This week we've already learned a few things. We've learned Robbie Farah is the best man to have as captain in your Origin Dream Team. Corey Parker has taught us that screw-in wet weather studs on football boots can cause some real damage to a guy's shin. We've also learned that the Dream Team gods aren't going to make life easy for us this year, striking down Parker, Paul Gallen and Billy Slater in a brutal Origin encounter on Wednesday night.
Injuries are the main story of the week as you'd expect, with that Origin trio joining the perennially injured Sam Burgess and rising cash cow Curtis Sironen in the casualty ward, while DT stalwarts like Shaun Fensom, Josh Dugan, Chris Houston and Zeb Taia are out of action due to byes. It's real backs-against-the-wall stuff for a lot of teams who will be battling to put together a decent 17.
I was going to be writing this week about how the time is right to sell off a whole bunch of cash cows, but the injury toll has meant you're better off holding onto as many scoring players as possible at this stage.
Instead, I'll offer a few rare positives to focus on before getting to this week's Q&A. For one thing, Burgess will be back on the field sooner than expected – he tweeted this week he's a good chance of returning in Round 16. For another, Nathan Hindmarsh is fresh from a week off after three straight 80-minute performances and is a quality buy again (watch the video above to see him taking a pot shot at my fellow DT guru Rob Bruns). And for a third, Warriors centre and the Lone Scout's new favourite player Konrad Hurrell has just scored six tries in four games and has climbed almost $200,000 on his starting price this season.
Now, onto this week's questions.
From a lot of you:
Should I sell Corey Parker?
Probably not. The man himself had no clue earlier this week how long he'll be out but the hopeful prediction at this stage is three weeks, which would technically make him eligible to be picked for Origin III. If that's the case, it's hardly worth the two trades to sell him and buy him again in a month's time – unless you've been very cautious/lucky with your trades and have a bunch left. Head-to-head DT coaches can breathe particularly easy on this one, with Rounds 17 and 18 both being bye rounds, meaning you won't need him back to full fitness until Round 19.
The exception is if you're so hit by injuries and byes this week that you are struggling to field a full team. If that's the case – and you need a win in your league or some fast points in the overall race – then consider taking the plunge and trading now, with the plan to trade Parker back in later for a place you would have cashed out anyway (meaning you are using one extra trade, rather than two).
Adding to the complexity is the fact nobody really knows how soon Parker will be back; yes he's a fast healer, but if his leg is infected he could be out for much more than three weeks. There is at least one thing you can take solace in: if you are stressing about Parker's absence from your team, then so are the 33,902 other DT coaches – including most of the top teams – who have Parker in their side.
From Rachel (on Twitter)
Is it worth trading in Mansour now? Or did I miss the boat already?
As a rookie winger, Josh Mansour looked all the world like a simple case of a cash-out option – or a cash cow at best – when many of us picked him up before round 11. But since then he's posted scores of 69 and 49, and suddenly looks like a genuine keeper. On the surface, his promotion to starting fullback this week – at the expense of the dumped Lachlan Coote – only boosts his prospects, with fullbacks generally getting more chance to run the ball than wingers (although Mansour has made a habit of coming in from the wing early in the set and running the ball from dummy-half or first receiver, something he may do less of from fullback).
Either way, there's a good chance his stint in the No.1 jersey won't be permanent. Coote seemed to have been harshly dropped after a couple of costly handling errors last week, but reports this week have suggested his demotion could also have been a discipline issue after he arrived late to one or two team meetings. There was a similar story with Michael Jennings at the Panthers a few weeks back, and he's back in the starting side, so expect Coote to come back soon as well unless Mansour plays the house down at fullback. Plus, Mansour himself has been struggling a little with back soreness, although the word at this stage is that he'll be playing this weekend.
Despite all that, Mansour's tackle-breaking ability makes him one of the few (if not only) genuine wingers I'd say can be considered a keeper this season in Dream Team, meaning he is still worth picking up now if you need a scorer in the back three. He won't be consistent, but not many other players are capable of scoring 51 points through tackle breaks in a single game.
