Cameron Smith has topped our rankings of the best 50 players in the NRL. Credit: Brett Crockford. Copyright: NRL Photos.
Another massive week in Holden NRL Fantasy is coming up with ASADA headaches for a few past and present Sharks, more injury doubts and another Thursday night start to the round. If you've still got trades to use then each one is crucial, and if you don't then the captaincy and bench choices are probably what will make or break your team.
So without further ado, here are a few of this week's big Fantasy questions.
From Luke Forbutt
Is Paul Gallen playing this week?
It's the big question isn't it? At the time of writing we're still waiting to see if players will accept a deal from ASADA offering a suspension through to November 1. They reportedly have until Friday to make the call, so at the very least we'll know before Sunday's Sharks-Raiders game if Gallen (presuming he is one of the Sharks players who has received a show-cause notice) and Co will be in action this week.
The safest option? Pick somebody else as captain (as captains are locked in when the round begins), make Gallen one of your four bench players, and be ready to swap him out for an alternative bench player – or make a trade – if you need to before Sunday. Remember with rolling lockout you can continue to make substitutions or use one of your two weekly trades throughout the weekend, apart from captains.
From Nicholas Heffernan
Do you think the pressure on Parramatta to perform well to try and win their remaining games to make the top eight makes Hayne the best choice for captain, given his lowest score since Round 9 is 54? Or does the fact that he only scored 37 last time he played Manly in Round 3 suggest that someone like Surgess is a better option for captain?
That's the kind of research I like to see. Hayne's in my side and he's been sensational over the past month with scores of 91, 82, 94 and 81, and yet I haven't captained him in any of those rounds. Despite that scoring run I still don't plan to make him captain this week against a Manly side that sits on top of the table and boasts the second-best defensive record in the competition this year. Basically all Hayne's points come from attacking players – busting through tacklers, making line breaks and scoring or setting up tries – so if he can be contained by the Sea Eagles his score should drop below 50.
In saying that, I've been wrong before (the last four weeks for instance) so if you're happy to take the plunge on Hayne weaving his magic once again on Friday night then go for it, but beware it is a risk. One thing I will say is that if you're a clear underdog in a head-to-head match-up this weekend, a wildcard like Hayne is a great player to use as captain if your opponent is likely to pick someone else.
From Hamish Overton
LS, crunch time in my league and I need to win out to take it all. With all remaining teams in the league having top fantasy guns I feel the captain selection is going to decide a lot of matches from here on. So, who to captain this week? I have Smith, Farah, Surgess, Hayne and Paul Gallen that are my best options.
Captaining Hayne is a risk as I said above and captaining Gallen is a risk with considering the Sharks' ASADA woes, which leaves the usual big three as the safest bets. With Farah struggling to conjure much in attack for the Tigers these days, I'd lean towards Cameron Smith or Sam Burgess. Either player could easily hit 80 this week, but I'm probably going to punt on Smith coming home strong at the end of the weekend with a big performance against the in-form Panthers on Monday night.
From Ryan Darx
Is Trent Merrin going to play 80 minutes or keep up this 40-45 minutes?
It's hard to say. On the one hand he can play big minutes and his time on the field has increased since returning from a shoulder injury in Round 20. On the other hand he hasn't played more than 45 minutes in his past four games, and the Dragons may not change what (last week at least) was a winning formula. Merrin said this week the niggling shoulder injury is "getting better" but it does remain an issue, so at this stage it seems as though he'll continue with the shorter stints.
He's still a great worker so is worth holding if you've got him, but look elsewhere if you're looking to buy a new forward.
From Stu Blok
I see Josh Jackson named to play after his concussion last week, is this a certainty?
The news over the past couple of days is that he is expected to play. We'll know before tonight's game whether he's confirmed or not.
From Jason Brander
If next season started right now, who would be the first five players you'd buy?
Good question. Jarryd Hayne, Cameron Smith, Sam Burgess, Robbie Farah and probably Johnathan Thurston – just ahead of Adam Reynolds whose scores might slide a little when John Sutton returns for Souths.
From Jacob Newton
In the final game next week, can we use all our trades, not just 2?
Nope, two trades a week is the rule. So if you've got a bunch of trades left, use them now!