Lone Scout: The good, the great... and the ugly

The halftime siren has just sounded on this incredible NRL season; it’s time to reflect before the warriors – and the coaches – go back into battle. It’s time for your teacher, (moi), to nominate the best, worst and most improved in each position. <br><br>But first things first. I have had some rather disturbing feedback from fans. It seems Dream Team addicts are just not getting their cravings satisfied.They are crying out for more... so who were we to deny them?!<br> <br> Introducing... the official NRL.com Dream Team Panel Show, starring Manly great John Gibbs, Brad 'Freddy' Fittler, David 'The Stat Man' Middleton... and Your's Truly! (Don't be too harsh on me... it's my first appearance and I'm a little camera shy!)<br><br>We'll be knocking up an episode each Thursday, which we'll clip it up into three bite-sezed segments right here on NRL.com.<br><br>Check out our first episode here:<br><br><a href="http://bigpondvideo.com/nrl/272213/dream-team-episode-1-segment-1/" target="_blank">Dream Team: Episode 1, Segment 1</a><br><br><a href="http://bigpondvideo.com/nrl/272217/dream-team-episode-1-segment-2/" target="_blank">Dream Team: Episode 1, Segment 2</a><br><br><a href="http://bigpondvideo.com/nrl/272218/dream-team-episode-1-segment-3/" target="_blank">Dream Team: Episode 1, Segment 3</a><br><br>Now back to the awards - and I’m sure the awards should spark some healthy debate… and you all know I love that… Who missed out here? What are your thoughts?<br><br><b>Mid-season player awards</b><br><br>FULLBACK:<br><b>Best</b><br>In a photo finish the award goes to Todd Carney over Jarryd Hayne and Kurt Gidley. Hayne and Gidley might be averaging a few more points so far this year but Carney was such a cheap buy at the beginning of the year; and while he lost a little value last week he has still made $93,100 from the start of the season. <br><br><b>Most Improved</b><br>Considering Carney didn’t play last season he is out of the running here but we still have three very worthy contenders. Panthers pair Michael Gordon and Lachlan Coote have both made in excess of $44,000 for their coaches, but it is Dragon and Kiwi Jason Nightingale who takes the prize. After costing under $100,000 to start the season he is now worth $149,900 and could rise further if Mark Gasnier ever returns to feed him.<br><br><b>Worst</b><br>If you shelled out the $146,700 price for Warriors Kevin Locke at the beginning of the year, then you certainly grabbed a Dream Team lemon. The youngster has plenty of promise but only averaging 13 points and dropping down to $98,300 in value makes him the dud fullback buy of the year. <br><br>Further dud mentions go to Mitch Brown (-$32,100 and avg 8.5 points), Anthony Minichiello (-$19,100, avg 9.6 points), William Zillman (-$19,100, avg 9.6 points) and Lance Hohaia who averages okay at 25.2 points but who has lost $78,800 from his starting price… ouch.<br><b><br></b>CENTRE / WING:<b><br>Best</b><br>Those who got him early love him, and those who didn’t make the cash but got him anyway still love the 42.55 points he pumps out on average: we are talking, of course, of Rabbitoh Ben Lowe who has more than 11,000 Dream Team coaches very happy at the present time. Lowe has made $68,300 over the season and you’d be mad to trade him unless injury strikes. <br><br><b>Most Improved</b><br>Mitchell Aubusson wins this award hands down. Last season he actually played mostly centre and his points meant a very modest $122,400 point starting value. Now, as a centre-turned-back-rower at the Roosters, Aubusson is worth $225,600 and he is pumping out an average 35.17 points. <br><br>Ben Smith and his $43,300 gain to date is also good (peaked at more than $52,000) and Raider Joel Thompson was a good buy at $123,900 now that he’s worth $162,100. Nick Emmett was a roller coaster ride… starting at $91,100, dropping to $78,600 but gaining to $164,200 before injury grabbed hold.<br><b><br>Worst</b><br>It would have been Greg Inglis except he has somewhat turned his game around in recent weeks… he is still down over $30,000 in value but if you persevered he seems to be earning it back. <br><br>Titans veteran Mat Rogers is one of the biggest letdowns here. If you spent big on Rogers at $190,700 you have lost $38,500 in value and only had six games of points.<br>More than 10,000 coaches with Bronco Jharal Yow Yeh can’t be happy; his average of just eight points made him a poor choice amongst the cheapies. <br><br>But perhaps the biggest Dream Team dud in this category is Lote Tuqiri, who at his prime cost you a hefty $150,300 and at his worst valued at $84,700. (The disclaimer here is he looks to be back on an upward trend so he may redeem himself in the back half of the year and as such could now represent value.)<br><br>HALF:<b><br>Best</b><br>In a tough field the nod goes to Terry Campese. He averages more than any other half, he has played every game and he has three scores in the 60s and a 70! You paid big money for him, but he is worth every cent. <br><br><b>Most Improved</b><br>It has to be Manly’s Trent Hodkinson who has skyrocketed a mammoth $187,700 in value from Round 1. With Todd Carney and Warriors pair Aaron Heremaia and James Maloney also packing on value, this wasn’t a one-horse race but Hodkinson did win by the length of the straight considering his 45.6 point average. <br><b><br>Worst</b><br>Two big names in Johnathan Thurston and Benji Marshall have lost tonnes of value this year – but they are still not the worst buy you could have made in this position as they make reasonable points. <br><br>Chris Bailey from the Sea Eagles has been a major lemon, dropping $108,000 in value and offering up just 15.6 points a round from 10 games. But arguably the even bigger disappointment is Newcastle’s Jarrod Mullen. You could have conceivably picked Mullen at the start of the year at $263,600 thinking he’d push up into the 50s each week… instead he averages just 27, has a high of just 37 and is valued at $184,000.