Strength of Schedule 2018

Written by Father Dougal on March 20 2018

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

Exactly how much schedule strength matters is unclear, but the limited research I have done shows it matters for cows to some degree. This year, in addition to the points for and against numbers I’m also running a set of numbers using the same method, but with Supercoach points for and against. Anyways, you can use the data below however you like. I included both the raw numbers as well as some cow growth specific charts.

This season, finally, I did not change my basic method. 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 gave me smaller easier to use numbers without messing up the ratios between them.

Oh, I’m wrong I did change my method without realizing it; I made low numbers easier to play and high numbers harder to play, which is the opposite of last season. Sorry about that. No real effect, and there is no way I can make myself do a Willy Wonka and “Strike that, reverse it.”

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

I picked a divisor that kept the ranges between -3 and 3 which seems easy to work with, and the sum of those number is zero, which means fixture difficulty over zero is hard and under zero is easy.

Below sorted by total difficulty

And now before the byes difficulty.  And by before the byes, I mean before Round 12 when the byes start. If you try and tell me about some sort of bizarre R10 byes I’m just going put my hands over my ears and say “La la I can’t hear you” so don’t bother.

And of course, listed by after the bye difficulty.

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. The chart below shows cumulative totals as of each week, with R1 and R2 discounted.

The next chart is the one I think is the most useful. It shows the total effects of all the rounds going into that week. We know that the most recent few weeks have a much larger effect on prices than weeks farther back 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 Gold Coast, Fremantle, or Carlton has been counted three times.

Example: the Crows play the Bulldogs in Rd9, the Demons Rd10, and the Giants Rd11. So after Rd11 (at the start of 12) a Crows player would have had their score from the Bulldogs match counted three times, the Demons match twice, and the GWS match once. So, (3*-0.3) + (2*0.5) + (1*1.3) = 1.4.

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

I highlighted the weeks where we have the most reason to expect price rises in green. With cows the question is not usually if they will rise in price but by how much. A player with a price of $123,400 is going to go up if they score 45s against a series of strong teams. He won’t go up as fast as if he got an 80 vs a weaker team, but he won’t drop. In a way it is better for big scores to come after the first few weeks, since they have less effect before week 3, and because early big scores are too soon to push a player to a season high. They more push them to the score for their average. In other words it isn’t a big problem to have weeks with high difficulty, as long as you do have some nice growth weeks.

Now let’s look at the same charts, but with difficulty based on Supercoach scores. I used the same method to get the numbers, but probably because my source used the finals in addition to the regular season, they did not come out to zero, which is annoying. Came out to -1.7, which since there are 18 teams, well, I added .1 to each team.

Again, the the higher the number the harder the opponent. I see right away that the hardest team is still the Crows, but they are a much more reasonable level of hard compared to the other teams. The bottom four teams are the same (!) and the Dockers even have the same rating.

Below sorted by total difficulty

And now before the byes difficulty.

And of course, listed by after the bye difficulty.

Below are the raw numbers.

Cumulative totals as of each week, with R1 and R2 discounted.

Total effects of all the rounds going into that week

Oh, and of course the average of the Real life and Supercoach difficulties, hardest to easiest.



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

Adelaide Crows – They are the hardest team to play against, which is hardly a surprise. That probably helps explain their not that difficult draw – they don’t play themselves! While they have a harder time before the byes than after they do have a decent growth period rounds 7-9 and I would in now way be put off any of their cows because of their schedule.  Well, chicks really, young crows are not normally called cows. But their are lots of bird themed teams and they can’t all be chicks….Crow-quettes?  Ugh, maybe they can all be chicks. I suppose Deodee and Fogarty might object to being call “chicks” (you never know) but it isn’t like we’re gonna feed them pre-chewed worms; it’s just more fun to say chicks than crow-cows. Definitely better than Crow-quettes….

Brisbane Lions – I’d love to see the Lion cubs do well, and they might, but their schedule in not in their favor. Harder up front and not really a good growing season before the byes. Of course any cub with a future is going to get time since they need to build for the team’s future. They suffer from not getting to play themselves.

Carlton – What is it about the Blues where they give us great defense and midfield… blues….but horrific forward baby blues?  And this season their early schedule is really rough, turning really easy late. Good for their mid season downgrade targets, but not so much for any baby blues you start with.  Huh, I think I just talked myself out of Garlett.

Collingwood – The Powers that be were really nice to the Pies this year. They have a somewhat easy schedule pre-byes that gets much easier after the byes. The last few seasons they have had really easy then super hard. If they get off to a good start they are way more likely to have a good finish. Of course that means that their…..tarts…, that’s even worse than crow-quettes…..chicks….won’t have it as easy, but they will have it easy enough. And again, great for downgrade targets. Oh, Cow-pies! Heh, no that’s amusing for anyone under eight, at least emotionally, but even farther in the wrong direction.

