Round 6 has arrived, with one last week before the NRL has a break and the rep season begins. Injuries are hitting some Dream Teams hard, and good cash cows are becoming harder to come by. That means every trade matters from here on in.
Test Match Dream Team launches next week with the Kangaroos to take on the Kiwis, so keep a close eye on the team announcements on NRL.com on Sunday and start planning your lineup.
If you were hit hard by late team changes on the weekend remember that rolling lockout is in place all season – meaning you can change your team up until just before each game. The final team lineups are posted on NRL.com before every match, and you can follow me on Facebook or Twitter to get alerts about the late team changes.
Now, to this week's big questions.
From Paul Kowalczyk
What's the go with Sezer and Kelly? Do you think they will play this week?
Aiden Sezer is out for 2-3 weeks (meaning 1-2 games, as there's no NRL next weekend) with a hamstring injury. Albert Kelly remains in doubt with a knee injury but was named in the Titans' team on Tuesday in the hope he could recover in time for the Titans-Eels game is on Sunday night. Check the late mail before locking him in – if he isn't ruled in or out by the end of Friday then keep an eye on the news over the weekend and make use of the rolling lockout.
From Hayden Keys
How's Jack Stockwell's job security look? Weyman is due back in round 8.
I think Stockwell's place in the Dragons lineup is pretty safe. It's true that Michael Weyman is due back from injury soon, but he was actually playing off the bench at the start of the season. Stockwell actually replaced Leeson Ah Mau as the Dragons' starting prop after round 3, and Ah Mau (who isn't injured) hasn't been seen since. That suggests Stockwell could keep that starting spot when Weyman comes back, and could be a DT bargain at $131,100.
From Jarvis Zochling
Hey Scout, who's the best trade for Beale?
Gerard Beale's season-ending injury has thrown a spanner in the works for a lot of Dream Teams, with his $171,200 price tag not giving DT coaches much space to move in finding a replacement. If you've got spare cash you could upgrade to Penrith's tackle bust machine Josh Mansour, Raiders fullback Reece Robinson or rocks-and-diamonds Warriors centre Konrad Hurrell (all of whom are priced in the high $200,000s).
If you want to make some cash, Panthers pivot Tom Humble ($163,300) and Warriors winger/centre Ngani Laumape ($126,500) are your best bets this week. Both have already made some cash this season but have negative break evens so are guaranteed some more short-term gains, although Laumape's spot could be in danger with Dane Nielsen returning for the Warriors this weekend.
From Shazeel Dean
Is there a better option for a reserve hooker (something in the mid-price range) than Scott Moore? It seems he isn't as much of a cash cow as I expected him to be.
Titans hooker Beau Falloon ($264,000) looked a good option after last week's 55, before being ruled out this week with appendicitis. His replacement Sam Irwin is an under-20s star with a $101,600 price tag, but might not still be in the Gold Coast lineup by Round 7. Nathan Fien ($259,600) is another hooker still rising in price, although he hasn't got much further to go, while Matt McIlwrick at the Raiders has had one price rise but is likely to go back to the bench whenever Glenn Buttriss returns.
So it's a tough one. I've got Moore and with no great alternatives will stick with him for now – he's a decent enough English player who isn't up to speed with the Aussie game yet, but was bought by the Cowboys for a reason and should be back in the top grade sooner or later.
From Matt Leadley
Do you think Gavin Cooper is going to struggle for game time now as the Cowboys' second-row stocks are huge?
Yep. With Cooper, Glenn Hall, Tariq Sims, Scott Bolton, Dallas Johnson and Jason Taumalolo, the Cowboys have a lot of options in the back row. That's great for them but not so good for Dream Team coaches who have any of those guys in their squad. I'd look to bring in players with better job security if possible.
From Grant Auld
If Benji Marshall is ruled out, who would be the best replacement? Maloney, Cronk, Cherry-Evans, Johnson, even Campo?
Stay away from Terry Campese for now – his price won't budge for three weeks, and he has to prove he can stay fit and score well again in DT before you should consider him. Daly Cherry-Evans is the best half in DT this year (just look at his scores), and I'd rate Cooper Cronk the next best, although he and Johnathan Thurston will both obviously miss some games with Origin. Maloney is in good scoring form for the Roosters and may miss out on Origin selection, so is another very good option.
From Sarah Mellberg
Is it time to sell Trent Merrin? He only played 43 minutes last game and is likely to feature in Origin...
Nope. Merrin is an absolute gun, and should be capable of playing 80 minute games for the Dragons by the end of the season. He's a keeper.
From Jamil Racman
How many playing players should we be looking at for the bye rounds? Should all Origin players be traded out and brought back later?
Bye rounds are very tricky this year. Round 12, 15 and 18 will have half the teams plus all Origin players missing, while Round 19 will be a little easier to navigate. Even with a bonus trade available for all four of those weeks, you still probably won't get a full 17-man team for most of those weeks.
If you're aiming for overall points, I'd keep the bye rounds in mind when bringing in players, but wouldn't stress too much about players you already have. Some of your players will play Origin, but you're usually better off sitting them in your reserves for a couple of weeks rather than wasting trades selling them and then buying them again later.
In saying that, in the past I've rode my luck by trading out Cameron Smith for the bye rounds and it's worked (just), and this year he and the other Storm Origin stars will be missing for all four bye rounds. The same goes for any Origin players at the Broncos, Cowboys and Bulldogs.
Of the non-Origin players, the teams you want to buy players from in order to have a competitive team for Round 12 are the Rabbitohs, Titans, Dragons, Knights, Warriors, Broncos, Cowboys and Bulldogs.
Of course, if you're only focusing on head-to-head rounds, you can basically ignore the bye rounds altogether and keep your trades up your sleeve for the finals.
From Jordan Gilliland
Chris Sandow: worth keeping or time to jump off a sinking ship?
My advice: if you didn't trade him last week (when he was guaranteed to have a price drop) you might as well keep him now. He'll drop again this week but should start climbing again after that once his -4 score drops out of his previous three scores – meaning it will no longer count towards his price changes.
From Nick Hills
Matt Gillett and Ryan James: missed the boat or still some value?
You haven't quite missed the boat – both players will keep rising in value this week – but of the two I'd prefer to bring in Gillett now as he should be a long-term keeper. In saying that, James is still a decent buy for those playing for overall points as the Titans play in both the first two bye rounds, and he's less likely than Gillett to play Origin.
From Jordan Schaumkel
Robbie Rochow? Is he worth it?
Rochow's snuck under the radar a little at the Knights, having been used by Wayne Bennett as a 80-minute second-rower in the past few weeks. He's solid enough in attack but does a lot of work in defence, having risen $50,700 in value so far this year and likely to go up further in the next month or so. He's not cheap at $269,000 and still probably isn't a long-term keeper, but he could be a handy mid-range cash cow.
From Karl Kfive Tafea
Is it too late to jump on the Gurgess train?
Surprisingly enough, no. George Burgess (affectionately nicknamed 'Gurgess' by some in the Dream Team community) has climbed a huge $120,000 in price so far and is still going, with a break even of -27 this week. With scores of 65, 21, 30, 56 and 67 he's not consistent but he is an awesome cash cow.
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