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The Mercato - We call it Magic!

And welcome back to The Mercato, a long-form series for Talking League. Well Magic Round has come and gone, and the major bye round period is just one round away.

But before we get into planning for round 12, a reflection on Magic Round. For me, it was the third Magic Round that I had attended, the second where I attended all eight matches as part of the Talking League team. As expected, it was a fantastic weekend full of footy. It was great to see and meet many of our listeners, as well as catch up with Mark Jessup from Fantasy Amateurs and Jamie Brown. For those that haven’t been to Magic Round, I highly recommend taking the plunge and getting amongst it.

Accountability Time

Of course, this series has always been about accountability, even when it’s not going well. Which is where my team sits at present, ranked 8,254 after a score of 942. All in all, I’m not too unhappy given that score included Jolliffe’s 6 before succumbing to a pec injury. In terms of the whole Talking League team, you can see the ranks below.

Time is Ticking

With just one more round before the major bye round period starts in round 13, the clock is ticking ever so louder. And with that comes a reminder of what happened last season, where Fantasy coaches were thrown multiple curveballs when it came to origin selections and player injuries. Which is why I would be very judicious when it comes to making your trades this round, as there’s nothing stopping either origin coach from making some unexpected calls or the injury carnage continuing on.

Of course, it would be remiss of me to say that you shouldn’t be trading this week. After all, the Newcastle Knights are on the bye this week and have some very fantasy-relevant players. Not only that, but you may also be carrying a Shaun Johnson who should be good for round 14, John Bateman because you had enough green dots last week or even own Jaimin Jolliffe like me. Holding assets like these and 3+ Knights probably sends you to the trade table.

The risk of Oversubscription

Going to the trade table isn’t the issue, it’s what you do at the trade table that matters. And what I mean by that is you want to be careful about trading into round 13 oversubscription. Having oversubscription in one or more positions isn’t an issue if it happens organically by holding those players for a long period of time; however it’s a real issue if you trade into that scenario just a week or two before that oversubscription will take place. It’s also not really an issue if the players that cause the oversubscription are cheap players that will make their keep in cash generation.

The best way to illustrate the potential to trade into oversubscription this week is to use an example team. So, enter my team:


As we can see, I have 14 players (starting 13 plus Tedesco) that play for teams that feature in round 13. Now at this stage, we would expect that Angus Crichton, Nicho Hynes and James Tedesco will all play origin. However, there is a world where all three miss out on origin and are available for club duties in round 13. I would say that it’s unlikely that all three miss out on origin, but even if one doesn’t get picked, I could be oversubscribed in the MIDs, EDGS, HLFs or WFBs if I go out this week and purchase more round 13 players.

As I’ve mentioned on previous shows and editions of The Mercato, I’m really interested in assets like Reed Mahoney ($704k), Max King ($659k), Jack de Belin ($720k), Briton Nikora ($652k), Mitchell Moses ($733k) and Scott Drinkwater ($644k) that all play in round 13. However, without knowing which players are going to play origin, there’s a high risk that I may be trading myself into oversubscription territory.

The above may be all well and good, but if you’re in a situation where you need to acquire green dots this week to field a competitive 17, what should you do? The first thing would be to visualise your round green dots for round 13. I would recommend using our Talking League Bye Planner which you can download here.

Once you’ve visualised your round 13 green dot situation, you can identify your minimum and maximum green dots. For me, my minimum is 11 and 14 is the maximum should Crichton, Hynes and Tedesco all miss NSW selection. If you’re in a similar range to me, I would be looking to acquire the players that present as good prospects for cash generation. Now Kaeo Weekes is the key one if you do not have him yet, with David Armstrong a buy in round 13 as we don’t recommend acquiring players on a bye. If you already have those two, it may be worth looking at players that don’t play round 13.

Right on the Radar

The first player of interest is Alex Twal ($541k). This article is of course being published before TLT and the Lebanese International could be no longer listed at lock. However, what we know from Twal is he can be a PPM beast that doesn’t require a lot of attacking stats to reach that level. I’m happy for coaches to take the plunge on Twal as long as they are prepared to ride the rollercoaster that is the Tigers forward pack rotation under Benji, as well as Twal’s significant concussion history. Whilst I may pull trigger on him this week, I would probably prefer to leave the purchase until round 14 when I can transition out a player that has multiple byes left.

Another one that has shot to prominence is Tyran Wishart ($382k), who has proved that he can score well in his preferred position in the halves. Brenton and I recorded The Fantasy Game Plan before the news of Cameron Munster missing at least 8 weeks surfaced, which really changes my opinion on him. With Jonah Pezet out with an ACL and Jahrome Hughes battling a calf issue, there is real scope for Wishart to feature in the halves for some time. As a halfback, Wishart has averaged 56.3 across four games and scored a 22 at five-eighth in a solitary match in 2023. Boasting a really strong running game and a decent defensive workrate, I would not be surprised to see him average 45+ in the short to medium term. That could be at least 15+ points of value for coaches. Not only that, but the Storm only miss one game until round 19 which is quite tolerable. For my own team, I do need at least one WFB or CTR eligible player for round 16 which he can fit the bill. Personally, I’m strongly considering him this week, as well as the next player.

Tolutau Koula ($474k) is another that passed the eye test on the weekend. In a game where he didn’t generate a huge amount of attacking stats, Koula cruised to a 45 and didn’t look out of place in the number 1 jersey. As a non-owner, it definitely grabbed my attention as 6.63% scooped him up last week. With the CTR DPP (as opposed to Wishart’s HLF DPP) it will probably tessellate better with my positional coverage across the major bye round as opposed to Wishart, but the fact he misses the minor bye round 17 is something to consider.

Minor Inconveniences

Which brings us to the other consideration that needs to be on our minds when making trades this week: the Minor Bye Rounds. Now whilst round 13 is one week away, round 14 is only two weeks away. As we know, we won’t have access to Dolphins, Roosters or Raiders players plus we will need origin player to back up in order to field a 17. So if you already have 5-6 players from the above-mentioned trio and sit below 15 trades, it would not be advisable to purchase the likes of Joseph Manu, Nat Butcher, Euan Aitken or Jeremy Marshall-King before round 14. As we’ve seen this season, trades are gold and there’s been plenty of injury carnage. The last thing you would want to do is lose all your round 13 gains because you can’t field at least 15 players in round 14. It’s also something to consider for round 17 when the Sea Eagles, Rabbitohs and Titans players are unavailable. Whilst it may seem fanciful that the Rabbitohs or Titans will hold many fantasy-relevant players, it’s important to note that after round 13 they will only miss one week of NRL.

With your trades this week, be sure to keep in mind your oversubscription and round 14 red dot risks. Check the size of those risk by visualising using tools like our bye planner and put yourself in the best position to make efficient trades in round 13. Enjoy the rest of our content in the lead up to round 12, and I’ll catch you on the next episode of The Fantasy Game Plan.


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