Strength of Schedule 2017

Written by Father Dougal on March 16 2017

This is my favorite sermon of the season, even if it does take a bloody long time to prepare.

While Supercoach points are scaled at the end of a match so that the total number given out each game is the same, that scaling is done based on what happens during the match. So, we can assume there is at least some benefit to playing a bad team, since it is easier to put up good raw numbers against them, and some cost to playing a good team, since it is harder to put up good raw numbers against them.

For Guns, my quick check did not show an obvious benefit to playing the worst teams. I would not be surprised if the bonus for “important” stuff they are more likely to get vs good teams balances out lower raw numbers. I do want to look at that, but it’s too much to do this pre-season. If things go well I’ll have had time before next season.

For Rookies, my quick, and then slightly more-than-quick check showed that there is some benefit to playing the wooden spoon contenders. Since that is both cow and data related, you can expect another sermon on that before too long. This one is long without trying to stuff that in.

Oh, and while I have forgotten who started calling my posts sermons, I am totally liking that term and using it now with thanks!

Anyways, you can use the data below however you like. I included both the raw numbers as well as some cow growth specific charts.

I did switch up how I got the numbers again. Last season I used ratio, which is a fine idea, but has the very annoying problem of having more hard teams than easy ones, and the total difficulty ends up negative. I found that made the results hard to understand. It also doesn’t really make sense that the average difficulty of opponents wasn’t zero. It also meant I had to draw arbitrary cut offs for different difficulty ratings. That was added inaccuracy since teams do not all fit neatly into whatever groups I ended up picking. I think I was lucky in previous seasons that they mostly did, whereas this season it was a bit tricky. So, this year I used the difference between points scored and points allowed as the starting point. First it totals out to zero, and second I did not have to fit teams into groups; I could just divide (points allowed – points scored) by a big number that dropped them to smaller easier to use numbers without minimal messing up the ratios between them.

Low numbers are harder, high numbers are easier. Ranked from hardest to easiest to play:

Adelaide -2.0
GWS -2.0
Geelong -2.0
Sydney -2.0
West Coast -1.4
Hawthorn -0.9
Western -0.7
North M -0.3
Port Adelaide -0.3
Melbourne 0.1
Collingwood 0.2
St. Kilda 0.2
Carlton 1.2
Richmond 1.3
Gold Coast 1.4
Fremantle 1.6
Essendon 2.6
Brisbane 3.0

While I did pick a divisor that kept the ranges between -2 and 3; four teams coming out at -2 pretty much happened on its own. and the sum of those number is zero, which means fixture difficulty under zero is hard and over zero is easy.

Below sorted by total difficulty

Team Total Before After
Hawks -3.5 1.2 -4.7
Giants -2.8 0.2 -3
Saints -2.5 -4.5 2
Bulldogs -2 -1.4 -0.6
Dockers -1.4 1.7 -3.1
Cats -1.1 1.9 -3
Demons -0.8 3.1 -3.9
Pies -0.7 2.4 -3.1
Swans -0.2 -1 0.8
Eagles 0.2 0.9 -0.7
Lions 1.3 -0.2 1.5
Suns 1.3 -3.3 4.6
Bombers 1.4 -1.2 2.6
Power 1.5 -0.2 1.7
Crows 1.5 4.7 -3.2
Blues 2.2 4.8 -2.6
Tigers 2.7 2.3 0.4
Roos 2.9 -4.5 7.4

And now before the bye difficulty.  Since there are a different number of matches before the byes for different teams these are not quite apples to apples comparisons, but cow growth cares about before the byes more than before an arbitrary round.

Team Total Before After
Saints -2.5 -4.5 2
Roos 2.9 -4.5 7.4
Suns 1.3 -3.3 4.6
Bulldogs -2 -1.4 -0.6
Bombers 1.4 -1.2 2.6
Swans -0.2 -1 0.8
Power 1.5 -0.2 1.7
Lions 1.3 -0.2 1.5
Giants -2.8 0.2 -3
Eagles 0.2 0.9 -0.7
Hawks -3.5 1.2 -4.7
Dockers -1.4 1.7 -3.1
Cats -1.1 1.9 -3
Tigers 2.7 2.3 0.4
Pies -0.7 2.4 -3.1
Demons -0.8 3.1 -3.9
Crows 1.5 4.7 -3.2
Blues 2.2 4.8 -2.6

And of course, listed by after the bye difficulty.

Team Total Before After
Hawks -3.5 1.2 -4.7
Demons -0.8 3.1 -3.9
Crows 1.5 4.7 -3.2
Dockers -1.4 1.7 -3.1
Pies -0.7 2.4 -3.1
Cats -1.1 1.9 -3
Giants -2.8 0.2 -3
Blues 2.2 4.8 -2.6
Eagles 0.2 0.9 -0.7
Bulldogs -2 -1.4 -0.6
Tigers 2.7 2.3 0.4
Swans -0.2 -1 0.8
Lions 1.3 -0.2 1.5
Power 1.5 -0.2 1.7
Saints -2.5 -4.5 2
Bombers 1.4 -1.2 2.6
Suns 1.3 -3.3 4.6
Roos 2.9 -4.5 7.4

 

Now these are raw totals. Below are the raw numbers.

