Lone Scout: I'm an addict because...

Have you ever sat glued to the television for the entire 80 minutes of a game when the team you support isn't even playing?<br><br>Have you found yourself pumping your fists in the air when your Dream Team fullback runs the length of the field to score a try?<br><br>Have you found yourself cringing when your Dream Team prop drops a pass then concedes a penalty?<br><br>Have you found yourself trying to keep a mental tally of the amount of tackles your gun Dream Team back-rower is racking up, knowing that every single one means an extra point for your team?<br><br>You have...? Join the club.<br><br>Before I launch into today's Lone Scout tutorial, I thought I'd open the floor to you - the punters - and let you tell me...<br><br><b>"I know I'm a Dream Team addict because..."</b><br><br>Here, I'll kick it off.<br><br><b>Lone Scout writes:</b> "I know I'm a Dream Team addict because... I leave my phone on the table when I'm at a restaurant having dinner so I can watch my Dream Team live scores tick over in real time. I do this despite the furious glares my girlfriend is firing in my direction."<br><br><b><a href="mailto:lonescout@nrldigital.com?subject=I%27m%20a%20Dream%20Team%20addict%20because...">Click here</a></b> to send me your response, and I'll publish the pick of the bunch in my next column.<br><br>So back to the serious stuff. Today's topic... 'guns'.<br><br>No, not Matt Cooper’s arms. I’m talking Dream Team guns. You know they type. They're the $300,000+ workaholics who make up the backbone of your team. They're the Hindmarsh's, the Stagg's, the Smith's, the Farah's, the Soward's.<br><br>They're the Dream Team champions we just can't buy enough of... and they've earned themselves the rather unassuming, but endlessly endearing title of...'the guns'.<br><b><br>So, as Daniel so eloquently asks:</b><br><br><b>I've got a good team but I always get beaten by teams which have a heap of guns and a handful of Neville's. Is it best to have a lot of medium players or a crap team with about ten champions?</b><br><br>You're not the first man to ask this, Daniel... and you certainly won't be the last. In short, no matter how evenly you spread you talent - any good team needs a sprinkling of the big guns to make it a heavy-weight contender.<br><br>If you're looking for top honours, or even simple bragging rights, here's my general 'rule of gun' - broken down for each position. (This is for Daniel and the 479202494 other emailers asking me on a daily basis!)<br><br>In your squad of 25, you need at least two 'gun' front rowers and three 'gun' back-rowers. <br><br>These guys are your bread and butter. These are the guys who you almost expect to put on 50+ each week. Forwards, by the nature of their position, will generally rack up more points than backs, so you want to go top-heavy when investing in your playing roster or making trades.<br><br>Keep in mind that the best second rowers generally score better (or at least more consistently) than front rowers. This is because they are mostly 80 minute players with 40+ tackle counts. They also tend to get more offloads, and - since they are running wider - make more line breaks and score more tries.<br><br>My suggested front-row guns: Cameron Smith ($340,500, avg. 55.13), Robbie Farah ($375,700, avg. 58.2), Ben Hannant ($353,300, avg. 49.45 - currently injured).<br><br>Your third front-rower should average 40+. My suggestions would be: Luke Douglas ($292,300, avg. 44.9), Bronson Harrison ($291,100, avg. 45), Kade Snowden ($277,300, avg. 37.4 - but don't worry, it's been climbing consistently).<br><br>Your front-row bench should have at least two reasonably priced consistent starters. Ideally, you'll only have to use one of these as a scoring reserve.<br><br>Now to your second-row. This is where you want to invest heavily, and there's a stack of 'guns' to choose from.<br><br>My suggested second-row guns: Nathan Hindmarsh ($352,900, avg. 55.21), David Stagg ($343,600, avg. 56.7), Michael Luck ($308, 900, avg. 50.6), Paul Gallen ($318,800, avg. 48.4), Dallas Johnson ($269,400, avg. 48).<br><br>Of your three second-row bench players, two should be strong starters. One should be a cheapie (someone you’ve bought for below $110,000). You can get some good value buys around the $250,000 mark. My suggestions would be: Anthony Tupou ($228,600, avg. 41.5), Andrew Ryan ($256,800, avg. 39.88), Paul Aiton ($266,200, avg. 38.94), Michael Hodgson (as a cheaper option) ($209,100, avg. 30.29).<br><br>Now for the halves. If Jamie Soward ($381,400, avg. 60.24) has taught us anything, he's taught us that halfbacks at their best can outscore any forward.<br><br>As such, he's naturally my 'gun' halfback. If you can find a way to draft him into your team, do it. It's not too late.