Ahead of the second major bye round of the season NRL.com's Lone Scout answers your NRL Fantasy questions in Latrell Mitchell, Cameron Munster, Jake Friend, Simon Mannering and more.
Who would you say are the top range keepers in the second row? Also are Barba/Mitchell fringe keepers or would you look to sell?
From Ollie Poiner
In terms of second-rowers, I'd rank them something like this: Paul Gallen, Ryan James, Jack de Belin, Simon Mannering, Sam Burgess, Jake Trbojevic, Tohu Harris, Bodene Thompson, Trent Merrin, Corey Parker, Elliott Whitehead, Bryce Cartwright. Any combination of those guys is a strong back row, and there are a bunch of other keepers who score around 50 points a game.
Barba and Mitchell are both borderline keepers – especially Barba – with Mitchell a bit more of a doubt with a few low scores and rumours the Roosters could be recruiting another fullback this season. I think a big reason Fantasy coaches are looking to sell one or both of them is that a lot of teams are stacked with winger/fullback options this season after Mitchell became a surprise success story rather than a low-scoring cash cow – and because they both scored poorly last week. You only really need three keepers at the back plus a decent back-up option, so if you have more scorers than that you could upgrade Mitchell to a top-level gun like Cameron Munster or James Tedesco.
From a pure bye rounds perspective is it better to hold Latrell Mitchell or upgrade him now to Munster particularly as Munster price is rising and Latrell's is dropping?
From Rachael-Robert Jane
OK, let's break this down. Based on their season averages, Latrell Mitchell scores 36 points a game and Cameron Munster scores 52. In terms of bye rounds, Mitchell plays in Round 15 and 18, Munster just plays in 15. So in those rounds let's say Mitchell scores a combined 72 points and Munster scores 52 – giving Mitchell an 20-point advantage.
Of course, Munster will outscore Mitchell on the regular rounds (Mitchell actually has the bye in Round 16 so will need to be replaced in your side anyway), so having Munster in your team is worth about another 32 points across Round 16 and 17, based on averages. That puts Munster ahead in terms of points between now and Round 18.
So, if it's out of those two, you are better off bringing in Munster – particularly considering the price gap between them will be wider next week. The ideal move for byes though would be to trade out somebody else for Munster so you still get Mitchell's 70 or so points in the major bye rounds plus Munster's scores between now and then.
Two questions – I'm only playing head-to-head. 1) I want to upgrade Mitchell to Tedesco – who is going to lose more money in the next two weeks? Should I do it this week? 2) Are Cody Walker and Tui Lolohea keepers?
From Ryan Galea
According to Fantasy Coach, Latrell Mitchell is projected to lose $16,000 in value this week if he scores 35, and he has a bye in Round 16. Tedesco has a bye this week and is projected to score 37 in Round 16 (although that's probably a bit low) and lose $18,000 in value. So there's not much in it. You could make the trade now if that $16,000 would make a difference to your ability to bring in another keeper later on, but if that amount of cash isn't so much of an issue you're probably better off holding off for now and seeing what happens – by next week you might have another injured player you'd be better off trading to Tedesco instead.
On the second question, Walker and Lolohea are both averaging 50 or better across their past three games since switching to the fullback role. If they can keep that kind of form up they are keepers in the outside backs, although I'd aim for more proven performers for the halves (Walker is currently only available at half in Fantasy but will become available at winger/fullback the next time he plays at fullback, probably after Round 16).
Is Simon Mannering the best priced workhorse in the $400k club?
From Kerry Woods
Yep, after dropping $120,000 in value from his starting price this season, Mannering is back to playing 80 minutes at lock and looks great value at $415,000 after last week's 61.
What's your thoughts on Jake Friend? He still a gun hooker? He seems to have levelled out. He has averaged 47 over the last three rounds and 54 over the last five – is he worth bringing into the side alongside Cam Smith?
From Dexter Louis
He hasn't quite levelled out yet. After a sensational start to the season – when he played the full 80 minutes, did a lot of tackling and was a crucial member of the Roosters attack in the absence of Mitchell Pearce, Boyd Cordner and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves – Friend was scoring in the high 60s and his price ballooned up past $600,000. He's back to scoring in the mid-50s now so his price is on the way down (he'll lose value this week unless he can score more than 80). I wouldn't buy him right now but he is still a gun hooker in the long run, if not quite on the level of Cameron Smith.