Canberra Raiders tackle machine Shaun Fensom is set to play in Round 1 after a quicker-than-expected return from injury.

Scout Report: Pre-season Fantasy Q&A - Part 3

Here we are, just a week away from the start of the new NRL season. Sixteen coaches around the NRL are fine-tuning their plans for Round 1, and thousands of Fantasy coaches around Australia and New Zealand (and elsewhere) are also fine-tuning their 25-man squads for the start of the year.

Lone Scout's season Q&A: Part 1
Lone Scout's season Q&A: Part 2
More Fantasy hints from the Lone Scout

It's a crucial time for NRL Fantasy, so I'm back to answer a few more popular questions ahead of the first batch of team lists to be announced next week on NRL.com.

Can I add the Scouts and other celebrity teams to my Fantasy league?
(From a few people)

Yes you can! You have to be the league creator to do it. Here's how:

- On the website, go to Leagues, then click the little settings cog icon. On the left you'll see a 'Manage Coaches/Add Celebs' option; click that then click the 'Add a celebrity player' button.

- On the mobile app, select your league, click About, click Edit, click Entered Teams, then scroll down and select 'Add a celebrity player'.

Is it still unlimited trading during rolling lockout next week LS? And will you beat our very own famous celebrity The Renegade?
(From Karl Kfive Tafea)

Yep, you can trade every player from a team that is yet to play right through to Monday night (of course, every team bar the Dragons and Storm will be locked out by Sunday night). Once a team's game begins in the NRL, all their players are locked either in or out of your Fantasy team. That means for Thursday night's season kickoff, you really only need to have any Broncos or Rabbitohs players you're considering locked in or out of your team – the rest of your squad you can continue to change on Friday.

And yes, I notice The Renegade is now among the Celebrity Coaches you can take on in head-to-head leagues, along with fellow Fantasy group representatives NRL Fantasy Weapons and Over The Line Sports, plus NRL.com Fantasy guru Chris Kennedy, NRL.com contributors Erin Molan and Yvonne Sampson, and myself. The rivalry will be fierce, no doubt.

The comp that we create – if it doesn't get enough people join will others automatically get added to the comp to make up the numbers?
(From "BJ Bigdog")

Yes if it's a public league then more teams will be added to the league when the season begins. That won't happen for private leagues, although the celebrity teams can be added to those leagues to help make up the numbers.

Question 1: Is Ben Barba worth buying this year or should we just ignore the cheap price tag and go for someone who is more consistent? Question 2: Do you think Mitchell Aubusson will start in the hooker role ahead of Mcllwrick to begin the season? And are either of them good buys?
(From Nicholas Heffernan)

I'm a little wary of Ben Barba's scoring potential – his scores could improve if he gets more regular kick metres at the Sharks, but he'll still rely largely on attacking plays (run metres, tackle breaks, tries and assists) for his points which makes him an inconsistent option. Any player going to a new club has to have some question marks over him in Fantasy.

I reckon Aubusson's more likely to play a back-up hooker to McIlwrick rather than getting the starting spot, but we'll obviously see when next week's team lists arrive. He's obviously able to cover various other positions so is handy as a bench utility (and he was named on the bench for the Roosters' final trial), and for that reason I'm currently leaning towards playing it safe and leaving him out of my squad this year. NRL.com Fantasy guru Chris Kennedy is convinced Aubusson is still one of the players to avoid in Fantasy.

 

 

Do you think Shaun Fensom will be playing 80 in Round 1 or will he take a few rounds to go back to his 80-minute role?
(From Byron Monk)

Fensom might be a slow starter in terms of minutes this season, but that doesn't necessarily make him a bad buy. Like last year, player price moves will be based on a five-week cycler, with price moves weighted towards more recent scores. Prices will start moving from Round 1, but the weekly changes themselves aren't as dramatic as they used to be – meaning if Fensom has a couple of quiet weeks but then starts 

Potential cash cows or good buys from the Titans while the players are stood down?
(From Jourdan Wheeler)

It's obviously hard to predict what's going to happen with the Titans early in the season, but recent events have certainly improved the prospects of Kierran Moselely and Ryan James grabbing starting spots in Round 1.

Is it a good idea to start the season with Farah? I can't see him dropping much in price. And could he go over $600k?
(From Tapuwae Te Maru)

With somebody like Robbie Farah, his price changes are pretty much irrelevant. He's the standout gun in Fantasy at the moment, with Cameron Smith on the sidelines, so you're buying him for his scoring ability rather than his ability to make you money. At $588,000 he does cost a lot, but he gives you that safe option as a reliable captain every week who can post the occasional massive score.

The reason you wouldn't go for Farah is if you wanted to go for a potentially underpriced big scorer like James Segeyaro or Issac Luke, or if you wanted to pick two cash cow hookers in a bid to make a ton of money for your squad. 

Hey Lone Scout, I'm going for two cash cow hookers, Lichaa and Granville. Am I setting myself up for failure?
(From André Fitisemanu)

It's hard to say with certainty what the "best" strategy at hooker is, as those guys are both capable of getting big price rises. But the risk there is that you will want two strong hookers in your team eventually – hooker is one of the most vital positions in Fantasy – so by going with two cheap options you need to be confident you'll make the money to afford the necessary upgrades down the track. The other thing to remember is that if you don't have somebody like Farah in your squad, you'll need a reliable captaincy option somewhere else – don't forget skippers get double points in Fantasy, so they're effectively twice as important as any other play in your team.

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