The final major round of the season is here, meaning the run home is almost in sight for Holden NRL Fantasy coaches. Six NRL teams plus all Origin players are out of action this weekend, but you do have the chance to make three trades to adjust your squad. Remember, if you're playing in a head-to-head league and don't have any match-ups on this weekend, don't worry too much about this week's scores and instead plan on what your final "ultimate" team will look like in a few weeks.
And don't forget to get yourself in the running for State of Origin Fantasy, with another $500 up for grabs for next week's winner plus an extra $500 plus a couple of tickets to this year's Four Nations Final for the overall Origin champ.
With plenty of cheapies around as coaches look to free up cash to spend on Origin stars after next week's Game Three, here's my answers to some of your questions from the past week.
From Joseph Coffey
Do you think it's time to cash in on Starling, Copley, Mann, Mata'utia & Rona? I'm looking to use the 3-trade bye week to do so, I'm only focused on H2H.
Yes – if you don't need their points in Round 17, now is a great time to make use of the extra trade allowed this week and cash in those cash cows.
From Mahfusul Islam
Fa'amanu Brown or Jacob Gagan? Brown is more versatile because of his dual position status. Which player is likely to get longer run into the team?
Brown should be a better scorer as a five-eighth rather than a winger like Gagan, assuming he holds his spot in the side. At $142,178 he is more expensive though.
I reckon both will probably get similar price rises from here on in; Brown should get you more points but Gagan will free up more cash now, so it depends what suits your squad more. Keep in mind somebody like Gagan could be a low-scoring auto emergency for your team if one of your players is a late withdrawal across a weekend.
From Ryan Nagle
Hey Scout, will Mitchell Moses become half/wbf now that he's supposed to be playing fullback this week? Who do you reckon would be better for head-to-head, Moses or Tautau Moga?
Moses won't become a dual position player in Fantasy before the weekend, but he might next week if he's named at fullback for the Tigers in Round 18. With James Tedesco out for the season he presumably has better job security than Moga, who only gets his first start for his new team the Cowboys this week with North Queensland reshuffling their backline to cover for Johnathan Thurston who's on Origin duty.
From Grant Rayner
I'm thinking of downgrading Alex Johnston for Moga, good move?
It's not a terrible move, purely for the cash, but I wouldn't be banking on Moga getting an extended run in the Cowboys' side just yet.
From Micheal Nickolls
Hi mate, any good cash-out options or upgrades for Starling? I've got $105k in the bank.
If it's purely cash you're after (that is, you don't need an extra scorer in your squad) then Dayne Weston from Melbourne is the cheapest player in the game at $81,405, and available at both prop and the second row. He's unlikely to play so shouldn't be an unwanted auto emergency for your team. That should free up a lot more cash to bring in a top-line keeper elsewhere.
From Kent Bowater
Do you think Trent Merrin is a keeper? His scores aren't that great and he's not playing the full 80 anymore. Any thoughts?
Merrin has been battling injury and has backed up from Origin, and has still averaged 48.8 over the past five rounds. Before that he averaged 58 this season. He's still a keeper in my book, and a lot of Fantasy coaches will probably be trading him in over the next few rounds. Trade him if you're desperate (especially as he'll miss the next two weeks) but I wouldn't be surprised if he's back hitting 55 points a week from Rd 19 on.
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.