Lone Scout: That sinking feeling

Oh, that sinking feeling.<br><br>You know the one... you're parked on the couch, icy beer in hand, pizza boxes strewn on the coffee table, your mates gibbering on with their annoying armchair analysis... and then it happens.<br><br>"Last minute team change for the Bulldogs, David Stagg is out..."<br><br>Wait... what?<br><br>"Did he just say Stagg is out?"<br><br>"I don't care - he's not in my team"... damn, I hate my mates.<br><br>It's OK, I foolishly reassure myself. You'll get the auto-emergency. Maybe it'll be Ben Hunt, he cracked 40 last night. That'll do. <br><br>No, no. I'll get Mark Taufua - 37. That's respectable. It's no Stagg score, but I'm still a shoe-in for head to head.<br><br>And then, with two little words and one crappy number, my killer round crumbles right in front of my eyes.<br><br>Matthew Wright. 6.<br><br>Six? Are you serious? How do you sleep at night, Wright?! Maybe I'll call you Matthew Wrong?! As in, it was the WRONG choice to ever draft you into my star-studded team. What was I thinking? In the immortal words of Eddie Murphy... "what have you done for me lately?"<br><br>As it turns out, I wasn't the only demoralised Dream Teamer to feel the sting of late withdrawals. What's your excuse, Dallas Johnson? And yours, Anthony Tupou? Greg Inglis?<br><br>It was around this time when I slammed down the TV remote and logged on to my Lone Scout mailbox. Nothing like some fan mail to brighten a rough night on the live scores.<br><br>And there (wedged awkwardly between spam mail from someone called 'Amanda Lovemore' encouraging me to increase my penis size and yet another Kiwi complaining about last week's taunts) sat a little beacon of truth and hope and enterprise.<br><br>It was from a man called <b>Adrian</b>. An ideas man, obviously. The kind of man who can post 600 points in a split round. A real Dream Team guru.<br><br>His email reads like this:<br><b>A number of times we all get caught out by a player being unexpectedly withdrawn after the lockout kicks in. It's just happened to me for the second time with Staggy and has happened to my squad about three other times as well - I know it affects everybody and that you get your emergency player. But, getting 12 points or so from your emergency doesn't compensate much for losing a 50 point player...<br><br>My suggestion is that the same NRL rule be applied and dream teamers be allowed to nominate their 18th man!<br><br>What do you think?</b><br><br>What do I think? Well, Adrian... if it wasn't phenomenally lame, I'd send you out a virtual high five.<br><br>The 18th man. Such a simple idea, yet it works on so many levels.<br><br>So, I ask myself, if Adrian has been sitting on this little nugget of Dream Team gold... what other ideas might be floating around?<br><br>Without further ado... I put it to you, the punters, to pull on your thinking headgears and send me your ideas to improve NRL Dream Team in 2010.<br><br><a href="mailto:lonescout@nrldigital.com">Click here to email me your suggestions.</a><br><br>In the meantime, on with the Q&amp;A.<br><br><b>Jae writes:<br>I've got one trade left and I'm really wanting this one to count. I've got $220,000 in the bank...I'm stuck between two picks - John Sutton and Ben Hannant. I was dead set on Hannant but I've noticed Johnny boy has been putting some pretty good scores on the board of late. I've got a pretty strong 2nd row already with Luck, Gallen, Hindmarsh, Johnson and Stagg but if I got Sutton he'd probably join the second row as Kieran Foran has been posting some good scores too and is my reserve five eighth. Or do you think I should discard Lewis Brown and strengthen my front row who only has Bronson Harrison, Cam Smith, Farah and Sika Manu with Hannant? Or maybe swap my fullback Locke for Gidley?</b><br><br>Good spotting with Sutton, Jae... but I have my doubts over how long his purple patch will last. Just three weeks back he was benched by Jason Taylor after putting in his worst performance of the year against the Tigers. He scored 22 that week.