Fantasy coaches scrambling for replacements at winger/fullback with superstar duo Kalyn Ponga and James Tedesco out of action, plus big question marks over the scoring prospects of a couple of superstars.
This week's big questions
Hey Scout, took your advice last week and kept Bronson Xerri, ended up winning my H2H game by a few points. This week I'm really keen on trading Xerri to Drinkwater. I like the fact Drinkwater is a POD (currently) and covers HLF and WFB – heaps of upside?
From Ben Lewis
Yes there is a lot of upside in Drinkwater, a dual-position, tackle-breaking fullback who is averaging 57.5 over his NRL Fantasy career. The downside is that career only spans two games so far (he scored 58 in his one game for Melbourne last season) and he's not particularly cheap at $595k. Still, he's a potential gun and that dual position flexibility is particularly handy on weeks like this, so if money is no object for your squad then he's a good option.
In terms of alternatives, someone like Braidon Burns could be more reliable and is cheaper at $443k, although he covers WFB and CTR, while Jack Wighton is a more experienced option covering the same positions as Drinkwater but will cost you $696k.
Got eight trades left, my team is pretty much set but will only be able to field 16 this week. Do I upgrade Jesse Arthars to a gun half or take the dot?
From Brent Deacon
If your focus is on winning your head-to-head league and you're safe in your league's top eight, consider saving the trade and coping with 16 this week. But if you need a win or you're playing for overall points, use the trade. Chances are Jesse Arthars won't be back for the Titans unless injuries strike in their backline so an upgrade would help you this week and add depth for the run home.
With Tedesco out, I have no cover at fullback (would have if Ponga wasn't injured). Xerri is in my emergencies. Should I trade Xerri to Burns purely for cover?
From Te Rangihau Caleb Whiu
Yeah I'm strongly considering that exact trade. Burns covers two positions, has been a quality scorer for Souths this year and frees up about $50k if you bring him in for Xerri. It costs you a trade but there's no other obvious downside.
What's the chances of Cameron Smith playing rounds 22-25 with Melbourne looking so comfortable at the top of the ladder?
From Bryce Liam Callanan
Good question. With the Storm on track to cruise to this year's minor premiership there is some logic in Craig Bellamy resting his star players (especially a 36-year-old 80-minute hooker) ahead of the finals, particularly in round 25 – which doubles as the grand final week for Fantasy head-to-head leagues.
On the encouraging side though, Smith generally hates being rested and he didn't miss a game in the final rounds in 2017 (when Melbourne won the minor premiership by six points) or 2016 (when they won it by one point). He didn't miss a game in the second half of last season. In 2017 with the minor premiership in the bag Smith still played the full 80 against Canberra, kicking six goals and making 40 tackles. At this stage, assume he'll keep playing – but keep in mind having a strong 18th man could be handy come round 25.
For H2H if teams are tied how is their ladder position worked out?
From Adrian Smart
By points scored in head-to-head rounds. In previous years teams were split by for-and-against but the new system rewards teams for strong performances rather than punishing them for being matched up against high-scoring opponents during the season.
Is Shaun Johnson worth keeping?
From Brian Bolds
At this stage, yes. His form has been poor of late but just a fortnight ago he scored 73 points including 11 tackle breaks. He's still making a lot of kick metres so if his running game clicks again he's still a potential keeper – which would make him great value at his $545k price tag.
Is Milford a keep or sell in the fullback role?
From David Arndt
Again, there's no need to sell just yet. If you've held Milford you've been rewarded with an earlier-than-expected return from injury, and in his first game at fullback he did fine with 44 points in 73 minutes in a heavy loss to Newcastle. At the very least see how he goes against the Warriors in Brisbane on Saturday.
Will Milford get dual position if he stays at fullback for the remainder of the season? If so, when?
From John Rodger Evans
Yes, if he keeps playing at fullback he's on track to become a dual-position player when the next player updates kick in after round 18.