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With NRL Fantasy superstar David Fifita set to miss up to five rounds, Nathan Cleary out for a fortnight, plenty of popular players sidelined and at least one super cash cow arriving on the scene, what's the best way to use your four trades this week?

It's an unusual round in a lot of ways – and not just because it's been two and a half months since round two. With no State of Origin or bye rounds on the horizon the goal for NRL Fantasy coaches is simply to build a dream team as fast as possible.

But doing that is a little trickier this season with the total number of trades dropping from 34 to 28 across the season.

If you've used two trades already and burn through all eight on offer in the next two rounds you'll be down to 18 trades for the final 16 rounds, meaning it's more important than ever not to waste trades on cheap guys who aren't true cash cows or expensive players who aren't keepers.

So how do you avoid those traps? Reading this article every week is a great start.

This week's big questions

With no bye rounds, no State of Origin is it just a case of: get the best team you can ASAP, buy buy buy?

From Marcus Eriksen

Pretty much. There's now no reason not to get Origin stars like James Tedesco and Payne Haas when you can, but it's also crucial you generate enough money to be able to afford a team of guns by the end of the season. For that reason I'd still prioritise cash cows over keepers in the next couple of weeks – but you don't want to get stuck with duds who will cost you two trades and not earn you money.

Are Cleary and Fifita worth holding? And is Turpin or Macca now a must-have HOK?

From Caolan Cullinane

Hold Cleary, trade Fifita. Cleary is a genuine chance of being the highest-scoring half in Fantasy this year, is rising in price and will be back after two rounds (so if you trade him out now you'll certainly want him back in a fortnight).

Fifita also had a great start to the year but the extra few weeks on the sidelines makes him a trade, especially if you're playing for overall points. If you switch him for a superstar like Jason Taumalolo now you still have the option of upgrading a peaked cash cow to Fifita in a month's time, and that's a better move than effectively giving up 50 points a week by sitting an expensive player in your reserves list.

Neither Jake Turpin at the Broncos or Andrew McCullough at the Knights are must-haves, and chances are they won't be with so many good hooker options available. Wait and see how they go in the next few weeks in terms of both minutes and scores first. Turpin is a possible gun if he maintains an 80-minute role while McCullough is a former gun whose price will drop for the next few weeks at least.

What is Jamal Fogarty's scoring potential based on previous lower grade games?

From Mark Konkers

Fogarty's Intrust Super Cup stats are very promising. At the age of 26 he's in his seventh season and in the past four his Fantasy averages read 52, 50, 42 and 58, with a stunning 113-point game earlier this year. It is easier to produce big numbers at that level than it is in the NRL (especially playing for the reigning wooden spooners), and Fogarty's biggest concern will be job security with talented youngster Tanah Boyd also at the club. I'd wait and see how he performs this week before using a trade on Fogarty just yet – if he's going to be worthwhile as a cash cow he'll still be very cheap next week.

Is Flegler worth keeping with Lodge there?

From Dylz Hall

Flegler is certainly a hold, but I'm not sure he's a buy with Lodge challenging for a starting berth in the next week or two.

Nick Cotric has started off on fire tackle breaks and averaged just over 60 with no tries in Rd 1 & 2 but that was against two of the weakest teams in the Titans and Warriors. His BE is through the floor but is it too risky to jump on at $518K considering he is a winger and has games against much stronger opponents coming up?

From Lachlan Smith

Cotric is a borderline cash cow and a potential keeper, but there is the risk he ends up being neither. He started the year underpriced after scoring just 26 points a game last year (he averaged 38 in the two previous seasons) and while his current 60-point average isn't sustainable he is capable of scoring around 40. The problem is, if you buy him and he starts hitting around 35 points a game then he won't make significant price rises (he'd probably peak around $600k) and then you'd need to upgrade him anyway – costing you two trades for not a lot of upside. He's a bit risky for my liking when there are some genuinely cheap cash cows available.

If you had to pick between Staggs as a centre keeper or Cotric as a springboard to a WFB way would you go?

From Bilent Peel

I'd go Staggs. A 40/45-point centre is a keeper (Staggs averages 39 as an 80-minute centre) while a 40/45-point winger/fullback isn't quite in the elite bracket compared to the likes of Tedesco, Trbojevic, Ponga, etc. If you want a player for their moneymaking ability, get someone cheaper who has a higher earning potential.

Key outs cause several teams to slide

Is Mitchell Pearce prime for the taking?

From André Fitisemanu

Pearce is an interesting option – he scored above 50 points a game for three years straight from 2016 to 2018 but started with a discount this season after averaging 44 last year. He's coming off a 75 against the Tigers and will need to have another big game if Newcastle are to topple Penrith this week. But while he's probably good value he's unlikely to be one of the very best halves in Fantasy this year with Daly Cherry-Evans, Nathan Cleary and Mitchell Moses in the mix, so if you get Pearce you could be giving up 5-10 points a game at the business end of the season compared to the elite halves.

Is Cook to Koroisau a no-brainer or should I back Damo to come good soon and justify his price?

From Kristian James Wanka

Keep Damien Cook, he's a superstar. Find another way to bring in Koroisau.