Lone Scout: Time for a new battle plan?

Take a breath and settle down: frustration is all part of the joy that comes with being a Dream Team coach! <br><br><b><a href="http://nrl.virtualsports.com.au/?p=other_teams&amp;tid=36814&amp;lid=1" target="_blank">See the Lone Scout's XXV squad for Round 2.</a></b><br><br>I know, I know. So many coaches were hammered in Round 2 action. Liam Fulton and Brett Seymour were late withdrawals. Ouch. Cory Paterson, Jason Ryles, Robert Lui and Corey Parker (the superstar from Round 1) all came off injured. And then there were the poor efforts of some of the game's megastars… Greg Inglis, you are kidding – four points! Four measly points from almost $200,000 worth of talent is enough to send coaches off the deep end. Considering he is the fourth most popular player selected, he has a lot of people to answer to! <br><br>Greg Bird… John Sutton… Gareth Ellis… they were just a few other guns to have poor weeks.<br><br>But people, it’s time to focus. It’s decision-making time, with the answers to the all-important questions not easily found. We are approaching the value changes for players (players' values begin changing after three matches) and with the benefit of a little hindsight, can we correct or fine-tune our sides with trades? Or should we adopt a ‘wait-and-see’ approach and keep those valuable trades in the kit bag? <br><br>There have been a bunch of entrants asking that very question via <a href="http://www.facebook.com/nrllonescout" target="_blank">Facebook</a>, so let’s attempt to get through some of the issues…<br><br>First, should you jump on the bandwagon and grab some genuine value buys like Matt Gillett, Cory Paterson, Aidan Guerra, Kevin Kingston, Shaun Fensom and Trent Hodkinson before the values rocket skyward?<br><br>To be honest, it really is a ‘horses for courses’ approach here. Some of these guys are playing reasonable football and are scoring strongly, which gives you some leeway to make money. If you feel you are going to need some extra cash and have a few duds in your current line-up, then pick wisely from this group and cross your fingers that they can keep up their work rate. <br><br>But don't get too excited just yet.<br><br>Sure, Aidan Guerra looked sharp for the Roosters against the Wests Tigers and scored two tries – but just how safe is his starting spot? Tom Symonds had the jump on him before injury and then Jared Waerea-Hargreaves has to fit in somewhere when fit. Also, Brian Smith always tinkers with his starting rotation; he could be named but left right out at any time. (Not to mention our mail that Smith is still looking to buy a forward or two who might not be happy elsewhere. What if said player is first grade standard?) <br><br>Then there’s young Shaun Fensom, who is killing it for the Raiders. He will have to contend with the return of Tom Learoyd-Lahrs at some stage and also the imminent arrival of Adam Mogg and return of Joel Monaghan, which pushes Joel Thompson back into the forwards.<br><br>Gillett may start this week, but where will he go when Parker returns? <br><br>As you can see, there is an argument like this to worry about with all value guys... so do your research,&nbsp; and think about the coach and other options in the club before making a rash trade. <br><br>If you're confident they present at least medium-term value, and if you have players in your team who aren’t performing then yes: trade them for one of these guys now, make some cash and hope you have trades left later to capitalise when their cash goes up. <br><br>But be very careful about your timing. Don’t leave it too late and watch them plummet in value when they are playing fewer minutes, or not at all. <br><br>You really need a balance between cheaper, value buys and proven performers because the cheapies can be gone a week after they are a top scorer – whereas the big names, barring injury, are in sides to stay.<br><br>Next question: should you rush through trades to ‘stack’ your side with the early performers before values change greatly?<br><br>Maybe talk to the thousands of entrants who saw Jamie Lyon post more than 60 points in Round 1, drafted him in – only to see him return to the centres and drop into the 20s! It is a dangerous practice to jump on board a one-week hero without thinking the trade through. Lyon was always set to move at some stage, even without Brett Stewart’s injury, as Trent Hodkinson has been waiting in the wings. The Manly coaching staff would love to have Hodkinson and Foran running the show together successfully for some time and will give them the opportunity to prove themselves. If they can, the pair represents great value – but how confident can you be about that? <br><br>As for other top performers, Shaun Fensom was mentioned above but the others like Johnathan Thurston, David Stagg, Scott Prince, Terry Campese etc are all regular first graders. If you haven’t got one of the top 15 in your side you could be in trouble and might need to think about adjusting before their value rises and your dud’s value drops. Not easy to rearrange with just two trades a week, though… be creative and careful. <br><br>Lastly, do you trade out injured stars, like Corey Parker, Liam Fulton or Brett Seymour?<br><br>Well, Liam Fulton killed it in week one of Dream Team, and he costs next to nothing, so he might be worth holding onto – despite the news he will miss this weekend’s game against the Eels due to an adverse reaction to a painkilling injection. Had he cost more money, he would be a risk – I for one am not yet convinced he’ll average as high as he scored in his first match – but at just $120,300 he is going to make you cash. <br><br>Corey Parker and Brett Seymour will miss six to eight weeks of football and when you have a long-term injury like this you really do have to think long and hard. Can you afford to have, in the case of Parker, $306,400 worth of your salary cap sitting on your non-playing reserves list? If you have fit, reliable players to cover him, sure, carry his dodgy knee. <br><br>But if - like me - you don’t, then cut him loose while you can and grab another gun. Opt for David Stagg (if you have some back-up cash) or grab Anthony Laffranchi, Luke Douglas, Sam Burgess or Nate Myles, who are all worth less than Parker. They each have the potential to score up and around Parker’s points in the position - minus the goal kicking - and you won’t be too much worse off. The money you make from the trade, combined with the money you'll earn from value increases, should allow you to draft Parker back in once he's back to peak fitness.<br><br>Seymour is an easier decision; punt him for a halfback of similar – or even less value – and you might come out on top, or at least somewhere similar. The hot pick is Hodkinson, though with Travis Burns out of action at Penrith and Wade Graham still in the casualty ward, Luke Walsh is shaping as a relatively cheap upgrade.<br><br>Thurston and Prince have both had enormous starts to the season and are also affordable, though keep in mind Thurston's form will inevitably drop around the Origin period.<br><br>Just finally, it's important to keep an eye of the real heavyweights of the competition. When their values drop, it can often be a great time to draft them in - knowing that they will eventually produce the goods.<br><br>The standouts in this category for me after two rounds are Nathan Hindmarsh (42,41), Robbie Farah (46,36), Paul Gallen (47,38), Michael Luck (47,37) and Matt Hilder (36,36). These guys are your bread and butter. They are the kind of players you draft in, never need to think about and post you 50 points more often than not. But - for various reasons - each has had a relatively slow start to the 2010 season. Barring boom scores this weekend, each of these players should slip in value - particularly Farah. <br><br>Follow their progress closely. If they drop into your price range - snap them up. Come round 24 - you won't be disappointed.<br><br>Hopefully this is some food for thought for you going into Round 3. Also, remember: your head-to-head leagues start next week, so be sure to have your side primed for your opening fixture!