Scout Report: Round 18 Fantasy Q&A
It's the final major bye round of the season, with Fantasy coaches looking to both get a decent group of players together this week and close in on their final squad for the run home. Here are my answers to some of this week's big questions.
Thoughts on bringing in Nathan Brown as a cut-price keeper? Hard to ignore those big minutes and solid work rate!
From Matt Flanagan
Definitely. Brown was already a good bye-round pickup back before Origin began but he's playing 80 minutes semi-regularly now and gets through a ton of work at lock for the Eels, so he's a keeper either at prop or in the second row.
To Taupau or not to Taupau this week for Whitehead, that is the question?
From Aaron Burns
Make the trade. Taupau only scored 32 last week so there's every chance he has another quiet game, but his upside is huge – while Whitehead has a top score of 55 this year, Taupau has an average of 55. Taupau's a forward who can go very big on his day and he'll be even more of a go-to man in the Sea Eagles' pack this week with Jake Trbojevic away on NSW Origin duty.
Hey Scout, seems that there have been suggestions with Lolohea as a keeper at WFB. I've seen some of his games and he only scores 40+ if there's multiple TAs/TBs and other attacking stats but he doesn't seem as potent as say a Teddy or Munster. So I'm wondering if I should cash out Lolohea to upgrade 2RF next week or is that a wasted trade?
From Peter Li
Lolohea was always going to be more of a mid-season cash cow than a keeper, and certainly isn't that elite level of winger/fullbacks like Tedesco who can score 50 points a week. I'd upgrade or cash out if you already have three other scorers at the back.
 Scott Curtis - Storm
Too late for Curtis Scott? He looks solid at centre but he's already at $300k and I have eight trades left. Too risky?
From Michael Zhang
Scott's been great as bye cover and a mid-season cash cow and there's still a chance he holds his spot for Melbourne in the run home, but Cheyse Blair is back from injury this week and Will Chambers will return from Origin duty after this round meaning either Scott or Blair will be bumped out of the side. Scott looks a star of the future and has done nothing wrong since getting the call-up for the Storm but Craig Bellamy could easily opt for the more experienced Blair, meaning Scott might be gone when the Storm play their next game in Round 20 (they have a bye next week). So the risk is there and I'd probably hold off on buying him now if you don't have him already, unless you're very confident he'll keep Blair out of the side long-term.
Same price options for James Graham?
From Tim Wood
Unfortunately there aren't any, really. Right now you only want to bring in keepers (ie. forwards who average 50+) and Graham's run of head knocks and quiet scores before his injury dropped his price down to $353,000 – meaning the alternatives at prop at that price all score in the low 40s. You're better off cashing out another player and using those funds to upgrade Graham to an elite gun.
 Cleary Nathan - Panthers
Cleary or DCE?
From Tom Cleary
This is a tough call, but base stats give Cleary the edge. Look at it this way: Daly Cherry-Evans has been in great form this season and is the equal league-leader for try assists, and has averaged 45 Fantasy points a game. Nathan Cleary has had a bit of a quiet season after last year's breakout year and the Panthers have generally struggled, but he's still averaged 49. So while Cherry-Evans has had more try assists and tackles, Manly five-eighth Blake Green has taken on a large share of the kicking in general play at the club this year so DCE's kick metres are down. On the other hand Cleary does the bulk of the kicking at Penrith and has scored more than 100 points through goals as well, so his 'average' games are still pretty good, Fantasy-wise, and his good games are excellent. Cherry-Evans has a top score of 61 this year, but Cleary's top scores are 77, 74 and 67 so he gets the nod from me.
Friend or Crichton for VC?
From Albert Chavez
Like all bye rounds, this is a great week to keep the option open for the captaincy loophole – if your vice-captain scores big, substitute your captain out of your 17 to get your VC's score doubled and your captain's score included as an auto emergency. (This doesn't work on regular rounds if you have more than 17 players in action as your auto emergency will be your lowest-scoring reserve, meaning you lose your captain's score altogether.) To use the loophole you really want your vice-captain to post a massive score – if he hits 50 or 60 there's still every chance your captain can beat that so you run the risk of losing points by trying the loophole. For that reason I'd go for Crichton, who has already shown himself capable of a monster score with his record-breaking 121 back in Round 15. Friend can hit big scores as well (he made 82 in Round 12) but he's usually more of a consistent scorer around the 50-60 mark.
Hey Scout, who would be the top six second-rowers you would have for the run home? And who are top front-row must haves?
From Nathan Sheaff
At this stage of the season you can pretty much go off season averages for these questions. So the top six back-rowers are Jason Taumalolo, Angus Crichton, Simon Mannering, Paul Gallen, Jack de Belin and Sam Burgess, and the top props are Andrew Fifita, Martin Taupau and Paul Vaughan. You don't need all these guys – players like Nathan Brown, Josh McGuire, Jake Trbojevic and Josh Papalii are keepers as well – but aim to get at least a few of them in your squad for the crucial run home.