NRL Dream Team guru the Lone Scout answers your questions ahead of Round 5 of the season.
Q: Hi LS, my team name is Lone Scout and I have problems. Can you please help?
Fensom, Gallen, Farah ... anyone notice a theme? Supposed Dream Team guns who are throwing up random Dream Team rubbish and costing me points (these guys have been my captaincy choices from the start and I can't line up the 'C' with anything but a poor show). What do I do?
A: Inconsistency is a common issue and one that causes much angst amongst the Dream Team fraternity. Do I dump now or wait a week? Should I be upgrading before the price goes down further? Will they ever come good or is this the 2011 pattern?
The hard part is there is no hard-and-fast answer to these questions. The coach just has to work the grey matter, mull over the stats and make a decision. Once it's made, you need to have the courage of your conviction and stick to your decision for a reasonable time. Second-guessing will only cause more confusion and eat up your trades. And it's way too early to be leaking trades.
So, what decision should the Lone Scouts make on the above recalcitrants?
Gallen - No brainer. He stays. I just need to be careful about making him captain.
Fensom - I'm sticking for a while longer, at least until the bye rounds (see below) or when it becomes obvious a certain D. Furner is messing with my head and going to rotate him all over the paddock. Basically, I reckon there are alternatives, but Shaun has real potential, so I'm going to back him ... for now.
Farah - A tough one. If I trade up to Cam Smith, I get surety and a definitive captain, but it will cost me the majority of my bank now (plus the current loss on Farah). If I leave Robbie in, he may flop again and he could be shipped off for surgery at any time (let's hope that doesn't happen mid-match). As I write I'm 50/50, but reckon I'll keep him to for now. The man knows how to play with pain, has been vocal about the groin "being fine" and the Tigers need him to stay involved. I'll reassess when Lui looks like returning.
So, looks like I'm keeping for now. Despite the inconsistencies and price problems these boys are proven scorers and should come good. If they don't I figure the harm in trading them in a few weeks or so is out-weighed by the good I'm doing in shoring up the rest of my squad now.
Most importantly, I also have the luxury of facing a few of the other under-achievers in my primary league(s) - I can only see five - so I'm working the apparent easier run to do the tinkering while I can. You too should review your league match-ups and remember to play the man, when working up your trade strategy for the week/month (if you're focusing on your head-to-head league, rather than the top prize).
Finally, it's worth reiterating the season is a marathon, not a sprint. One win or loss does not a season make.
And with all that in mind, a few quick queries from you lovely dreamers out there...
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Aidan Barclay (Crusaders) - Trades: 24, Bank: $12.5K
Q: I feel I am a bit light in the front row. Do you think I should trade Albert Kelly for Elijah Taylor so I have $77,500 in the bank & trade Ben Ross or Aaron Woods for Bodene Thompson or Josh McGuire? Or my other option would be to trade in Tim Robinson, save a trade & make some extra money.
A: First up Aidan, you're down six trades already and looking like a prime candidate for trade rage. So, my advice is hold up big fella and let's go one trade at a time for a while.
That said, you are spot on. Your FRFs are all cash-cow bench players (Woods, Ross, Sims, Allgood), which is not a great balance, nor is it a comfortable point-scoring position. However, the rest of your team is rock solid at this point and you look to be going along nicely.
So, strategy No.1 is to slowly work on replacing two players with genuine scorers over the next three to six weeks (you want to be sure to maximise your existing players' money increases now that you have them).
Where does the cash for this come from, I hear you ask? Matt Orford and potentially Albert Kelly. With Soward and DCE in your halves unit, you can afford to dump at least one of these guys now.
Kelly's break-even is -4 this week, while Orford's is 35. So Orford goes. But, not for Taylor, who has played only one match, so we hold off for at least one week on him as the price is going nowehere for now.
My choice would be to bring in Tom Symonds for Orford this week (I'm sure I don't need to explain why) and leave it there.
Your homework is to then work out which FRF to punt first (Woods) and when. Whatever you do, do not bring in Josh McGuire (a break-even this week of 34 and another three Broncos FRFs now competing with him = too risky). I'd also be wary of Thompson. Although I have him and believe he will continue to get game-time, there are and will be better options when your trade is due.
Robinson is not a legitimate option now or in the future, unless he gets to be a regular. I think you will eventually regret taking the (minimal) short-term bonus on him.
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Corey Sinclair (Carnivores) – Trades: 25, Bank: $66.4K
Q: I'm thinking of trading Michael Jennings for Elijah Taylor, and then Antonio Kaufusi or Carl Webb for Aiden Tolman. Should I, or is there a better option?
