It was a boom week for centres in NRL Fantasy as Damien Cook cemented his place as the best scorer of 2018.
The 2018 season will go down as the breakthrough year for Damien Cook, with the Rabbitohs hooker making the step up from promising player to genuine superstar, and nowhere has that been more clear than in NRL Fantasy where he's overtaken Cameron Smith as the game's most valuable player.
Cook widened the gap on Smith by 41 points this week, scoring a season-high 88 including a try assist, 128 run metres and 49 tackles. It was the kind of game that gave those Fantasy coaches who captained him a match-winning advantage in head-to-head clashes this week.
Two players in losing sides managed to outscore Cook this week, with Dragons halfback Ben Hunt (93) and Knights forward Lachlan Fitzgibbon (92) both scoring doubles for their team, while Latrell Mitchell (81) ran riot with a hat-trick for the Roosters, Cameron Munster (79) starred in Melbourne's rout of the Raiders and Dane Gagai (79) was another star for Cook's Rabbitohs against Parramatta.
Nathan Cleary's late-season revival continued, following up last week's 53 with a season-high 78 points including the match-winning try at the end of a stunning Panthers comeback win over Manly. At $609,000 he's still more than $200,000 cheaper than his starting price but is now kicking goals and running the ball as well as he has all season.
Bargain Bulldogs centre Kerrod Holland (74) scored a couple of tries in his side's win over the Tigers, Manly trio Martin Taupau (72), Brian Kelly (72) and Manase Fainu (66) were all excellent in the Sea Eagles' heartbreaking loss to Penrith and Rhyse Martin (65) and Andrew Fifita (62) continued their excellent seasons.
Meanwhile Shaun Johnson bounced back from a string of low scores with 56 against the Titans, including a trademark try, and his price appears to have bottomed out at $593,000 after dropping $242,000 since the start of the season.
The biggest problem facing most top teams right now is what to do with Jai Arrow, the Titans' Origin star whose Fantasy scoring has dried up dramatically in the past couple of weeks. Since copping a corked knee on Maroons duty Arrow has scored back-to-back 25s for the Titans, playing 45 minutes in round 19 and 40 minutes in round 20. He'd averaged 60 minutes a game before that, not including an injury-affected 18-minute stint in round nine.
Usually you'd give a likely keeper some time to regain his old form but with one round to play before most head-to-head finals series begin, and with some Fantasy leagues already playing their finals, Arrow looms as a trade this week.
It was a quiet week for popular fullbacks Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (22) and Moses Mbye (28), while James Maloney no longer seems to be taking any points off Nathan Cleary with a run of 15, 18, 14 and 12 in his past four matches.
NRL Fantasy Team of the Week
1. James Tedesco (60)
2. Dane Gagai (79)
3. Latrell Mitchell (81)
4. Brian Kelly (72)
5. Kerrod Holland (74)
6. Cameron Munster (79)
7. Ben Hunt (93)
8. Martin Taupau (72)
9. Damien Cook (88)
10. Andrew Fifita (62)
11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon (92)
12. Rhyse Martin (65)
13. Tyson Frizell (63)
14. Nathan Cleary (78)
15. Cooper Cronk (66)
16. Isaah Yeo (61)
17. AJ Brimson (61)