Before I get onto this week's questions I'm going to pose one of my own, one that I might run with for the rest of the Dream Team season.
It's this: What's your biggest hard luck story of Toyota NRL Dream Team in 2012? It's been a horror year for injuries so just about everyone has one.
An early leading contender is Rodney who posted on Facebook this week that he had rookie Eels hooker Nathan Smith in his squad for the first 17 rounds of the season. Smith, a $77,100 rookie, didn't play a single game in those 18 rounds. So Rodney understandably traded him out last week.
Then Smith got a late call-up for the Eels and played his first game of the year last weekend, and now looks to have the starting hooker spot sewn up after Parramatta's first-choice No.9 Matt Keating was ruled out for the rest of the season. Suddenly the man Rodney held on to for so long and traded out last week is the best bargain in the game going into Round 19.
Not the best timing for poor Rodney. (What's more, the man Rodney traded in, Cameron Smith, ended up being rested by the Storm on the weekend anyway.)
Can you trump that one? How many injuries have you had this year? How many times have you traded Corey Parker in and out of your team? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter (or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org) and I'll include the best hard luck stories in next week's article.
Nathan Smith, by the way, looks like a very good buy this week – if you haven't already got two keepers in the hooker position, and if you can afford to trade Smith in now and upgrade him to one of the big guns later.
Otherwise, it's all about getting those big names into your squad – with Corey Parker the No.1 target and Tony Williams not far behind.
Each week there is a $500 cash prize, 2 x NRL Week 1 Final tickets and a replica NRL trophy to be won by the Toyota NRL Dream Team Coach with the highest weekly fantasy points. Anyone can win, so sign up and play now!
From Jacob Carey (on Facebook):
Thoughts on getting Barba in now? Playing Parra this week he could score well, but I heard they have a tough run back in?
Barba looks like a very good option this week. He's in great form after leading the Bulldogs to wins against the Storm and Tigers, and could post a monster score against the last-placed Eels this week. The run home for the Dogs isn't really that bad either – they've got a couple of tough games after Parra but also have games against the Knights, Tigers, Raiders and Roosters (you can check every team's run home here).
The thing most in Barba's favour this week is the absence of many quality alternatives. Of the other high-scoring Dream Team fullbacks, Jarryd Hayne, Billy Slater, Josh Dugan and Konrad Hurrell are all out injured, Brett Morris has been named on the wing (more on that below) and Todd Carney is in just about everybody's team already, leaving just Barba and Matt Bowen as quality options to bring in this week.
From Cristien Fa'avae (on Facebook):
Hi Lone Scout, Nathan Smith in for Jeff Robson?
Good move. As I've said above, only trade in Nathan Smith if it works for you – that is, don't do it if you've already got two quality hookers or if you don't have enough trades left to upgrade Smith later. But it's high time to trade out Robson, who has a break-even of 83 this week, so go for it.
From James Hatch (on Facebook):
Hey Lone Scout what are your thoughts with Brett Morris being shifted to the wing this week? Will he still score good points or will he score less? Also will it be temporary or will he eventually shift back to fullback?
As a rule, fullbacks score more than wingers in Dream Team. They're more involved, so tend to get more run metres and tackle breaks. Of course, if Morris scores a couple of tries this week then he'll still post a good score, but in the long run his switch to the wing (with Jason Nightingale getting a shot at the Dragons fullback spot) is a bad thing for Morris's scores.
But will the move be for the long run? It's obviously hard to say now, with coach Steve Price presumably making the change this week in an effort to spark the team in attack (the Dragons have scored the fewest points of any team in the NRL this year). I'd suggest holding on to Morris this week if you have him and wait and see what happens, and if the switch looks long-term then you can upgrade to Hayne, Dugan, Slater or one of the other star fullbacks in the next few weeks.
From Tony Dominguez (on Facebook):
Should I sell Gallen or hold him and wait and see what happens next week?
I'd be holding. He's a definite keeper when fit, so you'd be either using two trades (to trade him out now and bring him back later) or weakening your team in the long run if you trade him out now. And Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan has said that he's confident Gallen and Jeremy Smith will both be fit to play in Round 20, so cop the short-term pain for long-term gain.
From Shannon (on Twitter):
Is it time for Mansour to go?
Depends. Josh Mansour has been a terrific mid-season cash cow, gaining $119,700 in value so far, but his price has just about peaked now. He needs to regularly hit 40s to maintain his price tag, so if you're using him purely for money purposes then cash him out when you like.
On the other hand, for teams that are lacking a little in depth Mansour is a very handy back-up option – he's very solid by wingers' standards, has the ability to post big scores, and can fill a role at the back or in the centres. I'll be keeping him for that reason, but if you need some extra cash instead then make the trade.
From Alfred Chippington (on Twitter):
Since Cronk and Marshall are now roughly the same price, which one should I upgrade to from Sezer?
Both are good buys, so it depends how your team is going. Cronk is the more consistent of the two and can usually be relied on to score close to 50 (he's hit a couple of 30-something scores recently but should bounce back when Cameron Smith and Billy Slater return for the Storm). Marshall's a bit more of a lottery – he has also posted two scores in the 90s this year but also scored just 22 a fortnight ago.
So if your team's sitting pretty, take the safe option and go Cronk, but if you're chasing the pack and need to throw caution to the wind, go with Marshall.
From John Osmond (on Twitter):
Given how the Tigers are going is Benji a keeper for the rest of the season?
Yes. Is it worth wasting a trade to bring in Daly Cherry-Evans or Cronk when Marshall is just as likely to score 80 this week? Getting rid of somebody who averages 50 points a game is really a luxury trade these days, so only consider it if you are 100 per cent happy with the rest of your squad.
From Ibrahim Dib (on Facebook):
Lone Scout, how sure are you that Ellis will take minutes off Fulton at the Tigers?
It's an educated guess at this stage, but the only real evidence we have of Tim Sheens' gameplan comes from when his back-row was at full strength at the start of the season. Back then, Adam Blair, Ellis and Chris Heighington were the Tigers' back row, with Fulton the first name off the bench. Things could have changed during the season, but Sheens would presumably still rate international stars Blair and Ellis as starting players in the second row so Fulton
From Lee Drake-kiwi Williams (on Facebook):
Scout any news on Michael Gordon and Will Chambers?
There have been reports Gordon could be back in the next week or two but he remains on the "indefinite" list, and now rumours are emerging that the Panthers are in no hurry to rush him back considering he's leaving for Cronulla at the end of the year. Chambers actually resumed training with the Storm this week so could be back in the next few weeks.
From John Gleis (on Twitter):
How long is Greg Bird out for?
Probably three weeks. Expect to see him back on the park in round 21 or 22.
That's all I've got for you this week. Good luck with your trades, and may the Dream Team gods smile on you this weekend.