It's been a controversial week off the field but this weekend the focus shifts back to where it belongs, with all 16 NRL clubs again in action for Round 13. Man-of-the-moment Daly Cherry-Evans is set to return from injury against the Broncos, while Paul Gallen and James Graham are also making their comebacks. As I mentioned on Wednesday, a handful of players are now available at both centre and wing/fullback in NRL Fantasy as of this week – Aaron Gray, Dane Gagai, Peta Hiku, Jeremy Hawkins and Sione Mata'utia – giving Fantasy coaches a little more trading flexibility.
We're at the midpoint of the season so you should be starting to get an idea of who your trade targets are for the run home, as you assemble your "final" Fantasy 17. To help out, here are my answers to some of this week's big questions asked on Facebook and Twitter.
Is it better to get Elijah Taylor or Jason Taumalolo?
(From James Hannan)
Basically, it depends on the cash you have to spend. Elijah Taylor is a guaranteed keeper this year – averaging 55, with just three scores below 50 (lowest score of 42) and two above 70. He's an 80-minute tackling machine made for Fantasy. He does cost $441,000 though, and with a break even of 59 could drop in price a little this week.
Taumalolo is significantly cheaper at $358,000 and is on the rise with a break even of 33. His price and season average (47) have been weighed down by an injury-affected score of 4 in Round 8, but apart from that he averages 51. He's scored more than 50 in half of his games, with just the one 70+ effort last week. Unlike Taylor, Taumalolo relies on big run metres and tackle breaks, which he is starting to get a lot of during the Cowboys' winning streak.
Taylor is the safer and probably better option. Taumalolo is an in-form wrecking ball who is good value, but might not quite match the big guns at the end of the season.
Adam Reynolds and DCE: hold or trade?
(From Blair Brown)
Hold both. Cherry-Evans is set to play tonight while if you've held Reynolds this long you might as well keep him – he could be back next week.
Hi Scout – do you think trading Sio Siua Taukeiaho to Greg Inglis is a good trade this week?
(From Kent Bowater)
Taukeiaho has been a very solid cash cow who has hit his peak, dropping $10,000 in price last week after rising $197,000 over the course of the season. He's a bench forward at the Roosters averaging about 39 points per game, but that's inflated by a 60-minute performance at lock in Round 7 (for 58 points) and a 52-point score in Round 9 including a try. He's averaged 37 from the bench, which is just shy of keeper territory, and with a break even of 49 his price will probably fall again next week. Holding him isn't a terrible move, but his moneymaking days appear to be over.
Inglis, who costs just $5000 more than Taukeiaho, has been a Fantasy gun in years gone by but hasn't been at his best this year. Still, despite having just a single 50+ score to his name this season, Inglis is averaging a solid 41 – and he scored an impressive 44 in 56 minutes before leaving the field on Saturday. He's $106,000 cheaper than he was at the start of the year, but the biggest count against him is that he'll miss four of the next six weeks (Round 14, 15, 17 and 18) through byes and Origin. For that reason I wouldn't be buying him now, but he could be a steal before Round 19.
Should I swap Corey Parker for someone who makes the same points and isn't in Origin, or should I keep him?
(From David Barrios)
Keep him. Parker is averaging close to 62 points a game this year – more than anyone else in Fantasy – so if you trade him out you're only going to want to trade him back in later.
Any idea on how long Dane Gagai will be at fullback for the Knights?
(From Sean Compton)
Probably for as long as Jarrod Mullen is out. Mullen's injury has meant Kurt Gidley has shifted from fullback to the halves - somewhere where the Knights are particularly light on now that Tyrone Roberts is also injured. Roberts is listed as being out until Round 16-18, while Mullen could be out all season. If and when they both return though, expect Gidley to move back to fullback and Gagai to return to centre.
Is it too soon to take a gamble on Billy Slater? Presumably his price is about as low as it will get, but at the same time there will be time missed for Origin and associated risks...
(From Rob Cope)
The problem with Slater isn't Origin, it's that he's not really a Fantasy-style player. He's probably the best fullback in the game but falls into the Kieran Foran category of super players who don't really get the stats to make them quality buys in Fantasy. Slater's positional sense and awareness at the back is second to none, but he simply doesn't get the tackle breaks that make the top Fantasy fullbacks (think Josh Dugan, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, James Tedesco) score so well. He's a mid-30s scorer, which isn't bad, but isn't worth splashing out for either.
When is Josh Mansour likely to play? Was hoping he would be a cheap swap from someone like Taukeiaho?
(From Eddy Durham)
With Penrith having the bye in Round 14, expect to see him back the following week. Either way, Mansour has a break even of 74 so give him a week or two before snapping him up – he started the season costing a huge $450,000 and could be cheaper than $300,000 in a few weeks. On his day Mansour is a tackle break king, so he could be a terrific buy for the back end of the season.
Trent Merrin hasn't really been performing is it worth trading him? And Spina has been kicked off the bench so is a swap with Nathan Brown a good idea?
(From Dexter Greyvensteyn)
I don't like the idea of trading out traditional keepers who are still averaging more than 50 points a game. Therefore I'd be keeping Merrin, who could also be out of the Origin side when Paul Gallen returns for Game Two, making him available for every round after the Dragons' second bye in Round 14.
The Spina-Brown trade also doesn't grab me that much either. There's only a $42,000 price difference between them so you wouldn't get much cash out of the trade, and Brown could drop out of the Souths side once Adam Reynolds returns and John Sutton reverts back to the forward pack. If you're desperate for cash now you could trade Spina for a $128,000 cheapie, otherwise hold him in the hope he'll be back (at least when the Cowboys play without their Origin stars in Round 17) and make some more cash.
Thoughts on Tohu Harris? I've had him since Day 1 and I'm happy with his consistent 40s but if he doesn't start hitting 50s again should I consider him ruling him out as a keeper?
(From Brandon Scott Lee)
Yeah he's a bit of a worry, having not scored a 50 since Round 7, but as you say he is still remaining consistent. He is still playing close to 80 minutes a week with solid enough base stats, so it's probably just a case of him making a bit more of an impact in attack to get back into those 50+ scores. His average for the season is still above 50, so I'd give him at least another week before writing him off. If nothing else, he should take on more responsibility against the Eels in Round 14 when the Storm play without their Origin stars.
At what point should we be cashing out on players and buying nuffies?
(From Nicholas Brbot)
About now. Although, if you're playing for overall points, it's worth bringing in cheap players who will still score some points for you in the major bye rounds.
I'm in a head-to-head league and want to get rid of Ryan James. I have a bit of cash in the bank so that I can afford Woods, Bromwich, Graham etc. Which player should I trade him for (considering byes)?
(From Blake Argus)
For head-to-head, I would be pretty much ignoring the byes. Most players you bring in now will sit out one head-to-head round because of a bye, but that's not worth leaving them out of your squad in the long run. Remember, your goals for head-to-head are: 1) make your league's finals series; and 2) have a team packed with superstars by the start of the finals (starting in Round 22). Basically, that means trying to get the best scorers you can, regardless of bye schedules. Based on the first half of the season, the best Fantasy props are Andrew Fifita, Paul Gallen, Aaron Woods and Jesse Bromwich.
That's it for this week, best of luck to your team.