This week, NRL.com's Lone Scout brings you all the facts and figures from the 2011 NRL Dream Team season.
I've decided to nominate Round 18 as stats week, so the following article has a few (hopefully) enlightening facts and figures for you to digest.
The first figure up is 733.
This was the total score for my phoney hand-picked team to win Round 17.
Luke Burt (45)
Ben Smith (23)
Alex Glenn (39)
Dene Halatau (37)
Nathan Peats (22)
Chad Townsend (56)
Trent Hodkinson (29)
Shaun Fensom (52) (x2 as captain)
Nathan Hindmarsh (67)
David Stagg (40)
Aiden Tolman (47)
Brett White (31)
Jake Friend (43)
Ryan Stig (41)
Josh Papalii (33)
Michael Hodgson (21)
Matt Keating (55)
A total of 733 ranked this side a mere 449th for the round and well behind the masterful combination selected by the weekly winner House of Spain, who scored a massive 876.
For the record, the highest score from as team that has been plugging away since Round 1 (or thereabouts) was a very respectable 814 from The Wally's (yes the apostophe is how coach Christiana spells it).
While I'm talking Lone Scout teams (real and fake), I posted a general question on Facebook a couple of weeks back asking people where the Scout's team was placed in their league. Surprise, surprise, I was apparently running last in many leagues, according to their answers.
Whilst it's been a tough year so far, I couldn't believe the Scouts were going that badly, so I sent a query to the game developers. The following is what they sent back regarding where the Scouts were placed in the Dream Team leagues, as at the end of R17.
1st - 713 leagues (22.5% of leagues)
2nd - 641 (20.2%)
3rd - 522 (16.4%)
4th - 418 (13.2%)
5th - 327 (10.3%)
6th - 201 (6.3%)
7th - 141 (4.4%)
8th - 73 (2.3%)
9th - 66
10th - 28
11th - 18
12th - 17
13th - 2
14th - 5
So, I'm Top 8 in 95.7% of the 3172 leagues, and am in finals contention for 94 others. A decent return that means I've still got a chance of winning approximately 99% of leagues – close enough to my pre-season target of winning every league I'm in.
Thankfully, I'm not running 15ths or 16ths in any league ... why are people so unkind?
Okay. Let's talk team selections and trades based on this week's teams and the main queries I've been receiving.
The number one query is a two-parter: do I bring in Chad Townsend? And who for?
There are many factors to consider here and it's difficult to answer without individual team specifics, but I reckon you should be thinking about picking up Townsend. It's not too late this week, but it may be next week and certainly will be come Round 20.
The main reason to get Townsend is he has shown he is a potential 50-point scorer (kicks, runs, tackles and goals. What's not to like?). That makes him the perfect third half and choice as a reserve. As a third half you minimise the risk of getting stuck with him if he is sent back to the well-performed U20s – something that appears less and less likely now the Sharks are on a glorious winning streak and his main rival for the No.7, Albert Kelly, is in trouble and on the way back from a serious injury.
If you can grab Townsend for someone, who should it be? The obvious answer is Johnathan Thurston as he is now a DT problem after his injury in Origin III. You should also look at offloading someone like Benji Marshall or Scott Prince. Think very carefully before making a trade for Daly Cherry-Evans unless DCE is your third half. Preferably you'll be trading him out for your fourth half for, say, someone like Maurice Blair.
Following this line of thinking, Ryan Stig and (especially) Shaun Johnson may be valuable inclusions still, but only as a third or fourth half and only as a squad manipulation to get you more cash for the guns you should be assembling. Stig may only be seen on occasion, from the bench. Johnson starts and has better longevity, but do you want your weekly score dependent upon Ivan Cleary's ponderings?
There are many more things to ponder as the aftermath of Origin III sinks in and players are moved around to cover injuries. Here are some one-liners for your machinations.
- Gidley: You want him as your fullback, but probably best to hold off until R21/22 as he could go down any week.
- Bukuya: Ouch that 12-pointer hurt, but his price isn't really going to fall too much. Don't change your trading plan just to get him out this week.
- Stagg: Tricky one, but I say keep him if you have him for the same reason I was spruiking keeping Dallas Johnson, namely he's at worst an excellent regular reserve, even if he only gets 60 minutes.
- Halatau: His value – and it's good at $120.5k with a BE of minus 13 – is really dependent upon Michael Ennis's inactivity post-Origin III. As Ennis is gone for at least this week, Dene is a good buy to include in the centres this week and a useful fifth centre for the remainder.
- Ben Smith: Back to the centres for a team with few centre options left. A swap for Halatau and $90k+ looks very appealing.
- Elijah Taylor: So he's coming off the bench. Don't panic if you have a five-centre rotation in place. Taylor stays put in my team and will start for me this week as I still expect 30-40 points. He may even start with Mateo moved to the bench.
- Bailey and Snowden: Selected and playing if fit, but they are week-to-week propositions from here until the end, so upgrade when it suits you.
- Jake Friend: Still a good option as your second hooker despite the inclusion of Anthony Mitchell. Be wary though as Friend may still be playing 80 minutes, but he appears to be taking time to catch his breath when Mitchell is on and that means the tackles are going to Mitchell during this period. On the watch-carefully list.
I could go on, but instead I'll just remind you of the rules of trading that you should apply to all your trades from now on. Your thinking should be: "Will it get me to the ultimate 17?" Simple, but often forgotten in the haze of trade rage (yes, even the best of us have trouble with that). By ultimate 17 I don't mean the best possible 17, I mean the best 17 you can produce in R23/24, from the team you have now. If you have Stagg but not Gallen and have only three decent-scoring centres, there is no point doing the Stagg to Gallen trade. Focus on the fourth centre. It's the same reasoning I used to decide if Townsend should be brought in.
Keeping with the trade theme, how many trades do you have left? Hopefully, it's a well-held secret. You don't want to give anybody in your league an advantage, no matter how small.
That said, the odds are it's not many and definitely less than you'd like.
So you can compare how you are tracking on the trade front with the following table, which lists the number of teams with X trades left at the end of Round 17. If we ignore the folks with 20+ trades left as latecomers, the table shows a surprising spread of trades to play with. A good 10% of teams are down to four or less (which likely translates to about 20% of the teams propping up the top places in the overall ranking).
The nice thing for me is that about 8 to 10 trades seems to be the target for a lot of you. It makes a Lone Scout proud to know you're listening to my advice to keep 6 to 8 trades for the finals.
Trades # of Teams
And there'll be a reward for the first email I receive at firstname.lastname@example.org that includes a name and address and accurately guesses how many trades the Lone Scouts have left.
Lastly, it's time for a station break to acknowledge the good folk at Toyota, who want to remind everyone what the top dogs are playing for. Where will you take your FJ Cruiser if you win it? Check out the videos on the Facebook site if you're into that sort of dreaming.
Speaking of the Cruiser, next week I'll bring you some more stats that show the weekly progression of last year's overall winner. Should be a perfect reference to know if you are still in with a shot at roaming the countryside on free wheels.
Best of luck for this difficult week. Keep dreaming.