There are plenty of reasons for Dream Teamers to be anxious heading into Round 22 of the NRL season. Toyota NRL Dream Team gun Corey Parker hasn't been named for the Broncos, Sharks duo Paul Gallen and Todd Carney are again in some doubt, a whole bunch of other stars are sidelined through injury or suspension, and Australia's Olympians currently have less gold medals than Kazakhstan.
But one of the keys to Dream Team is looking on the bright side. The Dream Team head-to-head playoffs are just a week away, and next week the official announcement is coming about the first ever Toyota NRL Finals Dream Team game (so just keep it to yourself for now). Plus I'm here as usual to give you a little bit of last-minute trade advice.
The biggest factor to consider when making trades this week isn't Paul Gallen's nagging abdominal injury or Corey Parker's Wolverine-like ability to recover from injuries. The key factor is what situation your team finds itself in.
Are you still in the running for the top prize? Then go all out, make the trades you have to and keep your fingers crossed. The same goes for Dream Teamers who need a win this week to make it into their league's top eight.
Even the chance to clinch a top-four spot is a massive reason to go all out for a good score this week. With the new NRL finals system in place in Dream Team this season, teams ranked 5th-8th in your league will play sudden death knockout games next week, while teams 1-4 will face off for the chance to reach the grand final qualifier. (The same finals system will also be used for teams in the bottom eight of leagues, with teams 13-16 playing sudden-death games next week.)
So, if you're sitting safely in your league's top eight – or better yet, top four – then consider keeping the trades in the bank and saving them up for the finals. Specifically, consider running the risk with Parker, Gallen and Carney, safe in the knowledge that you haven't got too much to lose if they don't play.
That's the position I find myself in heading into Round 22. I'm in a lot of leagues – 9209 to be precise – so my current position in head-to-head depends on which league you're talking about. I'm running first in exactly 4000 leagues, second in 2386, third in 1313, and as far down as 12th in three impressive leagues. (I'll include my full rankings at the moment at the bottom of this article, if you're interested.)
In more than 99 per cent of leagues I'm sitting in the top eight, and in 91 per cent of leagues I'm in the top four. So that's the way I'll be planning my trades this week – on the assumption I'm on track for a pretty high finish heading into the Dream Team finals.
Of course, another big factor to keep in mind is just how many trades you have left. Which brings us to this week's questions...
What to do with Corey Parker? I've got 7 trades left. Should get an easy win this week. Trade for Hindmarsh or not?
It's worth pointing out that this question was asked earlier in the week, before news emerged that Parker was a chance of lining up for the Broncos. Still, my advice would have been to hold him. Seven trades is quite a few at this stage of the campaign, but unless you're planning to use two of them by trading Parker out and bringing him back in, then I'd be holding onto him. Parker's the best player in Dream Team when fit, so will be a crucial player to have in the DT finals. Especially hold if you've got an easy head-to-head match-up.
Whether you name him in your 17 this week is another question of course, but I've got the feeling he'll play. Keep an eye out for any updates later on today before making the call, but if you've got a decent auto-emergency in your squad then definitely take the gamble.
From Michael Burns
Hi LS. Two decisions I'm mulling over (and I'm sure a lot of other DTers are) are what to do about Reynolds and Reynolds?
For Adam, he has finally started to lose value but is still the most expensive half. Should we assume that class will out eventually and trade him for, say, Thurston? Or just back Adam to be a championship-winning half?
And for Josh, recent scoring has skyrocketed his price to the level where a swap for Cam Smith is within range – but is it a sideways trade at this point? When the Dogs are firing, Josh's scoring is the best in the league it seems.
I rate Adam Reynolds as more of a keeper than Josh Reynolds, partially because there is room for three or four halves in your squad but just two hookers. So I've kept Adam Reynolds as my third half (along with Daly Cherry-Evans and Cooper Cronk) but have opted for the star hooker duo of Cameron Smith and Robbie Farah, which meant Josh had to go.
Adam Reynolds may be a rookie but he's got all the ingredients of a quality Dream Team half – kick metres, a few tackles every week and pretty regular tackle breaks and try assists, plus goal kicking. He's at least as consistent as Thurston so that one looks like a sideways trade.
Reynolds meanwhile has posted some great recent scores but those have largely been down to unreliable attacking stats (six or more tackle busts in a game, tries, etc). If you've got him and are low on trades then there's no real harm in keeping him – he's playing great – but Cameron Smith is the king of the hookers and averages close to 65 points a game, so make the upgrade if you can.
From Andrew Moroney
Who to trade in for Konrad Hurrell?
First up, do you need to trade? Yes the Hurrellcane is out of action this week with an ankle injury, and is no sure thing to be back next week, but he's potentially a great scorer on his day and a genuine keeper in the centres or at fullback. If you've got the depth to cope without him and are low on trades, I'll be keeping.
Still, many will be in a position to trade – either because they can or they just have to – but centre is a tough position to buy for these days with Greg Inglis suspended and the likes of Justin Hodges and Dene Halatau injured.
Assuming you've already got Tony Williams somewhere in your squad, then the most consistent option is Jamie Lyon – who at $241,800 costs just $5000 more than Hurrell – while the likes of Krisnan Inu ($223,000), Josh Morris ($245,800), Jarrod Croker ($255,700) or Michael Jennings ($289,400) can all post big scores on their day.
Now, back to my bragging rights (I'm getting my boasting in now before any more injuries come back to bite me in the next few weeks - and head-to-head Dream Team is all about the boasting, isn't it?). Here's how the Lone Scouts are ranking in head-to-head leagues this year – after a year in which I've copped about 15 injuries or suspensions by my rough count. How am I going in your league?
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