<br><br>Once you've invested in one gun half, go for value in your replacement. You want a player who is starting each week so can be used as a handy fourth bench player, but you don't want to tie up too much money here. My suggestion is (and has been for a month) Scott Porter ($235,900, avg.47.7). Hint: if you're looking for some real cheap value... try Scott Dureau. With Jarrod Mullen out for at least a month, Dureau will most likely start and should score well. He currently costs just $110,600.<br><br>For the five-eighths, I use a similar strategy. One big player, one cheap bench option. Unlike the second halfback, this player usually won't make your starting 17. As a general rule, five-eighths are the most erratic scorers, since most of their points come from attacking and/or scoring plays. If his NRL team doesn't score many points, chances are your five-eighth won't either.<br><br>My suggested five-eighth: Terry Campese ($286,000, avg. 47.67). He's just a cut above the others, though has slightly tapered off, along with his form on the field.<br><br>For your cheap but effective replacement, I'd go for someone like Tim Moltzen ($110,100, avg. 14.9). He's super cheap at just $110,100 but will shoot up in value after being moved in from fullback to halfback by Tim Sheens last week.<br><br>Now to the centres and wingers. Veteran Dream Team coaches would know the golden rule about buying high-scoring centres... and that's finding players who are actually playing in the forwards.<br><br>The most notable of these is Simon Mannering ($205,500, avg. 34.31). He scored a strong 40 last week, tackling like a second-rower. Other 'gun' workhorse centres include Brett Delany ($184,100, avg. 31.38), Beau Scott ($203,500, avg. 33.71), Ben Smith ($177,200, avg. 28.82) and even Alex Glenn ($153,500, avg. 25.8).<br><br>If you like to cheer on the try-scorers - and you're willing to take the lows with the highs - your best options are: Matt Cooper ($204,800, avg. 27.69), Brett Morris ($144,900, avg. 21.93) and Blake Ayshford ($161,800, avg. 27.3).<br><br>Generally, you want one or two of the $150,000+ 'workhorse' centres, and two of the cheaper, genuine centres. As for your three bench centres. Go absolute bargain basement. Nobody over $100,000.<br><br>And finally to fullback. Kurt Gidley ($195,400, avg. 31) and Jarryd Hayne ($184,500, avg. 29.14) are your best options, but will chew through some of your budget (which you need for fowards). I'm always tempted to take a bit of a gamble and use a mid-range fullback, along with a 'Neville'. Josh Dugan ($144,500, avg. 22.5) is my pick at the moment, though Matthew Wright ($138,500, avg. 22.3) is playing in the centres and is therefore making more tackles.<br><br><b>Glen writes:<br><br>I currently have Jarrod Mullen in my team as 5/8 with Ben Hunt as reserve. Now with Jarrod Mullen out injured, I'm in bit of a tricky position.<br><br>I currently have $40,000 spare in cash and 9 trades left. Obviously Campese (money permitting) would be an obvious choice, but my plan was to try and have as much money and trades as possible up my sleeve when finals come around. So I’m hoping to pick up someone cheaper than Mullen to free up more cash. I have Wallace at halfback, and Mortimer as reserve halfback so those two are out.<br><br>Marshall, Wing, Sutton, and Barrett all seem like good options, but they also seem to be unpredictable in their scoring.</b><br><br>Glen, I think you need one strong five-eighth by the time the finals come around, but since you have cash and trades up your sleeve, you can afford to take a risk or two along the way. I know it's a gamble, but I'd suggest selling Mullen for Tim Moltzen (he's starting in the number seven against this week). His value will only go up from here. This should leave you with a nice slab of cash in the bank in the short term.<br><br>Down the track, you'll hopefully be able to sell Moltzen for $160,000+ and then use the spare cash to buy a Terry Campese or Craig Wing.<br><br>You other option is to trade Hunt for Moltzen and use him until Mullen returns in a month. This means you'll still have a sub up your sleeve late in the season.<br><br>Well, that's all I have time for today, Dream Teamers! Stay tuned for Friday's 'Late Mail' special, with everything you need to know from the Origin fallout.<br><br>While I'm not off scouting ... and being alone ... I'm more than happy to cure all of your Dream Team headaches.<br><br><a href="mailto:lonescout@nrldigital.com">Email me your queries by clicking here.</a><br><br>Don’t forget to paint me a picture (how much money do you have in the bank? How many trades remaining? Where is your team ranked? Which players are under-performing?) and I'll have crack at a solution in my next column.<br><br>Till then, good luck, but more importantly, good coaching!<br>&nbsp;<br>Scouts honour,<br>Lone Scout<br>