The bye rounds are almost upon us, with just three rounds featuring all 16 NRL clubs between now and Round 20. NRL Fantasy coaches already have an eye on the future as they plan their Round 11 trades; here are my answers to a few of this week's big questions.
Yo Scout! Is Martin Taupau a sell?
From Nicholas Heffernan
It depends on your depth and also if you're playing for overall or head-to-head. He's out until Round 15, with a three-week suspension and a bye for Manly in Round 12. If you're playing H2H and have the depth you could hold. If you're playing overall though and need that extra scorer – or have more than 20 trades left – it's probably wise to trade for a player who will score well over the bye rounds.
Hey Lone, who are you using for hooker for the first bye round? I have both Parcell and Smith. Who would be the best trade in/out options?
From Louis Richard
I also have Cameron Smith and Matt Parcell, and I'm considering just playing without hookers in Round 12. It's just about impossible to get a full 17 for all three bye rounds (without wrecking the rest of your season or burning through all your trades) so it's more a case of limiting the damage in the Origin period.
Smith is my captain and only misses one extra round due to Origin duty compared with other Storm players, while Parcell is still making cash and is amongst the top five hookers for points per game this season. The only real "upgrade" from Parcell based on scores so far in 2016 is Jake Friend. So selling one of them for the sake of a few extra points in Round 12 seems a bit of a waste when I'm not going to have a full 17-man squad for that round anyway.
Could this be the first year when you don't actually need two hookers in your final 17? Cam Smith is a must and probably Jake Friend but are there any other guaranteed 80-minute hookers scoring 55+ consistently? It costs a lot to get those two guys in your team so could it be better off with stacking your bench with FRF/2RFs?
From Ian Quilter
It's not a bad point. The only two hookers scoring more than 50 points a game this week are Smith and Friend – although they are both scoring better than 65 points a game. I expect Friend's scores to start dropping eventually, but he should still be a 60-point player in the long run if he remains an 80-minute player. Behind them there are eight hookers who score between 45 and 50 points a game, and it's true that you may be able to fill your front and second row with players who score better.
The real advantage of running with two gun hookers – apart from the fact that it's usually a high-scoring position – is that if your starting hooker is sidelined with injury or suspension you have a back-up option. If you run with, say, Cameron Smith and a cheapie in your two hooker slots, you'll find yourself with a dud scorer in your 17 if anything happens to Smith. For that reason I'd be holding onto a quality scorer in that second hooker spot, or upgrading to someone like Friend later on.
Time to ditch Corey Parker? Had him since the start, just keeps leaking cash. I could go Parker to Elijah Taylor at bottom price? Or go big and get Mannering/Harris?
From Dom Griffin
I wrote a bit about Parker in my teams wrap on Wednesday, but the upshot is this: yes, the signs last week weren't great in last week's 27, but he's a Fantasy legend and only has one score below 48 this year (technically, so has Cameron Smith). There is talk he picked up a foot injury in the Test against New Zealand which is the reason he's not goal-kicking at the moment. I'd be giving him at least one more week to see how he goes against the Cowboys before trading him out of my team. In a week's time Elijah Taylor and Simon Mannering should be a little cheaper as well, while Tohu Harris could be available at centre.
Hi Scout. Tohu Harris, what's the deal with his DPP status? I can't wait any longer!
From Jeremy Raikes
You'll have to, unfortunately! Harris was – not for the first time – switched back to the forward pack for the Storm in their final team list last weekend, meaning he has still only officially started three games in the centres this season. He needs four to get dual position player status in NRL Fantasy, so if he is named in the centres this weekend he'll be available at centre as well as the second row next week.
Elijah Taylor worth a pickup or is he not guaranteed his spot?
From Ben Vernon
Having slotted into the starting lock spot for the Tigers last weekend – when he played 70 minutes – it looks like Elijah Taylor is set to be a first-choice starter at his new club. The Tigers bought him for a reason and his solid defensive game in the middle of the park is just what they need so I expect him to stay there. He does have a high break even this week though (57) so if you're unsure you could wait a week on him and probably get him for cheaper.
With the byes all over the place what is a good number of players to be playing over the byes?
From Callan Langer
The bye rounds look especially tough for Fantasy coaches this season, with half the NRL clubs and all State of Origin players missing Round 12, 15 and 18. As I've said above, getting a full 17-man squad for each of those rounds is just about impossible, and you can't afford to weaken your team too much for the non-bye rounds just in order to get a good score for, say, Round 12. I reckon if you can get more than a dozen players on the park in each of those three weeks you're doing well.
That's it for this week, best of luck to your team.