It's been a week of madness in NRL land, with Blake Ferguson and George Burgess the latest players to be dealt a stint on the sidelines after getting themselves into trouble off the field. Burgess's absence is particularly painful for Holden NRL Dream Team coaches who had planned to use him as part of their bye coverage this week.
With Dream Teamers battling to survive the byes and/or getting their final "ultimate" teams together, here are my answers to this week's fan questions.
From Ted Grant
Is George to Tom Burgess a good trade? If Tom impresses enough would he be able to hold his spot in the side? Looking to cash out George but also have a player in round 15 and 19.
This one comes down to whether you class George Burgess as a keeper. The fact he'll miss the next two weeks plus the bye in round 18 doesn't help his cause, but he does average more than 47 points a game so he passes my 45+ test for Dream Team keeper status. With trades at a premium these days, I'll be holding him.
Which isn't to say Tom Burgess isn't a good buy. He's at the base $101,600 price, and as George's twin he certainly has the size and talent to be a success. With most NRL players having the week off it's also a bonus that he's actually playing. Don't expect too much from him (he's only a short-term fill-in for the Rabbitohs at this stage, so is likely to lose his spot when George returns) but if you're purely looking to free up cash he's as good an option as any.
From Damien Spresser
Cameron Smith over the past two years has seen reduced minutes after Origin week. Round 13 he played the full 80. Is there a reason why? And is this likely to be the case after the next two Origins?
The fact Smith was playing in his 250th game could have something to do with it, but that situation will always be a bit of a battle between Smith's desire to stay on the field as long as possible and Craig Bellamy's plan to keep his captain fresh after Origin weeks. If next week's clash against the Tigers is close you can probably expect Smith to stay on, but if the Storm is cruising to victory Smith's a good chance of getting a rest. Melbourne don't play in round 19 it won't be an issue after Origin III.
And even if Smith only plays 60 minutes, he's still a great chance of positing a big Dream Team score.
From Seckin Kanmaz
Is it time to get Gallen or wait a few more weeks?
Any predictions that Gallen's price would plummet over the Origin period were dashed by last weekend's massive 98-point effort, which actually gave him a price rise despite the fact he'd scored just one point in his previous game. He'll need to hit the high 60s to get another price rise next week, but considering he'll be backing up from Origin II it's likely he'll get a bit of a rest. He's only scored more than 60 four times this year, so my guess would be that his price would go down a little next week. I'd hold off on a trade until then.
From Jacob Aquilina
Keep Sonny Bill or get Fensom?
As I said last week, I class Sonny Bill Williams as a keeper – and his season-high score of 77 on the weekend repaid my faith. He averages 52 points a game, which isn't far off Fensom's 54. As a rule, don't trade one keeper for another. You're better off upgrading one of your mid-priced cash cows to Fensom instead. (There is a bit of concern that Sonny Bill could be in doubt for this weekend's game, but that's a different issue. Keep an eye on the late mail.)
From Sammy Geraghty
Is Nofo worth keeping? Do you think he will keep producing high scores or produce another shocker this week?
Tigers winger David Nofoaluma (now universally dubbed "Nofo" by Dream Team fanatics) is averaging in the early 40s after four games, which is great for a cheap winger/fullback. It's still probably way too early though to decide whether he's a keeper. He's a tackle-breaking machine when he gets the chance to run the ball, but he's also a winger for the team that's running second-last. Like any winger, he'll have good days and bad days (so last week's 20 was hardly a "shocker") and his price is still on the rise. He's still a cash cow in my book, but a few more big scores and I'd have to change my mind.
From Ben Sheat
Is Sue now a keeper for the season?
Again, Suaso Sue has been great value as a cash cow this year, making $143,900 and counting, but as a forward his mid-30s scoring average doesn't quite make him a keeper just yet. He hit the half century last Monday with the help of a rare try, but I'd be looking to upgrade him at some stage unless you're running low on trades.
From Zac Simons
Who do you suggest as the best centres to have going into the finals?
Any two of Greg Inglis, Michael Jennings, Jamal Idris or the injury-plagued Justin Hodges are great options in the centres, but there's no harm in having a couple of solid scorers there and spending up big elsewhere (I plan on keeping 35-point player Jacob Loko at this stage, for example).
From Kaleb Ziegler
With Greg Inglis' break even score 103, is it worth trading him out for Idris or Hurrell? Looks like he'll lose a lot of coin.
Nope. If you haven't traded him out already (before he missed round 12 and 13) then there's no point trading him out now. You'll want him in your squad at the end of the year, so save yourself a couple of trades and ignore what happens to his price tag.
From Tim Howe
Hey Scout, what are your thoughts on Loko given he's been named on the bench this week and Parra have the bye next week (a crucial H2H round for me)? Who would you replace him with?
Jacob Loko's an interesting one – he was dropped last week for missing a training session, played a lock for Wentworthville in the NSW Cup, and is now back in the Eels side off the bench, where he'll presumably play as a forward. That won't necessarily hurt his scoring (if he ends up getting a starting spot in the Eels pack it could actually help) so I'd wait and see how he goes this week before making any decision there.
From Laen Stewart
When cashing out peaked cash cows, is it worth to trade them for a $101k player who will play in the bye rounds (eg. Brayden Wilame) or to a non-playing one to avoid possible bad auto emergency scores?
This is a good question, and not an easy one to answer. For overall points players, having an extra scorer in the next couple of bye rounds is obviously handy (even if someone like Wiliame might not score too many points). On the other hand, one thing you don't want to happen later in the season is for one of your players to pull out late, leaving you with a low-scoring auto emergency as a replacement.
The rolling lockout fixes that auto emergency problem to some extent, but a late withdrawal in a Monday night game will still probably leave you with an AE coming in. Basically it's a case of weighing up the risk – is a few more points now worth risking a low scorer coming into your 17 later?
Your other option is to bring in someone who will play both the next two bye rounds but probably won't play at all after that, like fill-in Storm half Ben Hampton.
From Fisherman Mike
Is it time to start selling off your cows to bring together your final 17 for the back end of head-to-heads? I'm doing this anyway especially during non head-to-head rounds.
Yes, you should be trying to move towards your final "ideal" team now. That means 17 good players, a couple of back-ups to cover minor injuries, and a few trades up your sleeve to cover major ones. Aim to bring in only very cheap players or genuine keepers from here on in.
From Brad Asgar
If you have under 10 trades left, should you be looking only to cash out your cows, and get keepers in from this point on, for H2H only?
Yes. If you're in the single digits you should really be erring towards saving your trades if you can.
From Jordan Autufuga
How many trades would be a good number to have left up your sleeve for H2H finals?
Five or six is probably the right amount, although you might get away with three or four if you've got some depth. Having the full eight up your sleeve for the final four rounds could give you a major advantage to cover all injuries and suspensions in those crucial weeks. From here on in, every trade should be working towards your ideal final team.
That's it for this week, enjoy the weekend and good luck to your team.