Scout Report: Round 5 Fantasy Q&A

With everyone's favourite start-of-season cash cow Mitch Cornish dumped by Canberra, a group of new young guns impressing last week and Shaun Johnson averaging just 35 points a game, there are a lot of question marks heading into the fifth round of the NRL Fantasy season. Here are my answers to a few of them.

Official Round 5 NRL team lists
Round 5 NRL Casualty Ward
Broncos lose Kahu for Titans clash

Mitch Cornish, Ryan James – hold or sell?
(From Caolan Cullinane)

I'm holding both of them. Cornish will make you another chunk of cash if/when he plays again, and it's worth waiting and seeing how the Raiders go with Sam Williams in the halfback role before writing off Cornish's chances of lining up for the Green Machine for the rest of the season. James has a break even of 21 so will probably get another price rise this week – you bought him as a cash cow, and as he's only risen $55,000 in value so far you might as well get everything you can out of him before trading him out.

I've already lost $100k on Shaun Johnson, do I hold or cut my losses?
(From Jay Wood)

Again, I'd hold. He has had a very slow start to the season, with three scores in the 30s after a 41 in the first week of the season, but we all know what he can do. He was the second-best half in Fantasy last season, ahead of Johnathan Thurston (another half who started this year slowly but proved the doubters wrong last round) and I wouldn't be surprised if he's a 50-point player again before the end of the season. 

Then there's the fact he's already lost $105,000 in value. If you sell him now you effectively just cop that loss to your salary cap, and use up a trade. If, on the other hand, he matches Thurston's effort and scores 68 against Melbourne this week (as JT did against the Storm on Monday night), Johnson's price would start to rise and you can be certain a lot of Fantasy coaches would snap him up. 

Obviously he needs to improve his scoring soon to be worth keeping, but writing off a proven keeper after one month of mediocre scores is a risky move.

Hey Lone Scout, with the Tigers naming Lovett to start and Sue on the bench does this mean we should sell Sue and buy Lovett? Or will Sue go back to starting in the upcoming weeks?
(From Robert Cary)

Kyle Lovett is looking like a very, very promising cash cow, but I wouldn't be selling Sauaso Sue. He's got a break even of 10 for one thing so will keep making money, and there's also every reason he can keep posting at least decent scores from the bench. Trent Merrin played off the bench for the first three weeks of the season and averaged 67 points in that time, so it is possible to still get big scores off the bench. We'll see this week how many minutes Sue gets this week now that he appears to be in the front row rotation.

What is your view on Lovett's job security?
(From James Shepherd)

Obviously it's hard to predict, but the evidence we've got suggests Lovett is a good chance of sticking around. He was a late inclusion in the Tigers' starting side last week in the back row, with Sue moving to prop to cover for the injured Aaron Woods. In that game Lovett scored a try, made 46 tackles and didn't miss a tackle, keeping his starting spot this week even though Woods is back. Lovett played a big part in a side that almost beat the Bulldogs despite the absence of the Tigers' star prop, so there's every reason coach Jason Taylor keeps the faith in him for a while – assuming he can repeat that kind of performance. Every rookie player is a bit of a gamble, but he's got a big negative break even so will make a lot of cash this week if he can hit 40+ again.

Will Jack Bird hold onto the Sharks' five-eighth spot next week with Barba replacing Holmes at fullback? Or does he go back to bench second row or out completely?
(From Blair Brown)

With Fa'amanu Brown and Kyle Stanley both out for the season and Barba suspended, the Sharks have very few options at five-eighth right now, which is probably the main reason Bird is named there this week. If he excels against the Roosters (no easy feat) he might keep the spot, but coach Shane Flanagan has said already that he plans to use Barba at five-eighth for the long run this season. That could change now that veteran custodian Michael Gordon has been bumped out of the fullback role and onto the wing by youngster Valentine Holmes, but it still doesn't mean Bird is a lock for the No.6 jersey full-time.

Bird's best chance of keeping a starting spot is probably in the centres. He's got a lot of promise and the struggling Sharks can do with a change, so he's likely to feature in the team somewhere, but it's borderline impossible to predict where that will be at this point. I'll be waiting a week before snapping him up.

After John Falou's performance is it a good idea to trade him in?
(From Reflex Rapids)

Folau had a very quiet game first up, scoring just 10 against the Warriors, before his breakout two-try performance against the Rabbitohs. Given he's unlikely to score two tries every week Folau could have some very quiet scores on the wing. Having said that, he's in his preferred centre position this week with Brad Takairangi out, which could improve his involvement, and with Takairangi set to miss a total of three games Folau has a chance to stake his claim for a spot – he may even end up bumping out Ryan Morgan when Takairangi gets back. He's still cheap at just $140,000, but I'd be inclined to have a look at how he goes at centre this week before rushing him in.

Buy of the year: Soliola or Lichaa? Couldn't be anyone else?
(From Brent Clark)

I'd probably say Soliola, only because he's probably the best in his position (centre) in Fantasy this year, while Lichaa is still behind a few superstars in the pecking order at hooker. In saying that, I am absolutely loving having both of them in my team.

Is the Seggy and Lichaa combo as good as Smith and Farah right now based on price and points?
(From Nick Cussen)

Ha, not quite. Segeyaro and Lichaa have both had superb opening months of the season (apart from Segeyaro's injury), but it's too early to say they're the equal of two of the true legends of NRL Fantasy. Their prices have made them great buys, and they're both in my team, but there's still every chance I'll try to upgrade one or both of them to Smith and Farah after Origin.

That's it for this week, good luck to your team. Don't forget, Round 5 starts early with a 4pm blockbuster between the Bulldogs and the Rabbitohs.

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