. The ball-players the Roosters have through the middle can get the ball wide quicker than any side in the competition. Few wingers add the finishing touches to a shift better than Brett Morris ($8.50 – Neds).

With their backs against the wall and on the verge of losing to the wooden spooners, the Raiders went to Jack Wighton on the left edge in search of points – and found them. But in the weeks prior, it’s been the Raiders right side that has proven fruitful. With back-to-back games scoring a double, Nick Cotric ($12 – TopSport) is finding some form on the wing as a try-scorer. He’s likely to be in the mix again on Saturday night.

Draftstars Suggested Plays: Jared Waerea-Hargreaves ($8,520)

As covered in the game preview, Jared Waerea-Hargraves will play a big role in the final result of this one. While he has only averaged 31.1 points over his last three games, an increase in minutes will help Waerea-Hargreaves produce this week. Trent Robinson keeps him out on the field longer in big games. His five big-minute games this season have come against the Panthers, Rabbitohs, Eels, Dragons and Raiders. Four of those teams will be playing finals footy this year. With the bump in minutes, our predictive model projects Waerea-Hargreaves to score 43 points on Saturday night.

DFS Fade: Sonny Bill Williams ($9,500)

Nobody knows how many minutes Sonny Bill Williams will play. He hasn’t stepped onto a footy field in months and didn’t look particularly good the last time he did. With so much of Canberra’s attention likely to also be on him, Williams is a serious fade option with a projected score of just 17 points.

Your Edge: Losing Latrell, Hail Hiku & The Perfect Panthers

NRL Round 17 Preview