Father Dougal’s Strength of Schedule 2, Electric Boogaloo

Written by Motts on March 27 2015

Remember Father Dougal’s excellent first post for us on the strength of schedule? Well he’s back ready to blow your minds again with his clinical and very humorous analysis of the selection of players based on their opposition and bye. Strap yourself in, he’s gone through every team in the comp. Love your work, FD. 

I spent some time over the weekend to further analyse the fixtures. I specifically wanted to see if any teams were set up to help navigate the bye weeks. Ideally, a team with a bye week 11 with strong fixtures after the bye, especially on weeks 12 & 13, would be good to bring in after week 8. On the other end, a team with a week 13 bye that was strong early in the season, and especially in weeks 11 & 12, would be good to hold until week 13 when they could be traded for players from a team that has already had their bye. Teams with their byes on week 12 could go either way. 

I’ll repeat how I got the numbers I use below. I took the standings from the 2014 season and divided the teams into 5 groups. (There were conveniently obvious breakpoints.) Average opponents got a 0, difficult opponents got a -1 or -2, and easier opponents got a +1 or +2. Iā€™m assuming that variations will mostly balance out and that the very best and worst teams will not change dramatically in quality.

-2: Sydney Swans, Hawthorn, Geelong Cats, Fremantle
-1: Port Adelaide, North Melbourne
0: Essendon, Richmond, WC Eagles, Adelaide Crows, Collingwood, GC Suns
1: Carlton, Western Bulldogs, Brisbane Lions. GWS Giants
2: Melbourne, St. Kilda

Then I took the schedule and added up the number for each team based on their opponents, both overall and for whatever groupings looked interesting. Note that the average fixture strength is -2.44. (-2 * 22 full weeks / 18 teams) A -2 total per week is how the teams broke down by difficulty, and while it might be nice to have it come out to zero, I think it would have messed up the results. So, I chased off the hobgoblin of foolish consistency with the zombie wombat of practicality and left things the way that made the most sense to me. 

I double checked my math and such after the last article, and so some numbers here are different. The good, actually correct, kind of different. 

Team by Team:

Adelaide – They have very strong fixtures (+3) before a round 11 bye and very weak (-7) afterwards. Awkward. You don’t want to bring them in after the bye, and even holding them through the bye isn’t very good, with a -2, +1 for round 12 & 13 and a -2 in round 14 after that. The only thing going for them after the bye is having no hard teams and one easy team in the playoff rounds. (19-22) They would be good for raising cows, as long as they are grown and milked before week 11. Cameron 
Ellis-Yolmen welcome to my team. 

Brisbane – Apparently Lions are like Crows off steroids. Same bye week, good but not as good before the bye and bad but not as bad after the bye. (+2, -4) Unlike the Crows they have ok opponents for weeks 12 & 13, (+1, 0) before a net -5 over the next five games. I can see holding their players through the bye weeks and selling after that. Or even keeping for the season if you are willing to tough out their rough patch – like I will if Beams is still in my team when the season starts. And if there is a Lion you want who isn’t in your team before week 11, you might not want to bring him until round 19. 

Carlton – Carlton is to the Lions what the Lions are to the Crows. A neutral schedule before a round 11 bye and a -3 afterwards. Their bye matches are ok (-1,0) and the rest of their season isn’t too bad, aside from a -5 total for weeks 16-18. But, if you make it through to week 19, they are the best playoff team, with a +4 and no hard matches for weeks 19-22! I can see buying early and holding, or upgrading to whoever is hot on week 19. They don’t face a hard team until week 8, so their cows have a nice growing season. 

Collingwood – At last a team that fits a profile! A week 12 bye with an easy schedule before and a rough schedule after. (4,-5) Their week 11 fixture is a +1 too, so starting with Collingwood players and then selling for players with round 11 byes before round 12 works great. Keeping after round 12; not so good. They have -2s round 13 and 14 then a nice patch until round 20 when they are -2, 0, -2 for the last 3 rounds of the playoffs. Not that I would sell Pendlebury, oh, ever, because of his fixtures, but I’ll be having a think about anyone else. And I am defiantly going to be looking at their rookies and anyone I think is under-priced at the start of the season, assuming I would be willing to using a trade to upgrade them. 

Essendon – Another week 12 bye, but this time with a difficult schedule (-5) before their bye and a strong one (+2) after the bye. But, sadly, their week 13 fixture is a -2, so their players aren’t so great to get in place of guys with a round 13 bye. But, with a +4 schedule from round 14 on, including a +1 with no hard matches during the playoffs, they look good for upgrades once week 14 comes around. And someone playing Hawthorn is probably better than nobody on week 13. 

