It's a massive week for NRL Fantasy, with standard head-to-head leagues kicking off this weekend. Make sure you've got a full league before Friday night's game begins – if you're short on teams you can add celebrity teams (like mine) and if your league isn't full by kickoff then celebrity teams will automatically be added to your league. Your league administrator can do this by clicking on the settings icon (the little cog) on the leagues page on fantasy.nrl.com. (And if you get the League Flexi Pass, you can start a league with as many teams as you want and start it when you want.)
I've had a few questions this week about whether to buy or sell certain players with State of Origin in mind. Origin is still a while away so you don't need to do too much bye planning yet (and if your top priority is winning your head-to-head league I'd suggest ignoring the bye rounds altogether) but it's worth keeping in mind that most Origin players will still be good value in Fantasy during the series.
Remember, every NRL player will miss at least two rounds this year due to the byes, and most Origin players will only miss one extra game because of Origin, with both their club's byes falling on pre-Origin weeks. Here's a quick guide when considering which Fantasy stars to keep or trade.
Origin players to keep (only set to miss three games over Origin): Broncos, Raiders, Titans, Sea Eagles, Storm, Knights, Panthers, Sharks, Dragons, Roosters, Warriors. That includes Corey Parker, Cameron Smith, Daly Cherry-Evans, etc.
Origin players to trade (will miss at least five games over Origin): Wests Tigers, Rabbitohs, Eels. That includes Robbie Farah, Aaron Woods, Greg Inglis, etc.
The Bulldogs and Cowboys will miss four games over Origin, so keeping or trading them depends on the depth in your squad. And again, if you're playing to win a head-to-head comp only, I'd seriously consider holding onto all your gun players all season.
Now, onto this week's big questions.
Should I just give up now?
(From Paddy Mclaughlin)
No! Even if you aren't flying high in the overall rankings after three weeks, there are still a lot of ways to win in Fantasy this year. Standard head-to-head comps only start this week (and beating your mates is the real joy to come out of playing Fantasy, I reckon), plus there is a weekly cash prize up for grabs every round. Then there's the standalone Origin Fantasy rounds and the overall Origin Fantasy prize, plus Test Match Fantasy, Finals Fantasy, club champion prizes...
What I'm saying is, stick with it, and you are still every chance of being a winner this season – even if it's just thumping a mate's team over the weekend.
What is your ranking?
(From Eddy Durham)
709th. Could be better, could be worse. Once I start picking the right bench and captain things should start to improve a little for the Scouts. I've burned through a few trades but do have a nicely balanced squad in place this week.
Send us a list of your keepers, I wanna know who to keep and who I can cut. Taumalolo isn't cutting it at the moment.
(From En Sabah Nur)
I won't give you a list, but my general rule is keepers are forwards and halves who score 50 points a week or better, and outside backs who score 40 points a week or better. Obviously some players score well above that, and they are your captaincy options, but I wouldn't trade out anyone who you think can hit that target. Your goal should be to recruit 17 or more players you can consider "keepers" by the end of the season.
Should I keep Shaun Johnson?
(From Ajay Kingi)
I think so. Johnson averaged in the mid-50s last season and is certainly capable of getting back there, if he gets back to the form that helped win New Zealand the Four Nations last year. Chad Townsend has been taking on a bigger playmaking role at the Warriors this year but on his day there are few attacking weapons that can match Johnson. If you do keep him though you probably have to accept he'll be an inconsistent Fantasy scorer, as he traditionally was, so if up-and-down scores from him are going to frustrate you every week there's always the option to jump ship to a more reliable option like Adam Reynolds or Daly Cherry-Evans.
Are Shaun Johnson and Jesse Bromwich good pickups in the coming couple of weeks are they likely to be bottomed out to bargain prices and increase from there on?
(From Eddy Durham)
I like your thinking, Eddy. Certainly there are a few gun players having quieter-than-usual starts to the season, and these guys could be great mid-year buys. Bromwich, like Johnson, has been a little bit quiet on the Fantasy front so far but is almost certain to be a keeper by the end of the year. Keep an eye on them.
Chances of Daniel Mortimer staying on the sidelines for Kane Elgey?
(From Daniel Schorn)
It depends on how Elgey goes really. Mortimer's wrist injury means Elgey's got about a month now to show what he can do at the Titans and there have been big raps on him in the lower grades. If his defence is shaky though you might see Mortimer come back in a month, but there is some talk Mortimer might play in the halves at the Titans again this season. If you've got Mortimer, like I do, there's no rush to trade him out as his price won't move while he's injured, but if Elgey has a big game this week he could be an obvious trade option next week to free up cash.
Is Taupau worth getting? I'm thinking of trading in Ryan James now that his work-rate/minutes will go down.
(From Lance HestheDj Naera)
I reckon Ryan James has at least one more price rise in him – I'll be holding him this week – but I do agree Martin Taupau is one of several good buys on offer this week. He was at his blockbusting best with a massive 83 against Souths and is getting through a lot of work at lock, despite not playing the full 80, and is also capable of racking up the tackle busts. He'll make more money than James will, and could be particularly busy this week with Aaron Woods out.
Is Lolohea worth a pickup with break even of 7 and at least six weeks guaranteed at fullback?
(From Noah Harrison)
Yep. Tuimoala Lolohea was terrific at fullback against Newcastle in Round 1, scoring 67, and while he won't do that every week he's a great chance of being a quality scorer over the next six weeks while still making good cash.
Is it worth trading out Cameron Smith for James Segeyaro to get some cash for other positions?
(From Tim Wood)
No. Unlike Robbie Farah, who will miss five games over Origin, Smith only misses three (the Storm have both their byes in Origin weeks anyway) so he's not worth trading out over Origin. That means he's a keeper all year, so keep him. He'll outscore Segeyaro this season, and Segeyaro's pretty close to Smith's price now anyway.
Hi LS, can you tell me, has Tyler Randell been injured? He has been named in the squad every week and only played the first week. Do you think I should hold on to him at the moment because of his break even is only 3? Or should I think about moving him on?
(From Rick Pearce)
The Knights are in a tricky spot where they've got a Kangaroos player, Sione Mata'utia, who's not making their starting backline. So they're using him off the bench (despite being named 18th man) and playing him at fullback, with Kurt Gidley sharing the hooker role with Adam Clydsdale – meaning they don't need a bench hooker like Randell. Right now they're winning with that setup, so it's unlikely to change. If there is an injury in the backline though, expect Mata'utia to start and Randell get his bench spot back. He'll probably still get a few price rises this season, but if you can find the cash to upgrade him to somebody like Michael Lichaa that looks a good move.
Who should I trade for Soward?
(From Danieal Forsyth)
There are a lot of options. Daly Cherry-Evans and Adam Reynolds are the reliable big guns in the halves so far this season, but they're expensive. Lolohea is still good value and will free up cash, Aidan Sezer is underpriced and should be busier over the next few weeks with Daniel Mortimer out injured, Kane Elgey will free up a lot of cash but there are no guarantees about his scores, and Johnathan Thurston and Shaun Johnson have both dropped $70,000 in value (and are still falling) but could be great buys in a week or two.
That's it for this week folks, best of luck to your team.