While it's high time for many NRL Fantasy coaches to start keeping some trades up their sleeves for the key rounds later in the season, many are still stuck on what to do with Martin Taupau, Sam Burgess, Aaron Woods, Cody Walker and more. Here are my answers to this week's big Fantasy questions.
Q: With Dylan Napa's recent performance do you think he could be a possible pick up as a keeper? His inspired performance to lift his team defiantly could continue. Do you think although I would need to be wary of the return of both Boyd Cordner and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves to the team? Is there any other prop this week that you think would be more solid choices to bring in?
From Thomas Gough
A: Napa's monster 81-point effort last week against Souths was superb, with a combination of a try, 141 run metres, five tackle breaks and a whopping 51 tackles. But it was also a bit of a one-off, on this year's evidence. Napa played the full 80 minutes for the first time, forced to do extra work in the pack after Sio Siua Taukeiaho went off injured. In the previous five games Napa had played 50-55 minutes each week and scored an average of 46 points per game. A "keeper" in the forward pack should be scoring 50+ points per game, so Napa is close but not necessarily there yet if he goes back to his usual 55-minute stints this week – and the return of Waerea-Hargreaves especially could mean a further reduction in minutes in a few week's time.
Andrew Fifita is the No.1 prop in Fantasy, but at $528,000 he's also about $60,000 more expensive than the next best options – James Graham, Jack de Belin and Jesse Bromwich – and $100,000 more expensive than Jake Trbojevic. Those five all appear to be certain keepers this season, ahead of potential keepers Napa, Josh McGuire and Ryan James, while Paul Gallen is another guaranteed gun over the $500,000 price tag.
Q: My question for this week is. Is Tapau a trade? Maybe swap for someone who scores are more defensively based to prevent some real inconsistent scores. Even with a try last game he was low again.
From Daniel Burden
It's one to consider, but as we've seen with Cartwright and Merrin in recent weeks trading out a high-potential player can backfire spectacularly and I wouldn't rule out a big score from Taupau this week. Check out some great analysis from Adrian McMurray about why Taupau could be getting less ball in recent times since the injury to Daly Cherry-Evans.
Like Napa, Taupau's latest score of just 27 appears to be an outlier. His other scores have been 54, 92, 34 (including three errors costing him six points) and 42. That gave him an average of 55 after four rounds – obviously boosted significantly by the 92 – and he will always be an inconsistent scorer capable of going big on any given day if he causes some damage in attack.
My advice? Hold. From experience it hurts more to trade someone out only to see them score big, than it does to hold someone an extra week and see them lose a bit of cash. If you're not convinced, ask somebody who traded out Bryce Cartwright a fortnight ago or Trent Merrin last week.
Q: What to do with Sam Burgess? Not scoring bad but not great either.
From Anthony Gorman
Again, hold. In my eyes there's more reason to believe Burgess will be a season-long keeper than Taupau, as he's been a great Fantasy scorer in the past. Keep in mind he's only played a handful of games in league since his return from rugby union and he's still averaging 46 points a game so far. His base stats have been good – he made 43 tackles and 142 metres last week – so when he starts making an impact in attack like he did against the Knights in Round 2 those 60+ scores should return.
In fact, some people are actually planning to trade Burgess in...
Q: Is a month too long to wait on Sio Siua Taukeiaho? Now that Sam Burgess is back in lock is it worth trade Taukeiaho to Surgess?
From Ben Thompson
A: Yeah I'd trade Taukeiaho. An injury of four or more weeks is almost always a trade in Fantasy, and Taukeiaho isn't a top-level gun in his position.
Sam Burgess should definitely score better now he's back at lock, where he scored his 61 against the Knights in Round 2 – although he'll have to match that score to avoid another price drop this week.
Q: What's the thoughts on Cody Walker – hold or sell?
From Adam Gore
Walker is a sell, although it's not urgent. A lot of Fantasy teams have decent cover in the halves at the moment with both Jackson Hastings and Ashley Taylor scoring well, so you can sit Walker in your reserves and wait for a new cash cow to come along, or if you have spare cash around upgrade him to a genuine gun like Ben Hunt or Shaun Johnson. Alternatively if you're happy to get a cash cow who isn't bottom-dollar you could make some dual-position moves and bring in Kerrod Holland in the centres.
Q: What's your thoughts on Lolohea?
From Kevin Said
A: Tuimoala Lolohea is certainly undervalued now he's been switched from the wing to five-eighth, and he should get more action in defence and attack in the middle of the park. He won't be a dominant playmaker though, with Shaun Johnson presumably set to take on the vast majority of the kicking and most last-tackle plays. So my guess is Lolohea will average close to 40 at five-eighth thanks to a good running game, which would earn him less than $100,000 in price rises. He won't be a keeper in the halves, although if he can average 40 points a game (and stays in the halves all year) he could be a Fantasy keeper in the centres. So not a terrible buy by any means but not a cash cow or a dominant scorer either.
Q: I'm still not sold on Michael Gordon. I know you love him but it feels like he has far too many 20s in his game for my liking.
From Michael Minty
A: The main thing going for Gordon is Parramatta's bye schedule, with the Eels the only NRL club to play on all three major bye rounds this season. That makes Eels players extra valuable to Fantasy coaches aiming to climb the overall points ladder. The Eels also haven't hit top gear in attack yet this season (despite leading the league for tackle breaks) and when they do Gordon should get more goals and try-scoring opportunities. So if you're playing for overall definitely hold him, if you're playing for head-to-head only he could make way if you're desperate but is hardly an urgent trade.
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