Lone Scout: Time to trim the fat

Welcome back, Jamie Soward. Welcome back.<br><br>For all you unfortunate suckers who don't have the undisputed king of Dream Team ‘09 in your squad... well, you mightn't have noticed his Round 17 score.<br><br>96.<br><br>No, no... that's not a reasonable captain's knock of 48. That's a straight up nine six. Or, for those who had him with the 'C' next to his name... that's a whopping 192.<br><br>And for those who didn't jump on the Jamie train and promote him to skipper... well, I hate to say I told you so!<br><br>Now, the Lone Scout isn't one to blow his own trumpet - so I'll let Phil from New Zealand blow it for me (...ooh, poor choice of words).<br><br><b>Phil writes:</b><br><br><b>I take my hat off to you Lone Scout. After Soward scored a measly 30 odd in round 16, you still tipped him to pull out a big one against the Roosters - 96! I changed my captain from Soward to Cam Smith who fills in at 5/8th for an injured Finch and scores 32! Not the captains knock I was expecting...<br><br>I shall never doubt your infinite wisdom again oh great Lone Scout...</b><br><br>That's the spirit, Phil! Now, in a decision which was not at all influenced by your not-so-subtle ass-kissing, I've decided to answer your question first in today's column.<br><br><b>Phil writes: <br><br>I have Pettybourne &amp; Karawana on my bench. Whilst both have had fantastic seasons, they are simply not getting the numbers they used to (i.e. 20-25). It doesn't look like they're getting the field time they had earlier this year. Should I ditch one of them now and if so who is value for money in their positions. I have $10,000 and 4 trades left.<br><br>Also, how many more games will Tim Moltzen have at half and will he continue to pull 30 pointers whilst in that position?</b><br><br>You raise some interesting points, Phil. As we count down towards the final few weeks of our Dream Team competition (remember, Dream Team finishes in Round 26), it's becoming apparent that many coaches are finding themselves left with a number of mediocre players in the class of Pettybourne, Karawana and Vea.<br><br>To be specific, players which might make good fill-ins during bye rounds and handy subs when injury strikes, but aren't worthy of a regular position in your starting 17.<br><br>If your team is anything like mine, you'll have a number of bench forwards which you bought cheap (under $100,000) but are now hovering around the $160,000 - $170,000 mark.<br><br>The big question is... how do you cash in on their value if they won't make your top squad?<br><br>There are several theories, but they generally depend on whether you are pushing for overall honours, or are more focussed on winning your specific league. They are also dependant on how many trades you have remaining.<br><br><b>Theory One: </b>You need a new Toyota, you want to win this thing.<br><br>- In short, upgrade. Let's take Pettybourne, for example. He plays each week, isn't a rep player and isn't injury prone. He's solid. But let's face it; solid doesn't cut it at this stage of the season. He's posted three scores under 20 in the last month and you can't have scores like that in your team if you are a serious overall contender. If you're an astute Dream Teamer - you would have bought Pettybourne for $79,100 after a solid start to the season. Buy selling him now, you'll pocket $151,700 - a tidy profit for a handy player.<br><br>So who to buy? Here's where you need to take a good hard look at your team and see if you can roll the dice and buy a ultra-cheapie which you won't need to use for the rest of the season. Take next week for example - the Rabbitohs don't have the bye - so will you need Pettybourne to field a full team? If so - hold out one more week.<br><br>(<b>Note:</b> Pettybourne has been given a starting position for the Rabbitohs for Round 18 after the time of writing.)<br><br>If you have a few trades up your sleeve and depth across the park - punt him for someone like Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Manly). He's a big, young prop who has only played two games... but who cares? He costs $84,100. (I've gone for him over other cheapies because he could actually play if the Sea Eagles cop a few injuries and his value will go up if he plays just one more game).<br><br>That means you now have another $67,600 in your kicker. That could be enough to trade Corey Parker in for Nathan Hindmarsh? Or bring Soward into your team?<br><br>Do it soon - every week you postpone the move, you're costing yourself valuable overall placings. Of course, there's a risk involved... but you don't make the Dream Team history books by playing safe!<br><br><b>Theory Two:</b> I'm a realist, I won't win the car - but I'm desperate to beat my mates in my league.