After just two rounds of the NRL Fantasy season it's hard to predict which struggling big names will get their groove back this year and which early-season success stories are the real deal in 2016. Here's the Lone Scout's take on which players will be a Fantasy force this year, with answers on Moses Mbye, Cody Walker, Mike Cooper, Semi Radradra, Trent Merrin, Jake Trbojevic and more.
Is Mbye worthwhile for the season?
From Callan Aylmer
I'm not going to write off a guy who just scored 94 Fantasy points last week. In saying that, I'm not rushing out to buy Moses Mbye either. The reason why is the difference between attacking stats and "base stats".
Base stats are the points you can rely on a certain player getting pretty much every week. For forwards it's tackles and run metres, for halves it's tackles, run metres and kick metres.
Mbye's big scores in the first couple of rounds have come mostly from attacking stats – two tries, three try assists, 12 tackle breaks, three line breaks, five goals. They're great numbers, but he can hardly be expected to make that kind of individual impact every week.
Of the 94 points scored by Mbye last week, only 34 came from base stats (tackles, run metres, kick metres). By comparison, Daly Cherry-Evans made 35 in base stats last week, and 49 in base stats the week before. So Mbye has a long way to fall when he has a quiet game, and Cherry-Evans has a lot of improvement if and when he starts making an impact in attack.
There's every chance Mbye scores big again this week, but over the course of the season I'm still backing established Fantasy guns like Cherry-Evans, Shaun Johnson and Ben Hunt to score more.
Hey LS, what would you do with Mike Cooper? He's not scoring too well and considering he isn't playing many minutes, is it better to trade him out now or hold onto him to see if he does improve?
From Heather Harris
I don't like writing off possible keepers this early in the season, but I reckon he's probably a trade. The departure of Trent Merrin from the Dragons hasn't boosted the scores of other players in the Red V pack as many Fantasy coaches had hoped, and after averaging better than 50 points a game last season Cooper has a high score of 35 after two rounds this year. With the likes of Martin Taupau and Jake Trbojevic showing real improvement in the forwards this year I'd be upgrading Cooper.
Is the Cody Walker train still running you think or if don't have him I've missed it?
From Braedyn Forbes George
The Walker train is only warming up – he's still got a break even of -20 so is guaranteed another price rise this week, and it'll be a big one if he can match last week's 60. Snap him up if you have a half worth trading out.
What is with Semi Radradra I paid well over $400k and he hasn't gotten over 30 points both games. He has lost me $30k so far! Should I give him another week or two or should I rage trade him?
From Nathan Kirk
Radradra's Fantasy prospects are pretty simple: if he scores tries, he gets Fantasy points. He scored a ton of them last year and became a genuine Fantasy keeper in the process, but is yet to get going after two games this year playing outside new signing Michael Jennings. It's early days though – the Eels have had just one game with both halves Kieran Foran and Corey Norman playing the full 80, Jennings is still finding his feet in a new backline, and when the Eels click into gear they could and should be one of the NRL's most potent attacking teams. I can see him grabbing a few four-pointers in the next month against a string of teams (Tigers, Panthers, Raiders, Sea Eagles) who aren't renowned for their defence.
Any thoughts on Trent Merrin? I know it's early but I'm not so sure he warrants selection given his price tag, likely to improve?
From Benjamin Sapwell-West
I'll probably give him another week. He hasn't been bad, just mediocre by his standards. Remember, on his day Merrin is up there with the very best Fantasy forwards around – even if he doesn't play the full 80 minutes. He's still making a lot of metres for the Panthers but isn't racking up huge numbers for tackles, offloads or tackle breaks. If he doesn't make many tackles against the Broncos this weekend it'll be time to reassess his place in your squad.
Is Jake Trbojevic going to be a keeper?
From Jordan Ede
A keeper in the forwards is usually someone who scores at least 50 points a week, and it looks like Trbojevic could be on track to do that this year. A try save helped him to 56 in Round 1 but his Round 2 effort was arguably more promising – he only scored 47 but it all came from base stats, with 46 tackles from 73 minutes after being moved to lock. If he stays at lock and adds some attacking stats to go with those tackle counts he looks very good value right now.
What's the best way to approach H2H?
From Lyndsay Snowden
With most head-to-head leagues starting next week, this is a timely question.
The key when coming up with a gameplan for winning your head-to-head leagues is working out your priorities. The obvious one is you don't need to post big scores every week to win your league. While Fantasy coaches playing for overall points need to scrap for every point they can get – including during the tough bye rounds – H2H coaches can use the early rounds to make the most of cash cows, then gradually improve their squads until the finals begin.
If that means you lose a few games early in the season, don't worry too much about it. It's really more important that most of your players at this time of the year are growing in value than posting big scores.
For H2H, the two things you should be focused on are making cash and not wasting trades. So, rule one is don't trade out keepers. Rule two is make the most of your cash cows. When picking players to trade in, aim for guys who are likely to increase in value in the long run – not just players who scored well last week.
Your aim is to have 17, 18 or 19 high-quality players in your squad by the time your league's finals begin (usually in Round 22) with a few trades up your sleeve for the finals. It's all about peaking at the right time.
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