<br><br>A week later, he almost single-handedly demolished the Panthers and bagged 70 points. He backed that up with an impressive 60 as the Bunnies rolled the Baby Broncos. The equation is simple... when the Bunnies are on top - he can produce anything. When they're struggling, he's a bad egg. Looking ahead, the Rabbits have a shocking run to the finals, starting with the Bulldogs next week. <br><br>Can he produce a match-winning performance against quality opposition? Well, I'm leaning towards a 'no'. <br><br>So Ben Hannant. OK, he posted 32 last weekend - but he was returning from a long-term injury. Behind Cam Smith and Robbie Farah, he's got the best average of all the regular front rowers and he's playing in a team which is winning games and making big metres through the ruck. A starting front-row of Farah, Smith and Hannant looks pretty formidable.<br><br>As for Gidley and Locke... I would normally suggest that a fullback swap would be a waste of a final trade... but Gidley could potentially outscore Locke by 15 or more points per week (on average). Will Hannant or Sutton do the same? I'll leave the maths to you!<br><br><b>Ethan writes:<br>I have some concerns coming into the finals about two of my players that are not performing. My first concern is Dean Young, his move to 2nd row since Nathan Fien arrived isn't doing him much good. He is playing less minutes and has gone from getting late 40's to 30's in the last few weeks and is losing lot of value along the way.<br><br>My second concern is John Thurston, he has been getting worse and worse and losing sooooooo much value on the way it isn't a joke anymore. I need a replacement with more points in him.<br><br>Loan Scout, I have $14,000 in the bank and five trades left, I'm coming 2nd in my comp - can you please suggest what to do and what players can do the job for me? </b><br><br>Ethan, I feel your pain with Dean Young. His 26 against the Warriors only added to what was a horror round for the Lone Scout. I think you're on the money with the move to the backrow. His metres gained points are actually quite low for a starting backrower, and he's not making as many tackles out wide.<br><br>I've been lenient until now - but it could be time to bite the bullet and dump Dean. As the likes of Jeremy Smith, Matt Prior et al return to the top grade, there's a chance his workload could continue bottoming out.<br><br>With five trades left, I'd consider using two trades to replace Young for a $300,000+ player. You can do this by axing someone around $160,000 for a $75,000 no-starter. Your next trade would be Young for Cam Smith or similar. I'd suggest this rather than simply replacing him with someone of a similar value who may not score any better. It's the business end of the season, it's time to get serious and bring in the big guns.<br><br>As for Thurston... well, he just continues to disappoint. He has always been capable of the odd 60+ score, but I can't remember the last time he even got close to that. Looking at his stats, it seems to be errors and missed tackles which are costing him. Last week he dropped 14 points across these departments - and that's just not good enough. He's lost you almost $100,000 since Round 10 but you may just have to cut your losses and sell him.<br><br>If you're looking for a cheap option to free up some cash - I tipped Tim Moltzen a few weeks back when he was shuffled in from fullback to halfback. The tip finally came good when he notched up 52 last week. He's still top value at $143,000 for a strong, starting halfback. In fact, this could free up enough money for your Dean Young trade.<br><br>(Note: Brisbane halfback Ben Hunt is likely to play again this week with Peter Wallace still down... so his value will sky-rocket. Of course, it may be the last game he plays all season. If you have some spare trades, he's a handy money-grab).<br><br><b>Rita writes:<br>Hey Lone Scout, who do who reckon I should put as my reserves out of: Porter, Gallant, Winterstein, Tyrell, Taufua, Matt Scott, Matt Cross, Blake Ayshford, Guy Williams, Ben Hunt?</b><br><br>Naturally you will need to wait until Friday afternoon to determine if you have any injury replacements to factor in - but all late withdrawals aside... I'd go for Hunt, Porter, Taufua, Scott. <br><br>It's also important to note that Dave Tyrell is unlikely to get another start once Michael Crocker returns for the Bunnies.<br><br><a href="mailto:lonescout@nrldigital.com">Don't forget to drop me a line</a> if you have any questions heading into Friday's lockout.<br><br>Scouts honour,<br>Lone Scout<br>