The Canberra Raiders were very impressive in 2016 and I’m expecting them to continue their run of good form into next season.
They finished three points shy of the Minor Premiership and were defeated 14-12 by the Melbourne Storm in the Preliminary Finals. Ricky Stuart can be proud of what he’s accomplished while coaching the Green Machine but I can’t help but think the 2017 season will be a greater challenge for the club.
Here’s my concern. Not only do the Raiders have a difficult opening draw but they also have a tough run of opponents to finish the season. To make matters worse, most of their opponents throughout the bye period are backed to make the top eight. This is one hell of a draw!
On the flip side of the coin, the Raiders have a very favourable draw between rounds five and eleven and will be available for the first big bye week in round twelve.
— …david jones (@_dpaj) December 17, 2016
In a perfect SuperCoach world, the Raiders’ backs will come down in price after they struggle to score attacking stats in their opening games. We can bring them into our side for a discounted price in rounds five or six before offloading them prior to their first big bye week in round 15. I’m not so sure I want the likes of Croker or Rapana in my side after this stage. As you can see below the Raiders don’t exactly have too many favourable games from round 15 onwards.
Alright, let’s take a look at my predicted line up for the 2017 Canberra Raiders.
- Jack Wighton ($363k) is one of many Raiders’ backs that could drop in price after the opening four rounds. He finished the 2016 season with a 54.3 point average and price below $300k. I’d like to see what his 2017 form is like before considering him as a viable SC option.
- Edrick Lee ($215.5k) is the cheapest of the Raiders’ backs but I can’t see him making any money off the bat. He has a large reliance on attacking stats which he probably won’t get against the likes of the Cowboys, Sharks and Broncos. He could be a risky stepping stone to a keeper if you want to take a risk on him in the second quarter of the season.
- Jarrod Croker ($479.6k) was one of the better CTW options in 2016. He averaged 71.8 points per game and finished the season with a three round average of 83 points. Croker may the club’s goal kicker but I’m still expecting a price drop after the Raiders’ opening draw. Once you have him in your side, be wary that you may need show a bit of patience while he scores the occasional 30 or 40 points.
- Joey Leilua ($483.4k) may be the most expensive option in the Raiders’ backs but he doesn’t rely on attacking stats as much as the others. In saying that, I’ll be waiting for round five or six before I contemplate bringing him into my side. I don’t think he can maintain that huge price through the opening rounds and we should be able to pick him up a little cheaper before he faces those easier opponents between rounds five and eleven.
- Jordan Rapana ($436.4k) wasn’t even considered as a SC option at the start of the 2016 season. He kicked off his campaign with a score of five in round one then starting to demand respect when he produced a five round average of 100 points prior to the Origin period. He has well and truly shown that he is solid SuperCoach material but I’ll be giving him a miss for my starting side.
- Blake Austin ($293.3k) could be selected by a handful of coaches but he needs more than a cheap price tag to enter my radar. I’m going to sound like a broken record here, but he may be a more viable option once the Raiders are done with their opening draw. I don’t think he’s worth the risk considering his low floor.
- Aidan Sezer ($236.5k) is a definite miss for your starting side. Don’t be fooled by his cheap price tag. He finished the 2016 season with a five round average of just 21 points.
- Junior Paulo ($314.8k) will need to increase his base output before being considered. He finished the 2016 season with a $227k price tag and scored over 50 points on just six occasions.
- Josh Hodgson ($417.3k) was one of three hookers that could’ve been considered as a run home option for 2016. He averaged 62.4 points per game for the season and showed that he’s capable of holding a good PPM figure for a decent period of time. It’ll be difficult for Hodgson to better Cameron Smith’s average but he may be worth a punt if his price comes down a bit.
- Shannon Boyd ($249.1k) is an excellent impact player but he usually plays just 30 to 40 minutes per game. He’s one of those players that performs his duties well but isn’t worth considering for your SuperCoach side.
- Elliot Whitehead ($408k) is a very frustrating player to own. Trust me; I decided to take a punt on him early in the 2016 season. He’s capable of holding a 70 point average for a number of rounds but he’s also known to score the random 30 or 40 point game. His base output isn’t high enough to be considered for your starting side.
- Josh Papalii ($419.9k) plays on the left edge and occasionally benefits from attacking plays directed towards Croker and Lee. There’s no harm in choosing him for your starting side but he’ll likely score between 40 and 65 points around 90% of the time.
- Sia Soliolia ($326.4k) finished the season valued at $262k and produced a 2016 season average of just 48.8 PPG. There needs to be a significant change in his base output to be a worthy SuperCoach candidate.
- Kurt Baptiste ($143.6k) usually covers for Josh Hodgson in the hooker position but isn’t a viable SC option due to his output. He scored less than 20 points on more than ten occasions so it’s probably best to keep him off your radar.
- Jordan Turner ($219.9k)/Clay Priest ($156.8k) are two of the players fighting for a Raiders’ bench spot. Like any players coming from the bench, they’re not usually SuperCoach material unless they’re covering for a starting forward.
- Joseph Tapine ($269.8k) should be the first bench player called up if an injury needs to be covered. Keep an eye on him if Boyd or Paulo find they’re unable to play.
- Dave Taylor ($282.1k) has returned to the NRL after playing 22 games for the Catalan Dragons. He’s currently doing a train and trial during the preseason but could find himself filling the final bench spot.
Are you willing to risk Leilua and Croker for your starting side?
Get around the best in the business on Twitter: @CKings_Cowboy