So, that was an interesting week.
Yes, NRL Fantasy got off to a disappointing start to the season. Yes, there are still some problems that the game developers are working around the clock to fix, but on the positive side the majority of the weekend's issues have been sorted out and there is now an extra $20,000 major prize up for grabs for a second Fantasy competition, starting in Round 4.
The other major positive to take out of the week is the simple fact that footy is back. Greg Inglis lit up ANZ Stadium last Thursday with a superb hat-trick, rookies like Manu "Chairman" Ma'u made their presence known (particularly to Fantasy coaches), and Albert Kelly scored a length-of-the-field intercept try on the way to the top Fantasy score of Round 1.
Cheapies like Ma'u, Tinirau Arona, Daniel Holdsworth, Michael Dobson and Nathan Peats (who is out of action this week) all scored strongly first up, while Cowboys talisman Johnathan Thurston, Eels winger Semi Radradra, Dragons pair Tyson Frizell and Gareth Widdop and re-signed Melbourne skipper Cameron Smith all joined Kelly and Inglis as Fantasy's top-scorers after one week of the season.
So which trades should you make this week? Here are some answers to a few of this week's biggest Holden NRL Fantasy questions.
From Pravin Chanmugam
Should I give Luke Brooks another chance?
Should I give Luke Brooks another chance?
It's a tricky one. There are a few cheaper and safer halves around now like Dobson and Holdsworth, who both easily surpassed Brooks's meagre score of 4 from the weekend. Dobson's set for a decent run in the Knights' starting side following injuries to Jarrod Mullen and Darius Boyd (which means Kurt Gidley will fill-in at fullback rather than the halves) while Holdsworth will start for the Sharks at least until Jeff Robson returns from injury in a few weeks. Beware for Holdsworth though that his 52-point score on the weekend was largely due to a mountain of kick metres, which he's likely to lose when Todd Carney returns to the Cronulla side.
It's worth remembering Brooks did post a score in the 50s in his only game of 2013 (albeit when there was less pressure on him) so he does have the potential to score well – but will he do it in the short term now that his reputation as a potential rookie sensation has put a target on his head for rival teams?
Either be patient and keep the faith for a few weeks if you're confident he can bounce back, or cut the cord now if you don't have more pressing trades to make elsewhere.
From Harrison Elliott
Hey LS, who was in your side last week? How many points did you get?
I scored 753. Not bad, not great. My starting squad looked like this:
HOK: Cameron Smith, Robbie Farah
FRF: James Graham, George Burgess, Brenton Lawrence, Josh Starling
2RF: Corey Parker, Sam Burgess, Jason Taumalolo, Nathan Peats, John Palavi, Manu Ma'u
HLF: Daly Cherry-Evans, Luke Brooks, Ben Hunt, Michael Dobson
CTR: Simon Mannering, Will Hopoate, Matthew Allwood, Willie Tonga
WFB: Anthony Millford, Sam Tomkins, Jack Wighton, Dale Copley, Michael Witt
There were a few success stories in there (Taumalolo, Peats, Ma'u), a few underperforming stars (Cherry-Evans, Mannering) and a few flops (Brooks, Wighton). I expect to make a couple of trades a week for the next few weeks.
From Shaun Powell
I was wanting your thoughts on Widdop. I'm looking to trade him in for Maloney to free up some cash.
Also Hampton or Tedesco? Was leaning towards Hampton for dual position status but don't know how he'll score when the dominant playmaker in Cronk returns?
Widdop looked great last week, racking up four try assists and eight goals from as many attempts in the Dragons' rout of the Tigers. He also did most of the kicking, scored 76 Fantasy points and is cheaper than most top halves.
A few things to keep in mind though: Widdop won't be playing against the Tigers every week, he won't get eight shots at goal every week, he won't get the same attacking opportunities every week, and his share of the general kicking workload could change with Sam Williams in the Dragons side this week (with Michael Witt out injured until Round 3).
Widdop will definitely make money in the short term and if he keeps dominating the kicking and slotting goals like he did on Sunday then he could become one of the better halves in Fantasy, but there are no guarantees just yet.
I'd take Tedesco over Hampton. Both players had above average scores on the weekend, with Tedesco scoring a long-range try and Hampton having a big game in attack, but the key factor I think is that Hampton also got the bulk of the kicking duties at Melbourne with Cooper Cronk missing. With Cronk back from injury this week I'd expect Hampton's kick metres to go down a long way.
From Whitz (@WhitDawg9)
Do you think Widdop will make high scores more consistently than Johnson will?
Yes, if only because Shaun Johnson has never been a consistent fantasy scorer. He's capable of scoring 80 or 20 on any given week. That doesn't mean he's a bad player to have in your team – but you just need to stay patient when he deals out the lower scores. He also did less kicking on the weekend than his new halves partner Chad Townsend, as well as less defending. Widdop could be a similar kind of scorer this season, but at least he'll probably be the dominant kicker at the Dragons (although we're yet to see how the workload's going to be shared between him and Sam Williams).
Tim Chase Rangihuna
I know I shouldn't be using my trades so early but Sonny Bill Williams – trade him? Thinking for Frizzel? Also Napa for Arona with Gallen out? Good moves?
There's nothing wrong with early season trades Tim; best to do what you can to get your squad in order quickly. I'll probably be using both trades for at least the first couple of weeks of the season.
I don't expect Frizzel to have too many more scores like the 77 he hit on the weekend, although the fact he moved into the starting side certainly helped. In any case, when it comes to trading out SBW it's worth keeping in mind what you're playing for: if you're focused on a head-to-head league that starts in Round 4 it's probably worth saving the trade and holding him now (as he'll be back in Round 5), but if points matter for your team in the next few weeks then it's not a bad trade to make. For Fantasy coaches with an eye on overall points, Williams can still be handy down the track due to the Roosters' great bye schedule so there's an argument for holding him as well if you've got the depth to cover for him in the next three weeks.
Arona is a good buy this week. He was a late inclusion in Cronulla's starting side on Monday night, played 60 minutes, scored 59 points (including a try) and his job security looks even better after being named to start at lock with Paul Gallen ruled out for six weeks.
That's it for now. As always, double check the official team lists, NRL judiciary results and the casualty ward - plus the Friday late mail - before locking in your team. Best of luck for the weekend.