It's the business end of the season with one final round remaining before the Dream Team head-to-head finals begin. Making matters worse, Robbie Farah and John Sutton have joined the injured list, Aaron Woods is out for the season and Dream Teamers are starting to run very low on trades. So, what changes should you make to your squad this week?
Before I get to the big trading questions, the first thing you should consider is what you need out of this week. If you're playing for overall points, then you need to go for broke and get every point you can – even if that means burning trades. But if you're playing to win your head-to-head league or the Eliminator, you need to think more long-term. Can you win this week's match-up without trading? Does this week's game even matter for your final league position? Those factors should influence whether you trade now or bide your time and wait until next week.
Now, here are the big questions for Round 22.
From Hayley Smith
What to do with Sutton and Farah?
First stop is always to check out NRL.com's casualty ward, plus the other news coming out of the clubs about player injuries during the week. The Tigers say Farah's broken finger will rule him out for 1-2 weeks, while Sutton will miss 2-4 with his ankle injury.
My advice is hold Farah – he's the second-best Dream Team scorer in the NRL and will be back in a couple of weeks. Only axe him if you've got a lot of trades left and don't have Cameron Smith yet.
Sutton's a trickier case. If you can make your head-to-head league finals without him and/or are running low on trades, then hold him and see where he's at next week. But if you're desperate for points, are short in the halves and/or have a lot of trades left, then make the trade.
From Jay Fleming
Who is the better option to bring in to replace Woods? Gallen or Fifita?
On Paul Gallen's return last week the Sharks skipper played more minutes than Andrew Fifita but was still outscored 76 points to 60. That, plus Fifita's super form all year, is enough for me to rate Fifita as a slightly better scorer than Gallen, although Gal is $100,000 cheaper so will save you cash if you're planning to make other upgrades elsewhere. I'm bringing in Fifita.
From Russ Connor
What is the latest on Albert Kelly? Trade?
He's still a few weeks away according to the Titans with a sternum injury. Tough call, but I'd still lean towards a trade with a few higher-scoring halves available. Last week I suggested taking a look at James Maloney as a replacement, but Maloney now costs $33,800 more this week after his 104-point effort on the weekend.
From Shane Gavegan
Trade in Hayne or Ferguson this week? I'm getting rid of Albert Kelly.
Jarryd Hayne is slightly cheaper than Blake Ferguson and has a better Dream Team average this season so he seems like the better buy, although he is coming back from injury and the Eels are pretty woeful these days. In saying that, they do play a Tigers side missing Robbie Farah this week which is probably their best chance to rack up a few points.
Both are dual-position players, so consider whether you need cover in certain positions before making the trade – Hayne covers the halves as well as fullback, while Ferguson can be used in the centres or at the back.
From Thomas Guy
Get rid of Gagai? He's just gone up in value after a 60-point round but he and the Knights are very inconsistent.
Those who have held onto Dane Gagai this long (yours truly included) were finally rewarded with a big score against his old club Brisbane last week. His price jumped $22,900 this week and should rise again next Tuesday, so I'd hold him for another week then make use of his price rises.
From Adam Bartolsic
Do the H2H competitions get split in two and have a top and bottom eight finals series, like last year? I need some consolation.
Yes they do. The first week of the Dream Team head-to-head finals is 1st v 4th and 2nd v 3rd (with both losing teams getting another chance and the winners getting a week off) and 5th v 8th and 6th v 7th (with both losing teams knocked out).
The same thing happens for the bottom eight teams in every league, so 9th v 12th, 10th v 11th, 13th v 16th and 14th v 15th. There will be a "winner" from the bottom half of the ladder, as well as an overall league champion.
From Sean Compton
I have Farah, Sutton and Barba on the sidelines and one trade left. Playing H2H. Do I use it or save it for the finals?
For everyone with one trade left, I say keep it up your sleeve if you can. Farah will be back in a week or two, and Sutton in a few weeks, while Barba is aiming for a round 26 return so should be the first one to go. If you are short of a full 17 then you might need to trade, but it's a big risk to run out of trades now.
From Kaden Saywell
Do I trade out Walsh before he drops further, or Woods?
Woods is definitely out for the season, so trade him. You can basically ignore price changes at this stage of the year (unless you're still waiting to trade out cash cows) so just keep Luke Walsh as a back-up if you don't rate him – it does look like his kick metres are drying up although he did score 53 as recently as round 19.
From Sam McIntyre
Who are the must-haves going into the finals?
Not every team can fit all the big scorers in their squad, but I reckon this year's must-have players in tough Dream Team leagues are Cameron Smith, Robbie Farah, Corey Parker, Shaun Fensom and one of Josh Dugan or Greg Inglis. Andrew Fifita is very close as the best of a great crop of front-rowers, while Daly Cherry-Evans is the best option in the high-scoring halves position. Obviously there are alternatives to these guys you could have, but most teams with that crop of stars will be hard to beat.
From Ricky Morris
At the end of Dream Team this year will the players have the same ending price to start next year or will it be different?
Each player's starting price at the start of the season is based on their average score from the previous year (so not necessarily their final price). Players who didn't play many games will get discounts on their starting price.
That's it for this week, good luck to you team.