From Luke Forbutt (on Facebook)
LS, now that Ben Smith is back from injury do you think he will earn a starting spot for the eels, or has Matt Ryan cemented his spot in the starting side? Ben was a DT gun last year and I really want him for his dual position ability.
In Parramatta's last game Smith played 57 minutes off the bench in his first game back, compared with Ryan's 45, so I think it's only a matter of time before he reclaims a starting spot at the Eels. There's no rush to pick him up (he's only played one game, costs $201,100 and currently has a break-even of 65) but certainly keep an eye on him if you're in the market for a dual position back-row/centre.
From Travis Roberts (on Twitter)
Is Matt Ryan worth keeping now that Ben Smith is back? How many points does he need to make money?
A neat follow-up from the previous answer – Ryan's time as a Dream Team cash cow is waning. He has made $123,600 and needs just 30 points to get another price rise (his average is almost 42) but last week's arrival of Ben Smith in the team certainly took its toll on Ryan's scoring. He posted a season-low 24, so could be pushing it to score much more than 30 this week. I'll be keeping him another week at least, but it's certainly time to start planning to offload him to either a genuine gun or a bargain basement cheapie.
From Paul Haydon (on Facebook)
Mr Scout. Luke Douglas is well priced, but he'll probably be on the bench again soon hey?
Last week Douglas played the full 80 minutes for the Titans, made 62 tackles and scored 76 points, but that was probably an exception for the hard-working prop. Keep in mind he was named in the back row with star trio Nate Myles, Greg Bird and Ashley Harrison all away on Origin duty, so had to do more defensive work than usual (he also had the extra incentive of playing his former team, the Sharks).
He will keep a starting spot at prop at least until Luke Bailey returns from a rib injury in Round 18, so his scores should stay solid, but don't expect many more 70+ efforts and don't be surprised if Bailey pushes him back to the bench. Still a risk compared with the game's other top props.
From Benjamin Mailata (on Facebook)
Lone Scout – What are your thoughts on buying Lewis Brown? He's playing at hooker and looking at the Warriors side they don't have a back up hooker meaning he will play there the full game?
I see the attraction with Brown at the moment – he's cheap at $140,000, and has been named to start at hooker in the absence of regular Warriors rakes Nathan Friend and Alehana Mara, who's out for about six weeks with a broken leg. But I'd also be a little wary, for a few reasons. Despite the lack of any other recognised hookers in the team there's every chance another back-rower, perhaps Elijah Taylor, could spend some time at dummy half to give Brown a rest. Also, Friend could be back as early as round 17 and will be the first-choice hooker when fit.
If you're purely after some quick cash, then look for somebody under the $100,000-mark. There aren't many $77,100 rookies around this week, but Cowboys utility Michael Morgan will get his first price rise when he comes off the bench this week, and is likely to cover for Johnathan Thurston again ahead of Origin III in round 17. Otherwise, hold off and wait for another Josh Mansour-style bargain to spring up.
From Jack McMaster (on Facebook)
I'm looking to upgrade De Belin, can trade for everyone except Gallen, any ideas? Was thinking Taylor but need to be able to cover bye rounds and origin to stay in Eliminator. Fulton or Hindmarsh maybe?
Of the three players you've mentioned, Hindmarsh is my bet. Dave Taylor has been a quality scorer this year but he's less reliable than Hindy – he's only passed the 50-point mark in games in which he's scored a try, whereas Hindmarsh is now making close to 50 points a game through tackles alone after once again becoming an 80-minute player. Hindmarsh is also $40,000 cheaper, and should play every game of the year from now on, with the Eels having completed both their byes. The one risk with him is whether his minutes trail off at the end of the season, with Parramatta out of the finals race and Hindmarsh closing in on retirement.
Liam Fulton's been excellent this year but is likely to see his minutes drop when Gareth Ellis returns, probably next week. At the start of the year Fulton played off the bench when Ellis, Chris Heighington, Adam Blair and both starting front-rowers were fit for the Tigers.
Otherwise, Shaun Fensom is a tackle machine made for Dream Team, and is still undervalued at $287,200. Canberra has the bye this week, but snap him up next week if you haven't got him already.
That's all for now, good luck this weekend.
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