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Star halfbacks Daly Cherry-Evans and Johnathan Thurston.

A shoulder injury to star Manly half Daly Cherry-Evans has thrown the cat amongst the pigeons for NRL Fantasy coaches this week, as they decide whether to use one of those last few precious trades. Read on for what to do with DCE plus my answers on whether to trade out Jack Bird, when Tohu Harris will become a dual position player and more.

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Round 20 NRL Late Mail

The big question: DCE? I'm playing head-to-head. I have Hunt and Johnson. I can afford to upgrade DCE to Johnathan Thurston if I use two trades. I have eight left. I'm thinking of biting the bullet and doing it but if I didn't I could use that cash to upgrade Taumalolo or Coote. Any updates on his injury or should I just burn the trades and go with JT?
(From Jack Surawski)

With it sounding like Daly Cherry-Evans will miss the next two weeks with a shoulder injury, he is probably a trade if you were playing for overall points. Every point matters in the overall points race.

For head-to-head you can probably hold him if you can make it into your league's top eight without him for the next couple of weeks, as he could be back in action in time for your league's finals series – saving you a couple of trades. 

We'll know for sure if DCE is out by Saturday afternoon, with Manly playing the Warriors at 3pm Saturday (5pm NZ time) so you can check before that whether he's confirmed in or out before finalising a trade.

The two top trade options are probably Johnathan Thurston – who is in excellent form, albeit expensive at $509,000; and Adam Reynolds – who has only just started to show some form but is cheap at $368,000. Both should score better than 50 points a game, although Thurston is scoring better than 70 a game over the past five rounds.

It all depends on the cash you have left over really. In your case, Coote isn't worth upgrading (he's among the best winger/fullbacks in Fantasy) but Taumalolo probably is, so you might be better off upgrading him and bringing in Reynolds for DCE. If you're confident Thurston can keep hitting 70s, and think Reynolds will score about 50 a week, then keep Taumalolo and splash the cash on Thurston. 

If you were in the top 20 with three trades left and Bird as an 18th man, would you trade out DCE for someone like Adam Reynolds if DCE doesn't play? Or would you save the trade? 
(From Matthew Leslie Bethel)

Assuming DCE is out, I think you have to trade if you want a shot at winning the overall comp. Every point matters in the overall race, so you probably need to use a trade to bring in another gun half like Adam Reynolds and then ride your luck with those final two trades. Even though South Sydney have a tough run home there's still every chance Reynolds can match DCE's scoring anyway.

Time to cash out Jack Bird? 
(From Ross Vernon)

You could, but even after a string of scores in the 30s he's still among the top-scoring Fantasy players available at centre. He's not in the top bracket of Fantasy halves and he's not the surprise packet for opposition teams that he was early in the season, but not too many centres are guaranteed to score in the mid-30s every week (Bird makes about 30 tackles a week) with the ability to hit 50+ if he does well in attack. Only consider selling him if you've got good depth already at centre. He'll probably stay in my squad as backline cover.

How many more games until Tohu Harris is DPP centre? 
(From Michael Collins)

He's still got a few games to go, unfortunately. Harris has actually only been named at centre in Melbourne's final official team list once this season – back in Round 13. In Round 14 he was initially named in the centres, then switched to the back row before kick-off, and this weekend just gone he was always named in the second row. So if he stays in the centres as named this week that will be his second game there, and then he'll need two more to get dual-position status in Fantasy (players need to officially play in a new position four times to have a second position added in Fantasy).

Obviously as a 40+ scorer Harris would be a handy player to have in your centres, but beware he's probably only a guaranteed 40+ scorer if he's actually playing in the forward pack. Harris's 30 in Round 13 was his lowest score of the season, and last week he would have had his second-lowest if he didn't score a try. It's a bit of a catch 22 then – to get dual position status he needs to keep playing in the centres, but if he plays in the centres his scores will probably drop. 

Would you bench someone like Tedesco if you believe they're going to have a low-scoring game? I think the Roosters will keep him as quiet as the Broncos did but for all I know he could bust 10 tackles and score a try so I'm not too sure. 
(From Brandon Scott Lee)

Yeah it's not as simple as you'd think, but that's the right idea. If you've got more outside backs than you need, bench the one who you think will have the smallest impact in attack that week. In saying that, some players can just score well against anybody – Tedesco scored a solid 52 against the Cowboys this year and a massive 100 against reigning champs the Rabbitohs – but most of his big scores have come against relative strugglers like the Titans (73) and the Eels (65 and 78). If you think he'll have a quiet one and you have a more reliable replacement in your squad it's not a bad idea. Personally, Tedesco will be in my 17 this week.

Is Bryce Cartwright a sell, due to demotion to the bench? 
(From Ben Vernon)

He is carrying a knee injury picked up last weekend, which appears to be the reason behind his benching. I'd probably hold for now, unless you can afford to bring in a top gun like Paul Gallen or Corey Parker.

Is Dylan Walker turning out to be a good buy for the run home? He's stringing together a few good scores. 
(From Aaron AP)

He is indeed. Walker had a great season last year and struggled with injury earlier this season, meaning his price (and Fantasy scores) dipped. He seems to have found his feet again now, so is one of several strong options if you need a new centre. 



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