Lone Scout: Introducing... the 'sleepers'
Okay Dream Teamers, listen up: To further assist you prior to Round 1, I’ve compiled a list of players who I believe are set to prove the ‘sleepers’ over the 2010 season. <br><br>These are the guys I reckon will perform statistically better than they have in the past, or who will play better than their price tag suggests. While nothing’s guaranteed, I’m prepared to stick my neck out and say these ‘under-the-radar’ players are ready to explode in 2010 Dream Team action:<br><br><b>Ashton Sims (Broncos)</b><br>It is pretty much a make-or-break year for Ashton Sims. Having spent a few years in the Broncos’ system, Sims is now expected to help cover for the lack of depth in the front row, as well as cover the back row, so his minutes should rise in 2010. He averaged just 22 Dream Team points a match in 2009, which is well below what the former teenage star is capable of – and this could be the season he proves it. With more minutes come more runs… more metres… more tackles. With a price tag of just $149,500, Sims should be a player who steadily increases in value week by week.<br><br><b>Gareth Ellis (Wests Tigers)</b><br>The English representative star will be all the better for his first year acclimatising to the NRL and should lift his numbers even more in 2010. He may be a fairly expensive prospect already at $240,700, but he shapes up as an astute investment in the second row because it’s almost odds-on he’ll lift his average 35 points into the 40s. Ellis is an 80-minute player – already a big bonus – and is slated to add a more attacking and defensive workload. Already a triple-figure metre earner a game, he has desires to be more involved, while his personal goal of making more than 30 tackles a match is easily reachable (he averaged 26 last year).<br><br><b>Jason Cayless (Wests Tigers)</b><br>One of the big three props coming in this season with low price tags, Jason Cayless might be four years older than when he left the Roosters in 2005 but if you take his stats from that season you can see he is sure to make your $120,300 outlay one of the most astute moves all season. Back then, Cayless averaged 28 tackles a match and 125 metres, plus at least one offload a game. The only thing standing in the way of him pushing the 40-point barrier each week is his fitness and therefore potential minutes. Plus, if the recent trial against the Roosters is an indication, the potential is there for him to experience some judiciary issues. He’ll score in the 30s at least – which will make you some serious cash.<br> <br><b>Sam Burgess (Rabbitohs)</b><br>Like Cayless, Sam Burgess is a great buy at $120,300. He may not make a million tackles like some other props but he will be heavily involved in attack – and he is a try scorer, a rare commodity in prop forwards. To give you some indication of what to expect, Burgess averaged 116 metres a match in England last season with 24 tackles. Good… but if you are hoping for a Ben Hannant-style points outlay, you won’t be getting it. Big Sam also has missed-tackle concerns and intermittent penalty worries. But you will get a return on your money, giving you a chance to trade him later on, should you need to. <br><br><b>Jason Ryles (Roosters)</b><br>Potentially the best ‘sleeper’ in the competition. It was only a few seasons ago when Ryles was averaging 27 tackles and almost 140 metres a game, plus more than two offloads to boot. He can pass, break the line, set up breaks and tries. And significantly, by all reports has fixed up his discipline issues, which used to earn the ire of refs. Ryles will be the leader in the Roosters’ pack, will play long minutes for coach Brian Smith and should be posting numbers in the 40s. At the bargain price of $120,300, it’s almost a crime not to have Ryles in your squad. He certainly won’t drop in value unless (knock on wood) injury claims him.<br><br><b>Todd Carney (Roosters)</b><br>The former bad boy of the NRL has returned knowing he is on his last chance and with the benefit of the sage Brian Smith, Carney should be the type of player who earns you plenty of cash from the fullback position. Just like Newcastle’s Kurt Gidley, if Carney does play fullback (he could yet play in the halves and earn you even more points) he will be the type to enter the playmaking arena when the Roosters are on the attack, giving him many chances to add line breaks, line-break assists, try assists and tries to his tally on a regular basis. He will also make metres returning kicks and add kick metres as a back-up to Mitchell Pearce and Braith Anasta. With a low starting price of $120,300, Carney could be a valuable asset – providing of course, that he keeps his nose clean.<br> <br><b>Trent Barrett (Sharks)</b><br>The Cronulla skipper might be much closer to retirement than he is to the beginning of his career but after some injury concerns in 2009 he returns fresh and ready to control a team without many others around to run the show. It might have been a long time ago in 2000 when Barrett won the Dally M Medal but it should be noted he was able to win the crown in a team that didn’t make the finals as he stood out each and every week, win or lose. This season shapes up as a similar one for the man they call ‘Baz’. At just $189,900, Barrett represents a classic sleeper. He averaged less than 28 points last season but has the ability to be a half who pushes the 40-points barrier, especially if his outside men can run the right lines and get in sync with the playmaker.