<br><br>- In short, hold on a little longer. If you’re a league player, I can't stress how important it is not to peak too early. So long as you're in top eight contention, there's no rush! Over the next four weeks of head-to-head... keep these style players in the squad to cover any injury or bye scenarios. Then, when you face up against your cocky mate in the first week of the finals... you can stun him by bringing in Hindmarsh and Smith in one fell swoop.<br><br>If you're a league player... timing is everything.<br><br>As for your Moltzen question... well, I very much doubt Tim Sheens will change a thing so long as the Tigers attack like they did against the Bunnies. Moltzen is a class act, and his move to the No. 7 has turned him from handy fill-in to genuine bench option. I wouldn't go out of my way to buy him necessarily, but if you already have him... happy days.<br><br><b>The Green Advocado writes:<br><br>I've got a pretty solid team- floating around 200th and am still dominating the eliminator. My issue is Matt Hilder- he can tackle like Stagg, Johnson etc but offers little else-to add to matters he rarely plays 80. Is he worth sticking with or should I cash him in while his 71 has his value high?<br><br>Also, Y. Gordon a forward in the backs but with very little minutes- I bought him to free up coin but am thinking if he gets some game time he could explode. Your thoughts?</b><br><br>Well Mr Advocado, you're on the money with Hilder's value. The algorithm used to determine player value changes is about as closely guarded as the Colonel's eleven secret herbs and spices... but I can confirm that it relates rather closely to the average of the player's three previous scores. Using that formula, Hilder's value will drop next week if he doesn't produce something special. The Knights also have one bye remaining.<br><br>If you're coming 200th and are genuinely going for the top prize... I'd keep him for this week (he'll play while many others have the bye), but punt him the week after when the Knights have the bye. His replacement depends whether you have him in your front-row or second-row, but assuming he's a front-rower (and having seen your team)... I'd be buying Kade Snowden (he'll play when Hilder has the bye)... plus he's $13,000 cheaper.<br><br>As for Gordon, I'm not sold. With Goodwin and Morris out of action he could get some game time in the centres but you'd prefer if he comes off the bench and does some work. Keep him in your squad but don't play him unless you have to.<br><br><b>Bill Bob writes:<br><br>I don’t know wether to get rid of Scott Prince for Dally Cherry-Evans just to free up some money and then have Scott Porter in my starting line up or get rid of Porter and have Prince in my staring line up? I want to have a team that averages over 725 (its 710 atm) and my forward pack is perfect, I just need to get better halves.</b><br><br>Tough one. Prince's value won't go down after last week's 59... plus he hasn't got a bye remaining. Porter is worth a little less (for a money grab) but still has a bye remaining. Would you consider keeping both and playing one as one of your four reserves?<br><br>If you're keen to punt one... get rid of Porter before the bye and take the cash. Then upgrade another player to one who hasn't got the bye. Make sense?<br><br><b>Elliot writes:<br><br>Two queries,<br>1. Do you think it's too early to start trading out players who are unlikely to make the top 8 at the end of the season, in favour of players who are going to make it to the finals? </b><br><br>Huh? Dream Team finishes at the end of the regular season, Elliot. Don't worry about teams making the finals.<br><br><b>2. I saw on the weekend that Brett Finch took a hit and was unable to play out the game, I found Brett to be a pretty good 5/8 for the money I paid, and my bench 5/8 - Ben Hunt - is really only gonna get games when Lockyer's on origin duty. I have plenty of trades left, 0 Cash, and Michael Luck, who I've come to believe is overpriced for the points he's been scoring. Any ideas on what to do?</b><br><br>Finch will be fine to play in two weeks but has the bye this weekend. Ben Hunt's Broncos also have the bye, and with Wallace axed from the NSW gig... it's unlikely Hunt will play again. After Finch scored just 5 last week... his value will continue to plummet. I tend to think Luck is still a solid buy... but if you are low on cash I'd sell him for someone like Dallas Johnson or Anthony Tupou (both currently under-valued) and use the cash to trade Finch out for Daniel Mortimer.<br><br>Apologies to all the emailers I didn't get to this week... scouting is a busy business and I always work alone. Keep them coming and I'll do my best to get to them in Friday's 'Game-Day' column.<br><br><a href="mailto:lonescout@nrldigital.com?subject:Dream%20Team%20query">Email me your queries by clicking here.</a><br><br>Stay tuned for my Round 18 Late Mail and Value Picks on Friday... but until then, good luck, but more importantly, good coaching!<br><br>Scouts honour,<br>Lone Scout<br>