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Hello dreamers and welcome to week two of the DT finals. I hope you're either sitting pretty with a week off or feeling nervy yet confident you have the team to ride out another knock-out, rather than lamenting what could've been (funnily enough the Scouts are experiencing all the above).

The Scouts put in their best week all year last weekend and may even have nudged the weekly winner if Jamie Soward had shrugged off his lower-back pain and scored somewhere near his average. The 866 was enough to sneak another narrow win over the Reset Scouts (865), which doesn't help my attempts to demonstrate the need for trades at this time.

Still, the Scouts have no room to manoeuvre and must surely come a cropper some, while the Resets are able to make necessary changes, so I expect them to get up this week. More on that later, but the mention of trading does bring me to the constant trade queries I received this week.

I've done my best to contribute my opinion to as many questions as I can, but I've realised that the complexity of trade questions at this time of year means my brain is now mush. So I thought I'd do a general blurb on the four rules of solving trade dilemmas, in the hope that it will help you make the difficult call(s).

These are not hard-and-fast rules, rather a framework for helping you make your choices. Every trade conundrum is made under unique circumstances and subject to the particulars of each individual team (the number of trade available, the bank balance, the number players available to choose from, the weaknesses in your squad, your opponent's squad, etc) meaning that a simple trade query like 'Fulton or Gallen?' is not as simple as it sounds. You know your team's circumstances, so I reckon it's much better to reiterate these rules so you can make a solid choice.

1. Play what's in front of you.

This seems simple enough, but the tendency is to over-complicate things with break-evens and what-ifs. At this time of year the primary imperative is to win, so the first (and potentially only) trade question you have to ask if you're one of the majority who aren't chasing a Toyota is: how do I beat the team I'm up against?

Check your opponent's squad and work out their best 17. Guess at the captaincy choice and assume they have two trades. Then match that team against yours. At this time of year you will find they are likely quite similar and the win or loss will be determined by a few players only. Focus on these players and only make a trade if you think it will lift your chances of winning this week. Next week is important, but that's next week. You're probably not bringing in a one-game wonder, so don't get too caught up on next week's plans.

Lifting your performance may mean making a trade to cover the gun they have that you don't, or it may mean filling a potential hole with a more solid performer, with the only other factor influencing your choice being whether or not you have more trades for next week.

The Question: With Hannant now listed as unlikely should I trade him out? And if I do, who for?

Playing what's in front of you, you should answer; 'do I need to trade Hannant at all?'

If your opponent has a weak front row or you have a third decent prop to swing in, you may not need to trade. For example, if you have Tolman, Hannant, Allgood and a dud, and he has Tolman, Bailey, Kasiano and a dud, trading Allgood for Josh McGuire may be all you need to do to cover the likely trade of Bailey for someone else (the options are limited to McGuire, Douglas, Mannah and not much else), thereby allowing you to cover for Hannant's absence and keep your fingers crossed he turns up next week (he's training and already being talked about as a late inclusion, so chances are he'll be named next week).

It's never as simple as that as this assessment needs to be made against the full likely 17 you're up against (ie. your opponent may have to cover three missing players, thereby handing you the choice to play Allgood and beef up elsewhere), but it's illustrative of the way you should be thinking about any finals trading.

2. Class will out.

If you've worked yourself into a trade dilemma, the simplest way to solve it is to pick experience and be comfortable that you've got a high percentage chance of scoring close to what you need.

This is important, as it's very rare that every one of your 17 will max out their points, so you should be thinking, 'what does my man need to score to ensure I'm not disadvantaged?' The bigger the chances he will do his job, the better yours are of posting a competitive or winning score.

The Question: Should I trade out Alex Glenn?

Applying the "class will out" rule, the answer is no, unless you don't have Dene Halatau. Halatau is the form CTW at the moment and is currently averaging about 37 from his last five games. If you don't have him you probably need him.

But if you already have Halatau your answer is probably no. Alex Glenn is a permanent fixture in the Broncos pack and is a solid scorer. Why would you drop him off the back of one score of 20? He is just as likely to post 30+. Think carefully if you feel that Ben Te'o's presence in the Brisbane pack is hurting Glenn's numbers. The trade to someone like Galea may (and that's a big may) look appealing this week and it may pay off, but will it next week and the week after? Is it worth trading out Glenn for an extra point or three?

The same argument could be made when assessing whether or not to trade out Elijah Taylor. When you review his recent scores (21, 25, 28, 28) you should be thinking you could be getting an extra 10 or so points out of his CTW position. Only consider the trade if you are certain the 10 points will eventuate (ie. by bringing in Halatau), but think hard if it's not certain (ie. Cronulla's Sam Tagatese is starting this week and scored well last week, but he also has a history of very average scores). You may find it's better to keep Taylor (and your trade) for another trade with a more definitive advantage.

3. Err on the side of caution.

Following on from the above, you should be solving uncertainty by choosing the safety-first option. If you're in a quandary about this player over that player (Fulton or Gallen?) it can often be easily solved by playing safe.

