State of Origin I has been run and won, the first major bye round of 2016 is behind us and NRL Fantasy coaches are setting up their squads for the run home. Here are my answers to this week's big NRL Fantasy questions.
For those of us who don't have Cam Smith already, is he worth a trade in this week? Although he's not named to back up from Origin, he almost always does. Plays a lot more games than he doesnt over the origin period (if he backs up from all 3 games) and feel like he's a must have as early as possible this season. What do you think?
From James Irlam
I expect Cameron Smith's minutes to take a hit in post-Origin games unless Melbourne really need him out there, and considering he hasn't been named this week and the Storm play the Tigers and Knights after the next two Origins it's hard to see him getting 80 minutes in those games. He's a must-have in the long run, but price-wise now is probably the worst time to buy him this season as he's a good chance to be cheaper at the end of the bye rounds.
Has Fensom's time as Fantasy gun come to an end? Now rested and minutes likely to drop with the Raiders' second-row stocks being as great as they are.
From Andy Air
There have been a few questions about Shaun Fensom this week, after a season of lowish-than-usual scores, a 37 in his return from injury last round and the fact he's been rested by Canberra this week. As you say, the biggest issue facing him now is the rise of the rest of the Raiders pack – Junior Paulo is a big signing from Parramatta, Joseph Tapine is a mid-season signing who is already looking like a great buy and Luke Bateman has impressed enough for Ricky Stuart to trust him with the starting lock position this week. Considering the Raiders already have back-row options Sia Soliola, Queensland's Josh Papalii and England's Elliott Whitehead, they no longer really need a big-minute workhorse like Fensom to play significant game time each week. He's still great value when he's on the field (last week's 37 came from 39 minutes) but with major question marks over those minutes his time as a 50+ scorer could be over.
Who is the best trade target for those of us who have Shaun Fensom? Taking byes and overall points into account.
From Reuben Claypole
There are a few ways you can go here. Pauli Pauli at the Knights has shown some great Fantasy form in the past couple of weeks and would free up a lot of cash – if you trust he'll keep that form up. As far as keepers go, Jake Trbojevic has got one of his byes out of the way and is available in the front or second-row; Sio Siua Taukeiaho will play in both the next two bye rounds and will be a key man in a Roosters back row missing Origin players Boyd Cordner and Aidan Guerra; Warriors back-rower Simon Mannering was a 60-point player last year and club teammate Bodene Thompson has been terrific this year; Jack de Belin could be back as soon as next week and plays in Round 15; and guys like James Graham and Jesse Bromwich are rock solid options up front if you can use a dual-position player to bring in a front-rower. Andrew Fifita is probably the best big man in Fantasy so is always a good bye, even though he'll miss the big bye rounds on Origin duty.
I'm trading out Hastings for Hunt. I already have Thurston, Milford and DCE – is it worth having both Broncos halves or not? Milford spluttering the last few weeks.
From Dom Griffin
That's a very halves-heavy team you're putting together there. I reckon Ben Hunt will probably be the top-scoring half in Fantasy this season, although you don't really need more than three keepers in the halves. Milford had a superb start to the year but when you take into the account the amount of points he scored through tries and field goals I reckon he'll score in the mid-to-high 40s on average for the rest of the season from now on. If he's in your side though you probably just need to take the good with the bad – he'll hit 30 one week, then 80 the next.
Scout, what do I do with Dugan? He has the bye this week but is he a hold or sell with injury cloud?
From Hayden Bryant
Josh Dugan is set to miss at least the next four weeks after having surgery on his elbow, and with the Dragons having a bye in Round 18 he is now a sell if you're playing for overall points. For head-to-head he could be worth holding if you've got decent enough cover and are on track to make your league finals – he's still among the top-scoring NRL Fantasy centres or wingers/fullbacks in the game when fit.
I know he didn't score too well at the start of the year but is Dale Copley worth a look now? Otherwise what are some other options under 200k in any position?
From Lachlan Procter
Copley is a bit of a risk as a low-scoring auto emergency if you get an injury over the weekend later in the season, but is at least cheap and will play in the next couple of bye rounds if you're playing for overall. I wouldn't consider him for head-to-head. The other obvious option in the centres around that price this week is new Titan Konrad Hurrell, who should slot into the Gold Coast's starting backline pretty quickly after making the move from the Warriors. With a break even in the 40s though you could easily wait a week and see how he goes at his new club before bringing him in next week.