With Robbie Farah's injury throwing a spanner into the works and the rep season now looming on the horizon, here are the big Holden NRL Fantasy questions of the week.
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. And remember the team lists page will update with the final teams across the weekend, so check in on NRL.com every round to make best use of Fantasy's rolling lockout.
From Hammy Goodman (@HandsomeHammyG)
What do you reckon – trade Farah and bolster other positions, or hold him? Will be hard to fit him back in after several trades.
Farah is a sell. You can't afford to have more than $500,000 worth of your salary cap sitting on the sidelines for six weeks – and in fact he might be out until Round 13 considering State of Origin players will be rested from Round 11 and the Wests Tigers have a bye in Round 12.
Here's how I see the potential replacements for Farah – noting that if you're primarily playing for your head-to-head comp you probably don't need to worry much about the bye rounds:
• Cameron Smith ($498,984): Probably still the best player in Fantasy. Will miss the three main bye weeks due to Origin, but will play every head-to-head Fantasy round.
• Andrew McCullough ($423,795): Brisbane's dummy-half has joined the Fantasy elite this year, regularly making 60+ tackles a game. Will miss two of the three major bye weeks (Round 14 and 17) but play every head-to-head round.
• Apisai Koroisau ($181,678): The Rabbitohs cash cow cost just $107,000 three games ago but will keep making money until Issac Luke returns for South Sydney. Will probably need to hold the starting hooker role at Souths for 3-4 more games to justify buying him now, and the rep weekend means the NRL has a week off between Round 8 and 9 – so if Luke returns in three weeks then you've probably missed the boat on Koroisau.
• Jake Friend ($341,410): Friend has burst onto the scene for two reasons – he became an 80-minute hooker last week with Daniel Mortimer left off the Roosters bench (Mortimer didn't make the Roosters' 17 this week either), and he'll play all three major bye rounds. He's not a good option for head-to-head, but Friend could be a great pickup for overall points teams if Mortimer doesn't reclaim that bench spot. Mortimer will probably play in the halves during the pre-Origin games with at least one of Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney on Blues duty, but he does remain a chance of taking minutes off Friend from the bench until then.
• Nathan Friend ($375,803): Jake's namesake is averaging a very solid 53 over at the Warriors, who will probably keep producing erratic scores for a little while yet under a new coach. Friend is a hard-working tackler though and could be a decent mid-range option if you don't want to splash the cash on Smith or McCullough.
• Nathan Peats ($284,481): If you somehow haven't got him yet, Peats still comes pretty cheap. Also available in the back row.
• Sonny Bill Williams/Sam Burgess/Shaun Fensom: If you already have Nathan Peats in your second row, remember you can switch him to hooker to replace Farah and bring in a star second-rower. Dual-position trading has been simplified this week, so you just need to pick Farah to trade out, click the arrow next to Peats in your team list, then select a second-rower to trade in.
From Johnny Tobane
Just an inquiry, I'm in a head-to-head comp, is it wise to trade out Origin players for the Origin period? Eg. Should I trade Thaiday out for SBW? Thanks for your time.
I wouldn't worry about Origin much if you're focused on your head-to-head league – if you've got a regular comp (starting in Rd 4) then you won't play any head-to-head matches in the major bye rounds before each Origin game (Round 11, 14 and 17). So it doesn't matter too much if there are Origin stars in your team, although of course they will still need to back up from Origin to play on the following weekend.
From Geoff Derry (@gderry)
Hey Scout. What to do about Michael Dobson? He was making good cash and not selected again. Should I upgrade to Inglis or wait?
Dobson is the back-up half at Newcastle and won't play in all likelihood while Jarrod Mullen and Tyrone Roberts are fit and firing. You could hold him on the off chance injury hits the Knights halves again, but otherwise I'd keep an eye out for a trade. Inglis is a great option at the back in the long run, although beware he will miss two head-to-head rounds and all three major bye rounds during the Origin period. If you haven't got him yet, Michael Witt is still cheap, available at both half and wing/fullback and is guaranteed to make money after scoring 44 last week.
From Pat Rowley (@prowley84)
Anthony Milford looks like he's going to lose even more cash this week. Are you sure he's a keeper?
I think he probably is, and will be keeping him this week. In the winger/fullback position, only Greg Inglis, Jarryd Hayne and Josh Dugan are certain Fantasy superstars, and all three of them will play Origin. Like any player who scores most of his Fantasy points through attacking plays, Milford won't be consistent, but even after two scores in the 20s he's still averaging 42 points a game this season.
If you think Milford is a keeper, then you need to ignore his price movements and take the good with the bad. If you believe he'll be scoring 20s rather than 40s and 50s from here on out, then sell.
From Nick Crocker @nickcrocker
How long to persist with Reynolds and Cherry Evans in the halves?
I assume the "Reynolds" you have is Adam, who has been below par this year and dropped in value by about $43,000. Despite that, he could be one of the better players to have over the Origin period in terms of overall points. His Rabbitohs will play in all three major bye rounds, and in those pre-Origin weeks will be taking on weakened sides from the Sharks, Tigers and Titans. He will miss two head-to-head Fantasy rounds during the bye period though.
Cherry-Evans is a trickier one. Usually a bona fide Fantasy superstar, DCE tends to produce quality attacking stats as well as reliable base stats from kick metres and tackles. He's still a strong defender for a half but the signs are that he might not be Manly's dominant kicker for much longer, with Kieran Foran taking on more of the long kicking the past couple of weeks. Last week Foran made 267 kick metres compared with Cherry-Evans's 71. If that becomes a long-term trend then DCE is no longer a Fantasy must-have and is probably worth trading. He's also set to be ruled out this week with an ankle injury (which might also explain last week's low kicking workload) so keep a close eye on the late mail before locking him into your side this week.
From Micheal Nickolls
A question on cash cows, hope it makes it into you Q&A this week. Have these guys topped out on cash: Paul Vaughan, Taumalolo & Dale Copley?
If those three guys all hit their average score this week, then chances are their price will stay the same or go backwards. In saying that, all three have the ability to still make a bit more cash.
Vaughan is a great worker in the Raiders pack and is certainly capable of stringing together a few 50+ efforts (his average is 42). Taumalolo is coming off two bad scores but spent some time in the centres after Antonio Winterstein's injury for the Cowboys last week and went off injured the week before, but at his best he's a wrecking ball in attack who can easily rack up 60s. Granted, he'll need about 60 to avoid a price drop this week – so now's not a bad time to trade him if you don't think he'll bounce back – but I'm pretty confident he has some more big scores in him. Copley is playing on the wing at Brisbane so won't be a reliable scorer, but if he grabs a try or two he should get a price bump. I'll probably wait until then before cashing him out.
That's it for this week, best of luck for your trades.