 

Not all weeks are the same for price changes. Week One only counts for one third as much as a normal week, and Week Two only counts for two thirds as much. Also, the week before selling counts for just a third as much as a normal week.  The week before that, only two thirds as much. So in terms of total growth potential pre-bye, that needs to be taken into account, as it is below.

I added some color to that one, with green being good cow pasture times and red being….less favorable cow growth times. I don’t want to say bad, because said cows can still grow vs difficult opponents. They are less likely to have a huge score, but decent scores can still help prices go up. Also, with the three week rolling average used for prices, one bad week is not total doom.

The above chart shows totals over the season at the point, (that point being the end of the week) but we already know that the most recent few weeks have a much larger effect on prices than weeks farther back. The next chart is the one I think will be most useful. It shows the total effects of all the rounds going into that week. So, it takes three times the value for the round two weeks ago, two times the value for the round two weeks ago, and one times the value for the current round. That’s because the score from the round two weeks previous has been used three times in the price calculation, the previous round’s score has been used, twice, and the current round’s score just once. To some degree that means the most likely time for a cow to have a high price is when their score from playing Brisbane or Essendon has been counted three times.

Example: the Crows play the Lions in Rd9, the Dockers Rd10, and the Cats Rd11. So after Rd11 (at the start of 12) a Crows player would have had their score from the Brisbane match counted three times, the Fremantle match twice, and the Geelong match once. So, (3*3) + (2*1.6) + (1*-2) = 10.2.

Because there are no score changes for Rounds 1 & 2, the Round 3 & 4 formulas are adjusted to account for that.

 

So, enough numbers to gag a cow. On to the team by team!

Adelaide Crows – Last year the Crows were the worst team for cow growth potential; this year they are the best by a ways. Their total adjusted difficulty before the by is a little rough the first few weeks, but then grows and grows as the season goes on, getting much higher than any other team. I had to find a new green just for Rds9-12! They are the only team with two 10+ fixture totals, for Rds6 and 11. Crow cows are set up to be happy cows.

Brisbane Lions – The Lions start out well but slow down some as they get close to their bye. The biggest problem Lion cubs have is not getting to play against themselves! Overall their pastures are pretty neutral.

Carlton – The Blues have a happy run before their bye. No big selling week, but a very nice build-up as they close in on their bye. The second half of their season is harder than the first, but their overall schedule is the third-easiest according to my scaling.

Collingwood – I have to wonder if the powers-that-be just like to mess with Pies supporters. Once again they have a very easy first half of the season and a difficult second half of the season. It’s almost like the goal is to raise the Pies hopes just so the powers-that-be can enjoy watching them dashed yet again. That works out well cow-wise though, with Rd7 looking nice, and Rd12 even better. Even downgrade targets have a chance to fully mature if they don’t start in too late.

Essendon – The other team that suffers from not getting to play against themselves. Last season they were filled with calves and very cow-relevant; this season they are very blah. Bomber with empty holds, dropping, well, nothing it looks like.

Fremantle – Looking at the sum of the Docker’s weekly totals doesn’t show much to be excited about, but they snuck in a great Rd9 at 11.6! Suddenly I am very happy I checked short term numbers as well as the running totals. Would have totally missed this otherwise. Bombers, Tigers then Blues; that is a great little run. Too bad no Brisbane in place of Essendon, and oh wow, if only there was a team with a Koala mascot, I could legitimately say Lions and Tigers and Bears! Soooooo close. Maybe the next expansion team? Come on AFL do it for me, the Port Fairy Koala Bears, that’s two jokes in one! In any case, that is a great run and it will be interested to see how many cow-workers…dock-cows…..hang on I can do this…..Steervodores (who hoo!) are ripe exactly at Rd9.

Geelong Cats – Very good team for cows this season. Which seems obvious, cows = milk = happy cats = cat memes on the internet = sanity loss = the return of the great old ones. Save the world, don’t give milk to cats….support Geelong…..use the internet…..nevermind, it’s best to not think about the imminent return of the great old ones and instead be happy that the Cats have a great period from Rds 8-10 where there is a good chance of selling their cows for a tidy profit.

Gold Coast Suns – One of two teams with a short growing season. That sure is a lot of red leading up to Rd9 for the Suns, in fact it looks like anyone hoping to make big money on ‘Sun cows’ are going to get Sun-Burnt! No really, their pre-bye fixtures are third-worst, and they have tough matches in Rds five and seven to help keep scores and thus prices down going into it. And, the Suns rookies are all high priced? The odds of profit not in their favor.

