The first of the bye rounds is here, with just eight NRL teams in action this weekend. Those teams will be missing their Origin stars as well, making it very, very tough for Fantasy coaches to get a full 17 on the field this weekend. To help out, Fantasy coaches can make three trades this week rather than the usual two.
Don't panic if you don't have a full side this week – not many of us will, and if you're aiming to win your head-to-head league you can probably just kick back and take a week off from trading altogether. Most head-to-head leagues have a bye round this week, meaning you won't be matched up against a rival team at all. (Instead, it could be time to pick your six-man Origin Fantasy side.)
Still, if you're aiming for a decent score this week a tricky round has just been made trickier, with James Graham the biggest name set to miss Round 11 through injury while Daly Cherry-Evans could be out until Round 16 with his shoulder injury according to the Sea Eagles website. That could make DCE a trade, while Graham is still a hold at this stage.
Now, onto this week's popular questions.
Who's a good captaincy option this week? Also does Michael Maguire secretly have something against NRL Fantasy players?
(From Brandon Scott Lee)
Cameron Smith and Robbie Farah may be on Origin duty but there are a few other hookers who should play 80 minutes and score well this weekend – namely Andrew McCullough, Nathan Peats and Michael Lichaa. Neither Peats or Lichaa will have any competition for the dummy half role at their clubs with Eels bench hooker Isaac De Gois injured and Moses Mbye playing in the halves for the Bulldogs. Apart from that trio, Ethan Lowe, George Burgess, Shaun Fensom, Ben Hunt, Iosia Soliola and the in-form Tariq Sims look like the next best bets for captaincy this week.
And I'm sure it's nothing personal, but Maguire has messed with our Fantasy plans with his decision to shift Issac Luke to the bench in recent weeks and drop Chris Grevsmuhl out of the South Sydney 17 this week. The late mail is that Grevsmuhl could still play tonight, so keep an eye on the final teams before deciding whether to trade him out, but the Souths coach seems to be standing firm on leaving Luke out of the Rabbitohs' starting side.
If I don't use my three trades this week will I still have them next week?
(From Thomas Tetini)
You are only allowed to make three trades before the major bye rounds (Round 11, Round 14, Round 17) but everyone still gets 34 trades in total for the year. You'll only get two trades as usual next week.
I just heard James Graham will be ruled out of Sunday's game. This week's just getting better in Fantasy land isn't it?
(From Brandon Scott Lee)
It's certainly been a rough year with injuries. I've held Graham through his suspension and will hold him for now as well. He'll miss this week and next week with the Bulldogs' Round 12 bye, but should play every game bar 17 from then on and is a proven keeper in the front row.
Hi there – do you think it's time to offload Fensom or do you consider him a hold?
(From Kent Bowater)
Fensom is still averaging 51 points a week – which is keeper territory in my book – but he's certainly not the Fantasy gun he once was, due to losing his old role as an 80-minute lock. Soliola and Josh Papalii are Canberra's 80-minute back-rowers under Ricky Stuart this season, which is why Fensom has plummeted almost $100,000 in value. He's just about bottomed out and can still hit regular 50s so is hardly a must-sell, but if you want a top-level gun you're probably going to have to look elsewhere this season.
Is Ben Hunt a keeper? He's been a bit quiet lately and he's losing cash.
(From Rick Collins)
Yep. Again, he's averaging 51 points a game which is absolutely fine for a keeper in Fantasy, and he did score 51 last week without any tries or try assists. He was Fantasy's best half last year and is still about as reliable as they get – especially with top guns Adam Reynolds and Daly Cherry-Evans in the casualty ward at the moment.
If a player is a keeper, don't worry about their price – a player only "loses you cash" if you sell them.
Should I keep Josh Jackson? Or swap to Ethan Lowe?
(From Kane Johnston)
If you're playing to win your head-to-head league only, then keep Jackson. He'll only miss one head-to-head round due to the Bulldogs' Round 12 bye. If you're playing for overall points though, Jackson will miss four rounds between now and Round 17, making him a sell. Ethan Lowe will play in two of the major bye rounds (this weekend and Round 17) so is a handy pickup – although beware his attacking stats could drop with back-row weapon Jason Taumalolo likely to return for the Cowboys this weekend, and all Cowboys players might get fewer attacking chances without halves Johnathan Thurston and Michael Morgan around in Origin weeks.
How many more games until Aaron Gray is a dual position player? One or two?
(From Matthew Lippiatt-Sidman)
Players need to play four games in a new position to get dual-position status in Fantasy this year. Gray will play his fourth game of the season this weekend but has only played on the wing in two of them so far, so he'll need two more games in that position to be available on the wing as well as his current position of centre. So presuming he plays the next couple of weeks, he'll be a dual position player after Round 12.
For those who didn't see my Facebook or Twitter posts this week, here are this week's updates to the Fantasy player database:
New players: Chad Redman ($128,000 Knights hooker); Joe Boyce ($128,000 Broncos second-rower); Ken Maumalo ($128,000 Warriors winger/centre).
Position updates: Frank-Paul Nuuausala now a DPP 2RF/FRF; Apisai Koroisau now a DPP HOK/HLF.
Michael Parker-Walshe, who could come into the Cowboys side in the halves this week, will also be available in Fantasy on Friday afternoon.
Hey Scout, thoughts on Tepai Morea, he has got his starting spot back and scored well last week, a potential buy?
(From Harrison Elliott)
On the positive side for Moeroa is the fact that his Eels play on all three major bye rounds (good news for overall points) and he is capable of playing big minutes and making big scores when starting in the back row. He's also a fair bit cheaper than he was at the start of the year (now costing just $205,000) and has a break even of 18. On the other hand, his season average is a paltry 22, with just one score above 35 this year. That will improve, but by how much? If you've got trades left and want a decent scorer and potential cash cow for the Origin period he may be worth it, but buying him as a keeper is a gamble at this point. For head-to-head I'd avoid.
That's all for now, good luck this weekend.