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With all 16 teams in action this week, it might not be such a bad idea to conserve your trades, particularly if you're running low. However, peaked cash cows need to be traded out and some players are ripe for the picking.

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Here are my answers to a few pressing Fantasy questions ahead of Round 16.

Hey LS, upgrading Ryan James, not sure who to put in? Fensom? Frizell? Gurgess maybe if I go front row? What would you do?
(From Iain Stanmore)

Taking into account average scores, form and price, the basic rankings of second-rowers and front-rowers these days goes something like this: Corey Parker, Simon Mannering, Elijah Taylor, Andrew Fifita, Tyson Frizell, Aaron Woods, Shaun Fensom, Mike Cooper, Jesse Bromwich, Martin Taupau, Tohu Harris. Basically, I'd aim for the first name in this list who you don't own already.  

George Burgess – like Ethan Lowe and Trent Merrin – are probably just behind this pack, as 50-point players who are battling through Fantasy form slumps at the moment.

Is Ethan Lowe a sell?
(From Peter Foley)

I don't think so, but it's very close. Why you'd keep him: he is an 80-minute back-rower, is still averaging 50 points a game and at $376,000 you'll probably lose money by trading him out for a better scorer. Why you'd sell him: he's averaging just 35 points across his past three games (after averaging 59 in the month before that), has a break even of 70, and his impact in attack has dropped off significantly of late. Before Round 12 he averaged more than two tackle breaks and 110 metres a game; since then he's averaged half a tackle break and 83 metres.

So, if you think those low scores will continue, you're better off selling him now before his price plummets. If you think he could bounce back, the smart move is probably to save the trade rather than trading him for another keeper. If you're low on trades (say, less than a dozen remaining) I'd recommend the latter option, otherwise you could make the trade.

What should I do if both Smith and McCullough are not playing next week but I need to trade Hopoate and Gray out ASAP to get more points? Who should I hold?
(From Wesley Peato)

Smith and McCullough. You don't trade out a keeper for a one-week injury, and likewise you don't trade out a keeper because of a bye. Next week is a bye week so you'd be doing well to have something close to a full 17-man side anyway, so having no hookers for that round isn't the end of the world. 



Hi Scout. For my H2H league who do you reckon the better replacement for Segeyaro is – McCullough or Farah? Thanks.
(From Kent Bowater)

The correct answer is Cameron Smith if you haven't got him already. Beyond that it's very hard to split Farah and McCullough. Both will miss Round 17 – Farah on Origin duty, McCullough with a bye – while Farah will also miss Round 18 with the Wests Tigers' second bye. For overall points, that appears to give McCullough an edge. On the other hand, Farah's average score is slightly above McCullough's and Farah could theoretically improve his scores if he plays 80 minutes every week from here on. He played less than 70 minutes four times in the first seven rounds of the season, with Tigers coach Jason Taylor managing his workload ahead of Origin, but since then has played the full 80 twice and 76 minutes in his last game for the Tigers. Once Origin is done with, there's every chance the Tigers go back to getting full value out of Farah with 80 minutes every week.

So, for head-to-head I'd lean towards Farah and just cop a lower score for Round 18. For overall points McCullough might be the better bet (or, again, pick up Cameron Smith if you can).

With Segeyaro injured and only $30k left in the bank, is it worth getting Jake Friend or better holding on to Segeyaro?
(From Josh Brown)

Segeyaro's a trade in my book. Not only is he injured for a few weeks, but he actually was benched last week before kick-off with Api Koroisau starting ahead of him. At the very least that suggests Segeyaro's 80-minute days could be behind him.

Jake Friend's not a bad option, hitting regular scores in the mid-50s. He's a bit behind the established big guns (Smith, Farah, McCullough) but only by a few points at this stage. If you already have one of those three as your starting hooker, Friend is a more than handy backup.

Looking ahead at my final team, do you think it is wise going for four halves? I was looking at Thurston, Cherry-Evans, A. Reynolds and Hunt. Wise move?
(From Jayde Bowditch)

They're all obviously good Fantasy players, but I do think it's a little risky loading up on halves – only because it means it's likely you're a little short on depth in other areas. Ideally, you want to finish with a strong all-round side and some cover in all positions. So, outside your "starting" 13 that probably means a hooker, a half and at least one prop/second-rower and one winger-fullback/centre (dual position players are obviously handy here). If having four halves mean you don't have cover in another position, I wouldn't do it. You don't want to find yourself short of decent players because of a simple one-week injury in one of your weaker positions.

I was thinking about trading Euan Aitken for Carlos Tuimavave to pick up some money. Good or bad trade?
(From James Hannan)

I'd only consider it if you have a lot of trades left, and even then I'd have second thoughts. Yes Aitken has made a lot of cash, but as a 40+ scorer he's also probably a keeper this season – and provides handy cover at both centre and winger/fullback. A downgrade to Tuimavave would give you about $85,000 in cash, and you'd make another chunk of cash if/when you trade Tuimavave out, but is that worth it to you? You can spend two trades to make that extra money (and another trade to actually put that money to good use), or you can save three trades and just keep Aitken in your side. Complicating the question is the fact Jarrod Mullen could return to the Knights side as early as tonight, with Tuimavave a chance of being dropped. If you have trades to spare and desperately need cash then the trade might make sense if Tuimavave can hold his spot, otherwise hold Aitken (like I'll be doing). 

That's it for this week, make sure you check the late mail before tonight's footy begins and good luck to your team.



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