This is either the toughest period or the easiest time of the Dream Team season, depending on whether you're aiming to climb the overall points ladder or just focusing on winning your head-to-head league.
For head-to-head DT coaches, round 12 brings a week off, with half the NRL teams also taking break. If that's you, either use this week's allocated three trades to fix up any glaring problems with your squad, or save them up for the more important later weeks – and then make sure you pick your Origin Dream Team for the chance to win an easy $5000.
If you're playing for overall points, this week has become even tougher than expected. Even those who had done a fair bit of bye planning have become unstuck with the likes of Chris McQueen, Ben Te'o and John Sutton being surprise Origin call-ups while other stars with good bye schedules like Matt Bowen, Sam Burgess and Tony Williams are sidelined through injury or suspension this week (with Bowen likely to miss six weeks).
My first rule of thumb is to avoid panic short-term trades – always keep an eye on the future and your "ideal" team in the long run, and avoid trading one player for a similar player just for the sake of one or two rounds.
So, who are the good buys for the byes? Should you trade out your Origin guns? And is Benji Marshall a steal at $187,600? Read on for my answers...
From Brendo Czulowski
Hi Lone Scout. With South Sydney having a bye in round 13, the likes of Inglis are going to miss four games due to Origin and byes over the next few weeks. Should we be trading these guns out during this time of the year?
This is always a tricky call – on the one hand if you keep Inglis you'll have more than $400,000 worth of salary cap space sitting in your reserves for the next couple of weeks, but if you sell him then you'll need to use another trade to bring him back later.
I had considered the Inglis trade in the past couple of weeks but am now looking to trade elsewhere instead (I've also been stuck with fellow Souths Origin players Te'o and McQueen). If you are keen to trade him to use his cash, I'd look to bring in a potential keeper (say, Ben Barba or Josh Dugan) and then bring Inglis back in later at the expense of a non-keeper. That way you're still keeping an eye on the long term and not just making trades for the sake of the next few rounds. If you trade him, your top priority though must be to ensure you have enough cash to get him back in your squad later.
From Eli Fa'afiu
Time to get Barba? Especially during the Origin period?
Yep. He's unlikely to get a Queensland call-up, is getting back in form, and the Bulldogs play in all three major bye rounds.
From Jason Robson
If you're trading out Cam Smith and/or Robbie Farah for the bye rounds, which hookers do you recommend?
Michael Ennis, Andrew McCullough and Issac Luke. Probably in that order. Consider Nathan Peats if you want a cash cow but don't need regular big scores.
From Nick Crocker
Now is the time to trade for Benji, right?
Yes and no. If you want to get Benji Marshall this year then now is certainly the time – for someone who averaged 50 points a game last year he's priced at a ridiculously low $187,600, and his break even is now just 25. But is he a keeper, or just a cash cow? And if he's a cash cow, will he make more money than Rabbitohs rookie Dylan Walker?
It's all about faith, this trade: it could be a genius move in the long run if Benji starts hitting 50s again, but if you've already got four halves who you're happy with I'd keep them.
From Zac Simons
Is Steve Matai at $101K a must buy?
Not at all – he's at that price for a reason, and that's his frankly terrible scoring this season. But if you do need to free up cash and prefer a seasoned veteran in the centres to a rookie, then Matai could be your man. Just be prepared to have him as your low-scoring automatic emergency down the track...
From Ra Pomare
What is a strong number of players to have playing this weekend?
Considering the recent injuries and Sam Burgess's suspension, I think any more than a dozen players is probably a decent lineup this week. Some Dream Teams will have a full 17, but not many, and those teams might not cope so well in the future bye rounds anyway. I'll have 14 in action this week.
From Andrew Williams
Should I sell Suaso Sue & Jack Stockwell?
No, Sue's price is still rising and Stockwell plays this week. Of course, if you're focusing on head-to-head then this week's scores don't really matter, so Stockwell could be traded in that case. Only sell Sue now if you really need that extra cash to fund a more important trade.
From Anthony Gale
Is Fifita worth the hefty price tag? His scores are fantastic, by far the best in the league for a front rower, but can you substitute him with a player like Woods who is also consistently good, albeit lower scoring but cheaper?
Andrew Fifita has become a Dream Team behemoth – his last four scores are 89, 52, 77 and 98, and he's making tackles, breaking tackles, and running for about 200 metres every game. No wonder the Blues called him up. His price is still rising at the moment, but presumably he'll get a bit of a rest for the Sharks in the post-Origin weeks in which case his price will start coming back down.
Usually I'd have him in the "must have" class, but this season with so many strong scorers in the front row you can probably get away with not having him in your side. Maybe wait a while for his price to drop over the next month or so. But those who grabbed him at the start of the year are laughing now.
From Oliver Keogh
What are your thoughts on Josh McGuire at 243k? Worth the buy?
McGuire is very good value for a traditional Dream Team gun, having dropped in price by $84,900. He's been well below par this season (27 points a game after averaging 42 last year) but is back to full fitness and will take a bigger role in the absence of Queensland forwards Sam Thaiday, Corey Parker, Matt Gillett and the injured Ben Hannant. He still might not be a long-term keeper, but he'll score well in the short-term can you could ride his price up to a purchase of someone like Fifita later.
From Chris Hughes
LS, Dylan Walker is starting in the centres and is cheap – worth some quick cash?
Yeah Walker's place in the Rabbitohs side looks pretty safe for now, and he could move into his preferred position of five-eighth if John Sutton gets a run in the NSW 17. He's only available in the halves though in Dream Team, so only get him if you need to trade a half and are in the hunt for another cash cow.
From Stephen Kahi
Time to give Tohu Harris the boot? Since he's been moved to the bench his scores have been terrible.
Yes if you're playing head-to-head only, but if you're also aiming to climb the overall points ladder then you might as well keep him until the end of the Origin period. The Storm play in Round 15 and 18 and Harris should return to Melbourne's starting side in those weeks with Ryan Hoffman and Cameron Smith on Origin duty.
From Praneet Namakal
Hey Scout what are the prospects for both Clint Greenshields and the young Tiger David Nofoaluma?
Greenshields' position as Cowboys fullback is fairly safe after being named to replace Matt Bowen who's out for six weeks, and he could be a handy cash cow over the Origin period.
Nofoaluma's a trickier one – he's made a great start to first grade (especially in Dream Team) but with Chris Lawrence and Blake Ayshford coming back in a couple of weeks it's going to be tough for him to keep a spot in the Tigers' backline. He'll get a big price rise the next time he plays, but he's a bit of a risk in the longer term.
From Tane Sarajevo
I'd like a list of who the ideal player for each position would be during Round 12...
I'll do better than that. Here's a full squad that would do pretty well this week. (Note, because the Rabbitohs and Titans both have a bye in round 13, this team would do pretty badly next week.)
WFBs: Josh Dugan, Ben Barba, Corey Norman
CTRs: Jamal Idris, Simon Mannering
HLFs: Adam Reynolds, Aidan Sezer, Albert Kelly, Shaun Johnson (assuming John Sutton plays for NSW)
2RFs: Adam Cuthbertson, Dallas Johnson, Mark Minichiello, Dave Taylor
FRFs: James Graham, George Burgess, Aidan Tolman
HOK: Andrew McCullough or Michael Ennis
That's all for this week, good luck – and don't forget to pick your six-man Origin lineup.