Fremantle – Round 12 bye, with -3 before and +3 after. Pretty good in the playoffs too, (+2, 0, -1, +2) Neutral in both their bye week matches. One nice thing about their pre-bye schedule is that most of the hard is done after week 4. They total -5 weeks 1-4 and +2 weeks 5-11. So, perhaps some players will fall and be good upgrade targets on week 5, when he faces Melbourne. Not the best start for all the nice Fremantle cows I currently have in my team. 

Geelong – Round 13 bye with a hard (-5) before and a neutral (0) after. Once again the first four matches are killer, with a -5 total from them, leaving the Cats even for the rest of the season. With the bad fixtures before the bye, they are not well suited to pumping and dumping. I’d probably purchase and hold, or possibly purchase round 5 and hold. They have a (-1, +2) for rounds 12-13, which is not bad. Net -2 during the playoffs. 

Gold Coast – A total difficulty of -2 is pretty good, and so right away the Suns look nice for buying and holding. Their first five games net +4 and they don’t face a hard team until round 9 when they get three -2s in a row. Sadly that means a -2 for the first bye round. But, pretty decent for price rises. Certainly safe to bring in Suns players week 13 in place of someone with a week 13 bye, especially since they have a +1 opponent. 

GWS – Medium Giant opportunity with a week 13 bye and a +2 schedule before the byes. But, again, only a -2 after the bye means you may just want to keep players who are looking good all season. They have a rough patch from weeks 17 to 21, so in theory you could swap someone out then, but it may not be a great use of a trade. Certainly gives time to bring in players from a team like Collingwood with a strong second half that starts out with a few hard matches. Not useful for dealing with the bye, but pretty useful overall.

Hawthorn – Much like Adelaide, Brisbane, and Carlton, they have a round 11 bye with a good schedule before it (0) and a bad schedule after it. (-4) 

Melbourne – A total of -6 before their week 13 bye is pretty rough. Their schedule makes it hard to dodge the bad times too. Weeks 1-4 total to 1, weeks 5-9 total a big -7, with 0 week 10 and a 2, -2 for bye week 12 & 13. I’ll be looking to bring in their players for the 2nd half of the season, since they have a +3 after the bye. Of course I have three rookies from Melbourne right now, which is exactly the opposite of what I just suggested. Some surgery seems scheduled soon.

North Melbourne – Another week 13 bye but with a -7 before it. Ick. Even worse than Melbourne. They also have a +3 over the 2nd half of the season. Hard to maneuver with, much like Geelong. Their hard fixtures are more widely spaced though, so If you don’t want to suck it up and start with them, you can miss a lot of bad by bringing players in rounds 9, 14, or 16. Their early matches are also hard, making them less good for cows. Their cows are far away, or maybe just very small…..I have, of course, again, several rookies from them at the moment….Gonna be a long time in the ER; better bring beacoup beer.

Port – Worst total schedule at -6. Again, dang it, a round 13 bye with their worst fixtures at the start of the season. (-4 before, -2 after.) But, and this is a Kardashian sized butt, their first four matches total -7, so if you miss those, you have a +1 total from rounds 5 on! Seems a theme of this season is bring ’em in round 5. 

Richmond – Yes, it’s yet another team with the good half of their schedule on the wrong side of their bye. Up to their week 11 bye they are at -1 with a -3 after it. They at least have four 0 matches over the playoffs. It may be Richmond players that would be traded out to bring in all those week 5 and on guys. With a total +5 over their first 4 matches, they are left with a huge -9 for the rest of the season. Ick and ick again. But there is hope for their cows; if they are not ripe by week 5, and you hold them through a -8 from weeks 6-13, they have a mini-surge of +4 week 14-16, before it all goes downhill again. Of course week 16 means a looong growing season. 

St. Kilda – The only team besides Collingwood to have a really strong first half and a bye after round 11. They even play Melbourne week 11 before their bye week 12. If you want to keep rather than swap out, every single one of the hard matches in the second half are after week 17. From week 18 on, they’re toast, burnt so much you can’t salvage the slice by scraping off the burnt bits. A big -8 from weeks 18-22, with -7 of that during the playoffs! That’s Port Adelaide, Fremantle, North Melbourne, Geelong Cats, and Sydney Swans. By the mercy of sainted Kilda; when round 18 arrives swap out everyone from this team for players who will help you in the playoffs! Best place to grow cows; I guess they are artisanally raised bye monks, free of steroids and antibiotics.

