NRL.com's Lone Scout answers your questions in the first of 2018's NRL Fantasy Q&A articles. Read on for answers on Bryce Cartwright, Brad Takairangi, Johnathan Thurston, Anthony Milford, Sione Katoa, Damien Cook, cash cows and more.
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Is it bad to have Cameron Smith, Jason Taumalolo, and James Tedesco in the same team at the start with the rest mostly cash cows and value buys?
From Jeremy Brauer
I'll probably have two of those three in my starting squad, with Smith and Tedesco far and away the best options in their respective positions. Taumalolo is a different matter for a couple of reasons: 1) there are a lot of other high-scoring second-rowers available in Fantasy; and 2) his scores could slide this year with the presence of Matt Scott and Jordan McLean meaning he won't need to take as many hit-ups as he did in 2017. Consider a cheaper replacement and use the spare cash to upgrade some of your starters elsewhere.
Bryce Cartwright in the halves a good option?
From Damon Mather
Cartwright is set to start at lock for the Gold Coast Titans where he should get good minutes, and with the Titans likely to chance their arm he should also get back to the high offload counts he made in his breakout 2016 season. As a dual position player, he's a handy option either in the halves or on the bench.
Is Brad Takairangi a good buy for the centres or bench since he's most likely gonna be in the back row?
From Te Rangihau Caleb Whiu
With Jarryd Hayne slotting into the centres at Parramatta this year, Brad Takairangi looks set to join a long line of potential bargains who is available in the centres in Fantasy while playing in the second row for his NRL club. While his versatility could mean he switches back into the centres whenever there's a backline injury (like Sione Mata'utia and Mitchell Aubusson in years gone by), if Takairangi locks down a starting spot in the No.11 or 12 jersey, he should be a good buy and one of those rare consistent scores in the centres. If he's bumped to the bench I'd look elsewhere.
Since both Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston have retired from rep footy, will they do better in Fantasy?
From Lochie Thomas
They should improve this year, but a lack of Origin footy isn't the key reason. Remember, only two Origin matches coincide with Telstra Premiership rounds this season and each NRL club has a bye on one of those rounds, so Origin players will only miss one extra game compared with non-Origin players. That means Origin isn't as big an issue in Fantasy as it used to be.
On the other hand, Thurston should improve on his brief stint for the Cowboys in last year's competition, while Cronk is likely to take on a larger playmaking role at the Roosters than he did alongside the dominant Cameron Smith at the Storm. Whether either can improve enough to hit the "keeper" level of 50 points a game is another question.
Will Damien Cook play 80 minutes?
From Clint Battese
New South Sydney coach Anthony Seibold has already said he prefers playing an 80-minute hooker but the presence of former NSW No.9 Robbie Farah at the club will always mean there are questions about Cook's playing time. If Farah is named anywhere in the Rabbitohs' 21-man squad on Tuesday, then you won't be able to rely on Cook playing 80.
In saying that, even if Cook plays 60 minutes a week he would still arguably be a good buy. He only played 46 minutes a game on average last season and looked electric in the Charity Shield on the weekend. He came off the bench 11 times in his 23 appearances in 2017 so as long as he's starting this year, he's capable of enough improvement to become a keeper.
Will players named (prior to round 1) in different positions be added as DPP?
From Ross Lapthorne
Yes. This won't happen in 100% of cases – for example Elliott Whitehead wasn't made a dual-position centre when he filled in in the backline at the start of 2017 – but generally players will be available in Fantasy for the positions they play in 2018. A few players are already set to get dual position status based on the pre-season (Greg Inglis WFB/CTR; Viliame Kikau FRF/2RF and Mark Nicholls 2RF/FRF) with more likely to come if they are named in new positions for round one.
Best sub-$300k players for outside backs and forwards? Kennar, Isaako, Milne, Katoa, Fonua, Thompson, Hiku? Uele, Sele, Leilua, Kikau? Or any others with a decent shot of making week 1 and gaining good cash?
From Trevor Maggs
In terms of getting a starting spot in round one, I'd say Katoa, Isaako, Kennar, Thompson, Hiku and maybe Kikau are the best chances at this stage – although both Isaako (Corey Oates) and Thompson (Tui Lolohea) have rep players waiting in the wings if they struggle early on. The recent mail is actually that Oates may start on the wing in round one as usual despite his push for a spot in the forward pack, which means we may not see much of Isaako at all this season. Of course there's every chance I look foolish when the round one team lists come out next Tuesday, so keep a close eye on those and look to recruit any bargain-basement cheapie who appears to have good job security (I'll publish a Fantasy teams wrap article on Tuesday afternoon).
Anthony Milford – thoughts on him with Ben Hunt gone?
From Nick Drysdale
Milford himself has said that he will take more control over the Broncos' attack in 2018, which likely means more kick metres and more touches in general. There are certainly points to be snapped up at Brisbane with Hunt gone but whether Milford gets enough of them to become a reliable keeper is another question.
Any word if Sione Katoa will get a starting spot at the Sharks?
From Jason Marks
He's looking likely to grab a spot on the right wing at this stage.
Should I have both Canberra hookers Siliva Havili and Craig Garvey in my fantasy team?
From Lochie Thomas
I'd only pick up whoever gets the starting spot in round one – a bench hooker could be stuck playing 15 or 20 minutes a game so wouldn't be worth a spot in your squad.
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