The Dream Team gods are not being kind to us at the moment, with popular buys Ben Barba, Jarryd Hayne, Greg Inglis, Albert Kelly, Sonny Bill Williams and Aaron Woods all stuck on the sidelines for one reason or another. The injury crisis has hit the winger/fullback position particularly hard for Holden NRL Dream Team coaches, at a time when trades are in short supply.
So is it time to trade big or ride out the dramas until the head-to-head league finals arrive?
Before I get to this week's Q&A, a note to the poor souls who have succumbed to trade rage this year. For those who have asked me how to use their final trade this week, my advice is: hold it (if you can). Trading out somebody like Ben Barba may seem urgent now but in a couple of weeks' time you might need to trade out a bigger scorer (think Parker, Fensom, Farah). Using up the last of your trades before then could end your chances this season.
If you're playing in a head-to-head league then finals games are obviously more important than regular season games, so try to keep at least one trade up your sleeve for the knockout rounds.
Now, to this week's big questions.
From Simon Humble
When is Hayne coming back?
Jarryd Hayne's seemingly never-ending hamstring injury could now keep him out for the season, with Eels coach Ricky Stuart suggesting he could leave his best player on the sidelines even when Hayne gets back to full fitness.
Here's what Stuart told Triple M radio last week: "He will be ready again but whether I play him again is another thing. I have got to make the best decision for Jarryd. I'm not going to risk him for two or three games of football. I don't want him to be in the position for the rest of his career that he will have a niggling hamstring."
So it's time to trade, I'm afraid.
From Mark Jacobson
With Inglis, SBW, Barba, Hayne and Woods on the sidelines for a few weeks and trades at a premium, which are the best trades?
I've got Dugan, Slater already and Gordon in the centres, so I was thinking of dropping Gordon back and bringing in Hurrell or Lyon. But considering they're positions that are generally fairly inconsistent in their scoring I was wondering if I'd be better off trading out SBW or Woods for Gallen and trading down in the outside backs?
I'm holding Sonny Bill Williams and Aaron Woods, as both will be back in a couple of weeks (the Tigers are saying Woods will be back from his knee injury next weekend and Sonny Bill will be back the week after).
Hayne is probably out for the season and Barba is set to miss five weeks, so they'd be my first trades. As you already have Dugan, I'd trade one of those to Lyon (while making the Gordon switch), or otherwise hope Greg Inglis returns quickly and bring him in when he does.
From Matt Fowler
Given current injuries (Barba, Inglis, etc), what's the best WFB combination to have now?
While keeping in mind that Greg Inglis could return in Round 23, right now the best backline combo is probably Josh Dugan, Konrad Hurrell and David Nofoaluma (with Jorge Taufua, Michael Gordon, Billy Slater and Darius Boyd not far behind). Dugan is the only really consistent scorer in the winger/fullback position left, so you're not missing out on much if you are looking weak in that position at the moment.
From Jarvis Zochling
Hey Scout, time to give Albert Kelly the flick?
Yeah I think so. He's out indefinitely with a sternum injury, the Titans are on a losing run so he could struggle for attacking points when he does come back, and there are a lot of high-scoring halves you could replace him with at the moment (James Maloney being the cheapest).
From Adrian Maskell
Is it time to buy Gallen over Fifita? Will Fifita lose a lot of game time with Gallen back?
Gallen's a Dream Team legend and scored 98 the last time he took the field in the NRL, but he obviously has some injury doubts hanging over him after such a long layoff. He's got a break-even of 65, so it could be worth waiting a week and seeing how he goes – unless you're keen to get his points boost now.
For Fifita, having Gallen back in the Sharks lineup won't make too much difference for his minutes (Fifita's averaged about 49 minutes a game with Gallen in the side this year, and 54 minutes a game without him there) but it could still hurt his scores. Fifita's workload does go down a little when there's another barnstorming workhorse in the Cronulla forward pack: he's averaged 49.75 points a game when playing alongside Gallen this year but a whopping 74.3 points a game without Gallen.
If you've got Fifita already, then keep him. He's capable of hitting hundreds (as he did three games ago). But if you're deciding which one to trade in, Gallen could be the better bet.
From Kent Bowater
When cashing in a player would you suggest getting a "dud" $101ker (ie. a player that has no chance of playing any games) or would you go for someone like Feldt – also $101k but he's playing and scoring points....
Having a low-scoring winger in your squad can leave you with a bad AE if there's a late withdrawal for your team over the weekend (particularly on a Monday night) so I'd avoid guys like Kyle Feldt unless you really need a back-up scorer in your squad or a new cash cow (which is very unlikely at this stage). There's nothing wrong with bringing in a non-playing cheapie as long as you already have back-up options in all positions.
From Adam Skinner
Ideally, how many trades would you like left for the H2H finals given I am running in the top two?
Ideally, you'd love to have the full eight trades left for full flexibility for the four finals rounds. But in practice having four or five left should be plenty to cover any late injury disasters, assuming you've got a settled top 17 and a few back-up options in your squad.
If you've already got enough depth to cover all positions for short-term injuries/suspensions, then you could get away with fewer than four trades – but it's obviously a gamble. (And a lot of Dream Teamers, including me, will be taking that gamble.)
That's it for this week, good luck to your team as always.