After a shocker of a weekend for injuries and suspensions, and the arrival of a new star cash cow, it's a crucial weekend for trades in NRL Fantasy.
I've gone into a bit of detail for a couple of popular questions this week, with a rundown on potential replacements for Adam Reynolds, James Graham and Aidan Guerra, and a close look at this week's two star moneymakers, Jack Bird and Lachlan Coote.
I have three players facing lengthy stints out. Who's the most important to move: Adam Reynolds, Aidan Guerra, or James Graham. And who should I be bringing in?
(From Richard Hartles)
It's the big question of the week, and one The Scouts are facing as well. Here's how I see it.
Guerra is the first man to trade out. The array of quality back-rowers in Fantasy this year means Guerra probably isn't among the very best in that position, so now could be the chance to trade up to a guaranteed keeper. Trent Merrin ($510,000) tops the list with 66 points a game; Simon Mannering ($482,000, 63ppg) isn't far behind; Paul Gallen ($523,000, 61ppg) is a great dual-position option although he may be rested over Origin; Shaun Fensom ($477,000) is getting back to his best after a slow start to the year; while Elijah Taylor ($424,000), Ethan Lowe ($438,000), Tohu Harris ($412,000), Tyson Frizell ($399,000) and Martin Taupau ($393,000) are the cut-price options.
If you want another cash cow, Kyle Lovett ($233,000) and Sio Siua Taukaiaho ($229,000) are still making money, or if you have Sia Soliola in your centres you could switch him to the back row and trade Guerra straight to cash-cow-of-the-moment Jack Bird ($189,000).
Reynolds has been a bit of a mystery this week as we waited for results of his scans, and is a tougher call as he appears to be the most reliable half in Fantasy this year, and has a great bye schedule if you're chasing overall points. His prognosis should be known at about lunchtime today, so keep an eye on my Facebook page page or follow me on Twitter for the latest updates. If it appears he'll be back in three or four weeks he could be a hold, otherwise he's a sell. (Keep in mind that the first weekend of May is Representative Round, meaning a four-week injury would only rule him out of three NRL games.)
UPDATE: South Sydney have confirmed Reynolds won't require surgery at this stage, but the halfback will still miss 6-8 weeks.
Ben Hunt ($460,000) could be the safest option as a replacement, playing behind a strong pack, getting some good kick metre numbers recently and gradually getting back to the form he showed last year. Daly Cherry-Evans ($482,000) is a class act but there are doubts about his ability to score well in a weakened Manly side, plus he'll miss an extra game with Origin. In saying that, he is averaging a whopping 58 so far this year. Johnathan Thurston ($423,000) probably won't get cheaper than he is now after back-to-back big scores. Mitchell Pearce ($383,000) and Jarrod Mullen ($407,000) could both be good value if they can lift their averages from the high-40s into the 50s, while Shaun Johnson ($360,000) is the wildcard – his average has dropped by almost 20 points a game this year, and his price has followed, meaning he will be terrific value if and when he returns to his old form. If you want to free up cash, Luke Keary ($233,000) could be an option if he picks up the playmaking slack left by Reynolds – although alongside Reynolds he has averaged less than 30 points a game so far this season. Expect his kick metres to rise significantly if he's partnered with Greg Inglis in the halves this week.
Graham's probably the least urgent player to sell, depending on your depth in the front row, as he'll probably be the first player back and there aren't that many better options up front. Aaron Woods is going great but will miss five games with Origin and byes, Martin Taupau ($393,000) is still good value despite rising $100,000 already this year, while George Burgess ($435,000) is always a great option and has a good bye schedule. Kade Snowden ($398,000), Jack de Belin ($379,000) and Aiden Tolman ($393,000) are all 50-point players at a good price, while Gallen and Andrew Fifita ($473,000) are the proven big guns.
Hey Scout. Coote or Jack Bird? Which one to bring in, and who has long-term prospects?
(From Geoff Derry)
Ideally, both. Lachlan Coote and Jack Bird are both going to make a lot of cash this week after big scores at the weekend, so as far as cash cows go you can't beat that duo this week. But with trades at a premium and injuries to cover, getting both might not be possible.
Judging which one's better is tricky. Coote has an injury-plagued past and costs more than $200,000 now, while Bird appears to be a genuine star in the making and is fresh from a match-winning performance against last year's minor premiers.
Yet, despite all the hype, I reckon Coote might be the more reliable long-term option. He's playing alongside a great halves pairing and behind a quality pack, meaning he should get a fair few scoring options, and with 14 tackle breaks and more than 300 run metres from the past fortnight he's getting some great numbers in the areas that fullbacks usually get the bulk of their points from in Fantasy. He has one try this season but is yet to get any try assists or try saves, meaning there's still room to improve. He's averaging 45 despite scoring just 20 in his first game back this season, and if he can average 40+ this year he'll be a keeper at winger/fullback.
Bird is a tougher one to predict. Yes, he did just score 83 against a very good team. On the other hand, that score did include two tries, an assist, 124 run metres and seven tackle busts – the kind of numbers that he won't repeat too often from five-eighth. A lot of his points came from two try-scoring plays, and without those kind of moments (which are rare) Bird's scores could drop significantly. Five-eighths don't usually get the same chances to run the ball as fullbacks, so their run metres and tackle break numbers are generally lower on average (see Anthony Milford's stats this year compared with last year, for example), and Bird's base stats from that game of 20 tackles and just 76 kick metres suggest he could be more of a 35-point scorer in the long run, like Kieran Foran. That's assuming he keeps Ben Barba out of the five-eighth spot for good. So yes, he's a great cash cow, and he's $20K cheaper than Coote, but if you had to pick one I'm guessing Coote will be the better long-term scorer.
At what point in the season (roughly) should be the time when we begin to trade off our successful cash cows for genuine fantasy keepers?
(From Dylan Read)
About now. Price changes are based on a player's last five games, so cash cows who have scored consistently should have pretty much peaked by now. Even if you don't have a Fantasy Coach subscription – which is a huge help in deciding when a cash cow has reached his peak – you can take an educated guess about when to sell a cash cow when their price rises start to shrink.
If you've been burning through trades since day one, when should we start saving trades?
(From Robbie Wilson)
Again, ideally, about now. Obviously that's easier said than done though with the cash cows needing to be sold and so many injuries to cover. If you have used up a lot of trades, it's also worth considering whether you actually need to get a new cash cow like Lachlan Coote or Jack Bird – by the end of the season, the money they make your squad might be less valuable than the trades you used to get them.
Is it worth getting Smith or Farah in your team yet? Bit worried about Farah's game time and Origin time for both players. Thinking about just sticking with Segeyaro and Lichaa all season.
(From Troy Menzies)
I'll be considering Smith and Farah after Origin. There's no harm at all in holding Segeyaro and Lichaa until then, at least.
I've had Andrew Fifita since the start of the season but he's not living up to expectations. Is it worth trading him for someone cheaper?
(From Anaru Crosby)
I don't think so. Obviously if you haven't used many trades and money is tight you might feel it's worth using a trade up for an extra bit of spending power, but the man himself says he's still only at 85 per cent confidence after recovering from a broken arm in the off-season. Once he gets back to 100 per cent he could be back to hitting 60+ scores on a regular basis, and if that happens you'll be kicking yourself if you sold him. If anything, I might be looking to buy him in a few weeks.
Is Jack Bird getting dual status anytime soon? He looks to be set in the five-eighth spot.
(From Brenden Barker)
He'll get dual position status once he plays four games in the halves, so potentially in three weeks' time.
That's all for this week folks, happy trading and the best of luck to your team in Round 6.