A: First up see the answer above, re Taylor. Taylor looks to be a good DT get, but I've seen too many coaches come acropper trading on one week's performance. There's no harm in holding off a week.
If you do jump in for him next week, Lote may be a better place to start the backline rework, but Jennings is a reasonable choice for dumping if you need extra cash.
Elsewhere you have too many average players for my liking and you need a plan to change some into guns. To do this, don't be afraid to sacrifice a position or two in your squad - meaning you bring in dirt-cheap players who aren't likely to get any game-time, in order to free up cash to upgrade the rest of your squad.
As you need to manoeuvre quickly I'm recommending two trades this week:
1. Pearce out, Symonds in. You make dollars without losing performance and if Symonds goes in and out of the team, you have the HLF positions covered anyway.
2. Webb out, Tariq Sims in. Profitable on both counts: points and money.
That leaves you with $199.7K (and no loss of weekly points potential) to start planning the upgrade of your 2RF middle-men (Payne, Galuvao, Learoyd-Lars and Pritchard) as your next move.
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Majik (SpicyDrumStik) - Trades: 24, Bank - $50K
Q: I have a team of FRF's (Henderson, Miller, Tariq Sims, Ross) who are bench players whom I believe will be good cash cows, as well as decent point scorers thru the rounds.
Do you think they'll be decent buys to keep or should I trade up for a Tolman / Bailey as soon as my cows peak? Or do I trade these cash cows for two gun 2RFs later in the season?
A: You've got the basics right Majik. No point selling cash cows if they aren't going to get you the gun stayers you desire.
As for your strategy, here's what I'd do. McKendry out this week for Tim Robinson as a total money play. Wait until Nathan Fien hits his peak and use your dollars to get a gun hooker in, then look at the 2RFs again. You need another solid-scoring CTW as well.
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Tarrant Eriksen (80 Minute Players) - Trades: 26, Bank: $48.5K
Q: I have recently 'raked in' the money with players like Cherry-Evans. Should I sell these players to make the most of this money? Where should I be spending the extra cash? Also, is it too early to be planning for the bye rounds and Origin?
A: As I keep saying DCE may well be a keeper. Assuming he stays fit, he definitely is until post-Origin or thereabouts, at minimum. Other medium-scoring cash cows are there to be traded whenever it's strategically good to do so. You "should sell these players to make the most of this money" by turning them into the gun players you want ... but that's the trick to DT success and if it was easy we'd all be doing it.
Is it too early to plan for the bye rounds? I'm glad you asked. The following is a little blurb I wrote for Big League this week. It's general, but should answer your question.
"The car chasers and those eyeing up the Eliminator prize will also have their eyes firmly fixed on the bye rounds and the representative season, as the thing that distinguishes a great Dream Team coaches from the pack is foresight.
"To perform well in rep-season rounds, you must be aware that certain players in your team won't be available in certain weeks. Navigating this period well is a necessity for all Dream Team coaches, including those of you only worried about your own private leagues.
"In the heavily affected weeks (Rounds 9, 11, 14 and 17), all coaches need to minimise the damage. For instance, only eight teams play in Round 9… can you make a reasonable team with your current squad? If not, you need to start thinking strategic trades.
"Car chasers and Eliminator candidates will need to perfectly balance 'minimising the damage' with the need to score heavily relative to the immediate competition's performance. Think hard and don't go overboard you may well pay the price later.
"Head-to-head competition has its own byes on the heavily affected weeks, but can your rep stars maintain Dream Team form, in the round following Origin? Smith? Definitely. Johnson? Yes. Others? Maybe. Injury, fatigue and game-time may all affect your head-to-head scoring.
"Significantly, the Raiders (Rounds 12, 15), Warriors (Round 12), Roosters (Round 15), Dragons and Broncos (Round 18) have byes when head-to-head is live. Will you have enough depth? It's never too early to think about it.
"Whatever your choices, remember my mantra: make sure your trading strategy includes having some trades banked for the last four rounds!"
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Eric White (Sydney Jazz) - Trades: 24, Bank: $35K
Q: Ben Smith vs Lewis Brown. Is Ben Smith worth the risk? His starting position is not safe and he may not play the full 80...
A: At this point Brown looks to be your man, but I'd be chasing both eventually. Smith will come good and if you're smart you should be able to get him when his price is down.
Would be smart to boot Jamie Lyon (BE = 70) for Brown this week.
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Thanks to everyone who's been writing in. Unfortunately, I can't answer all your questions (I have a day job, worst luck), but do hope the ones I do answer are a help to all as I am selecting examples of the most common queries.
Catch you next week.
Send your Toyota NRL Dream Team queries to the Lone Scout at iamthelonescout@gmail and remember to include your name, your team's name, your remaining trades and you current balance.