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Lone Scout's NRL Fantasy Q&A: Round 6

NRL Fantasy coaches finally found their centre saviour in Panthers recruit Kurt Capewell only for a knee injury to derail his season.

Who's the best replacement for the injured Penrith utility out wide, and plenty more questions answered as the Telstra Premiership heads into round six.

This week's big questions

Is Latrell Mitchell the top option to replace Capewell in the centres?

From Michael McEvoy

In terms of averages, the top centres this year are actually Knights pair Bradman Best (66, including five tries in three games) and Sione Mata'utia (46). Mata'utia made an unusually high 53 tackles against the Storm in round 5 which gave him 66 points, easily his best this year.

After injured duo Kurt Capewell and Kotoni Staggs comes cash cow Zac Lomax (42) and Latrell Mitchell (39), who struggled early on but has now found his feet at fullback with scores of 63 and 74.

Centres are the centre of attention again

At $542k Mitchell looks great value if he can hit 50+ on a regular basis, especially at centre where anyone scoring 40 or better is a keeper. Tyrell Fuimaono ($394k), who struggled to 17 points last week, and Mata'utia ($479k) are the remaining starting second-rowers who are available at centre, although neither looks likely to match Capewell's early season scores this year.

A hamstring injury to Tommy Talau means there are no cut-price cash cow options at centre this week, so Mitchell does look the best of the bunch.

I currently have a good team but lacking with my WFB. I have Holmes, Drinkwater and Ryan Pap. How should I start trading them out? Are there any cash cow WFBs?

From Blake Dawes

That would be my trade order – Holmes first (not playing this week, most expensive of the three, not a keeper), then Drinkwater (likely to lose value next week), then Papenhuyzen (at least holding his value and averaging 40 points a game).

Cowboys rookie Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow is this week's standout cash cow at winger/fullback, scoring 40 on debut last round and shifting to fullback to cover Holmes this week.

Who is a better choice as a potential keeper in that mid $600k price range, McCullough or Fotuaika?

From Michael McEvoy

This one's a little tricky – McCullough is cheaper and is scoring better than Fotuaika, but Fotuaika could still be the better keeper option. That's because there are fewer elite front-rowers in Fantasy this year (only Payne Haas and Alex Twal score more than 60 points per game, and a group of players score mid-50s), while five players are averaging 60 or better at hooker (not including Newcastle's Chris Randall who made 72 in his only game).

You only really need two hookers in your 21-man squad, while you need to have three front-rowers (at least one to cover a short-term injury in the starting side).

Ideally you'll be able to recruit at least one of the elite hookers – Cameron Smith, Damien Cook and Cameron McInnes – at some stage as well, and you've probably already got Apisai Koroisau and Harry Grant. The more hookers you have in your squad, the less depth you have covering other positions – and as we've seen already having depth to cover short-term injuries can be vital.

So I think if you get McCullough it may be worth considering him a very high-scoring "cash cow", who will jump another $100k in value if he averages 55 points in the next three games, and more if he continues scoring in the 60s. He's made more than 60 tackles in both his games for the Knights so far, but those have come in games when Newcastle have made the bulk of the tackles against competition heavyweights Canberra and Melbourne. If those tackle counts drop he's still someone you may want to "upgrade" later to one of the big three, so could be costing you another trade down the line.

Fotuaika meanwhile is already one of the best front-rowers available so (unless he suddenly gets worse) will be one to keep all year.

NRL unites against racism

What's the criteria for DPP updates after rounds 6 & 12?

From Daniel Needham

Players who have been playing in a new position and are expected to remain in that position will become dual-position players after round 6 (with updates to kick in next Wednesday), with another bunch of DPP updates arriving after round 12.

At this stage, the likely candidates for next week are Alex Twal (2RF), Josh Aloiai (FRF), Campbell Graham (CTR), Ethan Bullemor (2RF), Cory Paix (HOK) and Adam Pompey (WFB).

Thought Keary might be a keeper this year. Inconsistent. Thoughts?

From Steven Pemberton

For a keeper in the halves you really want a dominant playmaker, and that usually means a player who takes on the vast majority of a team's general kicking duties. Think Nathan Cleary, Daly Cherry-Evans and Mitchell Moses. Brilliant ball-runners like Cameron Munster are the exception.

Keary's a terrific player but unfortunately for his NRL Fantasy prospects he shares the kicking duties with halves partner Kyle Flanagan – in fact, Flanagan has racked up a lot more kick metres than Keary this year (1229 to 840).

Even Munster has more kick metres than Keary, while also adding plenty of tackle breaks and run metres. At the moment Keary is following in the footsteps of guys like Cooper Cronk, Kieran Foran and Darren Lockyer who were great playmakers but just not that Fantasy-relevant.

Should Josh Reynolds keep his spot for Cowboys clash?

I'm lacking in WFB and HLF. I'm tossing between Latrell and Flanagan but both aren't keepers and I don't want to waste trades.

From Hayden Robinson

I think Latrell probably is a keeper, albeit at centre rather than WFB (you ideally want to finish with Tedesco, Ponga, and probably Tom Trbojevic as your back three).

Flanagan is a riskier option. He's been a great moneymaker but his 54 points per game have included 10 points per games in goals – which, based on how many tries the Roosters are scoring, is probably sustainable – and three tries in five games, which is a trend that probably won't continue.

Even then, he's still well behind 60-point-players Cherry-Evans, Cleary and Moses. So even if he's likely to outscore Mitchell this year I'd prefer to have Mitchell at centre than Flanagan as one of my keeper halves.

Thoughts on Dufty as a smokey?

From Lachy Macdonald

Matt Dufty was terrific in the Dragons' win over Cronulla with a try, two assists and 77 points but he's traditionally a mid-30s scorer (his best season was averaging 39 in 2017) and at $524k he's not particularly cheap, and he's playing at a team that is losing most of its games at the moment. I'd prefer to stump up an extra $20k and get Latrell Mitchell who you can use at WFB or CTR and has arguably more upside.