I've been talking a lot in previous Q&A articles about "overall points" Dream Teamers and "head-to-head" players. If you're new to the game and have had no idea what I've been banging on about, this week is the perfect illustration of the difference between the two.
In round 11, the Storm, Broncos, Knights, Raiders, Eels and Titans all have a bye. On top of that, all State of Origin players are out of action. That makes getting a decent Toyota NRL Dream Team score – or even getting a full 17 players on the field – a huge ask this week.
If you're in the hunt for the major prize – a brand new Toyota FJ Cruiser – you'll need to negotiate this round plus the other three major bye rounds (14, 17 & 18) by avoiding Origin players and teams with bad bye schedules. I've spoken about this way back at the start of the season.
It's a massive time of year for these DT coaches. Even if you're well behind the leaders, a good run during the bye period could help you close the gap significantly – particularly on those teams who are stacked with Origin players.
BUT, if you're out of the race for the overall prize, then this week you can just about relax. There are no head-to-head match-ups this week, so don't worry if you will only have 10 players scoring any points.
It's not completely smooth sailing though, as the Eliminator competition begins this week for the first 65,536 DT coaches who registered a team at the start of the season. It means you'll be matched up against another team in an epic knockout tournament that will run through to round 26.
Up for grabs at the end of the line for the Eliminator winner are four Category 1 Grand Final tickets, plus $1000 cash.
And of course don't forget to pick your six-man Toyota Origin Dream Team before Wednesday's Game One, with $3000 up for grabs.
Now, here's my take on the big winners and losers in the Dream Team world this week.
His Broncos may have the bye this week but Parker is now undisputedly the must-have player in Dream Team, after he missed out on selection for Queensland.
Parker's workload will only go up if anything in the next couple of months in the absence of Maroons back-rowers Sam Thaiday and Matt Gillett (not to mention Queensland props Ben Hannant and Petero Civoniceva).
While Parker will regularly contribute big Dream Team scores (he top-scored with 82 last week, despite missing four conversion attempts), other big guns Paul Gallen, Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Todd Carney, Greg Inglis and Billy Slater are all playing Origin.
The other bonus here is Anthony Griffin's tendency last season to rest his Origin stars in the weekends after games. If he leaves some or all of Brisbane's Maroons forwards out in rounds 12, 15 and 18, it's only going to be good news for Parker (as well as gun prop Josh McGuire, assuming neither breaks into the Maroons squad).
Next week is the time to snap up Parker if you haven't already. Perhaps look to free up cash this week so you can afford the $390K Dream Team superstar.
Sam Burgess & Tony Williams
And while we're on players you should buy next week, back-row dynamos Burgess and T-Rex also come to mind.
Burgess gets his first start since round 5 this weekend, but his price is still likely to drop after he scored 26 off the bench in his return from injury last week. He'll be at a very juicy price ahead of round 12, and his ability to make and break tackles – plus his dual-position status – means he's just about a must-buy when fit.
Another dual-position, must-have player is Williams, who would have made his long-awaited return from suspension this week had he not been named in the NSW Origin lineup. It was a while ago now, but T-Rex showed in the opening three rounds of the year that he is a player made for the new Dream Team scoring system, seemingly breaking tackles at will.
If they're not in your squad, look to free up cash this week in order to bring them in for round 12.
He's caused plenty of headaches for Dream Teamers this year, but the Warriors impact forward made his first price rise last week and will go up again this week if he scores 20 or better. His scores this year have been erratic to say the least – ranging from 9 to 81, with a couple of 52s in there – but he has a great bye schedule for overall points players and could be a smart buy now.
He's obviously a risk, and I – as a head-to-head DT coach – traded him out a few weeks ago, but if you are in the market for a wildcard then there are plenty of worse options out there.
There's one thing you can certainly say about Dream Teamers – they can name more rookies off the top of their head than the average NRL fan. Adam Reynolds, Ben Henry, Cheyse Blair, Andrew Everingham, Aidan Sezer and Matt Ryan have already become household names among DT die-hards, and now Mansour's name might join them. The Panthers winger has impressed in his first two games in the top grade, with scores of 28 and 43, and should keep his spot ahead of Brad Tighe even when Michael Jennings returns to the team. (And by the way, isn't it a strange situation when it's easier to get picked for NSW than Penrith?)
His status as a winger means he won't be a huge scorer – and so might not be a significant cash cow (see Everingham) – but Mansour is certainly a handy player to have in your squad as a dual position winger/centre, particularly if you have this next rookie in your lineup...
Last week Hurrell finally proved why I rated him so highly as a Dream Team prospect at the start of the season. The explosive Warriors centre ran in two tries (one a typical barge-over job and the other a long-range effort that proved he has plenty of pace) as well as making three line breaks, 16 tackles, 200 run metres and nine tackle breaks.
Hurrell has already climbed $65,400 in price this season, but he still has the smallest break-even of any player in the league (he needs to score -42 or better to go up in price) and could be an absolute steal at $142,500 if he can continue to hit 40+ scores. He's also all but guaranteed to keep his place in the team following Jerome Ropati's season-ending knee injury.
That's right, he's out for the season. It's been a horror injury run for the Warriors centre, but now it's time to trade him out for those who had stuck with him (myself included). Expect Ropati out, Mansour in to be the most popular trade of the week.
He lives! Many had thought this highly-rated rookie Rooster was nothing more than a phantom thanks to his absence in the early part of the season (he was actually splitting his time between the NSW Cup and the casualty ward) but Moga made his NRL debut on the wing for the Chooks on the weekend. He scored a healthy 25, and will be a decent cash cow if he keeps a first-grade spot (although we'd prefer he'd be moved into the centres).
That's it for now. Best of luck with this week's trades, and good luck with the Eliminator if you're in it.
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