GWS Giants – A lot of rough early matches followed by a much easier lead up to their Bye. Nice they have a long growing season.

Hawthorn – Hawk goes down, grabs cow, goes back up – then drops cow. This season they start off average, fixtures get hard ending with a tragic Rd6, then shoot up to a nice Rds 9 & 10, before plummeting again.

Melbourne – The Demons have a great peak in Rd6 and another almost as good in Rd7. Rds 9 & 10 turn “Demonic” and less cow-friendly. Which is interesting, if you are Demon would demonic be a good thing or a bad thing? I probably shouldn’t talk about that; priests who find demons “interesting” have a habit of disappearing…..

North Melbourne – The bloody Roos cumulative numbers are sure bloody; I needed an extra bloody red for how bad it gets around Rds 8 & 9. Rd7, and more importantly Rd11 should be decent for selling. It probably isn’t a good idea to be talking about bloody Roos in such close proximity to Demons, but that’s how the alphabet made it happen. I suppose the alphabet could be demonic, which is a least better then extra-dimensional. I note sadly that several promising young cows play for North, who share the worst before-the-byes schedule with the Saints.

Port Adelaide – The other team with a super short growing season. Fortunately for the owners of Power Cows, they have very good weeks in Rds 7 & 8 so there is a good chance of profit to be had even with the short season. And did anyone else picture a cow in blue spandex with a big “P” on the the front when I said “Power-Cow”? You know you did, and if you didn’t you are now. Just think, the worlds first bovine super-heroine. Will probably have big udders; that seems to be the standard….

Richmond – Their best selling week is Rd6, after that it is all bland. They have an overall friendly schedule from a cow point of view, which makes sense, since Tigers would probably want to be friendly to cows, right up until dinner time.

St Kilda – Saints preserve us from Demons and the Great Old Ones! And God help their cows because nobody else will! Ok, not all the way true, they have a nice Rd5, for any cows who are growing up extra fast and don’t end up suspended for a year. After that, blech. A nice Rd5 is such a tease. It is possible that a cow will be ready to sell after five weeks, but not very likely.

Sydney Swans – The Bonny Swans have a Bonny Schedule, with a rough patch in the middle but a very nice two match stretch over Rds 8 & 9 very close to their bye.

West Coast Eagles – The Eagles have a schedule as bland as the food at the old Priests’ home. Total difficulty of .2, with a 0.9 before the bye and a -0.7 after the bye. Dry white toast, hold the four whole-fried chickens and a coke. The only smidge of flavor is in the week right before the bye, when their match against the Bombers from Rd9 is fully priced in.

Western Bulldogs – The Dogs get a bone Rd5, which is nice maybe, but get another one at Rd7, which is much more likely to be useful. Sadly, their cows get sent to the vet the round before their bye, with a big -8.0 the week you would most want to sell any remaining puppies. Darn, no biscuit.

 

As always, please let me know if you have any questions about any of that – aside from how to summon the Great Old Ones. I get in trouble when I answer that one!

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15 thoughts on “Strength of Schedule 2017”

  1. One of my favorite write-ups of the pre-season, then kicked it up a notch with cash cow predictions…….great stuff, FD!!

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  2. Unbelievable write up! Here I am on night shift bored shitless and this article has proven both beneficial to my time and SuperCoach knowledge for the coming season. A lot of effort has clearly gone into this.

    Great job, Father!

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  3. Great stuff FD. You could gather these sermons together and create the Book of Dougal. It would sit comfortably next to the Book of Revelation in the New Testament.

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  4. Steervodores! I look forward to this article every year – I don’t bother building towards a final team until I’ve seen it. Great sermon, as always, Father.

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  5. That is a huuuge effort!

    Good luck to those that are able to digest half of it and put the tireless efforts of the Father to good use.

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  6. Great analysis, Father. The only problem I have is that it assumes that the pecking order will remain the same as last year, when it never stays the same from one year to the next (and the changes can sometimes be quite extreme, in both directions). Often, there will be several new teams in the top 8, and an equal number of teams dropping out of the 8. More years than not, there is also a team that comes from outside the 8 and into the top 4.

    Regardless of whether they make the top 8 (and I personally don’t think they will), Essendon should be a fair bit harder to play against this year, too. And North Melbourne in particular should be a lot easier.

    It would be possible to do an analysis of this sort while taking ladder movements into account, but it would require guessing what those movements are likely to be.

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    1. You are correct, but I have never come up with a satisfactory way to adjust the numbers. One reason I give raw data is so people can do that themselves if they want to.

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      1. At this stage of the year, instead of trying to predict every team’s exact ladder position, I just lump my expectations of teams into three groups: Top 6, Middle 6, and Bottom 6. The ones I’m not sure about are lumped into another group called ‘Question Marks’.

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