Scout Report: Pre-season Fantasy Q&A #1
NRL.com's Lone Scout answers questions from NRL Fantasy coaches in the countdown to the 2016 Telstra Premiership season.
The news is that JWH and Cordner will miss up to 10 rounds. Who's likely to replace them? Is Sio Suia Taukeiaho worth a look?
From Brad Thorne
He is, along with the rest of the Roosters pack. Dylan Napa always makes a big impact when he's on the field and could excel with more minutes, and I do like the look of tackle break machine Taukeiaho if he gets a starting spot. Mitch Aubusson could also get Cordner's spot (but remember my 'Mitch Aubusson Rule': never buy Mitch Aubusson). You'd think all players in the Roosters pack who get increased game time in the absence of Cordner and Waerea-Hargreaves should make some kind of improvement – whether it's enough improvement to make serious money in Fantasy is another question.
There is a lot of value in the WFB this year: Mansour, Slater, Fergo, Mann, Gordon... Which one is the best pick?
From Lachlan Hope
There are good arguments for all of these guys. Mansour and Slater had underwhelming Fantasy seasons by their usual standards last year so look undervalued, assuming they can bounce back to their form of previous seasons. Ferguson, Mann and Gordon all look set for score boosts because they're set to get a full-time fullback role this season, with Ferguson replacing Roger Tuivasa-Sheck at the Roosters, Mann set to slot into fullback at the Dragons to allow Josh Dugan to move into the centres, and Gordon going from sharing his time between fullback and the wing at the Sharks last season to becoming a full-time No.1 this year at Parramatta.
To be honest, any three of those guys will probably produce decent scores and make money. Personally I see Gordon and probably Ferguson as fairly reliable, Mann's a bit of a question mark (is he the type of player to produce a lot of tackle breaks and run metres?) and Mansour and Slater could be borderline keepers if they can stay fully fit and get back to their old scores. Of course, there are no guarantees that will happen, and Mansour wasn't at his best in Penrith's trial game last weekend.
How will the new interchange rules affect scoring for the forwards?
From George Tatana McCarten
This issue has been discussed a lot this season, with a reduction of interchanges to just eight per team. Some feel like this is going to revolutionise Fantasy, but I think for the most part it won't have too much effect. The total number of minutes to be split between the forwards in a team won't change. What we might see is props getting a single 30-minute stint on the field instead of multiple shorter stints, or forwards who used to play 70 minutes a game play the full 80 minutes.
There are a few obvious examples of Fantasy guns who are capable of playing the full 80 but didn't last season – like Shaun Fensom and Trent Merrin – but those players also happen to be at clubs that have a lot of other strong back-row options at the Raiders and Panthers respectively, so there's no guarantee their minutes (or Fantasy scores) will increase.
The changes could mean teams opt to play an 80-minute hooker rather than use an impact man off the bench for the final 15 minutes of a game – although on the other hand, those super-subs could be even more dangerous late in the game this year against tiring forwards who haven't had much of a rest themselves.
The upshot of all that? I'm not worrying too much about the possible effect of the new interchange rule, at least until we see it in action.
Thoughts on Agnatius Paasi? His mins probably won't change but do u think his points will go up from a heavier work load? He looks to be in great form at the moment.
From Matthew Leslie Bethel
It all depends if he gets a starting spot, really. Agnatius Paasi was arguably the best player at the Auckland Nines, which is not a sentence I would have expected to write a year ago. The Titans forward was in everything, scoring tries, offloading at will, making metres, putting up bombs, you name it.
The NRL is obviously a different ball game, but it's hard to resist the form he's showed so far this year. He was also good at the end of last season – playing 80 minutes in the back row for the last three weeks of the season – so the potential is there. If he gets good game time (in the back row especially) he'd be great value at $267,000, but if he comes off the bench he may be no better in Fantasy than he was last year. Chris McQueen, Ryan James, Zeb Taia and Luke Douglas look like being the big-minute men in the Titans pack, meaning Paasi could be one to watch if an injury hits one of those guys.
Is RTS worth his price tag now that he's with the Warriors?
From Lance HestheDj Naera
In short, probably not. Tuivasa-Sheck is still every chance of being the top-scoring winger/fullback in Fantasy this year, but does that mean you should use up $505,000 of your salary cap on him? I won't be. One reason is he's playing at a new club, where he could take some time to click – as demonstrated by his surprisingly rusty performances at the Auckland Nines. Another reason is as an outside back he's likely to have at least a few quiet games, which would see his price fall quickly (he needs to score in the mid-50s every week to avoid a price drop). Your best bet is probably to leave him out of your starting squad, hope he starts the season slowly and gets cheaper, then snap him up on the cheap once he starts peeling off big scores again.
Jackson Hastings vs Ash Taylor vs Te Maire Martin?
From Brent Clark
I'll make some points about all three of these guys in a cash cows article later this week on NRL.com, but for mine Hastings and Taylor have to be in front of Martin purely because of job security. Hastings is a first-choice five-eighth at the Roosters and Taylor is set to start in the halves for the Titans after a season-ending injury to Kane Elgey, while Martin has some competition for spots at Penrith with veterans Peter Wallace and Jamie Soward. If Martin is named in Round 1 he's obviously worth a look, and is he a genuine chance to pip Wallace for the No.7 jersey.
Can you do a likely goal kickers list again this yr? A few clubs will have new ones this year.
From Matthew Lippiatt-Sidman
Here are my best guesses:
Broncos – Corey Parker
Raiders – Jarrod Croker
Bulldogs – Moses Mbye
Sharks – James Maloney
Titans – Tyrone Roberts
Sea Eagles – Jamie Lyon
Storm – Cameron Smith
Knights – Trent Hodkinson
Cowboys – Johnathan Thurston
Eels – Michael Gordon
Panthers – Jamie Soward
Rabbitohs – Adam Reynolds
Dragons – Gareth Widdop
Roosters – Jackson Hastings
Warriors – Shaun Johnson
Wests Tigers – Jordan Rankin/Justin Hunt
Should people even bother trying to plan for byes this year?
From Adrian Buttery
It probably isn't worth it yet. The Parramatta Eels are the only team who play on all three major bye rounds, so they'll be in high demand around Origin time, but otherwise there's not a lot you can play for at this stage. I wrote some detailed analysis on this back when the 2016 draw was announced but when picking my initial squad the byes will almost be a non-factor for me. Obviously as we get closer to Round 12 it'll be worth positioning your squad for the bye rounds if you're aiming to climb the overall points ladder, but there's plenty of time between now and then.