NRL.com's Lone Scout gets hypothetical, unveils the path of last year's Dream Team winner, and has his say on this week's trade targets.
First off, some prognostications on the topical NRL Dream Team players ahead of Round 19.
Simon Mannering – Another centre has gone down for the Warriors and Mannering has kept his spot in the forward pack, rather than being switched to the backline. That's good enough for me. There's every chance the coach will change his mind mid-match, if new centre Joel Moon is slow to get up to speed or Shaun Berrigan is injured again, but I'll take that risk (or his price will go too high). Trade him in for Bukuya if you didn't last round.
Matt Srama – Purchased as cash cow, should you keep him? It's highly unlikely the Titans will bring back Nathan Friend and the Titans won't make the eight, meaning the re-signed hooker will get plenty of (practice) game time all the way until the end of the year. Srama may not score 55 each week, but an average of 42+ and a small Break-Even mean you should keep him for at least another two weeks. For mine you only trade him in Round 23 or thereabouts, if you have scope to upgrade your fourth reserve (eg. Srama out for Jake Friend).
Elijah Taylor – Arguably the buy of the year, Taylor has been relegated to the bench recently, prompting many to think about jettisoning him for a nice cash deposit. It's a reasonable plan, but remember you must have scope to benefit from the cash, without dropping points. Personally, I'm still a fan of Taylor and reckon he has value in your CTW line, even as a bench forward. When something between 25 and 30 is a decent score for your fourth CTW, it's hard to go past Taylor. An injury in the Warriors pack or a Cleary change of heart (neither are too out of the ordinary) and Taylor is a 50+ proposition again. If you have Elijah Taylor in your halves (rather than centres) and can't swap him to the centres, my advice is different: trade him out for Todd Carney or Chad Townsend, if you have a reasonable number of trades.
Luke Burt – Luke has two big scores in the bank, but is not guaranteed to get another. He will go up a few dollars over the next few weeks, but I'm not convinced he will stay playing fullback or around the scrum base. Consequently his recent kick metres and run metre highs will disappear. I'd avoid Burt at this point, but keep an eye on Jeff Robson's health and form. If Robson is removed from the Eels 17 for any reason, Burt should come into your considerations.
Todd Carney – Mr Dally M is apparently back, and at approx $181k he is still a reasonable pick-up, especially as a third half/reserve. His last three outings (30, 39 and 50) suggest he's getting back to his 2010 form. Form plus Carney's obvious X-factor could mean some 60- or 70-point returns. The real bonus is Carney is kicking the goals again and his 50 last round only included one point for kick metres. Worth considering, but not at the expense of a Soward, Harrison or Cronk. Definitely an alternative to Townsend if you can't grab the junior Shark.
Danny Galea – I've said it many times before and I stand by it: Danny Galea is always tempting but rarely delivers. He is again an attractive proposition as he is listed to start for the Raiders in the pack and is available as a CTW in DT, but be warned Galea has looked this good before and let people down. Josh Papalii may be gone for a few, but there is real competition in the Raiders' back-row and I reckon Joe Picker may well get more minutes than Galea, even when he starts off the bench. If you're feeling Galea's attraction, it's time to sober up.
Matt Bowen – Do we have another fullback gun now that Matty B is the Cowboys' preferred kicker for goals and field position? The answer is a definite yes, but with a use-by date. A 50+ score last week is a juicy illustration of Bowen's immediate DT potential, but he is due to slip back to normal scores in approximately a month, when Johnathan Thurston returns. If you think the JT prognosis is optimistic then get on Bowen, but save a trade in case you need to reverse him out to save you from private league semi-final disaster. Bowen is also worth a straight swap for Gidley at this point. By the time Gidley returns you will have plenty of extra Bowen value to fund re-buying Gids ... again, work out the trade cost for your team.
James Segeyaro – If you already have him count last week's 51 as a lucky bonus and hope for another 20-30 point week or two. That should get you better placed to offload Seg. Do not buy him if you don't already have him.
Ben Smith and Nathan Smith – Keep them both if you have them. Now a starting centre and a bench back-rower respectively, the Smiths will drop in value but remain among the most-desirable CTWs to ensure you fulfil your plans for private-league glory. If you have plenty of trades you may find benefit in trading out one (I'll choose Ben) for cash and a player with a similar future (Dene Halatau comes to mind) with the idea of using any extra cash to update the other to Mark Gasnier at some point. If this scenario looks appealing, think hard. As I say there are not many obvious choices for the low-priced proven scorer (even Halatau is risky). The alternative is to cash out Ben Smith for a straight trade to Gaz or even Matt Cooper.
Lewis Brown – Just another CTW conundrum for you to solve in the way that best meets your current team status. Now cheap as chips and going south fast, I would recommend holding him as he might be your wildcard come the later rounds.
I also wrote a short piece for Big League this week that carried a simple message: do not be tempted to trade out Paul Gallen or Cameron Smith. It seems obvious, but there are people who will think about it after their recent low scores. If you don't have either of these guys in your squad, aim-up on them about Round 20, starting with Smith.
Last week in this column I put the question out there for readers to try to predict how many trades I had left. Richard S from Chipping Norton was the first Dreamer to correctly guess I had four trades remaining, and won six NRL tickets for his troubles.
Why do I have so few trades, given I've been telling everyone who would listen to save as many as eight for the DT finals? I'm glad you asked. Read on ...
