The second major bye round of the season is here, with another tough week for Fantasy coaches aiming for overall points and a chance for head-to-head coaches to make moves towards finalising their ultimate 17s. With questions coming in on Jason Taumalolo, Billy Slater, Dylan Edwards, Sione Mata'utia, Jayden Brailey, Cody Walker and Jarrod Wallace, here are the answers to this week's big NRL Fantasy questions from NRL.com's resident Fantasy guru the Lone Scout.
Hey LS, what are your thoughts on Taumalolo as a long-term captain? I know he will play more minutes this week with Hess and Cooper out with Origin duty but his scores haven't been captain-worthy over past couple of months, with the exception of rounds 11 and 13. I also have McInnes and Crichton, who have been regular 60+ scorers lately, as possible alternatives for captain. - From Daryl Koh
Out of those three I think McInnes is probably the safest option for captain, purely because he scores largely through base stats (ie. tackles). Taumalolo and Crichton are both big workers but rely a lot on attacking stats like tackle breaks or the occasional try, so while they have a higher ceiling in terms of points they're also capable of mid-30s scores (as we saw from Taumalolo last week). Because the Cowboys play before the Dragons this week, you could always use Taumalolo as a vice captain with McInnes as captain and pull the captaincy loophole – moving McInnes to your non-playing reserves – if Taumalolo goes big.
Good cheapie cashout for Ponga? Not really keen on Lolohea would like a bit more cash to strengthen up elsewhere. I already have Edwards and Hayne covering CTR/WFB so need the cash. - From Albert Tokahere
Jamal Fogarty, who recently left the Eels, is a good chance of being a late inclusion at five-eighth for the Titans this weekend and is available at WFB and HLF and costs just $138,000.
Hey LS, would you trade Slater if you don't have a full 17 for rounds 15/18 to another keeper? Playing overall and very, very low on trades. If so who? (I have Edwards.) - From Adam Dawson
The Billy Slater trade question is a tricky one for overall points coaches. Now an Origin player again, he'll miss Round 15, 18 and 19 with Melbourne's final bye, while other players will only miss one game in that time. If you're very low on trades I'd be tempted to bite the bullet and hold him (running out of trades with a couple of months left in the season could be a bigger problem than missing a couple of weeks of scores from one of your fullbacks) but if you do want to trade, Cameron Munster, Cody Walker and Semi Radradra play in the next two bye rounds, although Radradra's Eels will miss Round 16 and 19. Alternatively if you have someone like Munster in your halves you could bring in a bye-friendly half like Adam Reynolds or Corey Norman, or wait a week and bring in someone from the Panthers or Sea Eagles (Tom Trbojevic springs to mind) who will have had both their byes already.
Is Edwards still a good pick up for say Billy Slater? Plays 18 and 19 as well and I can use the cash to go Wallace back to Fifita? - From Danyon Kemp
It would be a better-looking trade if Edwards played this week, but there's still some value in this trade – either this week or next. Edwards looks like a keeper now, with the ability to produce monster scores and with the fullback spot seemingly his with Matt Moylan in superb form at five-eighth. His scores can match Slater's, he costs $100,000 less, and he plays an extra couple of games. The only reason you'd want to make the trade now is if you're planning to make two other trades next week, otherwise hold off a week on this one.
Is Cody Walker out for Munster too sideways? Storm play in the next two bye rounds so don't really need Walker. Who are some other Storm players to get in? - From Isaac Bishop
It does seem like a bit of a luxury trade – they're both dual position WFB/HLFs who have good bye schedules and averages in the mid-40s, so on the face of it it's the definition of a sideways trade. But obviously Walker's return to fullback has taken a hit on his Fantasy scoring (and off-field contract negotiations may not have helped) while Munster is in good form for the Storm and will be a real go-to man for the Origin-depleted Melbourne side this week. Munster's the standout buy from Melbourne right now (cashout option Curtis Scott is the only other obvious Storm trade candidate this week) so I can see the value in making the switch, but only if you're not likely to run out of trades in the next few weeks.
What to do with Sione? His tackles have dropped and not getting enough run metres and other stats. Also is it a good option to play Tyrell Fuimaono as a centre? His minutes have been increasing and love the tackle busts. - From Michael Zhang
Back-to-back scores in the mid-20s are a worry for Sione Mata'utia, but even including those scores he still averages 40 points a game when playing his usual role as an 80-minute second-rower. His season average has dropped due to three games in which he spent time off the field for a head knock and two games where he filled in in the backline – but more often than not he should be playing the full game in the pack. So while yes, it makes him 'Mitchell Aubusson Mark II', I'd still recommend keeping him (like how I'd recommend keeping Aubusson if you have him). They'll both score around 40 points more often than not and with the very best centres available only scoring around 45 points a game there's no real point in using up a trade for a slight upgrade.
Fuimaono is showing great signs of going from bye-friendly cash cow to quasi-keeper, and with a starting spot in the Rabbitohs back row he's also someone you could start in your centres. Beware though he's only managed to score more than 40 once so it's probably a bit early to start relying on him to be one of your two premier centres from here on out.
Is Brailey worth cashing out for a cheap hooker like Brandon Smith? - From Matthew Kirsner
I've got Brailey and will be holding him this week – he had a poor score last round but his break even of 46 is still achievable, and if you're planning to sell him I'd be bringing in a keeper rather than a cheapie. There's always a chance of losing your starting hooker for a single round and if you don't have a back-up option (and Brandon Smith won't play outside the pre-Origin rounds) then you're suddenly relying on an auto emergency score. So free up some cash elsewhere and then trade for someone like Cameron McInnes or Cameron Smith.
Is Jarrod Wallace a definite trade? - From Paul Messell
Nope. Like all Origin players he'll miss Round 15 and 18, but as a 50-point player he's still a probable keeper. Only trade if the rest of your squad is in good shape and you desperately want an elite gun in Wallace's position, or if he's surplus to requirements in your best 17.