<br><br><b>Michael Ennis (Bulldogs)</b><br>Ennis is a proven Dream Teamer with an average of just under 40 from last season; consequently he carries a hefty price tag of $265,700 – but as he will take over the goal-kicking in 2010, you should see his points average rise to rival other gun hookers Cameron Smith and Robbie Farah. Ennis is arguably the most competitive player in the NRL and he now has a New South Wales jersey to hold onto after nabbing it from Farah late last Origin series. The Farah-Ennis rivalry is turning into one of Benny Elias-Mario Fenech proportions, as both vie to be the best in their state. It would not surprise me if both actually kept an eye on their Dream Team stats and used it as ammunition in their sledging wars!<br><b><br>Cory Paterson (Knights)</b><br>Last season up-and-coming back-rower Cory Paterson had a problem with depression and as such his time in the top grade was limited. But by all reports this skilful forward is in the right frame of mind to meet his true potential in the sport, making his $118,600 asking price very tempting. Paterson isn’t afraid to tackle, he can pass pre- and post-line (which will boost his offload points and potentially line breaks and line-break assists) and he is a very accomplished goal-kicker who could maybe get a few kicks – particularly with Kurt Gidley being sidelined. He certainly has the potential to make a huge improvement on his 2009 average of just 17.45 points.<br><br><b>Michael Weyman (Dragons)</b><br>One thing Dragons coach Wayne Bennett loves is getting his forwards to play longer minutes – and last season Michael Weyman got used to pushing his body a little longer than previous seasons. Chances are he’ll need to lift the output once again in season 2010, as his partner in crime from 2009 Justin Poore has gone to the Eels, leaving Weyman the true leader of Red V engine room. Weyman will be asked to cart the ball forward a little more and for a little longer each game; the big guy’s pride will ensure it’s done with quality. In fact, whispers are he and Poore have a side wager on who will average more Dream Team points this season, so you can be sure he’ll be looking to boost his numbers.<br><br><b>Jason Nightingale (Dragons)</b><br>Having spent most of last season playing from the bench, Jason Nightingale will start in the Dragons’ backline in 2010, giving him every opportunity to send his Dream Team averages soaring. The Dragons’ back three is trained in being clinical and getting the job done – which is music to a Dream Team coach’s ears. Last season the fullback and two wingers at the Dragons averaged countless more metres than counterparts from other clubs; now Nightingale will take Wendell Sailor’s place in this mighty machine of metre eaters. He will also score tries on the end of the Red V backline, making him a genuine sleeper at just $94,300.<br><br><b>Joel Thompson (Raiders)</b><br>Thompson is a boom kid out of the national capital who was thwarted by his own poor off-field behavior in 2009. But after a year of reflection and a reality check, he looks ready to become a fully fledged NRL player of promise. The trick here is to pick him as a centre (where he will potentially start the season now, as Joel Monaghan is injured), hoping he will move back to the second row later in the year. He will score points out wide as a workhorse (think Dragon Beau Scott-style) and when moved in closer, his averages will really soar.<br><br><b>Timana Tahu (Eels)</b><br>The rugby convert returns this season with a nice price tag of just $120,300, which will guarantee plenty of Dream Team coaches will be sussing out his style and form back in the 13-a-side code. His price tag indicates he would score around 18 Dream Team points a match but looking at his last full season in the NRL, his average score would have been just over 23 points a game. This might not sound like much but it equates to more money in your bank. Plus, in 2007 the Eels didn’t look quite as offensively powerful as they do these days with Jarryd Hayne and Daniel Mortimer coming of age. <br><br>There are no doubt plenty more sleepers out there… have you spotted any? Guys like Scott Anderson, Denan Kemp, Esi Tonga, Kieran Foran, Cameron Ciraldo, Lachlan Coote and Mitchell Pearce? <br><br>Or what about Aidan Tolman, Brett Seymour, Liam Fulton and Isaac Luke? Will they also boost their numbers? <br><br>Feel free to catch me on Facebook to highlight your thoughts, or to throw in your two cents worth! Love to hear from you…<br><b><br>LONE SCOUT INJURY UPDATE</b><br>Remember to keep in mind injuries when picking your players…<br><br>Kurt Gidley – hamstring, Round 3 or 4.<br>Joel Monaghan – wrist, Round 5.<br>Peni Tagive – knee, season.<br>Jared Waerea-Hargreaves – shoulder, Round 12.<br>Jharal Yow-Yeh – knee, Round 10.<br>Justin Hodges – Achilles, finals.<br>Luke O’Dwyer – knee, Round 6.<br>Taniela Tuiaki – ankle, mid year.<br>Ben Smith – cheekbone, indefinite.<br>Michael Crocker – ankle, indefinite.<br>Nathan Hindmarsh – wrist, TBA.<br>Cooper Cronk – hip, Round 3.<br>Brett White – shoulder, Round 3.<br>Corey Payne – shoulder, potentially season.<br>Dene Halatau – ankle, Round 9.<br>Anthony Cherrington – knee, possible season.<br>Esi Tonga – bicep, indefinite.<br>