In 2011, I'm in my fifth year of NRL Dream Team, so I'm used to the current character of the game. As Lone Scout, I'm also playing in an altered state where I am asked to educate other players, can't win anything and am damned by my Facebook followers for whatever I do or don't do.
This got me thinking earlier on that, with nothing to lose, I could mess about this year and have a run at proving something I'm constantly advertising – that keeping trades for the end is invaluable.
So, I've set out to create two teams that will act as either side of the trades-versus-no-trades equation. The first is the Lone Scouts, which I've been playing with all year. The second I'll name the Reset Scouts.
To get this going, I've purposefully traded the Lone Scouts down to only two trades, which will act as emergencies for unforseen injury issues. The Scouts are a decent team and capable of a big score, and now reflect a team created by a newbie or trade-rager who can't help but tinker on a weekly basis.
Up against them will be the Reset Scouts, who are essentially my initial squad of 25. I've made only four trades that would have been made for the obvious cash cows (Matt Srama, Jayson Bukuya and Elijah Taylor) and to cover a season-ending injury (to Mitchell Aubusson). Those trades are a direct copy of the moves I made with the Lone Scouts. The Reset Scouts are the reflection of a squad that has conservatively hand-picked a few trades to conserve them for the run home. The Resets now have the luxury of two trades a week until the end of the competition (although can now only make 20 of the maximum trades for the season, with just eight week left).
So, here they are the Reset Scouts team, with the four trades made noted.
Gareth Widdop ($195.4k)
Dane Gagai ($85.4k)
Nathan Smith ($180.6k) - traded in for Mitchell Aubusson ($156k) in R15
Jarrod Croker ($149.6k)
Alex Glenn ($231.7k)
Elijah Taylor ($247k) - traded in for Tony Williams (106.9k) in R6
Dylan Farrell ($124.2k)
Sam Tagatese ($88.5k)
Ben Jones ($104.1k)
Cooper Cronk ($275.5k)
Daly Cherry-Evans ($270.4k)
Nathan Fien ($221.2k)
Beau Henry ($124.1k)
Aiden Tolman ($276.5k)
Sam Kasiano ($159.5k)
Mitchell Allgood ($175.5k)
Glenn Hall ($184.1k)
Robbie Farah ($273.9)
Matt Srama ($195.8k) - traded in for Jamie Buhrer ($123.4k) in R14
Paul Gallen ($315.3k)
Shaun Fensom ($371.9k)
Dallas Johnson ($242.5k)
Chris Houston ($252.8k)
Justin Horo ($182.7k)
Jayson Bukuya ($173k) - traded in for Bodene Thompson ($155.2k) in R11
Bank Balance - $156,400
Squad Value: $4,928,200 (somewhat average compared to my actual Lone Scout squad's $5,554,900)
Trades left = 26 (but obviously I've only got 16 to play with from here on in)
Not a brilliant side, but definitely decent and something to work with. Last week's (R18) score was 725 (with Fensom as captain and the three extra 2RFs plus Srama as reserves) and that would have placed the Resets a little down the weekly order, but ahead of the actual Scouts (703) who suffered from a zero from Lewis Brown and a DT shocker from Shaun Johnson.
Two useful trades this week and another two in the following two weeks and I'm hoping the Reset Scouts will be ultra-competitive, thereby proving my theory that it's far better to limit the in-season trades and hot up over the final section with plenty of manoeuvrability.
I'll let you know each week how the Reset's are going. And, to ensure that there is no post-lock-out deception going on, I'll name the two trades the Reset Scouts will make, barring any late injury news before lock-out.
For Round 19 the Reset Scouts are trading in Simon Mannering for Jayson Bukuya and in comes Martin Taupau for Glenn Hall. The bank balance jumps up to $222,700 and the Resets turn out: Widdop, N. Smith, Glenn, Croker, Taylor, Cronk, DCE, Tolman, Kasiano, Farah, Gallen, Fensom (c) and Mannering with reserves, DJ, Houston, Srama and Fien.
Maybe the Reset Scouts experiment will show we should add a "wildcard" for the trade-aholics in 2012?
I have always wondered whether a wildcard team reset option might be a good addition to DT play, now is my chance to check it out with the extra effort of administering the Resets.
Speaking of next year, I've heard plenty of good thoughts on how to improve Dream Team. I will ask those interested to send in their suggestions at the close of the DT season, but should you wish to get in early, please hit firstname.lastname@example.org and give the email a subject line something like "Improvements" or "Suggestions".
Last week I also mentioned I'd give you an indicator of whether you should still consider yourself in the running for the Toyota Cruiser.
It's not easy to predict what will happen over the next eight weekends, but here's a reference for those that still figure they are in the hunt. The table below shows the progress of the 2010 overall winner. Columns are as follows: Rnd = the round; Rank = ranking for that round; and Overall = overall rank at the end of the round.
Rd Rank Overall
1 2145 2145
2 3519 1434
3 2490 862
4 399 240
5 5 22
6 3389 38
7 7398 91
8 991 100
9 664 35
10 262 24
11 215 12
12 5121 19
13 771 18
14 180 7
15 230 5
16 3767 7
17 215 5
18 158 5
19 796 5
20 656 5
21 1503 5
22 86 2
23 135 1
24 539 1
25 5783 1
26 11533 1
Not all that inspiring to us folk lurking outside the top 10.
Catch you next week with some progress on the Reset Scouts and more snippets for consideration when trading.
Good luck and keep dreaming.