Scout Report: Round 21 Fantasy Q&A
Cameron Smith is in doubt, Clint Gutherson, Billy Slater and Konrad Hurrell have joined the injured list and the head-to-head finals are just one week away for most NRL Fantasy leagues. It all makes for a crucial round for Fantasy coaches, so here are my answers to this week's big questions.
Will Cameron Smith and Sam Burgess play a full game?
From Peter Leilani Lavell
That's the big question, isn't it?
Smith was in serious doubt at the start of the week but is now rated a good chance of playing for the Storm, and trained well on Wednesday. There's still some risk he'll be a late withdrawal, but if he takes the field will he play the full 80? The circumstances of this week's match confuses things a little – on the one hand it's his 350th game, at home against one of the Storm's big rivals Manly, so he'll be keen for a big performance. On the other hand, with the Storm cruising at the top of the table they don't need to risk a further injury to their skipper six weeks out from the start of the finals. I expect him to play the 80 as usual, but there's a real risk he'll be benched if Melbourne is holding a good lead in the second half.
Sam Burgess usually plays close to 80 minutes and should get through around 60-70 minutes for the Rabbitohs despite a rib cartilage injury (although a reshuffled forward pack with 80-minute men John Sutton and Angus Crichton in the back row with Burgess could mean he gets a bigger spell on the bench than usual).
Remember, all teams trim their game-day squad to 19 players 24 hours before kick-off, so if you can, check out the NRL team lists page at 5.30pm Friday to see if Burgess has made the cut and 2pm Saturday for Smith. At this stage I'll be leaving both of them in my 17 this week but will be looking elsewhere for a captain for the round.
 Smith Cameron - Storm
How safe is Dufty's job security at fullback? Why isn't Dugan playing there? Thinking of trading Suli for Dufty and then McGuire to Vaughan?
From Cam O'Dwyer
Matt Dufty has kept his spot at fullback for the Dragons this week for two reasons. Firstly, he played really well on debut, making a massive 84 points in Fantasy including a terrific solo try. Secondly – and probably more importantly – centre Euan Aitken has been sidelined with a shoulder injury that will see him miss the next few weeks at least. That's given the Dragons the chance to slot the returning Josh Dugan into the centres and give Dufty another run at the back, where he's likely to line up next season when Dugan moves to the Sharks.
So while Dufty looks like a cut-price option at the back in the short term, there's still a risk he'll be bumped out of the Dragons side in the final few rounds of the season if and when Aitken returns. He's a good cash-out option who should score well in the next few weeks but is a big risk if you're buying him as one of your final three winger/fullbacks.
Playing H2H, is it worth cashing out Cam Smith to Andrew McCullough (I already have Mcinnes) and upgrading the likes of Jarrod Wallace with the cash from Cam?
From David Venner
I'd be holding Smith, for head-to-head especially. Even if he does miss out this week keep in mind the most crucial games of the season are in the league finals (Round 22-25 for most leagues) and Smith should be available for all those rounds.
Is Sam Burgess getting pretty close to a sell for Gallen or Brown? Hasn't scored 50 in a while and will have a niggling injury for the H2H finals.
From Anthony Hall
It depends on how many trades you've got left – it's a bit of a luxury trade, and remember Burgess still averages mid-50s even if he's in a bit of a slump now. If cash isn't super tight I'd see how he goes this week and re-examine a possible upgrade next week.
 Brown Nathan - Eels
Is Nathan Brown now at the same level as Gal, Fifita and Surgess?
From Anthony Hall
Yes I think so. Since returning from injury in Round 13 he's played the full 80 minutes five times in six games, and his last five scores are 53, 51, 65, 71 and 59. He's a gun.
With Josh McGuire losing form and cash fast, do I upgrade him or ride it out and who's the best FRF option to upgrade to? (8 trades left)
From Troy Dunsmuir
With eight trades left I'd upgrade McGuire to Andrew Fifita, Nathan Brown or Paul Vaughan. McGuire isn't a must-sell by any means, but you have enough trades to make a luxury upgrade.
Who would you recommend getting in for Gutho – Tedesco, Trbojevic or Pearce? I already have 3 WFBs (Munster, Edwards, RTS) and already have 2 halves (DCE, Cleary). The rest of my team is pretty well stacked and have coverage for all positions. Two trades left. What to do?
From Nathan Sheaff
If you've got coverage for all positions, a straight swap for Pearce (average 57) looks the best bet, just ahead of Tedesco.
I'm thinking of trading SJ to Ash Taylor so I can afford to upgrade McGuire to JDB. Thoughts on Ash Taylor's late season run?
From Daniel Klein
After scores of 74 and 47 Taylor has impressed recently and he's quite cheap at $370,000, but I wouldn't be recommending him as a keeper. He's only scored above 50 twice this season and has an average score of 39. As a comparison you could trade Shaun Johnson directly to Mitchell Pearce who is averaging 57. I'd be bringing in an elite gun like Pearce, Daly Cherry-Evans or Nathan Cleary rather than brining in a mid-ranger just to fund an upgrade elsewhere.