Supercoach is all about odds. Nothing in this caper is a sure thing.
Our goal as Supercoachers is to try and define and know as many of those odds as we can. Never is that more relevant than preseason. Today, I will try to give you a tool that can be used to define the odds. A tool I call The Luck of the Draw.
This tool is certainly not the be all and end all in selecting players. North Melbourne had the most favourable draw by this system last year, yet my selection of Ben Cunnington didn’t pay the dividends I expected it to. However, David Swallow’s rise in 2014 was helped by his club having the second most favourable draw last year.
While gun players score no matter who they play – think Gary Abblett in the birth of Gold Coast or Tom Rockliff in a Brisbane side that struggled at times last year – this tool can be useful in identifying which breakout players might go to the next level.
And importantly – mentioned in the beautiful magazine presented by Higgo, Mick and co. – the draw can also be useful in identifying which mid-priced players may jump out of the blocks and allow us to preform our own ‘Bruyn Manoeuvre’ and get full premium sides as early as we can.
So how does it work?
It involves a lot of numbers. Each side gets points equal to where their opponents sit on an updated version of the 2014 ladder. For example, playing Hawthorn will get you one point, whereas playing St Kilda will give you 18. A higher rating dictates a more favourable draw.
Here is the modified ladder, adjusted for trends I expect to see this year. Analysis of this ladder is enough for another whole article in itself, and although it’s not perfect, it’s as close as I can get.
(I expect hate mail from Carlton fans, but I tend to get hate mail from Carlton fans because they’re hateful people. In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m an Essendon supporter, which I get hate mail for anyway. I get a lot of mail. Thanks, Hirdy.)
Adelaide open their season against North Melbourne (who I have 8th), Collingwood (12th) and Melbourne (17th) and so get 37 points for their opening three rounds. This adds up this over the season, giving us a season score as well as a post and pre-bye round indicator.
Rating the clubs – who has the best draw?
However, there are two scores given for each club: one is the raw data and the other is scaled for finals. In this scaling, 50% more points are given for each side they play in a final (remembering that finals are rounds 18-22 this year, not 19-23) because final performances are crucial for those of us going for league wins.
Why look at finals this early? They’re an important factor. While you won’t pick your premiums solely based on their finals fixture, it is something we will need to be cognisant of eventually.
For example, looking at Fremantle in the Supercoach finals, we see them get 27 points in round 18 for playing St Kilda (18 + 0.5 x 18), 15 for playing West Coast, 12 for North and 25.5 for Melbourne.
If you are looking solely for the fifty thousand big ones, completely disregard the scaled score.
I’ll stop the jabbering and get into the data.
So let’s see where this leaves us in rankings.
This, unsurprisingly, shows us that the lower ranked teams have a more favourable draw than the higher ranked teams – aside from Barron’s poor Crows.
What this means is teams with easier draws generally win more games. This means they also get the lion’s share of Supercoach points to share amongst their players. This means Priddis, Griffen, Rockliff, Beams should have more point to share between them than North Melbourne’s brigade, or players like Sloane and Ebert.
Factoring in the byes
Things get even more interesting when you consider the byes. In terms of byes, it is important to note those with round 13 bye will have played two more games than those who have a round 11 bye, but nonetheless it gives crucial insight into how a player might start or finish the year.
Looking at this table implies that players such as Liberatore, Watson and Mundy may drop significantly in price due to a tough draw in the first half of the year, making them prime targets to upgrade to during the bye rounds. Furthermore, seemingly breakout players from St Kilda, GWS and West Coast might not enjoy success in the second half of the year, but may have a good start.
So who should we be looking at?
Premos set to jump out of the block include Priddis, Pendlebury, Griffin, Ward, Jack Steven and Swan, while mid pricers Newnes, Seedsman, Hampton, Devon Smith, Josh J Kennedy and Kane Lucas might make more cash than Ibbotson, Higgins or Motlop.
Players to look for after their byes, who should have dropped slightly in output and in price, include Watson, Fyfe, Barlow, Liberatore, Dahlhaus, Heppell, Goddard, Sandilands or Barlow. Similarly, while not having a bad start to the year, Brisbane’s run post-bye looks good enough to consider waiting on Rockliff, Beams and co.
Remember community, it’s all about the odds. A good draw will not mean a player will have a good year. A gun will score if he’s losing or winning. You still need to watch for role changes, new coaches, natural progression and all that comes with picking a breakout player. However, knowing the ins and outs of the draw means you become closer to picking these players.