Origin is over, the byes are almost behind us and it's full steam ahead for the business end of the Holden NRL Fantasy season.
Hope your Origin Fantasy team served you proudly (and congrats to the Maroons for winning Game Three and the Blues for winning the series – everyone's a winner this week) but now it's time to knuckle down and plan your final key Fantasy trades to get a star-studded team together.
From Brad McTaggart
Who's your captain this week and why? I have Gallen, Farah and Hayne and all are backing up from Origin III. Farah plays on Friday night so I'm steering clear of him. I'm thinking Gallen might be the go?
It's the big question this week, isn't it? In the old days you'd just get Cameron Smith in your team, give him the 'C' and be done with it, but this year there are a lot of genuine contenders for the captaincy.
I do like your thinking with Gallen though. He'll have a few days off before Cronulla's clash with Newcastle on Sunday, he's got a ton of pride and doesn't want the Sharks to take the spoon this year, he'll be inspired by the team's comeback without him last week, and he's averaging a staggering 88 Fantasy points over his past three games. He'll probably get the nod from me. Farah's not a bad back-up option though.
From Jason Houldsworth
Hey Lone Scout, was wondering what to do with Jake Friend now: do you think now is a good time to trade him for say Cam Smith? Or do you think there is a chance of him playing the full 80 minutes again?
Friend has been good value over the bye rounds but now's the time to swoop on the big guns at hooker – both because the likes of Smith, Robbie Farah and Andrew McCullough are now available for every game and because Friend is losing minutes to the Roosters' bench hooker Heath L'Estrange. It now looks like Friend has become a mid-40s scorer while the top hookers are closer to mid-60s, so make the upgrade when you can.
From Ben Stewart
Will Fa'amanu Brown keep up the decent scores now Carney is gone?
Yes, Nu Brown should be a solid scorer at five-eighth and will keep his spot based on last week's effort. The Sharks don't have much to play for beyond looking to the future so it makes sense for them to give Brown every chance to shine. Don't expect his scoring to go near the top bracket of Fantasy halves though.
From Samuel Schulace
Good afternoon L. Scout,
What are your thoughts on bringing in CP13? He's relatively cheap considering what he can do. I was going to trade SBW out for him in order to make a 17 for this week and because Sonny has not been firing so much lately. What are your thoughts?
Yeah I don't mind it. As a front-rower Corey Parker's not quite the Fantasy player he once was, and he does have a high break even of 77 this week, but he remains a very solid scorer who is definitely more reliable than Sonny Bill Williams. He was awesome in Origin III as well.
If you're getting low on trades then it looks like a bit of a sideways move, and I plan on keeping SBW in my squad for the long haul. But with the Roosters on a bye Parker does play one more game than SBW and he should outscore him for the rest of the season, so it's a healthy upgrade in the long run.
From Alvante Harris
When will George Burgess be back?
With the Rabbitohs having a bye this week, he's not expected to miss a game.
From Sabin Karibasic
When is Andrew Fifita due back?
There are rumours he's a chance of coming back this week, although next week is more likely. He was initially expected to be out until Round 20 with his wrist injury. In any case, his break even is a whopping 111 so his price should plummet for a couple of weeks after gets back on the field.
From a lot of people
Are Mitchell Moses and Brenko Lee going to get dual position status this week?
Yes, both are now available as a winger/fullback as well as their original positions (half for Moses, centre for Lee). They're both cheap as well if you need an extra scoring player in the outside backs, or if you have a lot of trades left and are still chasing cash cows.
From Callan Langer
Who would be in your final ultimate team?
You can't buy every player you want, but with a good helping of cash cows, a bit of forward planning and a dash of luck you should be able to put together a strong Fantasy squad for the run home. Your final team should already be taking shape now, but the next few weeks will be key to putting the finishing touches on your squad.
I've got a few trades still to make, but here's the starting 17 I plan to have for the final few weeks of the season.
Hooker: Robbie Farah*
Front row: Paul Gallen, James Graham
Second row: Sam Burgess, Corey Parker, Shaun Fensom
Halves: Cameron Smith, Ben Hunt
Centres: Tim Lafai, Jamal Idris
Wingers/fullbacks: Greg Inglis*, Josh Dugan, Josh Mansour
Bench: Andrew McCullough*, George Burgess, Sonny Bill Williams, Adam Reynolds
*Players I had yet to recruit as of Round 17.
That's it for this 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. Best of luck for the weekend.