The first bye round of the year is here and the 8 teams taking the field will all be without their Origin stars. Bye rounds always have big implications on DFS, on tonights’ slate, there is an abundance of cheap options meaning the salary cap isn’t of much consequence today. It is also worth mentioning that on slates like todays slate, not spending the full salary cap can be a good way of differentiating your team.

Hooker

There are only 2 options at hooker tonight and neither is that appealing from a fantasy perspective. Sione Katoa ($4,000) managed to post his first fantasy score over 25 points in last weeks win against the Eels but posted 5 consecutive scores under 20 points before last week. Katoa did play 69 minutes last week and the fact that the Panthers have named a similar bench to last week indicates he may play big minutes again. Manase Fainu ($6,600) is the other option at hooker this week. Fainu has more upside than Katoa, given he is a damaging runner out of dummy half, but he will only play around 40 minutes today and is therefore a risky option.

Forwards

Martin Taupau ($8,800) has not scored under 30 fantasy points in his last 6 games, and today, I believe that alone is enough reason to get him into your side. As I have already mentioned, the salary cap won’t be very restrictive this round given all the cheap players on offer over the Origin period. Taupau is definitely worth spending up for today. Addin Fonua-Blake ($8,100) is another premium player worth considering. AFB has ran for over 150 metres in every game he has played this year (aside from the game in which he was injured against the Bulldogs). Reagan Campbell-Gillard ($6,700) has solid in his return to first grade last week against the Eels. This time last year, RCG was preparing for Origin 1 and I expect missing the series opener this year to fire him up for a big game. Panthers will be relying on RCG to be dominant through the middle of the field against a strong Manly pack that is only missing one of their starting forwards this week. Corey Waddell ($6,200) will start at lock this week in place of Trbojevic. Waddell has been consistent off the bench this year and will likely score well tonight due to the fact he will see extra game time.

Halves

Cade Just ($3,500) was exceptional last week in Manly’s loss to the Titans. Cust set up 2 of Manly’s 3 tries and featured heavily in most of their attacking structures. Cust gets a favourable matchup against the Panthers and will be eager to build off last weeks performance. If you think Panthers will be competitive in this game, James Maloney ($6,100) may also be worth considering. Maloney will direct the Panthers around the park today and will likely see more ball this week due to the absence of Nathan Cleary. Maloney will also be the goal kicker for Panthers today which will add to his score.

Outside Backs

Reuben Garrick ($6,000) has been shifted into the centres for tonights game. Playing at centre should see Garrick get more early ball and also make more tackles. Garrick is also the goal kicker for manly so his floor is looking pretty decent today. If Garrick does manage to break the line or score a try he could post a big fantasy score. Brendan Elliot ($5,300) has looked at home in the number 1 jersey in recent weeks and, given Manly have a young halves pairing today, I expect him to feature heavily in manly’s offence. In Elliot’s last 2 games, he has run for over 300 metres and broken the line on 3 occasions. Dylan Walker ($4,900) has now strung 2 solid performances together since returning from his ban. Walker is still too cheap at $4,900 and is a solid play at this price. Brian To’o ($4,100) is another player who is underpriced today. To’o managed an impressive 212 running metres in last weeks game without breaking the line once.