It was another tumultuous round of NRL Fantasy last week, with a lot of good news (more big scores from Cameron Smith, Jake Trbojevic, Jake Friend, Elliott Whitehead and the like) and bad news (injuries to Simon Mannering, Tui Loloea, Tom Trbojevic, Andrew McCullough, Hymel Hunt among others).
First things first, when deciding whether to trade out an injured player consider the time they're expected to be sidelines (check the latest news and the NRL.com casualty ward for this). If a player is out for three weeks or less, hold them; if they're going to miss more than four games, trade them. So, while Hymel Hunt, McCullough and Tbrojevic are trades this week, Mannering and Lolohea are holds.
There are a few potential new cash cows on the market now with youngsters getting their chance to replace injured stars, primarily with Will Pearsall (or Brock Lamb) to replace the injured Jarrod Mullen for Newcastle and the still fairly cheap Kodi Nikorima named to start at hooker in place of the injured Andrew McCullough for Brisbane. But these guys are not without their risks.
Read on for my answers to this week's big NRL Fantasy questions.
With Mitchell Pearce due back this week and Jackson Hastings' break even being 29, is it worth trading him up now to the likes of a Milford or trading down to say Pearsall and having that cash to use elsewhere?
From Liam Carmody
The best move could be to sit tight and hold Hastings this week. Anthony Milford has a break even of 58 so is a good chance of dropping in price and Hastings should rise in value again even with Pearce running the show. In a week's time we'll also know which Knights half – Will Pearsall or Brock Lamb – gets the nod and whether they'll be holding their spot in Round 10.
If you are keen to bring in a gun half right now, I'd prefer Milford's halves partner Ben Hunt as a more consistent option.
Kodi Nikorima: yay or nay?
From Greg Rowlands
Almost 32,000 Fantasy coaches already have Kodi Nikorima in their team – a lot presumably by accident, having mixed him up with his brother at the start of the season after Jayden Nikorima was named in the halves for the Roosters. But fortune has blessed those coaches with Kodi now set to get a six-game stretch as the starting hooker at Brisbane following Andrew McCullough's hamstring injury.
That doesn't mean Nikorima will necessarily get big scores to rival Cameron Smith or Jake Friend – unlike those two - Nikorima will split his time with a bench hooker, Travis Waddell, and it's hard to predict at this stage how many minutes he'll play. Last weekend was the first time all year Nikorima has played more than 40 minutes, and that only happened after McCullough went off injured.
He's scored 207 points from 258 minutes in total this year, so if he plays, say, 50 minutes a game and maintains that scoring rate he'll hit about 40 points a week while McCullough is out – a big increase on his season average of 25. A 40-point player in Fantasy is worth about $350,000, so if he gets there Nikorima would earn $135,000 in price rises. That wouldn't make him a super cash cow like Jackson Hastings, Cody Walker or Matt Parcell, but it'd be a nice boost nonetheless – presuming he keeps his starting spot ahead of Waddell throughout that period.
It's a bit of a risk and will cost you an extra trade (compared to just bringing in a gun hooker now) but if you need a cash-out option at hooker he could be a handy option.
Hey LS, should I buy Tedesco or Munster this week?
From Jake Cummings
Tedesco's the better scorer but his price is dropping at the moment. You'll want him in your side eventually but if you are planning to get both in the long run get Munster first and Tedesco later.
Are there many teams that play in two major bye rounds?
From Todd Thorn
Yep, the Cowboys, Roosters, Bulldogs, Dragons, Raiders and Wests Tigers play in two of the three major bye rounds, while the Eels play in all three. For full details, check out my guide to the bye rounds I wrote way back when the draw came out.
Which cash cow should I buy in the front row: Fisher-Harris, after his huge score last round, or Fonua-Blake, who scores more in base stats, but obviously has a higher BE?
From Andy Donaldson
Before James Fisher-Harris exploded onto the NRL Fantasy scene with a two-try 72 against the Sharks last week, his average score from six games was a meagre 15.8. You could argue his excellent performance last week might earn him more game time (and bigger Fantasy scores) in the weeks to come, but on the other hand Jeremy Latimore returns from suspension on the Penrith bench this week meaning Fisher-Harris has probably dropped back down a level in the pecking order in the Panthers pack. He does have a break even of -16 so is guaranteed a few price rises, although at $180,000 he's not quite bottom dollar.
Manly's Addin Fonua-Blake has a few advantages over Fisher-Harris, despite only playing two games. He's cheaper at $153,000. His two scores – 31 and 22 – are better than every one of Fisher-Harris's six scores prior to last week. And his scores have come almost exclusively from base stats, meaning there's room for improvement if he snags a try or two like Fisher-Harris did last week. He'd get my vote, if only because bringing him in frees up a little extra cash for you now.