Matt Parcell celebrates scoring the match-winning try for Manly against Brisbane at the Downer NRL Auckland Nines.

Scout Report: Pre-season Fantasy Q&A #2

We're less than a week away from the all-important Round 1 team lists and NRL Fantasy coaches have a ton of questions heading into the new season. Without further ado, here are my answers to a few of them.

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Do you think Tim Grant and Kane Evans could be good buys? Both played big minutes in the trials and played great games? Both look to be the starting props and both have low 2015 averages, and they have potential to make some good money. What do you think?
From Scott Cuskelly 

Yep, good assessment. Both Grant and Evans have the opportunity to improve on last year's Fantasy scores – Grant with a larger role at the Tigers after not playing huge minutes at Souths last season and Evans set to get a starting role at the Roosters following Jared Waerea-Hargreaves' injury. They both averaged around 30 last season and aren't super cheap so could be mediocre if their output doesn't improve, but are among a range of mid-range forwards who could be set to improve this year those two look like good options.

How do you think Trent Merrin will be Fantasy-wise playing at prop? At lock he is a gun but your thoughts at prop?
From Scott Curtis

Merrin himself has said his role is "the same" whether he's wearing the No.13 or starting at prop, but the risk for Fantasy coaches is that he'll get shorter stints on the field at prop. On the other hand, Merrin's minutes took a hit last season at the Dragons and he was still among Fantasy's best performers, and if there's any change to his role this year he could make more of an impact in the front row in the time he is on the field. I can see him holding his price or slumping a little, but I think it's unlikely to improve his Fantasy scores if he's used in the front row at Penrith.

If a player is named in a new position in Round 1, like Merrin at prop, will they get automatic DPP before Thursday or will they have to get named there for four weeks like last year?
From Darren Schischka 

Yep, in those cases the player should be made a dual position player between the team lists being announced and Round 1 kicking off.

Is Matt Parcell really worth it? It's likely he'll start from the bench but even so, is he worth buying?
From Tonino Trilford 

It's hard to say. On the one hand, he's a chance of starting from the bench and could play only 40 minutes a game even if he beats Apisai Koroisau to the starting hooker spot at Manly. On the other hand, he costs just $165,000 and has a break even of 18, and has looked the goods in his appearances for the Sea Eagles so far. 

The complication with a cash cow hooker like Parcell is that in the long run you want two genuinely big scorers in your two hooker spots, so "cashing out" a moneymaking hooker for a cheap player in a couple of months isn't really an option. A 50-point scorer costs about $450,000, so to upgrade Parcell to one of those guys you'll need not only Parcell to make a lot of cash but also to come up with spare money elsewhere in your squad. It makes him a bit of a gamble, even if he's just about guaranteed to make money.

Hey Lone Scout, is Manaia Cherrington worth grabbing from the Tigers for the first couple of rounds since Robbie Farah and Matt Ballin are out?
From Jamie Dalziell

It's a risky move. Dene Halatau will also be due back a couple of rounds into the season and can also cover the hooker spot, and when he, Farah or Ballin returns Cherrington could be back playing short stints off the bench. That makes him a riskier option at hooker than Matt Parcell, who is a bit of a gamble himself.

A good time to break the "Never buy Mitch Aubusson" rule? What with Cordner and JWH being out long term he could well get a long run in the second row?
From Ian Quilter 

I hate to say it, but you could be right. As a long-time advocate of that rule I won't be buying Aubusson myself, but on the face of it he does seem a very good chance to play 80 minutes in the second row for at least the first couple of months of the season with Boyd Cordner on the sidelines. 

But keep in mind Aubusson often looks like an attractive Fantasy buy – which is why he is such a frustrating player to have in your squad. His potential as a dual-position CTR/2RF is great, but remember the reason he's a dual position player is because whenever there's an injury in the Roosters backline Aubusson is usually sent out wide to cover it – and when that happens his Fantasy scores nosedive. So remember it's always a risk to bring him into your team, and you could be tearing your hair out if he is moved into the centres in Round 2 and scores 15.

So will Latrell Mitchell pinch the starting fullback spot from Blake Ferguson at the Roosters after impressing in the Nines and against St Helens?
From Matt Parker 

I don't think he'll start at fullback, but Mitchell is looking a good chance to start somewhere in the outside backs for the Roosters in Round 1. It's early days but he looks like a star in the making.

Josh Mansour or Matty Moylan?
From Bernard Gurry 

If you really want a Panthers winger/fullback in your side Mansour has the most improvement in him in Fantasy this year. Moylan is a class player but his talents don't really transfer to NRL Fantasy scoring, while Mansour was a dominant Fantasy player a couple of years back when he was breaking tackles for fun.

Who will be the better reserve – Agnatius Paasi or Robbie Rochow? Or stay away from either?
From Alex Burrell

Both have a lot going for them. Paasi showed at the end of last season he can play the full 80 in the back row, and was sensational at the Auckland Nines. Rochow doesn't have the impact of Paasi but he looks a better chance to play 80 in the pack after the exits of Beau Scott, Chris Houston and Joseph Tapine from the Knights. For that reason I'd lean towards Rochow, with Paasi likely to be picked on the bench in a Titans pack with a few new signings in the forwards.

Is it wise to have Konrad Hurrell and Kirisome Auva'a as back up centres because of their cheap price tags? Or is this a trap because they may not be starters or get much game time?
From Thomas Tetini

Both those guys looked like great buys when Fantasy opened for 2016, but right now they are both a big chance of missing selection in Round 1 at the Warriors and Rabbitohs. I generally steer clear of players who aren't selected in the Round 1 team lists – yes, they could make the team later in the season but it can be a long wait for that to happen, and there's no guarantee they'd hold their spots once selected.  So I'd keep an eye out for those names in next week's team lists before locking them in.

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