Two of the most popular players in Fantasy, Dylan Brown and Adam Keighran, are out, leaving many coaches with a halves crisis – but some new cheapies have emerged.
Most of us will be making two trades this week, so here are my answers to the week's big NRL Fantasy questions.
- Casualty ward and late mail
- NRL Fantasy teams analysis: Round 4
- Round 4 NRL official squad announcements
This week's fan questions
With Brimson on the bench will Rein's minutes suffer?
From Nick Whare
It's a possibility. But Mitch Rein played the full 80 minutes in all four games Nathan Peats missed in 2018, and he did it again last week. The issue now is that with both front-line halves – Ash Taylor and Tyrone Roberts – named, AJ Brimson has been named on the bench as a utility. It's possible he gets injected in the halves with Roberts to cover hooker, or into the backline with Tyrone Peachey moving to dummy-half. But with Rein showing he's more than capable of getting through 80 minutes per week, coach Garth Brennan also has the luxury of saving an interchange there and potentially using Peachey to spell a back-rower instead. And if there's an injury anywhere in the backline, Brimson will be there as injury cover and Rein will play the full quota. If Rein does spend some time off the field, I'm tipping it won't be much.
Who has the best job security and point-scoring ability of these cheapies: CHT, Okunbor, Sivo, Cartwright and Xerri. Thanks.
From Aidan Zlotnick
Chanel Harris-Tavita has replaced popular cheapie Adam Keighran, who has been dropped after just three games at the Warriors. I'd imagine his scoring and security are about the same as Keighran's – i.e. he will score well if the team is dominating and poorly if they struggle, and he is also not immune from being similarly dropped as Keighran was if the Warriors don't improve.
Jayden Okunbor looks to have excellent job security after earning his spot on merit and performing well on debut. However as a rookie winger, he will probably have some quiet games. Maika Sivo is in a similar spot after a powerful performance against the Roosters, however he does have George Jennings on the injury comeback to worry about. His tackle-busting ability should see him marry a few quiet games with dominant ones like we saw last week.
Bronson Xerri on debut should score reasonably well as an attacking centre but there's every chance he drops back to Canterbury Cup when Matt Moylan returns in a month or so. Cartwright will keep his spot (and his minutes) if he keeps performing reliably, and coach Garth Brennan is a fan. Having got through 80 minutes for 52 points with just two missed tackles against Souths is a great sign but those of us who owned him last year will remain wary.
Top 5 fantasy disappointments: Round 3
Who out of Burns, Keighran and Brown do you hold and who do you sell in the next week or two?
From Brad Stoicescu
Plenty of people are suddenly stuck with all three of these non-playing cash-cows. Burns holds the most value and is set to miss at least four weeks, if not six, so is the most logical sell. Of the other two, Brown looks the more reliable scorer but is highly unlikely to be back for at least eight weeks if not 12 or more. Keighran was dropped rather than injured so is a chance of a recall based on form or injuries elsewhere, so he probably makes the most sense as a hold of those three for now.
Burns for RTS or Ponga? Will Ponga's points increase moving back to fullback?
From Dempsey Tyson
Warriors skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has two good scores and one poor one, for an average of just under 50 so far and little movement on his starting price. He is likely to stay around that average and price through the year – that is to say, he's a Fantasy gun but you are getting what you pay for.
Ponga is almost exactly the same price and will be a very popular purchase over the next few weeks. He averaged more than 52 last season but has scored around 34 points per game so far in 2019 and dropped $117,000 in value with his attacking stats drying up at five-eighth. If he can recapture what he did last year at fullback he will average over 50 and earn that money back. Just bear in mind this is a different Newcastle team and he still has a very high break even, so for those who can afford to wait a week you can probably get him cheaper in a week or two. If you have to buy one this week I'd be tempted to take the gamble that Ponga will return to something like his 2018 scoring.
Top 5 Fantasy money makers - Round 3
Is Dale Finucane a keeper? Base stats king!
From Dylz Hall
Storm lock Dale Finucane has had an excellent start to 2019, averaging 55 over three games and jumping $86,000 in value having averaged just under 38 last year. Currently, he is averaging around five more minutes per game than in 2018 while his tackle busts have jumped from under one per game to three, and his metres from 105 per game to almost 150. He is also averaging five more tackles per game (from 28 to 33) over three rounds so far. As a very steady and consistent player over a long period, I am sceptical as to whether he can maintain this elevated scoring but if you're confident this is the new Dale Finucane then he may be worth a shot.
Why did Okunbor not start as WFB?
From Greg Rowlands
Bulldogs winger Jayden Okunbor was listed as a dual position 2RF/CTR in Fantasy at launch based on where he has played in the past. Okunbor played a lot of his juniors as a back-rower before migrating wider to the centres and eventually the wing, the position where he made his NRL debut last week. Because he was entered into the game with two positions already, it is not possible to add a third nor to change one of his positions (as it would break any team that already has him in that position). So he'll stay as-is for this year but is likely to be a WFB next year unless his position changes again.
Top 5 Fantasy scorers: Round 3
I'm not too keen on Cartwright so I've been looking at a gun half and am wondering if Lewis would be a good trade. The only thing stopping me from making the trade at the moment is that not only do I have to trade out Capewell, but the fact that Lewis is taking on the storm this week.
From Ronald Marsh
Bulldogs halfback Lachlan Lewis is on track to join the Fantasy elite this year. The nephew of Maroons legend Wally Lewis is averaging over 55 and the best part is that is mostly coming in base stats, and he has scored well in both wins and losses. With Kieran Foran out for an extended period his position in the team is safe as houses and he is now the senior half. He has actually averaged 10 demerit points per week as well so if he can tidy up those errors and missed tackles he may actually improve his average further.
Kurt Capewell is ideally a hold for now as a useful dual-position player averaging almost 40 and making steady cash.
Gillett - hold or trade?
From Caolan Cullinane
Matt Gillett's round one score of 60 (with 57 tackles) feels like a long time ago now. He has moved back to his preferred edge position this week with Matt Lodge back from suspension which should improve his minutes and potentially improve his attack. With an achievable break-even of 44 you can afford to give him one more week but the evidence is there will be far better scorers in that position so if he doesn't come good against the Roosters I'd be looking to trade.
Trade friend for Rein and Gillett to Bateman?
From Simon Rathbone
With Jake Friend likely to miss two more weeks and Bateman on fire, I like these trades.
Is a trade from Arrow to Bateman worth it?
From Fred Fata
While John Bateman is looking close to must-have, Jai Arrow scored 81 a fortnight ago and is a definite hold.