<br><br>SECOND ROW:<br><b>Best</b><br>Bulldogs machine David Stagg tips out Bronco Corey Parker because he has played every game this year and averaged over 55 points doing so. Parker has a 57-points average but missed a few games through injury; otherwise he’d be the man. Both are worthy and in fact, I’m declaring them joint winners. <br><br><b>Most Improved</b><br>Parker could almost get a run here after gaining more than $50K in value but there are probably three other standout guys who came from the clouds at low value to be great. <br><br>Rabbitoh Sam Burgess only cost $120,300 to begin the year but is now at $237,900 and averaging 37.92 points. Wests Tigers back-rower Liam Fulton made his coaches $119,700 and averages 43 but perhaps the biggest surprise in the entire Dream Team competition this year was Raider Shaun Fensom. You could have bought Fensom for $112,200 and by Round 7 he was valued at $274,700 and averaging barely less than 50 points. <br><br>Injury has kept him out since but a return is slated this weekend. We’ll give him this award now – but don’t be surprised if he has peaked.<br><b><br>Worst</b><br>Young Rabbitoh Jason Clark is an auto emergency nightmare for the more than 11,000 coaches who have him. He has lost $19,100 in value to be worth just $72,000 and he is averaging eight points a game from 11 games. <br><br>But the biggest dud buy this season goes to State of Origin player Trent Waterhouse, who cost a whopping $307,800 to start the season, which he didn’t do through injury, and then he has progressively dropped down to $221,400 and averages just 31 points. As a standout back-rower this is woeful… we all know you expect 40-plus from these guys. <br><b><br></b>FRONT ROW:<b><br>Best</b><br>It was a tough battle but Bronco Sam Thaiday takes the prize away from Luke Bailey – only because he has earned more value from the beginning of the year. Both average over 40 points and have played every game for their clubs, making them the iron men of the prop forwards.<br><b><br>Most Improved</b><br>He missed out in the second-rower category but he wins here. Rabbitoh Sam Burgess has made his coaches $117,600 and is averaging 37.92 points, enough to beat out Rooster Jason Ryles who has shot up $101,000 in value and averages 34 points. <br><br><b>Worst</b><br>Cowboy Carl Webb has not been friendly to the almost 5,000 coaches who selected him. In seven games he averages just 16 points and has dropped over $42,000 in value. <br><br>But Rabbitohs skipper Roy Asotasi is potentially the main problem here… a marquee prop at $238,200 to start the year, injury and poor form has seen him drop to $152,300 with an average of just 24 points. <br><br>But wait, a new contender has entered the building… yep, it’s Fuifui Moimoi! With more than 14,000 people holding onto the big unit, it is a shame he averages just 22 points and has dropped $49,800 in value. <br><b><br></b>HOOKER:<b><br>Best</b><br>It sucks a little because I thought he’d start to drop after the scandal, but it’s true to say the number one hooker is Cameron Smith. A 55-points average and a small raise in value clinches the award over Robbie Farah. Farah closed the gap by not making an Origin appearance, but it wasn't quite enough.<br><b><br>Most Improved</b><br>Rabbitoh Issac Luke nabs this award over some heavy competition. Luke has added $77,700 worth of value and is busting out an average 44 points… maybe this gong will give him some solace while he sits out the next round suspended… Special mention to Luke Priddis and his $82,200 jump.<br><b><br>Worst</b><br>Michael Ennis could almost get a run here after tricking most of us into thinking this would be his Dream Team year. He was supposed to be goal-kicking and carving up in a Bulldogs side near the top of the table… dream on! <br><br>But the award instead goes to Knight Isaac De Gois, who started the year valued at $252,600 and is now languishing at $155,800 with an average of just 24 points.<br><br>There you have it Dreamers… but before I sign off for the week, I'd like to make special mention to <b>Viren Fernando</b> for his cracking entry in my (slightly extended) Handsome Hammy Video Challenge. These videos just keep getting funnier and funnier...<br><br><a href="http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=416655315848&amp;oid=278813953019" target="_blank">CLICK HERE to check out Viren's video: 'Hitler finds out he was beaten by Lone Scout'</a><br><br><a href="http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=416655315848&amp;oid=278813953019#%21/video/video.php?v=10150183898955360&amp;oid=278813953019" target="_blank">CLICK HERE to check out Karan Rao and Ryan Sutton's creation: TIK TOK LONE SCOUT</a><br><br><a href="http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10150177715090291&amp;oid=278813953019" target="_blank">CLICK HERE to check out the one that kicked it all off, Cam Green's: The Lone Hunter</a><br><br>Good luck in the bye week!<br><br>Lone Scout