Sydney – There really isn’t much difference between their start and finish. (-3, -1) Certainly ok to bring in players for round 13 after their week 12 bye. The -4 total is a bit of a bummer. I’m not really all whoo hoo -1 second half, but a lot of teams have it a lot worse.

West Coast – With a before and after of (0, -1) and a bye week 13, they are more of a buy and hold team than a dump round 13 type, although they would work fine for that. They do have a +3 total for rounds 1-8; making them good for cows. (I’d have though the opposite, although it would probably take a lot of Eagles cooperating to take down a cow.) They have a rough -6 patch rounds 17-20, so in theory if you have trade to spare that might be a good time to swap for players from teams with better sprints to the finish. 

Western Bulldogs ā€“ Thank heavens the last team! Um, I mean wow, at last another team that fits a profile. They have a bit of a blah start (-2) but with a week 11 bye followed bye (+1, +2) weeks 12 & 13, and a 0 total from 14-23. So the very best place from which to bring in players week 12, and good for week 13. 

I’m not really sure how much weight to give these results. Would I dump a really promising rookie because of a really bad start to the season? I don’t know. Maybe? When picking between two marginal players I would for sure look at fixture strength and see how that fits with my plans. This data might be more useful for close decisions rather than as something to base a season plans on, but maybe there is more to it than I think. I’d love to hear everyone’s opinions on that. I do plan to go back after the end of the season and see if I can get an idea of how much results week to week are affected by opponents. Anyways, may the fixtures be with you!

Here’s the data:


1 to 10
11 12 13
14 to 23 total
Before Bye After Bye
Adelaide Crows
3

-2 1
-6 -4
3 -7
Brisbane Lions
2

1 0
-5 -2
2 -4
Carlton
0

-1 0
-2 -3
0 -3
Collingwood
3
1
-2
-3 -1
4 -5
Essendon
-5
0
-2
4 -3
-5 2
Fremantle
-3
0
0
3 0
-3 3
Geelong Cats
-6
-1 2

0 -5
-5 0
Gold Coast Suns
0
-2
1
-1 -2
-2 0
GWS Gaints
3
0 -1

-2 0
2 -2
Hawthorne
0

0 0
-4 -4
0 -4
Melbourne
-6
2 -2

3 -3
-6 3
North Melbourne
-6
-2 1

3 -4
-7 3
Port Adelaide
-3
-2 1

-2 -6
-5 -1
Richmond
-1

0 -2
-1 -4
-1 -3
St. Kilda
3
2
1
-5 1
5 -4
Sydney Swans
-2
-1
0
-1 -4
-3 -1
West Coast Eagles
0
0 0

-1 -1
0 -1
Western Bulldogs
-2

1 2
0 1
-2 3
0
0


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9 thoughts on “Father Dougal’s Strength of Schedule 2, Electric Boogaloo”

  1. I’m just hoping my fixture planning pays off a little this year. Haven’t got any Dogs or Cats (premiums) just yet, was hoping to wait till the byes (and for a price drop). There’s also the opinion that gun players will just go large regardless of who they’re playing. If the fixture planning doesn’t work this year then I’ll just leave it out next year. Nice write-up!!

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  2. Great analysis!

    Very dissuaded by JMacs prospects now (just as I got him too!) – what a horrid pre-bye run for North. He seems the type that could easily go missing in those higher-end matches, whereas your Cunningtons, Swallows and Goldsteins would seem the types to be unaffected by their opponents, given their roles and tendencies as players.

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  3. Wow. . . . WOW. A more facetious person might question the amount of time you have available, but not I. You, sir, are AWESOME. Easily the best fixture analysis I have read. Now to apply it to the several iterations of the Paragons which I favour.

    I agree Brad, though if JMac can harden up just a little, the tougher opponents imply he might see more of the ball. I’m tempted to keep him.

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  4. Hawthorn’s -4 after the buy looks extra hard considering they can’t play themselves (not that it really matters to them – lifting against Swans etc.)

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  5. How does this work out when applied to Richmond last season (since they had the most dramatic one-sided result WRT before/after bye)?

    Obviously it doesn’t cover Maric/Lids/Rance’s absence but I’m curious.

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  6. Father D – mate, that is bloody great research & well worth adding as a factor when picking our rookies / stepping stone / downgrade targets. Well done & thanks for putting this out there for us. Again SCT shows it’s quality.

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