Some really tricky outs combined with some underperforming guns (and cash cows for that matter) have given Fantasy coaches something to think about at this early stage of the season.
This week's big questions
Should I hold or sell Turbo?
It's almost unbelievable that just two rounds in, we're talking about selling last year's second-best Fantasy player, who finished last season with an average over 80 and the biggest individual Fantasy score of all time. But with scores of 35 and 24, a drop of $117k already and an estimated round three break-even of 127, it's a legitimate option. There are a few things to think about here.
The Sea Eagles have played two of the best sides in the competition away from home in the first two weeks and they have been on the back foot the whole time. Turbo is a superstar but not a magician, and no fullback would have dominated in those circumstances. They return home this week to play a Bulldogs side that, while improved, is coming off a wooden spoon. If you sell, be prepared for a possible bounce back. How frustrated would you be to sell him then see him pump out 80 or 90 this weekend?
Some rule tweaks to the actual NRL, with penalties now awarded for infringements inside 40, have brought back a bit of the arm-wrestle. Turbo probably won't score like he did last year no matter how well Manly play from here on.
If he keeps putting out scores around 30, he is projected to lose another $100k or so just this week, and nearly that again the week after. You could potentially avoid $200k or more in price drops if you sell and buy back later, which would be worth the two trades.
If you have him, he's the most expensive player in your team (unless you're somehow also carrying Nathan Cleary in your reserves), and you want your priciest player to be a set-and-forget captain. The next-most expensive players – Payne Haas, Daly Cherry-Evans, Isaiah Papali'i and even an underperforming David Fifita – would all have been much better captaincy options over the first two rounds.
Lastly, you can sell him this week for someone like James Tedesco, Nicho Hynes or Kalyn Ponga (depending who's already in your team), clear up more than $200k to use elsewhere and potentially improve or at least not harm your scores.
So there it is, the longest ever answer in a weekly Q&A. It's always a dangerous game selling someone of Turbo's pedigree when a monster score could be just around the corner but on balance I think I would be moving him on this week.
NRL Teams: Sea Eagles v Bulldogs
What should I do with Stefano Utoikamanu?
Utoikamanu averaged around 55 over the final two months last year so could have been under-priced if he maintained that form. If he holds onto that ball and scores last week, we're probably not having this conversation but his scores have been disappointing. There's no harm in holding another week in hopes he comes good but if you can improve your team by moving him on I'd be happy to make the trade.
Is Lachlan Ilias worth holding onto?
The Rabbitohs halfback hasn't worked out as a cash cow so far, with scores of 17 and 18. He's not really losing value though (he's only dropped $7k in two games) and only needs one half decent score to get his price moving. If there was a bounty of better cash cows I'd say bring one of them in instead but as it is I think it's worth leaving Ilias down in your reserves and hoping he improves.
NRL Teams: Rabbitohs v Roosters
What are your thoughts on Tom Starling?
Raiders hooker Tom Starling is an interesting one, following the awful news of Josh Hodgson's season-ending injury. Starling should have that starting No.9 jersey sewn up but he had Adrian Trevilyan on the bench last week and Matt Frawley this week, so he'll probably be looking at more like 60 minutes per game rather than 80 and he only managed 38 in that time last week. He will increase in value and looks a handy buy this week, but you can afford to have a look for another week too.
Is Nat Butcher a buy?
Roosters forward Nat Butcher has a game well-suited to Fantasy and has scored heavily in the past when called on to play big minutes due to injury. He's named to start but it's a weird one this week though with Angus Crichton on the bench rather than injured. Butcher's not exactly cheap either and with question marks over his minutes and how long he'll stay in the run-on side it doesn't seem worth the risk.
Is Dale Finucane worth any consideration?
Dale Finucane has been one of the best Fantasy middles over the opening two weeks, with around 64 minutes and 44 tackles per game and $61k of price rises so far. The fact he's scoring almost entirely in base stats is a good sign but he's also never really put up these sort of numbers before and with Cam McInnes being eased back from injury last week I'd say there's a strong chance Finucane's workload drops off a bit from here.
NRL Teams: Dragons v Sharks
Is Ethan Bullemor a sell?
He's getting close. His 48 in round one came with the aid of a try and he got just 32 minutes last week with Andrew Davey a late inclusion playing a bigger role. Bullemor's break-even is still achievable so you can safely hold one more week but if Davey cuts into his minutes again – and with Josh Schuster getting close to a return – he'll be a definite sell next week.
Is it too late to bring in Izack Tago?
With the benefit of hindsight, the best time to get Tago was before round one, and the second-best time was last week. But the third-best time is now – his price is still on the way up, he's busting tackles for fun, making stacks of metres and is dual position. You're paying a premium compared to two weeks ago but based on current performance he's still good value.
NRL Teams: Panthers v Knights
Is Reed Mahoney a hold?
I think so. He didn't have to do as much tackling as usual in round one with all the try-scoring going on. His 51 in round two (admittedly with a try) was pretty handy given the scores across the board so far. He's still an 80-minute hooker with a good running game who can ball-play and kick out of dummy half, which is gold in Fantasy. I'd be sticking solid.