It's a bumper edition of the Q&A at a crucial point in the NRL Fantasy season. Here are my answers on Jai Arrow, Moses Mbye, Ryan James, Daniel Alvaro replacements and much more.
We're all asking about Jai Arrow so let's just cut to the chase. How likely is it that our Arrow will bounce back to keeper status, either this week or next? Heard any whispers on the grape vine about how his knee is travelling? Do you have him in your team, would you trade him out if you did?
From Mark Barwell
It's the big question of the round so let's dive into this one.
Jai Arrow was a 55-point player (or better) until State of Origin III, when he suffered a knee injury that sidelined him in round 18. He returned against Newcastle the following round and scored 25 in 45 minutes then made 25 in 40 minutes last week. The Titans haven't made any statements about whether his minutes are set to return to normal (he usually plays 60 minutes a game) and his points-per-minute output also dropped in the past couple of weeks.
The Titans have been giving more minutes to bench forwards and second-rower Keegan Hipgrave recently, with key middle forwards Jarrod Wallace, Ryan James and Arrow all seeing their game time shrink in the past few weeks. That suggests it could be the trend for the Titans, who aren't playing for a finals spot and must be partly focused on 2019.
There are three possible ways his scoring could go from here:
a) he bounces back instantly and posts a big score this week
b) he eventually gets back to normal scores, in a week or two (or three)
c) he continues playing 40-45 minutes a game for the final five rounds of the season
My guess is all three of the above eventualities are equally likely, ahead of a less probable fourth option that he could even succumb to injury entirely and end up sitting out the final rounds altogether. So if you're low on trades, or can afford to park Arrow in your emergencies for a round because you've got a good 18th man or because you haven't got a crucial head-to-head match-up this week, hold him. If he doesn't score well this week he still might in a week or two.
If you do have trades to spare though, or need every point you can get this week, it's probably wise to trade. With a high break even this week Arrow's price is likely to slide even if he hits 40 or 50 in the next couple of weeks, meaning you could still easily trade him back in later if his scoring does bounce back.
Best half for under $730k? Hunt, Munster, Matterson or Cleary?
From Arvi Komene
I'd rank them Cleary, Matterson, Hunt, then Munster – with Daly Cherry-Evans somewhere in there around Matterson and Hunt as well. Cleary has been a 50+ scorer in the past and looks back to his best, while Matterson's scoring may drop to mid-40s now he's covering for Luke Keary at five-eighth, and Hunt and Munster both average in the high 40s despite being in good form at the moment. Cleary and DCE have good base stats as dominant playmakers (especially with James Maloney battling a few injury niggles at Penrith) plus a few bonus points from goal-kicking duties.
I have tons of WFB and HLF cover and Mbye is not doing great lately. Should I trade him out for Aiden Tolman before his price drops too much and keep Jai Arrow in my reserves until his knee recovers? Would have cover for all positions then, and two trades left for injuries in the run home.
From Lachlan Smith
Tolman is coming off a couple of 50s from two big-minute games – the only times he's played more than 65 minutes all season – and he's a good chance of playing big minutes this week as well with David Klemmer suspended. But he hadn't scored a single 50 before round 19 and his season average is still just 37 – six points less than Mbye's. Unless you already have three other guns at fullback (like Kalyn Ponga, James Tedesco and Tom Trbojevic) I'd probably just hold Mbye.
Is Lachlan Lewis a hold for now or time to upgrade to SJ?
From Daniel Chapman
Shaun Johnson isn't in the best form but he's still a likely keeper while Lewis is more like a handy 18th man – he's likely to score about 45 points a week but you ideally want 50+ from a starting half. There's a good chance I'll hold Lewis as a back-up for the rest of the season but if selling him is the only way to get a gun half then it's probably a smart move. Note than Nathan Cleary costs just $20,000 more than Johnson right now and could be a safer option.
I have 5 trades left, Mbye and Arrow are starters in my side but both have dipped in form. I'll need to free up cash to upgrade so can only do one. Crichton in for Arrow, or Latrell for Mbye? Or can you recommend any other alternatives? Thanks.
It's a tricky one, considering Latrell Mitchell's current form, but Moses Mbye's the fifth-best WFB in Fantasy this year and is only averaging a fraction less than Mitchell so that looks a sideways trade. Arrow's recent form is a real worry though so trading him to Crichton looks a better move if you're not happy to wait it out for Arrow's scoring to improve.
Couple of early questions. Titans forwards are a worry for me at the moment, what to do with Arrow and James? Also have Hayne as a WFB but he's also my only coverage for the centres, should I still upgrade to Holmes? 171k, 6 trades and Fainu and JMK on the bench playing H2H.
From George Bright
Jeremy Marshall-King isn't a keeper so he needs upgrading first if he's one of your four bench scorers. That move might actually wipe out your spare cash which would simplify your next move.
Ryan James is a hold – his base stats are good, he just needs a few attacking stats to post another big score. Hayne and Arrow are your issues… Hayne's only had two big scores all year but one of them was a 90 three weeks ago, and he's playing as well as he has since his return to the NRL. He's a borderline keeper at this point – especially at centre. Arrow can be a gun again but if his current form and role continues he'll be an overpriced flop in the run home. If you can't afford to upgrade JMK and Hayne the best move may be to move Arrow to your bench and trade him to a gun half (like Cleary or Johnson), which will free up cash to upgrade JMK to a decent scorer.
I have 4 trades left. With Alvaro injured for a few weeks he is a sell. Who is the best person to bring in? Levi? Hess? Anyone else?
From Sam Harrison
If you can upgrade Alvaro to teammate Nathan Brown ($744k) or someone like Robbie Farah ($750k) I'd do that. After a quick look the best options under Alvaro's $714,000 price tag include: Nathan Cleary ($609k), Sam Burgess ($654k), Tohu Harris if he's fit ($710k), or Tom Trbojevic if you need a new starter at WFB ($612k).
Playing H2H: Arrow and Taumalolo out to Fitzgibbon and Cleary? Gives me three gun halves, one being Matterson who also covers Taumalolo's 2RF spot if needed. Will I regret this?
From Adam Cathro
Taumalolo still averages 54 for the season and is a hold in my book. Arrow out to Fitzgibbon or Cleary looks fine. You won't have a third half as cover, but with an extra trade up your sleeve you can use it later if you do end up needing another half.
Playing head to head with four trades left lots of cash and a set team - which two of the following upgrades should I make (if any)
Out: Ryan James, Arrow, Johnson
In: Fifita, McInnes, Pearce, Cleary
From Anthony Hall
I've got Ryan James and Shaun Johnson and will hold them both. Arrow out for whichever guy in that "In" group you can afford looks a good move.
If you're building a team from scratch with no salary cap, who's in your #NRLFantasy top 17 for the run home?
I've hedged my bests on a few positions, and may be a little biased towards players I've had this season, but here goes:
1. Kalyn Ponga
2. James Tedesco
3. Latrell Mitchell
4. Esan Marsters
5. Tom Trbojevic
6. Mitchell Pearce
7. Adam Reynolds/Daly Cherry-Evans/Shaun Johnson
8. Andrew Fifita
9. Damien Cook
10. Martin Taupau
11. Rhys Martin
12. Jason Taumalolo
13. Jake Trbojevic
14. Cameron Smith
15. Robbie Farah/Cameron McInnes
16. Nathan Brown
17. Angus Crichton/Ryan James
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