Scout Report: Round 8 Fantasy Q&A

Is Corey Parker finished in Fantasy? Is it time to trade our Arona or Ma'u? Is Daniel Mortimer a serious Fantasy option?

Before I get to this week's burning Holden NRL Fantasy questions, three quick tips to help you along.

Firstly, Test Match Fantasy is now open – click the 'Match Day' tab in Fantasy (or just click this link) and pick your six-man team from either the Kangaroos or the Kiwis, including a captain and a vice captain. There's no salary cap, so just take your best shot at which combination will score the best in next Friday's mid-year Test. The winner will pick up $500 plus two tickets to the 2014 Four Nations Final, so get selecting. You can change your team as much as you like leading up to the game.

Secondly, in case you missed it last week, the process for making dual position trades has been simplified in NRL Fantasy – it now works like it has in the past. So simply select a player to trade out, click the arrow next to a dual-position player in your team to move him into that empty slot, then pick a player from another position to trade in. (For example, click a half to trade out, click the arrow next to Anthony Milford to move him from winger/fullback to half, then select a winger/fullback to trade in.)  

Thirdly, a reminder about a couple of old trading rules to always keep in mind: only trade in keepers and cash cows, and never trade out a keeper. So, don't trade out one keeper for another, and don't trade in a mid-range player unless they will make you money. A keeper is any player who is among the top scorers in their position (upwards of 35 points a week for outside backs, around 50 or more for halves and forwards). The one exception to this rule is the occasional trade for the bye rounds, but that's only if you're focused on overall points rather than a head-to-head league.

Now, onto this week's big questions.

From Chase Nightingale
Hey Scout, we all know Parker has been a gun for the last few seasons. This season however he hasn't really fired a shot. With all the young talent out there (both prop & 2nd row) is it worth trading him out to free some cash and trade in a player who gets similar/more points?

It's the big question this week, isn't it? Parker has been one of the most high-profile Fantasy flops of the year so far, having previously rivalled Cameron Smith as the best player in the game. This year he's gone from a 65-points-a-game player to 53 points a game, and dropped $78,771 in value in the meantime. His reduced minutes and new front-row role have obviously taken their toll, and after last week's score of 43 (when he started in his preferred back row position, as he will again this week) his price will probably drop more.

Despite all that, I'm holding him. Parker still ranks fifth among all props and back-rowers for Fantasy points this season, which qualifies him as a keeper in my book. In those positions only Shaun Fensom, Sam Burgess, Andrew Fifita and Trent Merrin are scoring more than Parker on average each week, and all four players are more expensive than Parker's $398,829. The Broncos' bye schedule means Parker will only miss three matches over the bye period – less than most Origin players – and he's unlikely to miss a single head-to-head Fantasy round if he stays fit. Overall points players could consider an upgrade to Burgess, who will play all three major bye rounds, but even then you're probably trading one keeper for another.

Unless you think his average (of about 53) will drop into the 40s, it's probably wise to hold Parker. Trading him out now won't save you a lot of money and will cost you at least one all-important trade.

From Dan Horne
I'm thinking now that Gallen is back it might be time to trade Arona out. What are your thoughts?

Yep, it's probably time for Tinirau Arona to go. He's been a great cash cow – making more than $160,500 in price rises – while pumping out some good scores to boot, but his price has peaked and his minutes will drop with Cronulla's all-star back row getting back to full fitness. After back-to-back scores in the 20s he's not likely to hit his break even of 42 this week.

Always remember when trading out a cash cow, either bring in a cheap player to free up some cash or spend big on a genuine keeper. Avoid wasting a trade on switching one mid-range player for another.

From John Grasso
Do you think Daniel Mortimer is a good choice as an option during the bye rounds? I am playing for overall.

It should go without saying that buying Daniel Mortimer is a risk in Fantasy. He is averaging less than 10 points a game, playing very limited minutes as a bench hooker at the Roosters, and chances are if you have a late withdrawal in your team while Mortimer is in your squad, he will give you a single-digit score as an auto emergency.

Still, I can see the attraction of buying him for overall points Fantasy teams. For one thing, he is cheap and getting cheaper – he now costs just $84,910 with a break even of 17 (which would be a high score for him this year). For another, he's a good chance of starting in the halves in all three major bye rounds with Mitchell Pearce and possibly James Maloney away on Origin duty. He scored well in those rounds last season, creating the possibility of some handy bye round scores plus a decent run as a cash cow.

But does that benefit outweigh the risk? If you were to buy Mortimer just before Round 11, then over the Origin period he'd be likely to start three games in the halves (Round 11, 14 and 17) and play three games off the bench (Round 12, 13 and 16) so he wouldn't get consistent high scores over that stretch. There's also no guarantee he'd be a big scorer in those bye rounds – especially if Maloney misses NSW selection and remains the Roosters' chief playmaker – and you'd probably need to trade Mortimer out again after Origin to avoid having such a risky player in your reserves as a likely auto emergency in the back half of the season. 

If Mortimer's price plummets to something like $60,000 then I'd consider it before Round 11, but I wouldn't be buying him before then.

From Grant Rayner
What are your thoughts on Pauli Pauli? Worth trading in for the struggling Jason King for the possible quick cash?

The upside for bringing in Parramatta's Pauli Pauli is obvious – he's cheap at just $120,451 and he could have a decent run in the Eels' starting side after replacing Kenny Edwards in the back row this week, with Edwards to miss 4-6 weeks with a broken hand. But he's no sure thing either – in four games this season he averages just 20, and after playing the bulk of the game last week following Edwards' injury Pauli scored just 28. Another month of those scores will see his price rise by about $50,000, but is he guaranteed to keep his starting spot?

Bringing in someone of Pauli's price is a fairly low-risk play, but don't expect massive price increases like those for barnstorming cash cows Manu Ma'u and Tinirau Arona.

From Matthew Lawn Garado
Can you let me know your thoughts on my trades:

1. Elijah Taylor for Shaun Fensom (I'm worried about Fensom's break even from now on given his price rises already) 

2. Milford for Hayne (have I missed the boat given his price rise and his most certain inclusion in Origin?) 

Fensom's a good buy, although his break even is 60 this week so it's not like his price will skyrocket. Taylor remains a solid player to have with an average of better than 45 so there is no huge rush to trade him out, so this could be one to consider in a couple of weeks.

For the other trade, Hayne's going great but Milford is probably a keeper at the back as well. I'd try to keep Milford and upgrade someone else to Hayne – or wait til you can afford to do that. Hayne's price will obviously rise in the short term after his 81 on the weekend, but it's almost certain to drop at some stage in the season after a couple of quiet games (which every fullback has). 

In saying that, Hayne will only miss the three pre-Origin games over the bye period so he's a safer buy than Greg Inglis, and he's the best winger/fullback in Fantasy so far this year. If you don't trust Milford to maintain his performances and have two other quality scorers at the back, now might be the time to jump on the Hayne train.

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.

Start playing Holden NRL Fantasy now, get more hints and tips on my NRL.com page, or join in the Fantasy conversation on Twitter, Facebook or by sending me an email at iamthelonescout@gmail.com.