Lone Scout's Dream Team Q&A: Round 18

First, congrats to Dale's "Hitmen" for taking out the inaugural Toyota Origin Dream Team title. The competition leader going into Wednesday's series decider, Dale's team of Corey Parker, Robbie Farah, Paul Gallen, Cooper Cronk, Greg Inglis and Jarryd Hayne did enough to stretch the gap over his rivals in Game Three and take out the win.

Three matches, six players in a team, unlimited trades, and a $3000 prize – if only regular Dream Team was that simple.

The Maroons may have got the win on Wednesday night, but New South Wales fans can take solace in the fact that they outdid their Queensland counterparts in the Dream Team stakes. The 13,623 Blues fans who picked an Origin Dream Team scored an average of 393.67 points a game, (just) edging out the 10,111 Queenslanders who scored 391.51 points a game. It's not much, but I think we Blues fans should take whatever win we can get.

The Origin Dream Team of the series, in terms of points per game, was Brett Morris, Greg Inglis, Cooper Cronk, Nate Myles, Paul Gallen and Robbie Farah.

So now we're back to NRL mode, coming into the final straight of the 2012 season. This is the last bye week of the year, and a slightly tougher one than expected thanks to a few key injuries  from Wednesday night (more on that below).

Dream Teams chasing overall can still close the gap on the leaders if they've got a decent line-up this week, while head-to-head coaches should be focused on getting their best 17 in place as soon as possible from next weekend.

There are only four head-to-head matches left before the Dream Team finals series start in Round 23, so depending on where you stand in your league's ladder now is the time to either go all out to grab a place in the top eight or save up those last few trades to use in the final series.

Here are this week's big questions.

From Darren Lawrence (on Twitter):
Do we know who's not backing up from Wednesday night? Jarryd Hayne maybe?

Jarryd Hayne, Robbie Farah and Greg Bird have all been ruled out this weekend, and Hayne could miss next week as well with the foot injury he picked up on Wednesday night. Bird's is the only injury that sounds long-term, so don't look to trade out Hayne or Farah – but obviously don't trade them in this week either.

From Declan Wode (on Twitter):
Is Thurston worth keeping or should I look to trade him out ASAP?

It's a strange question to ask about the guy who was man-of-the-match in one of the greatest Origin games of all just a couple of days ago, but I can see why you could be worried about Thurston. He's coming off a 25-point haul in Round 16 – the lowest score since his infamous Round 1 score of 3 – and has a break-even of 83 this weekend.

But you can't get spooked by erratic scores for an attacking player like Thurston. We know he won't make a ton of tackles, he'll miss a few tackles, and he'll make one or two errors a game because he gets so involved. We also know he'll kick goals, set up tries, and make his share of tackle busts and kick metres. He just can't be expected to do all those things every week. That means for every score of 3 he'll score a 97, and vice versa. His average is 48, so if you're desperate for a consistent half – and have plenty of trades left – you could upgrade him to Cooper Cronk, but I'd suggest you're probably better off keeping him for the long haul and trusting that his big scores will balance out his low ones.

From Bavisanth Thayarooban (on Facebook):
Do you think it's worth getting T-Rex in for Aubusson this week? There is some doubt on whether T-Rex will play this week.

This one depends on a few things – primarily whether you're playing for overall points or head-to-head.

If you're playing head-to-head, make the trade. Aubusson's price is plummeting and he's been named in the centres again this week (where he doesn't score well), and Tony Williams is a monster who is great value at $220,600 and can cover the centres or the back row. What's more, there are no head-to-head games this week so if Williams is out for one week then it won't make a difference to you.

If you're playing for overall, then it is obviously a gamble – but one I'd still probably make. Assuming your finances are tight, now is the best time to make the trade as the gap between Aubusson's and T-Rex's price will be bigger after this week (especially if Williams plays). Also obviously take into account what other coverage you have in the centres and whether you'll have a decent auto emergency this week before making the move.

From Kenneth Darragh (on Facebook):
Do you think Corey Norman is still worth keeping, or trade him out now before his price falls further?

I argued to keep the faith with Norman earlier this year, but now I've just about changed my tune. Like Thurston, he still has the ability to bounce back with a big score or two. His base stats (tackles, run metres, kick metres, missed tackles, mistakes) have been relatively stable all year, but his attacking stats (tackle breaks, try assists) have really dipped since Round 10.

With the Broncos' rep stars back on deck Norman may again get the chance to make his presence known, but in the short term his price will keep dropping (although not this week, as Brisbane have the bye).

If you can afford an upgrade and need another big gun in Norman's position then a trade could be wise. I'm looking to keep hold of him, but purely as a back-up to my first-choice 17.

From Jared Dugan (on Facebook):
Is it time to trade Sezer for Sironon?

I see where you're coming from, but no is my answer here. First up – Sezer's price is still on the rise (he's got a break-even of 19 this week) so wait another week to trade him out. And when you do trade him out, Sironen isn't necessarily the guy I'd be bringing in.

Yes, Sironen's cheap at $106,300 and has a break-even of -26 – meaning he's guaranteed plenty of price rises – but is a mid-level cash cow really what you want at this stage of the season? For most Dream Team coaches trades are now at a premium, so I strongly recommend only bringing in genuine keepers or very cheap players (ie. as close as possible to $77,100). Unless you plan on using another trade to cash out Sironen down the track, his price rises from now on won't matter.

But by trading Sezer for Sironen you're not getting the most out of your cash cow Sezer (you'd make $104,900 instead of $134,100 – and $30K could be priceless in the long run) and you're not getting a genuine big-scoring keeper either (Sironen's likely to average mid-30s, whereas the best halves tend to score in the high 40s or better). If you're desperate for an extra 30 points a week or a decent back-up player, or if you have plenty of trades left and can cash him out later, then Sironen's your man. Otherwise make the most of Sezer's price boost by bringing in a genuine cheapie.

That's all for this week, good luck on the weekend.

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