NRL Fantasy

The first major bye round of the 2023 NRL season will see seven teams on the bye, reducing the games for the weekend to just five. To kick things off in Round 13, we see the Dolphins host only their 2nd game of the season at Kayo Stadium, taking on the Dragons. The Dragons are fresh off their first win since Round 5, which coincidentally was against the Dolphins, spanking the newest NRL franchise 38-12. Can the Dolphins get some revenge?

Draftstars has a massive $15,000 guaranteed contest for the first game of the round, with the winner set to pocket a cool $1,133. With several other contests available, including a qualifier for the $750,000 AFL Star Final, there’s a contest for everyone, so get involved and make this game even more interesting.


Team News

The Dolphins lose two players to Origin, with Hamiso Tabuai-FIdow and Tom Gilbert selected for the Maroons. Kodi Nikorima has made the switch to fullback, with Anthony Milford returning at five eighth. Ray Stone has been promoted to start at lock in place of Gilbert, with Mark Nicholls returning on the bench. Felise Kaufusi (suspension) is out for three weeks, which will see Kenny Bromwich move to the edge, Herman Eseése start at prop, and Mason Teague join the bench. Cult hero Valynce Te Whare is also named on the bench.

The Dragons will be without skipper Ben Hunt, named at hooker for Queensland. He’s replaced at halfback by Jayden Sullivan, with Moses Mbye joining the bench. Blake Lawrie (hand) is out, replaced up front by Michael Molo. Jaydn Su’A (hamstring) misses out, with Jack Bird returning on the edge, in the final change for the Dragons.

Betting Markets

The Dolphins ($1.50) vs St George Illawarra Dragons ($2.60)

Points total – 43.5 points

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The Dolphins lose gamebreaker Tabuai-Fidow, and tough middle Tom Gilbert, in a tough double blow to the Redcliffe based team. The Dolphins probably didn’t expect to be hit too hard by Origin, but to lose two of their best players will test their depth during the Origin period.

Meanwhile, Ben Hunt will be a monumental loss to the Dragons. He steers this team around as well as any halfback in the competition, and without him it will be difficult for the Dragons to stay level-headed during this game.

A look at how the Dragons fared last season during Origin, shows they struggled without Hunt. In Round 17 without Hunt, the Dragons took on the Broncos, who were without several stars. The Broncos dominated, running out 32-18 winners. I see the Dolphins doing just enough to get the job done here.

Love It – Zac Lomax - $15,030

Lomax came back strongly last week, posting a 44.5 with no tries. Whilst he’s had a disappointing season for him, Lomax has still managed to average 36.6, despite only scoring two tries all season. He has a solid base, propped up by his goal kicking. One of his tries this season was against the Dolphins, and with this game totalled at 44, and the Dolphins averaging 24 against per game, I see a good chance at attacking stats here for Lomax. High upside, and a solid floor.

Love It – Isaiya Katoa - $15,030

Slim pickings in the half/hooker slot for this game, with only one player averaging above 35 this season. That man, Jeremy Marshall-King, is the obvious choice in this slot, however I’m taking a shot here with the young half for the Dolphins. The form of Katoa was starting to ramp up before last week, when he played only 50 minutes. Scores of 43.8, 45.9, 40.6, and 57.5, had the diminutive half averaging 46.95 in that 4-game span. If he can manage something in that range, whilst I save $5,000 on JMK, I’ll be happy.

Love It – Jack de Belin - $22,860

We had JDB in the same category last week, and whilst he didn’t quite get the score we had hoped, he pumped out the full 80 minutes for a score of 64. With the captaincy this week, I fully expect de Belin to play the full 80 minutes yet again. With these two teams lacking genuine top-end DFS talent, JDB appears one of the easier choices in this slate, if not the entire weekend. If you’re looking for a point of difference in the forwards with high upside, take a look at Jack Bird ($22,710), or Connelly Lemuelu ($18,490).

Hate It – Euan Aitken - $17,770

We had Aitken in this list a couple of times early this year, however he has pushed on nicely over a 7-week period. In a stretch from rounds 3 to 9, Aitken averaged 49.4, however over the past two weeks has only managed scores of 29.1 and 33.1. In the previous matchup with the Dragons, Aitken only managed 26.6, and whilst he could easily push back up towards a 50+ with a try, I’ll bet against spending top dollar on an Outside Back prospect, and look to spend my money elsewhere on elite talent.

Hate It – Connelly Lemuelu - $18,490

Whilst I did mention Lemuelu above as a high upside forward option, I prefer the secure points of JDB in this game. Whilst Lemuelu has been a revelation on the edge at the Dolphins, his DFS scoring has been terribly inconsistent. In games where Lemuelu hasn’t scored a try this season, he is averaging just 39.8 points per game. For this price, I don’t think I can risk it in a game where I need guaranteed points from my forwards. I’d much prefer to spend $6,000 less on mid-range forward options, who will almost always score me between 35 and 40.

Who Knows – Kodi Nikorima – $13,630

Nikorima moves to fullback this week, with the loss of Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow to Origin. I have a feeling he could split time at the back with Anthony Milford, and this sort of changing of roles makes it difficult to judge what he will score in DFS. Nikorima has been in tremendous form at five eighth, and if I hear he has been shifted there before kick-off, I will have plenty of Nikorima in my DFS squads. However, if he runs out at fullback, I believe there is just too many unknowns to be confident in selecting the livewire utility.

Draftstars Suggested Lineup



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