The straight answer to the Fulton-or-Gallen query would normally be Gallen. He's the first picked for the Sharks, an inspirational captain who leads from the front and consequently does a lot of work that leads to big DT points. He's also a proven performer and a guy that plays with injury and still scores.

However, right now he's nursing a calf complaint and is a week-to-week proposition (although I expect him to turn up each week and kill it) and his team is out of finals contention, so I think your best bet is to go Fulton as a safer option. Although he too is injury prone, he is in good form, scoring well and doesn't appear to be under threat for his starting spot in a winning side that's firing up for a tilt at the title.

Choosing Gallen may get you a 60+ this week, but he could also be sat on the bench for some time for a high 30, and he may do more damage to the calf and not be able to play next week. Those "maybes" are enough for me to favour Fulton who looks good for 50+ for the next three weeks running.

4. When all else fails, go with your gut.

Sometimes there's just no better way to decide on a trade than to go with your instinct. If you've done all the thinking and you're still 50/50, then simply make a call and stick to it. It may cost you it may be a bit of brilliant inspiration.

When all's said and done, it's these personal leanings that could be the point of difference that gets you the title.

For example: Nate Myles was killing it, but has been rubbed out for disciplinary reasons and the word is he will not be seen again, but it's only a general feeling and no-one really knows what Brian Smith will do in a fortnight's time, especially as he has an injury-ravaged side that is scrapping to avoid the wooden spoon. Choosing to keep Myles over someone else, because you think the Roosters will have to run him out again, may turn out to be a piece of brilliance if he does play one last time for the Chooks.

A more poignant question this week is whether will it be better to pick Corey Parker over Cameron Smith as captain, with the Storm rake a chance of spending time in the halves in Cooper Cronk's absence. You're going to have to decide that for yourself (but if you are, keep an ear out for the final team lineups prior to lock-out on Friday night to find out where Cameron is starting).


So, what are the Resets going to do with that lot? We have Cronk sidelined for an indefinite period and Myles is one of the two guns up front.

The overriding factor in my decision-making is trades up the sleeve. I have a full complement for the Resets, so I've got ultimate flexibility.

Firstly, Cronk goes out. I need to make-up the missing points and I'll choose Trent Hodkinson to fill in until he's back. Next, I think I'll add to the front-row this week, but not for Myles (just yet, as I can afford to hold him one more week and sell him for a cheapie or Hannant next week, if he doesn't return). Kasiano gets punted for pinch-hitter Josh McGuire.

The Resets for R24 are: Hayne, N Smith, Glenn, Halatau, J Thompson, Hodkinson, DCE, Srama, Tolman, McGuire, C Smith, Farah, Hindmarsh, Fensom, Parker (c), D Johnson, Mannering. Reserves: Gagai, Croker, Jones, Tagataese, Henry, Taupau, Myles, O'Donnell.

The bank is $31.1K and you'll note I've applied two of my rules from above, with Tagataese staying sat despite starting for the Sharks (class will out) and Parker now captain (err on the side of caution).


I also figure you'll be interested in knowing how the Lone Scouts are travelling in the quest to win every private league.

It's a big ask and we all know I was never going to make it, especially as I've hamstrung myself with no trades. Still, the Scouts' big week means we're looking good and have the week off in over two-thirds of league competitions. The table below gives you an idea of how the Scouts are performing.

Here's hoping the luck holds out and my lads get through this week in one piece.

Position   Number of leagues
1                 1163
2                 889
3                 676
4                 442
5                 7
6                 4
7                 1
8                 1
9                 22
10               16
11               17
12               4

Positions 1, 2 or 9, 10 = preliminary final in top 8 or bottom 8 respectively
Positions 3 – 6 or 11, 12 = semi final in top 8 or bottom 8 respectively
Positions 7, 8 = eliminated from finals in top 8


Lastly, I want to leave you with a short answer I posted on Facebook this week.

I was asked about a player's BE (break-even) and replied with a simple "irrelevant", which caused some conjecture and may have you thinking why would I say that.

My explanation is below. Hopefully, it reinforces that trade choices now are not as complex as you may think.

"BE's are a fairly accurate approximation and nothing that you can't work out based on recent scores. Therefore basing your trade decision on BE is irrelevant, in my humble opinion ... you are either going to get someone now or gamble on their price staying within your abilities to trade. eg: Tolman will drop the 33 from price calculations this round and has a 52 & 45, so (sticking the finger in the air) I'm guessing his price stays roughly where it is if he scores 48 (the average of the two) ... turns out his BE is 45. Not a lot of difference there. Ross has gone 34, 37, 33, 39, 35 and his price has barely moved, so let's guestimate it will stay roughyl the same if he scores about 35 ... it turns out his BE is apparently 31. But, I repeat, the BE is an approximation you can estimate by reviewing past scores."

So, don't get all worked up about BE-this and what-if that, simply do a bit of research and run the proposed trade through the four rules above. I bet that more often than not you will make the right decision.

Good luck and see you in the preliminary finals. Keep dreaming.