The cash cows are peaking, plenty of big names have joined the casualty ward and Fantasy coaches are on the hunt for bargains.
Here are my answers to the big NRL Fantasy questions ahead of round 8, which kicks off early with two blockbuster games on Anzac Day.
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Thoughts on Scott Sorensen long term? Played the full 80 with Graham/Gallen out. Does he hold minutes when they return now that Luke Lewis is looking at more time on the sidelines?
From Jason Barkle
Scott Sorensen had a great score in the back row for the Sharks last week and is already making fast money but he's a risk. He is the bargain player set to get the biggest opportunity out of the injuries to Cronulla's forward pack, with Paul Gallen out for another month and Luke Lewis (calf) also set to miss four weeks. Wade Graham returns this week to effectively replace Lewis and the more experienced Jayson Bukuya is also returning from via the bench, but Sorensen has kept his starting spot for now and at $294,000 is set for more price rises following his 69 in round 7.
Bukuya could bump Sorensen out of the starting side in the short term, or Lewis could come back from injury early, so he is a bit of a gamble. But if you're in the market for a sub-$300k cheapie who will definitely make money (and probably score pretty well) this round, Sorensen is probably your best bet.
Is Ryan Matterson a must have and thoughts on Surgess as an alternative once he's back?
From George Bright
Matterson has been a fantastic scorer this season with big scores boosted by tries followed by a 65-tackle bonanza for a score of 70 last week, but I still wouldn't quite put him in the "must-have" bracket. There are a lot of high-scoring second-rowers in Fantasy and a few good halves (Shaun Johnson, Daly Cherry-Evans, etc) so you can get by without Matterson in your side. He's obviously a good buy though.
Sam Burgess is still a potential keeper down the track, especially now he's available in the front row or second row, but his suspensions are incredibly frustrating for those who have him in their side already.
Hi Lone Scout, with Pearce out for the Knights, who do you think will pick up his points – Watson or Cogger?
Mitchell Pearce's pectoral injury that'll see him miss between 10 and 16 weeks is a big blow for Newcastle but presents an opportunity for a new half make their mark. Jack Cogger ($261k) has the spot right now after being promoted ahead of Brock Lamb ($318k) last week, with Connor Watson ($379k) named at five-eighth. Watson is a running five-eighth who doesn't do much kicking so Cogger is likely to take on the bulk of the general play kicking while he holds his spot in the side, so there's real cash cow potential there. The problem is if Cogger or even Watson gets dropped – Lamb is waiting in the wings and is arguably the most dominant kicker of the three, so if he plays he's likely to be the best Fantasy scorer of the trio.
The upshot is I'd be waiting at least a week to see how Cogger and Watson perform this week. If Cogger struggles as a dominant organising playmaker Lamb could find his way back into the side soon, and you don't want to pick up a cheapie and then be forced to trade them out again.
Do you think Rapana becoming Fantasy-relevant again this year or not worth the interest?
From Trevor Maggs
Jordan Rapana's current average of 33 is way down on previous years when he scored about 50 points a game, but that shouldn't come as a huge surprise as a winger who only has two tries in seven matches this year. He could still be a gun if the Raiders put together a run of wins but with the likes of James Tedesco, Kalyn Ponga, Tom Trbojevic and Moses Mbye available there are more reliable options out there.
Your top five options for wing/fullback with money not an issue?
James Tedesco, Kalyn Ponga, Tom Trbojevic, Moses Mbye and Dylan Edwards. Maybe Josh Dugan or Cody Walker ahead of Edwards.
Is trading Shaun Johnson to Matterson wise or is it a burnt trade?
Shaun Johnson should be back next week so I'd hold him. (He is actually in my team and I am holding him.)
G'day legend. Need to get rid of Lodge for a cheapie so that I can pump cash into Dufty to upgrade to a solid keeper. Thinking Faitala-Mariner, Koroisau, Crichton or Guerra. Thoughts on possible cheapies and who to upgrade to?
From Joel Daniel
This week's best cheapies apart from Sorensen are probably the same as last week's – Jaydn Su'A, Jack Gosiewski, Mitch Rein – with the riskier options being Jack Cogger and (now he's back in the halves) Bryce Cartwright. There are whispers giant Broncos rookie Payne Haas could get a run off the bench as well but I'd wait at least a week on him anyway.
Debating offloading DCE for 2 keepers that don't play for Manly because can see them crashing hard with all the drama. Good or bad idea?
From Asher Wilko
Daly Cherry-Evans was a keeper last week and one bad score (at the end of a bad week) doesn't change that in my book. Manly's not in a great place right now but DCE is still a dominant playmaker who will score well in base stats – kick metres, tackles, goals – and attacking stats most weeks. I'd be keeping him.
Macca for Smith or Cook, I think Cook's better option, and DCE for Ben Hunt – good moves?
From Ryan Vigliante
Andrew McCullough for Damien Cook is probably the best trade now – Cook's the only player to average more than 60 in Fantasy this year, apart from Sorensen with his lone score of 69 – but I reckon Cherry-Evans will outscore Hunt over the course of the season so I'd skip that trade.
Thoughts on Ben Hunt as a long-term keeper? I've got him but before his 90 he'd had 3 scores below 50 and was averaging just under that which was starting to concern me.
From George Bright
If you've got him you certainly hold him and hope for more 90s, but if not I wouldn't be taking the plunge just yet – the fact he shares playmaking duties with the equally impressive Gareth Widdop means neither of them are safe options as consistent 50+ scorers. I'd prefer a dominant half like Shaun Johnson and Daly Cherry-Evans, or a dual-position tackle machine like Ryan Matterson or Apisai Koroisau.
Hey Scout. Thinking of trading Tevita Pangai Junior out for Jazz Tevaga. He is a cheeky POD and has money to make but is it worth a trade at this point of the game or should I just roll with TPJ? Thanks
From Antony Petrie
Tevita Pangai jnr may get a scoring boost (and more price rises) in the next few weeks now that he's got the starting lock position at Brisbane, with Josh McGuire replacing the injured Andrew McCullough at hooker. I'd be holding him. Plus there's the risk that an 80-minute Simon Mannering could hurt the scoring potential of the other forwards at the Warriors, including Tevaga.
What do you do when a cash cow has peaked, but you can't afford to upgrade to a gun? Do you trade for a minimum cost player (uses a trade but saves any value loss), or do you just go for the best you can afford?
From Graeme Lock
You don't need to trade a peaked cash cow unless they are about to lose value, so it's better to strike at the right time rather than trading for a sub-par scorer. Generally the simplest way to make the most out of cash cows is to trade two at once – downgrading one to a cheap player (although this year with the reduced 21-man squads you want a cheap scorer, not just any bargain-price player) and upgrading the other to a gun. If you can't afford a gun yet and your cash cow will likely hold his value another week, then wait for the right time to trade.
Havili only played 40 minutes last week. Will this continue? Is it time to cash him in? Hold Shaun Johnson? Best upgrade for Hiku?
From Adam Watts
Siliva Havili's minutes have been up and down for Canberra this year, with a 40-minute stint against Souths after two 70-minute efforts. His break even is still fairly low but there's no guarantee he gets consistent minutes so he can be cashed in in the next few weeks.
On the other questions, I'd hold Johnson and Hiku could be upgraded to Euan Aitken, Latrell Mitchell or Josh Dugan.