It's the last weekend before a two-week break for head-to-head Holden NRL Dream Team leagues, so it's a good time to make to make your score count.
Before I get into the nitty gritty of this week's trade options, here's my biggest tip – plan out your trading strategy for the rest of the season. If your number of trades remaining is into the single digits, you really should be planning what your final "ideal" squad will look like and then trade according to that plan.
There's no use bringing in a new cash cow if you won't have enough trades to cash him out later. Likewise, avoid making a sideways trade when you could make a genuine upgrade somewhere in your squad instead.
It should be all cheapies and keepers from here on in – work out what your best 17 could be, with a few back-ups in reserve, and then use the remainder of your trades to get to that team.
Of course, make sure you also keep some trades up your sleeve for the last few weeks, especially if you plan on winning your head-to-head league.
For example, I'll be down to my last eight trades after this week, and have planned out four of them – trading out four mid-range scorers for two non-playing cheapies and two high-scoring guns (probably a couple of Sharks forwards). That'll leave me with a very strong first 17, plus three scoring reserves, back-up options in every position and four trades to cover any late-season emergencies.
Once you come up with your trading gameplan, the answers to the rest of your trade questions become much simpler.
And while the head-to-head leagues go on hiatus I'm also going to take a two-week break, doing a bit of globetrotting to scout some international talent. Some pals of mine will continue to post updates about late team changes on Facebook and Twitter in my absence.
Now, onto this week's questions.
From Leigh Petterson
I'm not sure what to do with Michael Gordon. I know LS you say not to move sideways on him for say a Ben Barba or Josh Dugan, but I am considering it to have someone there who I know is actually going to play. What are your thoughts?
Yeah I'm changing my tune a little now on Gordon after he was a late withdrawal again for the Sharks last weekend. He's now only played once since round 10 and is no certainty to stay fit for the rest of the season, even if he does line up for Cronulla on Friday night.
In his favour is the fact that he is a dual-position centre/winger-fullback and he has averaged better than 35 points a game this year, which is about as good as most other centres or fullbacks. But if you can upgrade to Greg Inglis, Jarryd Hayne or Josh Dugan (who's suspended this week) then I'd strongly consider it. Gordon's price is likely to drop again this week, so if you don't think you're going to keep him all year then now's probably the best time to trade him out.
From Jay McGrath
Jamal Idris has been a form centre and a great solid buy. With him now being out for the season who is a good replacement?
The upside of Idris being injured now for Dream Teamers is that he has already made a fair bit of cash, meaning you'll have at least $313,300 to spend on his replacement. Michael Jennings is probably the best bet at an even $300,000, while Greg Inglis ($370,700) is close to a must-have, Simon Mannering ($291,100) is very solid and Jamie Lyon ($295,400) is a good option who will play every round from here on in.
Of course, if you have some depth in the centres you could also use this as an opportunity to bring in a cheapie and use the cash to strengthen your squad elsewhere.
From John Tupou
Konrad Hurrell was a gun last year. Is he worth the punt now that both he and the Warriors are looking good?
Like most outside backs, Hurrell scores well when his team is playing well, and the Warriors are one of the hottest teams in the comp at the moment. Still, bringing him into your team is a bit of a gamble. The Warriors won't win every game like they've been doing in the past five rounds, and Hurrell won't score 100-metre tries every week. He is a dangerous player to have in your team though, and if he goes big he could prove the difference in a tight head-to-head match-up.
From Aaron Mcgeoch
Any $101k rookies coming through which I can buy to free up money?
The four base-price rookies who will start for their teams this week are Dragons duo Adam Quinlan and Charly Runciman and Titans pair Jahrome Hughes and Hymel Hunt, but of those four only Hunt (Jamal Idris's replacement) has any real job security.
Of course, there's not necessarily anything wrong with bringing in a cheapie who won't actually play – as long as you don't need them to fill a spot in your starting 17. For Dream Teamers who are now running low on trades (like myself) it's just about time to ignore future cash cows, and having a low-scoring rookie in your squad could actually end up becoming a weakness if they end up getting a run in your team as an automatic emergency.
So instead I suggest looking for non-playing $101,600 dual-position players, who won't be a risk of an auto emergency but who will give you flexibility to cover injuries in the future.
From Jy Lovett
When will be the best time to bring in Paul Gallen?
When he gets back on the field for Cronulla, basically. His price could still come down a little the next time he plays but because of his scoring ability he's worth snapping up the next time he's a confirmed starter for the Sharks.
From Tim Bussoletti
Is it worth waiting for Paul Gallen or are his continual injuries going to continue for the rest of the season? Should we give up on him and go for another premium second rower/FRF?
If you've got Gallen already, then it's a tricky one. The answer probably depends mostly on whether you have depth to cover him, and whether you need an extra scorer to replace him in the next few weeks (either to climb the overall points rankings or to win some crucial head-to-head games). His injury worries are concerning but chances are he'll be fit and firing every week once the Origin period is over.
If you're playing to win your private league then I'd probably keep him – there are no head-to-head match-ups in round 18 or 19 so there's every chance Gallen will be up and running for the next H2H game in round 20. If you've held him this long, it's not worth trading him out for the sake of one week.
From Dwayno Hutton
Is Gallen a must-have this year, or is everyone hanging onto the Gallen of last year?
Good question. It's true that Gallen isn't the 80-minute Dream Team monster he once was – as demonstrated by his early-season scores of 46, 35 and 41 – but he is still one of the best DT players in the business when fully fit. If you leave aside his injury-affected score of 1 in round 8, Gallen is averaging 59 points a game this year. That ranks him fifth in the competition, behind only Cameron Smith, Robbie Farah, Corey Parker and Andrew Fifita. I'll be buying him this season.
From Chris Rawlins
Do you think Suaso Sue and Robert Lui have hit their peak?
They both probably have, although Sue's price is likely to hold reasonably steady in the next few weeks while Lui (who has a break-even of 64) will probably drop. Keep in mind that Lui will play in round 18 though, if you're still focusing on overall points or the Eliminator.
From Jake Olive
Are Kelly, Marshall, or Hodkinson worth keeping? Or is it time to upgrade?
My old rule is 45 points a game makes someone a keeper, so by that rule Kelly is a "yes", Benji is a "no", and Hodkinson is a "maybe" (he averages 39 this season but about 45 over his past five games). I'd definitely look to plan out your final "ultimate" 17 before deciding on whether you need to trade out these guys or not.
From Jamie Williams
What would your final "dream" 17 be?
You can't get every gun player into your team (there simply isn't enough space for all those halves and front-rowers) but the team that I'm aiming to have by the time the head-to-head finals arrive is this...
Hookers: Cameron Smith, Robbie Farah
Front-rowers: James Graham, Trent Merrin, Andrew Fifita
Back-rowers: Corey Parker, Shaun Fensom, Paul Gallen, Sonny Bill Williams, Sam Burgess
Halves: Daly Cherry-Evans, Aidan Sezer
Centres: Greg Inglis, Jacob Loko
Wingers/fullbacks: Josh Dugan, Ben Barba, David Nofoaluma/Jarryd Hayne
Plus three reserves and five cheap non-players.
That's the lot for this week, good luck to your team, and I'll be back with my next Q&A in round 20.
Follow the Lone Scout and ask your questions on Facebook, Twitter, or via email. Or just start playing Dream Team now.