It's a bumper Q&A this week with plenty of NRL Fantasy questions on Bryce Cartwright, Jeremy Marshall-King, Gareth Widdop, Moses Mbye, Nathan Cleary, Tyrone Peachey, Ryan Matterson, Jack de Belin, Trent Merrin, Cameron Smith and more.
Below are my answers to them.
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Is Bryce Cartwright a sell now that he is dropped to the bench?
From Kai Spence
He's not an urgent sell, considering his break-even is 15 and he should be able to hit that even from the bench. There is also the chance he breaks back into the starting side at some stage. But there are real worries about his ability to score well in the forward pack, rather than at five-eighth (where he made 41 in round two and where he starred in 2016 alongside Nathan Cleary at Penrith). Cartwright has missed 15 tackles in two games at lock in 2018 and has been replaced by a much sturdier defender in Jai Arrow, and after conceding a league-high 102 points in three games it's understandable the Titans would now be focused on improving their defence. If Cartwright is a bench player long-term, like he was last season, he's not worth keeping in your squad.
Hi Lone Scout! Any base price (or close to) cash cows available this week?
From Jared Lyons
Wingers George Jennings, Christian Crichton, Reece Robinson and Jonus Pearson will start this week, but the cheapie with the best chance of making money is Bulldogs five-eighth Jeremy Marshall King who scored 41 last round and is just a little over minimum price at $258,000.
Is Marshall-King actually worth buying?
Marshall-King's Fantasy value is all about whether he can hold a starting spot alongside Kieran Foran, ahead of the axed Matt Frawley. His first couple of games off the bench resulted in low scores but that didn't budge his price (15 in round one, 14 in round two) but he made full use of his 80 minutes at five-eighth against Penrith with 41 points including a try assist and four tackle breaks.
A string of scores above 30 would make Marshall-King a solid cash cow worth buying – if you are confident enough he can keep his starting spot. That's no sure thing: apart from Frawley the Bulldogs have made clear their intention to sign Jack Cogger from Newcastle (he has signed for 2019, with the Knights saying he won't be released earlier) and there has also been some speculation the club could make a move for Raiders playmaker Aidan Sezer mid-season, although Canberra deny Sezer will exit before his contract expires. Regardless, if the Bulldogs can take back-to-back wins on Friday against the Rabbitohs Marshall-King's spot should be safe for the short term at least.
Since Cartwright is going to the bench is it worth starting Marshall-King over him? I have him in the halves.
From Keaton Ivamy
I can't decide between Widdop or Mbye for half spot. Advice please?
From Ryan Simpson
Neither Gareth Widdop nor Moses Mbye have been consistent enough scorers to be Fantasy keepers in the past, but both are looking more promising this year (and not just because they scored 99 and 101 on the weekend). Widdop's Dragons look a much more dangerous attacking team this year than in previous seasons, while Mbye's Bulldogs have also improved their attack while he is benefiting from a positional switch from the halves to fullback.
That positional switch probably gives Mbye the edge – in that there's more reason to believe he can improve significantly this season, while Widdop could easily revert to his old solid scores between 40 and 50. The other advantage Mbye has is his dual position status and availability at winger/fullback, where an average of 45 points a game would make him a keeper (you want 50 or more per game for a Fantasy keeper in the halves).
Best replacement for Cleary? Widdop, Mbye, DCE or Hunt – I can't afford Johnson.
From Adam Cathro
Daly Cherry-Evans is probably the most reliable of them all – he's the only one of the four who's clearly a dominant half for his team, with Mbye playing fullback and Widdop and Hunt likely to share playmaking duties at the Dragons. Cherry-Evans meanwhile has a rookie five-eighth beside him at Manly, and is kicking goals as well.
Hey LS, Matterson an OK halves option?
From Daniel Sorich
Ryan Matterson, a dual position half/second-rower in Fantasy, has emerged as a borderline keeper option in the second row at the Roosters this season, averaging 49 from three games including two 80-minute performances. He scored 43 in 58 minutes in round one, then 61 (including a try) in round two and 43 last week. Last season he averaged 38 for the season, including nine games off the bench (averaging 31 from 38 minutes in those games) and three games at centre (averaging 27). He averaged 49 when starting in the back row last year and 50 when playing the full game in the back row. You obviously want him to hold that starting second-row spot to be worth having – which is he currently doing ahead of Mitchell Aubusson – and with a price tag of $628,000 and a break even in the low 30s this week he looks a value option as a high-scoring cash cow at least.
