After a week that was great for some DT coaches and shocking for others, we now have a weekend off from the trials and tribulations of following our players' successes and failures in the NRL. Round 8 doesn't kick off until Wednesday, when the Dragons host the Roosters and Melbourne faces the Warriors in a couple of Anzac Day blockbusters.
There will be a partial lockout at 4pm Wednesday – after which time you won't be able to trade players from those four clubs – and then the usual lockout for players from all other teams on Friday night.
Another thing to keep in mind for those early-week traders: the 'reverse trades' function won't work after 4pm Wednesday when the first game of round 8 begins. That means any trades you make before Wednesday – even those not involving teams playing on Wednesday – will be locked in when the Dragons-Roosters game kicks off. So show some patience this week...
Now, without further ado, here's my answers to this week's big questions.
Should I trade out Feleti Mateo?
The biggest dilemma of the week. There are two schools of thought on this, and frankly I'm not sure which side of the fence I sit on.
On the one hand, Mateo's scores and price are nosediving, with round 7's dismal nine-point effort meaning the Warriors impact forward has dropped $55,000 in the past three weeks. His only two good scores – a 52 in round 2 and an 81 in round 3 – both included tries and try assists, two things he hasn't produced in any of the other five weeks of the season. If the trend continues, Mateo's price will only get lower, potentially ending your chances of trading him out for a genuinely strong scorer later on.
On the other, there are plenty of precedents for why you shouldn't doubt an established DT gun. Let's not forget, Johnathan Thurston scored a measly three points in the opening week of the season. Since then, he's reeled off a 54, two 60+ scores and a superb 97 last week to be the round's highest scorer. Those DT coaches who sold him early on must be kicking themselves (unless they jumped onto the Cronk or Cherry-Evans bandwagons). A similar thing could easily happen with Mateo, if and when he finally starts hitting those big scores that he showed he was capable of in the back half of 2011. The guy can make tackles, break tackles, is an offload superstar, and can score and create tries. His value as a dual-position player is also more than handy – he allowed me to trade out half Terry Campese for back-rower Liam Fulton last week, for example.
The main issue is how many minutes he gets, and how involved he makes himself when he gets onto the field. Byes are another thing to keep in mind – the Warriors schedule is good for overall points-focused DT coaches (unless Mateo makes the NSW team) but bad for coaches focusing on their private leagues, with both their byes falling in regular head-to-head rounds.
If you've used a lot of trades already, I'd recommend keeping him and hoping for the best. You can always cash in on him later if he strings a couple of good scores together, or he may yet prove to be a long-term keeper. If you have kept trades up your sleeve – or if you can afford to upgrade to a genuine big gun – then make the trade now.
Will Aidan Sezer keep his spot for the Titans?
He played, he scored, he conquered. There were plenty of good signs for the highly-rated Gold Coast rookie last weekend, most notably that he showed enough confidence to brush off Daly Cherry-Evans to score the opening try, and the fact that he helped the Titans overcome a five-match losing streak (against the reigning premiers, no less). Sure, the return to form of Scott Prince had more to do with the result than Sezer's presence, but after that result it's hard to see Sezer being bounced out of the team any time soon.
I jumped the gun and grabbed him last week in order to free up the necessary cash for another trade (Campese out, Fulton in) but there are still two games before Sezer's first price rise so feel free to hold off another week before snapping him up.
Should I buy Corey Parker now, considering State of Origin is getting close?
This is a fair question, especially for those who are aiming for overall points rather than simply winning their head-to-head league title. The loyalty of Queensland's selectors means Parker's a big chance of keeping his Origin spot, meaning he's likely to miss rounds 11, 14, 17 and 18 (a bye round for the Broncos). He could also miss game time in post-Origin rounds 12 and 15.
On the other hand, he is the safest bet as a Dream Team captain this year, as the man most likely to hit 70+ each week. For that reason, I say get him into your squad if you can afford him. He won't stay under $400,000 for too long. If you're a head-to-head coach, then rounds 11, 14, 17 and 18 are bye rounds anyway, so missing players in those weeks is no issue.
Ray Cashmere scored 58 on the weekend. Should I trade him in?
Yes, Cashmere is likely to get a hefty price rise in a couple of weeks after last week's score, and yes he does come cheap-ish at $128,800. Still, at this stage he is only a short-term cash-making option, with Matt Groat and Keith Galloway due back for the Tigers in the next few weeks. His score last week included a try and a line break, something he won't be producing every week, so don't expect regular 50+ efforts from him.
It's too early to tell if he's now a long-term stayer at the Tigers this season, so unless you've got plenty of trades up your sleeve and need some quick cash, I'd steer clear of Cashmere and look instead to grab either $77,100 bargains or genuine high-scoring keepers from here on in. At the least, wait and see how he performs in Round 8 before snapping him up, as his price won't budge for another week.
Should I buy Willie Mason?
No. If you could snap up him for $40K like the Knights did he might be worth a look, but at $133,100 he's far too risky an option at this stage.
Any big injury news?
Terry Campese is out for the season, again sidelined with an ACL injury. It's been a horror run for the Raiders playmaker.
Penrith hooker Kevin Kingston is the only other real bit of injury news from last week, with other casualties like Robbie Farah and Travis Burns expected to be back in action for Round 8. Kingston is another story though, with his elbow injury likely to rule him out for six weeks, according to Phil Gould's Twitter account.
Apart from being bad news for Kingston owners, it could also be good news for Panthers cash cow Blake Austin. Last week Travis Burns started at hooker in Kingston's absence, with Austin playing the 80 at five-eighth. Burns was injured 22 minutes in, so it's too early to tell how the switch will affect his scores (although he's likely to share the hooker role with Nafe Seluini) but at least it all but guarantees decent game time for Austin.
In saying that, the Panthers weren't a raging success with Austin at 6, getting thumped 30-zip by the Tigers, so Ivan Cleary could be tempted to go back to the drawing board in the weeks to come. That means Austin remains somewhat of a risky buy for those who don't have him, although he will get another handy price boost this week.