Ladies and Gentleman, welcome back to the second instalment of The Pyramid. After building our base in the pre-season this article will help coaches take the first step up The Pyramid as we head towards the pointy end. This article will look at some of the key moments and outcomes from the first two rounds, and outline some decisions that can be made to either correct course or push ahead in our fantasy season.
Over the first two rounds, the age old adage of ‘don’t chase last weeks’ points’ reared its head again, with many coaches falling into the trap, wasting both trades and future money. After a career-high 73 fantasy points in round 1, and an initial price rise of 51k, Lachlan Ilias came crashing back to earth against the Panthers with a 26, stopping nearly all future price rises. Lachlan Ilias is a prime example of a player who should have had a ‘three-date rule’ applied to him. Prior to the start of Round 2, Jason broke down Ilias’ Round 1 score excellently, and was proven correct with Ilias’ Round 2 score consisting entirely of base stats, outside of 1 tackle break and 1 turnover tackle. The 6.52% of owners who brought him for Round 2 and 10.22% of owners overall must now be content with a player who averaged 30.0 in 2022 and will have a BE of 30 coming into Round 3, seemingly meaning price rises may be few and far between in the coming rounds.
I won't dwell too much on other players that had seemingly inflated Round 1 scores that were unable to replicate that in Round 2 but below are the ten most traded in players this week and their fantasy performance historically and in Round 1 and 2. The main piece of advice for coaches going forward is to be patient on scores that seem like anomalies because they probably are and look to apply the three date rules to these players and pick them up when you have some statistical certainty around points, roles and positions.
As the season moves into Round 3 we are faced with our first real fork in the road as the Penrith Panthers have the bye. For 57.77% of coaches this means that Nathan Cleary is not available for selection. Around this comes the predicament as to who to select as our captaincy option. Thankfully, most coaches have another solid captaincy option in their 17 with there also being a few match-up dependent players that more risk-tolerant coaches could choose to captain.
For coaches that decided to start with both Nathan Cleary and Cameron Murray there is a very easy decision to be made. Murray is the best captaincy choice for Round 3 but it is strongly advised to not waste a trade going from Nathan Cleary to Cameron Murray just to chase points. Trades are extremely valuable and should not be wasted to navigate captaincy options through small bye windows.
For any of the 45.78% of coaches that have Jmaine Hopgood he should be the primary captaincy choice for anyone that doesn't have Cameron Murray and is missing Nathan Cleary in Round 3. After scores of 82 and 85 Hopgood has shown to have a high workrate and strong fantasy pedigree. With Ryan Matterson still suspended, there should be no concern about Hopgood’s minutes or output dropping and will give a safe captaincy option for coaches looking to stay with the pack which is crucial early in the season.
Other safe captaincy options that sit at a smaller ownership percentage are players like Harry Grant, Payne Haas and Daly Cherry-Evans. All three players have proven fantasy pedigree and would provide coaches with a floor of 50 points in Round 3, with strong attacking outputs allowing them to rise to elite captaincy options.
If coaches are looking for a match-up dependent captaincy option then they should look no further than Adam Doueihi. The Tigers have a favourable matchup against the Bulldogs in Round 3. Though they have shown improvement the Bulldogs have struggled defensively over the first two weeks, particularly on their left edge. With Adam Doueihi strong running game and proving to be the Tigers prominent attacking threat he should see a bump in his overall fantasy output, after scores of 64 and 51 in the first two rounds.
The last thing to consider after the first two rounds is who to trade out. When considering what players to trade out it is not necessarily a matter of poor scores, but rather poor scores at a relative price point. This means players like Tommy Talau, Harley Smith-Shields and Matt Doorey are not necessarily trade outs as they will slowly make money and would not be out of place in most teams Emergencies.
One player who should be an instant trade out coming into Round 3 is Brandon Smith. After a middling score of 34 in Round 1, many coaches held the faith with a favourable matchup, but were punished with a disappointing 11 with rib/back concerns limiting him to 26 minutes. With a price of 531k and breakeven of 61 after lockout he is a very easy sell especially with the Roosters bye in Round 4.
A predicament that many coaches will find themselves in when trading out Smith is losing hooker depth. A large portion of coaches started with Brandon Smith and Tanah Boyd, and moving one will mean that these teams have one HOK in their 21 man squad. Unless they have 200-300k in the bank, most coaches will need to make two trades to get a quality hooker, as there does not appear to be better options below or around Brandon Smith’s price.
To help fund this trade coaches will need to look to move another struggling mid range player to a player under 300k. Players priced above 500k and greater than 7.5% ownership that should be traded out along with Brandon Smith include Jeremiah Nanai (584k, 14.46%), Matt Burton (628k, 11.87%) and Selwyn Cobbo (535k, 9,45%).
Primary trade targets for coaches that are cash-strapped both come from the Bulldogs, with these players being Jacob Preston and Reed Mahoney. After a strong Round 2 against the Storm in which he scored 62, Preston is priced at 287k and has a negative breakeven, and seems ready to make quick price rises if he is able to lock down a starting back row spot.
Since his move to the Bulldogs, Reed Mahoney seems rejuvenated as a player and fantasy asset, with scores of 71 and 54. Priced at 712k he will be the most cost-effective hooker option compared to Reece Robson, Damien Cook and Harry Grant, and will be the easiest player to move to from Brandon Smith. Reed Mahoney also has a very favourable bye schedule with his first one being in Round 13.
If you were fortunate enough to avoid Brandon Smith, but think there are players you need to trade out, consider how much money they have already lost and whether their scores or role will continue. Some of these players it also important to consider their draw going forward and also the likelihood of them being long term assets. Kotoni Staggs is a primary example of this. He has been fairly disappointing with two sub-30 scores but with the Broncos playing the Dragons, Dolphins, Tigers, Raiders and Titans he should see improved fantasy outputs and deserves at least two more opportunities to prove his worth.
That's a wrap for this edition of The Pyramid. Thank you to everyone who has been listening to the podcasts, and if you are going to the Round 4 game between the Warriors and Bulldogs on the 26th of March be sure to head to the Garrison Public House in Auckland for a Meet and Greet and Live Q&A with TK, Kyle, Shoota and JWarriot from 12pm. Thanks again and until next time.