We've hit a crucial fortnight in the race for the major Dream Team title for 2012, with the overall points Toyota NRL Dream Team coaches aiming to get as many players on the park as possible in the next two bye-hit rounds. The Sea Eagles, Bulldogs, Storm, Roosters, Tigers and Titans are all out of action this week, along with the State of Origin players, and the Broncos, Panthers, Dragons and Cowboys will be sitting out Round 18.
If you're aiming for overall points and haven't planned for this week – arguably the toughest of the season – then now is too late to start. Scrap together whatever players you can to get some points on the board over the next couple of weekends. If you're aiming for head-to-head league glory, then you're facing a couple of bye weeks; so use the next couple of weeks to get your squad right for the run home starting Round 19.
One thing's for sure – not too many Dream Teams that have been around since Round 1 will be able to field a full-strength lineup this weekend. But that's not to say the weekly $500 prize is out of reach. You are only allowed to field one Dream Team to your name in order to be eligible for prizes, but that doesn't mean your brother, sister, mum or dad can't set up a new team. Have you got a footy fan mate who hasn't started their own Dream Team yet? Get them signed up now – and maybe give them a hand putting their lineup together.
This week is one of the few times in which a cashed-up team – which has been making good use of cash cows throughout the season – might not take out the weekly prize. A custom-built line-up of 17 players who are all involved in this week's games will stand a big chance of topping the round.
Here's a possible side I've just come up with that falls under the $4.4 million salary cap, with 17 players starting this week plus eight $77K cheapies:
Fullbacks/wingers: Reece Robinson, Dane Gagai, Peter Mata'utia;
Centres: Konrad Hurrell, Chris McQueen;
Halves: James Maloney, Peter Wallace, Jarrod Mullen;
Props: Josh McGuire, Tim Mannah;
Hookers: Issac Luke, Kevin Kingston;
Second-rowers: Nathan Hindmarsh, Shaun Fensom (c), Ryan Simpkins, Matt Ryan, Brendon Gibb.
Sure, not necessarily the greatest-looking side on paper, but this team would stand a very decent chance of posting a big score this week. Come up with your own version and you and your dad/mum/brother/sister/mate could be $500 richer this time next week.
And while you're at it, make sure to put together your six-man Origin Dream Team ahead of next week's decider. Thankfully it only takes a couple of minutes to do and is a welcome relief from the headaches that come with an NRL Dream Team season.
Now, onto this week's questions.
From Sam Barnes (on Facebook):
Tahu had the game of his life. Do you think he's someone to consider?
I think the fact Timana Tahu had the game of his life on Monday night against the Tigers is why he isn't someone to consider buying. Yes, he suddenly looked a decade younger when he crashed through 11 tackles and scored a hat-trick, but the fact that his whopping 103-point tally was such a one-off means that the wise move is to avoid bringing him in. It was only the third time he's score more than 35 this year, and he has six scores to his name of 26 or less. A lot of Dream Teamers have been sucked in by one-off big scores from players this year, don't be another one.
From Joe Stephen (on Facebook)
Should I sell Josh Dugan?
Tough one. If you're playing head-to-head, then no – he'll be back in Round 20 or 21, meaning you only miss him for one or two league match-ups and are better off using trades elsewhere. If you're playing for overall points you may need to sell to bring in a scorer, although there frankly aren't a lot of great options out there this week with Hayne, Slater, Barba and Brett Morris out of action. Matt Bowen could be a good move now that he's been released from the Queensland squad, but otherwise consider holding off for a week at least before making up your mind.
From Donald Sapias (on Twitter):
Josh Mansour not playing again this weekend. Should I trade him?
Today's late mail suggests popular centre/winger Josh Mansour won't be back this week, which means a little more frustration for the legion of Dreamers who jumped on board in the past few weeks. Next week's bye means he'll be back in Round 19 at the earliest. Still, he's still got more money to make (his break-even is -22) so it'd be a very short-sighted move to sell him now, unless you need some quick cash to spend elsewhere and/or don't think he'll be back for a while. I'll be keeping him.
From Anthony Dodd (on Facebook):
What's the go with Inglis? I am thinking of trading him out for Williams because of his last few weeks' performances. But I am not sure if he still has a few good weeks to come.
I got this question from a few people, and on the surface a Greg Inglis to Tony Williams trade seems to make sense. Inglis is coming off scores of 31, 30 and 29, and costs $284,600, while Williams just came back from injury, played the full 80 minutes, scored 59 points and costs just $220,600.
Clearly, Williams is a quality buy. But I think Inglis is still a keeper as well. Before those three previous scores the Rabbitohs superstar reeled off totals of 65, 98 and 78. His form hasn't dropped, he just hasn't had the same attacking opportunities. When he finds the tryline again his scores will bounce straight back up. So get Williams into your team, but try to keep hold of Inglis for the long haul if you can.
From Chris Horn (on Facebook):
Hey Scout, is Chris McQueen gonna be a permanent starter now or is it just temporary with injuries/Origin? Think I might buy him otherwise.
McQueen looks very tempting after recent scores of 55 and 60, particularly with his price tag of just $134,400. He's also a dual position player who can cover centre and wing/fullback, providing some extra flexibility late in the year when you'll want to be able to cover injuries without trading.
But injuries have certainly played a part in McQueen getting a starting spot in Souths' back row, and with Sam Burgess and Eddy Pettybourne back in Round 18 McQueen's spot in the pack will come under a lot of pressure. (Burgess could even return as early as this week.)
Still, McQueen's form has been strong so there's a decent chance he'll be in the mix when Burgess and Pettybourne return, but I don't think you can count on him being a permanent starter.
From Michael Vote (on Facebook):
Is Frizell worth buying? Or not enough job security? Thinking about trading Aubusson for him.
The positives on Tyson Frizell are that he's cheap, he's a dual-position player, he played the full 80 at lock the last time he was called into the Sharks team, and he's about to get his first price rise. The negatives are that he's a good chance of being bumped back out of the team when Paul Gallen returns, and at $96,900 he's not quite as cheap as the $77,100 rookies going around. In the long run, if he's only going to become a non-playing reserve, you're probably better off bringing in someone at the bargain basement price instead, but if you're desperate for a few more points in the next week or two and are willing to take a punt on him then go for it.
Certainly find an alternative for Mitchell Aubusson, who's price has been nosediving for weeks and continues to find himself out in the centres for the Roosters.
Follow the Lone Scout and ask your questions on Facebook, Twitter, or via email.
Remember you can manage your Toyota NRL Dream Team and get live scores on your mobile, via NRL.com's FREE mobile site, or by downloading the FREE iPhone app or Android app.
Not involved? It's not too late to sign up and challenge for $80,000 worth of prizes. Register here and start beating your mates!