With the final major bye round making life difficult for NRL Fantasy coaches, NRL.com's Lone Scout has some tips on the best buys for Round 18.
With Kerrod Holland on the way out at the Dogs who should he be upgraded to in the centres? Jarrod Croker and Joey Leilua the only options worth considering?
From Nicholas Heffernan
Leilua and Croker have been the strongest Fantasy scorers in Fantasy this season, with Leilua in the middle of a bit of a form slump and Croker having had his scores boosted by try-scoring doubles in both his last two games. Chris Lawrence is the next best option for players in action this week, while Dragons Josh Dugan and Euan Aitken are also strong options who are also available at winger/fullback.
Will Jake Friend continue to have his minutes chopped?
From Daniel Schorn
Friend actually played the full 80 minutes last week, and in the previous couple of weeks he made more than 50 tackles despite playing just 64 minutes. The real reason for Friend's drop in scores since Round 10 is that he's running the ball less, and not getting the tackle breaks he was making early in the season (when the Roosters were missing star players Mitchell Pearce, Boyd Cordner and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves). He's still a keeper in my book, and all he needs is a few attacking stats to get his score above 50 on any given week.
Is Ben Hunt still a keeper if Brisbane hit form? Is it worth trading Nathan Cleary in for him to free up some cash to upgrade Elijah Taylor after this week's games?
From Ian Quilter
Yeah Hunt's still a keeper. His season average is still about 50, he's traditionally been a 50+ scorer and his form slump has coincided with the Broncos' poor run. After 13 rounds he had 17 try assists, four tries, eight line breaks and 11 line-break assists, and he hasn't had any of those attacking stats in three games since then. When the attacking chances return, so will Hunt's scores.
Thoughts on Shaun Kenny-Dowall as a keeper in the centres? Looking to trade out Holland?
From Isaiah Magill
Yeah he's a point of difference option – he has become a quality tackle-buster this season which is what you need from a winger in Fantasy. With an average score of 40 points a game he's a Josh Mansour-style player but he's not in that top bracket with Tedesco and Munster though.
Was Jack de Belin's massive 60-minute score a one-off with having to share time with the other three big-minute back row forwards and Mike Cooper to come back? Or will he be likely to be high 40s?
From Damian Banks
My hunch is that his big scores will continue, but there is a risk with Tariq Sims now at the club and Mike Cooper set to return from injury that de Belin's game time could take a bit of a hit. With the Dragons having a bye this week he's hardly a must-buy at this stage anyway.
Is Jake Trbojevic worth upgrading? After previous scores it's starting to feel like he's below a keeper.
From Cole Usher
I wouldn't be panicking just yet. Yes his minutes have dropped from 80 to about 50, but two weeks ago Trbojevic scored 62 so there's every chance those big scores could return soon. The biggest worry about his scores is that Manly's form has improved dramatically in the past couple of weeks while Tbrojevic has been playing fewer minutes. Even so, at this stage of the season it seems like a wasted trade to burn a dual-position forward with a season average of 53.9 based on two mediocre scores.
What's the story with Shaun Fensom? Will he be back at starting lock or will Bateman be the man to trouble him?
From Simon Seufale
As I've said in the past few weeks, Fensom is now a back-up option at the Raiders and has only been back in the Canberra side in the past couple of weeks due to injuries or suspension to others. He's starting at lock this week but I don't think he's a keeper in the long run.
Has Mitchell Pearce arrived? Would you wait for Thurston in Round 20 or Pearce now? Playing for overall.
From Olataga Karl Tafea-Spitzenberg
For overall points Pearce is the better option considering he'll play two more games than Thurston this year (the Cowboys have a bye next week). Even if Pearce only scores 45 points a week and Thurston scores 55, the 90 extra points Pearce gets in the next fortnight will make him more valuable in the long run. Pearce actually has a better average than Thurston this season so if that continues he'll be way ahead of Thurston in the long run.
Read more on Pearce in this week's Fantasy by the Numbers.
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