Essendon – Yet another hard up front, easy in the back schedules. Sort of like ill-fitting pants. Not….cow….friendly.  Of course there aren’t many under-construction bombers this season anyways.

Fremantle – Steervodores!  So happy with that from last season I decided to try and replicate it with the other teams this season. Big Mistake. Too late now, I’m sticking it out. Anyways, I feel like the Dockers are the team most likely to throw off my numbers since I expect them to be better, but hopefully that will even out. And even if they win more, that does not mean they do better supercoach points allowed-wise. Their own schedule is hard followed by less hard, again influenced by their not playing themselves. Not in any way putting me off their steervodores though.

Geelong Cats – Kittens! I figuratively weep with happiness over the easy Cat-cow name choice. I also less figuratively weep at their unexciting kitten growth schedule. No good green spots until right before the byes. Won’t keep Kelly out of my team though.

Gold Coast Suns – “The Sun is a miasma of incandescent plasma, a gigantic nuclear furnace. Where hydrogen is built into helium at a temperature of millions of degrees.”  Gold Coast has a great, super seriously good run for turning their rookie hydrogens into ready to sell heliums.  It does eventually get worse, but at that point it matters little. I can’t say I expect their hydrogens to turn into heliums in time to be traded in R10, but I am going to be very disappointed if they are not.

GWS Giants – The Giants also have a really good growing season. Little giants should turn into big giants pretty quickly, if they are playing at least. Their whole schedule is pretty neutral, which is nice for their non-cows as well.

Hawthorn – I don’t remember any little hawklets on my radar for this season. That’s just as well, since their schedule is lacking easy matches for them to fatten up on until after the byes. And a baby hawk is properly called an eyas, but that’s just not gonna work for me.

Melbourne – Not to bad for the demons. Short good bits early and later with a blah patch right around R6-8, but still, not bad at all. Demons, of course, are eternal entities who do not grow up, so we’re just stuck with demonic cows.

North Melbourne – The Roos pouch/schedule is not bad for growing joeys but does have a rough patch right in the middle.

Port Adelaide – Port has a good early season which then gets a lot harder. Not tragically hard, but it would be nice if the good times lasted longer. Of course that’s always true! I am so clueless about what a baby power is that…, I’m wrong, I’m gonna call ’em Jack-Jacks.

Richmond – More cubs, but still, technically correct, the best kind of correct. (Yeah, I have used that before, but it still amuses me. Gonna use it again I’m sure.)  The Tigers are another team with a sweet growing season and early schedule. They have an epically bad end of the season though. I mean wow, I’d actually have to think about bringing in Richmond players after the bye, aside from Dusty, who can score vs anyone. Or Nank the Tank, since rucks don’t seem to follow normal fixture difficulty rules. They care way more about the opposing ruck than anything else, at least that’s been what I have seen in the past.

St Kilda – Not a good schedule, but a nice bit starting R8 will help any of their sinners you own be canonized into full blown saints. I am sad to say there are no actual cannons involved in that process, which would be seriously cool.

Sydney Swans – Very rough start followed by an amazing growing season from R9 on to their bye. Ideal if the Swans provide any cygnets as downgrade options. I’m deciding that as with so many other things, the technically correct answer is boring. Have to work on that.

West Coast Eagles – The’re eaglets. Oh god, what made me think this was a good idea? I feel like M. Night. Shyamalan – one success followed by ever less successful sequels. Okay, the Jack-Jack one I do like, but he had Unbreakable, which was ok, but still, arrgh. Oh, the West Coast Eagles, right, average up to R6, then totally amaze-balls for a few weeks after that. So many eaglets, if only we knew which ones were going to play!

Western Bulldogs – The Bulldogs have an almost best-case run from R5 to R8, with huge puppy growth likely on R7-9. I wish there were more puppies to bring home from the shelter. Ok, the hamster would need to go up on a shelf and have to adjust to a new “playmate” but still, totally worth it.  The rest of their season it not bad either. They just have four easy fixtures in a row. Sweet.

Ok, that’s it for this year. As always, please let me know if you have any questions or comments!


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11 thoughts on “Strength of Schedule 2018”

  1. Epic!

    Father I focus on head to head and am interested in the supercoach finals run of each team. Any chance you can give some thoughts?


    1. Good idea! Remind me again after the byes. It would be more useful with data from this season rather than last season.


  2. Father, does this analysis suggest that it is a good idea to start with Dusty (if possible) given and easy early draw?


    1. Well, it can’t hurt, but the better players seem to do okay v good teams too. Probably getting points for doing big things in close games. I am starting with Dusty, and if he goes big early that would slow down others bringing him in.



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