First things first, people. Those Dream Teamers reading this who aren’t fans on my <a href="http://www.facebook.com/nrllonescout" target="_blank">Facebook page</a>… give yourselves an upper cut. This week I ran a competition asking for column ideas and I must say, there were numerous impressive options, making the decision very difficult. (I’m sure the free NRL tickets had something to do with the flood of responses!)<br><br>But, after much thought, debate and debrief, I have decided the most pressing issue this week is ‘strategic trading’; while several of you suggested this topic, the random number generator stopped on the person who suggested it first. <br><br><b>Chris Henshaw’s winning post read like this:</b> <br>“Perhaps it (your column) could be about trading? By now most people would have the bulk of their team settled. But have they used all trades available so far to get there? Injuries have hit key players like Hannant, Tolman, Prince and Pearce. Former number 1 Dream Team selection Shaun Fensom has played from the bench for two weeks. Coming up we have rep games and byes. Do you continue to trade heavily, or do you grin and bear some of this stuff and save your trades for later rounds?”<br><br>Let’s start with the most important factor when it comes to talking trades: Are you a head-to-head player, or are you trying to win a Toyota as the overall winner? <br><br>If you haven’t made this choice yet, you MUST make it now. Pull the trigger already, people! The reason this is so important is because trading strategies for each style of player differ completely. It’s like comparing Michael Weyman and Preston Campbell. You can’t use the same training regime for both. Let’s take a closer look...<br><br><b>Head to Head Trading</b><br>The key and critical thing to be doing as a head-to-head player at this stage of the season is not wasting trades. Cash and trades should be your top priorities over the coming bye weeks – NOT necessarily fielding a full team (yes, you heard me). They’ll be what you’ll use to embark on your late charge… doing a Parramatta from 2009 (or hopefully one better). <br><br>With the Dream Team finals series running over the last four rounds of the regular season, you want 8-10 trades up your sleeve in the weeks leading into them, and you want to have plenty of moolah to pull in the big guns. <br><br>If you’ve been smart, you will have grabbed a few of the ‘cash-cow’ style of players during the early rounds. Currently, the likes of Cory Paterson, Cameron Ciraldo, Matt Gillett, Mitchell Dodds, Kevin Kingston and Trent Hodkinson have made you tons of cash - but while they make reasonable points now - they don’t make as many points as the Dream Team elite. Come the head-to-head finals, you’re going to want to suck out the cash, trim the fat and swoop on the top scorers.<br><br>It almost sounds sacrilegious, but in head-to-head, depth is not important. Come finals time, you only really need 18 or 19 playing players, so in effect you will be trading two half-decent players (eg, Paterson and Gillett), and bringing in a gun (eg. Parker) plus one cheap non-playing player (eg. Neville Nobody). If you do this across your key positions, you should be looking at a 750+ point team by Round 24.<br><br>You don’t need to worry about the upcoming bye rounds, as there are no head-to-head games to worry about. So why trade out Origin players when you want them at the back end? Why trade a gun if he is out for only 3-4 weeks? Just grit your teeth and score 200 points in the bye weeks, because who cares? It doesn’t count for anything in the grand scheme of things. <br><br>You only need to score enough points to stay in your league’s top eight; if you can manage that, you are good to go. So basically, don’t trade unless you absolutely have to, or you see a new player who you believe will bring in the cash for later. Then, when the time comes, start stacking that side with the likes of Cameron Smith, Robbie Farah, Ben Hannant, Terry Campese and David Stagg – and pray injuries don’t cruel you.<br><br><b>Overall Trading</b><br>For those of you gunning for the grand prize, please erase the last few paragraphs from your memory. Unlike the head-to-head players - you need depth, you need guns and you need to manage trades across the whole season. <br><br>This means you need to survive the bye rounds, and your trades can be used accordingly. The serious Dream Teamers come of age through the bye rounds. The best sides are currently up around the 700-points-per-week mark. Come bye weeks, like next week’s Round 9, you don’t want to drop any further than around the 520-point mark if possible. <br><br>Those of you who drop down to the 200s or 300s – like some of the current leaders look likely to do – will drop hundreds, if not thousands, of places down the leader board! This could effectively kill off your chance at the top prize. <br><br>Can you field a competitive side with just Sea Eagles, Dragons, Knights, Titans, Storm, Broncos, Roosters and Cowboys players in Round 9? You need to do this and you need to remember City, Country and Test players might not even back up. So before lock-out this week and next, bring in like-for-like at the very least. <br><br>You might dump a $200K Warrior for a $200K Dragon, or if you can, grab someone cheaper who will get the job done and perhaps make you some cash over the next few weeks… and so on, and so on. <br><br>But be clever about it because in Round 11, once again a small round of games comes up. In other words, you are looking at making two trades this week, and next, and the next, and the next! Then you will have to adjust in Rounds 14 and 17 also. You have trades for a reason… and surviving the middle third of the season is where you should use the majority of them. A handy hint? The Dragons and Knights are the only teams playing in BOTH the first bye weeks.<br><br>This disciplined coaching should see you power through the byes on big points and hopefully leave you with at least four or five trades for the back end of the year to cover some injuries or make a last-ditch dash for some big points at the death. <br><br>Just whom will you trade for who? Well, this is where you need to do some research. My <a href="http://www.facebook.com/nrllonescout" target="_blank">Facebook page</a> isn’t a bad place to start – I’m often online to lend a hand and there are hundreds of other hardened Dream Team coaches who’ll also steer you in the right direction.<br><br>So there you have it people: The basic facts about when to trade and why. (Just one last thing – none of you do it well enough to beat me, okay?) <br><br>PS: There were really some great column ideas, and if you see your idea from this week in a future column, I swear it’s a complete coincidence!<br><br>PPS. For all you aspiring Lone Scout’s out there… here’s your moment in the spotlight. Introducing <b><a href="http://www.facebook.com/nrllonescout#%21/note.php?note_id=393719326796&id=278813953019&ref=mf" target="_blank">Lone Scout’s “Handsome Hammy” Video Challenge. Check it out here</a></b>.