What half should I trade in, JT, Matterson, Hunt or Pearce?
From Blake Jonas
Of those four, based on the numbers above, I'd probably go for Matterson. Both Johnathan Thurston and Ben Hunt have increased competition from points from their halves partners this season (Michael Morgan and Gareth Widdop) while Mitchell Pearce hasn't had a lot of attacking stats just yet at Newcastle and his price is on the decline.
Any worth in the Peach now he's at half and Cleary is gooooone for 10 weeks?
From Lachy Macdonald
Tyrone Peachey is an interesting option for the Panthers as Nathan Cleary's replacement in the halves this week, but with the club using him as a super sub in the opening rounds and a genuine half in rookie Jarome Luai named on the bench this week there's every chance that Luai gets the starting spot ahead of Peachey in the weeks to come. I'd wait and see on those guys at this stage.
Is it worth trading Thurston yet? Thinking of dishing him and Cartwright for Matterson and Rochow.
From Zion Kohu
Thurston's got a break even of 49 and scored 70 a couple of weeks ago so I wouldn't lose faith just yet, but if he fails again it could be time to look for alternatives. Likewise Cartwright isn't a must-sell at this stage if you believe he could work his way back into the Titans starting side. On the other hand, Robbie Rochow has a low break even so is set for another good price rise this week so if you're going to get him you're better off getting him now. Matterson shouldn't have a massive price rise unless he scores well above 50.
Both trades could be the smart move long-term, but if you have doubts and want Rochow I'd suggest trading him in for one of those guys this week (Cartwright if you can afford, Thurston if not) and holding off on the other trade until next week.
I picked Mitch Barnett at the start of the season because he showed some good potential as a workhorse back-rower. I know he had a head knock but in other games his scores have been down. Trade?
From Craig Finkle
Probably, although it's too soon in the year to write Barnett off altogether. The Knights certainly have more depth in the forwards this year with Aidan Guerra joining the second row, Herman Ese'ese and Jacob Lillyman at prop and Jamie Buhrer moving back to the bench, meaning Barnett doesn't need to get through the workload he did last year at lock. His top score after three rounds is 40 but his break even has ballooned to 65 due to a -1 in round two when he left the field early with concussion. There's a chance he could still be value if his scores improve but he's unlikely to be a keeper and with plenty of value options out there (Cameron Murray costs just $28,000 more) he looks like a trade.
Jack De Belin… still an elite gun or not?
From Matt Flanagan
Like Barnett, Jack De Belin's Fantasy scoring has probably suffered from the fact that his team's forward pack – and the Dragons team in general – has strengthened in 2018. Not only does the presence of James Graham mean the Red V now have four established Fantasy guns in their forward pack – De Belin, Graham, Paul Vaughan and Cameron McInnes – but the team as a whole is playing so well that the forwards don't need to get through as much grunt work with the team so busy scoring tries (they're the best attacking team in the NRL at this point). After three games De Belin's only score above 40 has come with a try and with a break even in the 70s he could be on the chopping block.
Jack De Belin – looks like his form is hot on the field, but in the stacked St George pack it's not translating to fantasy points. I'm tossing up between Tohu Harris and Jake Trbojevic. Jake has a slightly higher average and more consistency, but Tohu has a tastier price tag and no Origin.
From Paul McNeil
After back-to-back 60s Tohu Harris looks the goods, and he's almost $150,000 cheaper than Jake Trbojevic. Last week's 61 did include a try but the week before Harris made 68 built on base stats with 43 tackles and 146 run metres which is a terrific sign for his scoring potential. Trbojevic's price will likely hold steady all year while Harris's is on the rise so he'd be the one to grab this week.
Is Merrin worth a trade with his injury and who is more urgent, Croft or Cartwright?
From Hayden Robinson
Croft is a more urgent trade out than Cartwright, and I'll probably be giving Trent Merrin one more week in my side before trading him out (although I may have just convinced myself to jump onboard the Tohu Harris express…).
LS, are you still captaining CS9?
From Ants Pullan
I've played NRL Fantasy long enough to know that Cameron Smith is the most reliable captaincy option in the game on any given week, so I'll be giving him the (c) once again this week.
If Damien Cook outscores him this week though I might change my mind for round five…
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