“Stuff” Father Dougal Says – True Level of Ability

Written by Father Dougal on March 8 2023

True Level of Ability




Hi Everybody!

Every player has an actual ability level. How well a player scores is based on that True Level of Ability (TLA) but affected by luck and the circumstance in which they played.

Luck can easily account for a 5% variation on a player’s average each season, even if everything else is the same, which means a 100 TLA player averaging  95-105 would be pretty normal. Bigger swings are certainly possible, although over 10% seems rare.

Circumstances, so many circumstances…..other than age: Position, club success, where they play, injury, weather, opposition, bizarre coaching decisions, etc. Trying to understand these is a big part of SC strategy. More midfield time? Solo Ruck? Over that injury. Full pre-season? We talk about these at length and good guesses pay off, bad guesses hurt.

Age, well, there seem to be some common age brackets:

0 -20 = Youth

21-23 = Early Career

24-26 = Middle Career

27-29 = Late Career

30-32 = Hanging On

33+ = Victory Laps

Middle and Late Career players are pretty reliable as for scoring, Early career players are mostly reliable and have the best hopes of increasing, but 30+, well they are playing Frogger and tend to drop even when they avoid the beer truck.

Oh you already made a Frogger reference!

I made some other ok but not newsworthy either way projections.

Also, for some reason, I looked at how Nat Fyfe has been affected by his broken leg and projected that onto Tom Mitchell. Before last season they tracked pretty well. Last season, not so much.


Year Tom’s  Games Projected averages Tom’s age Toms real averages
2018 22 NA 24 129.1
2019 0 0 25
2020 17 113.6 26 113.5
2021 22 118.7 27 117.2
2022 21 122.8 28 96.0

He looked so promising.

Yeah, the Hawk’s situation changed, and his role changed. In th same role maybe he could have kept it up, but, even if his True Level of Ability would have allowed him to go for 122 in his favored role, he wasn’t in that role, so he did far less well. I think he had a groin issue pre-season, which also mattered I’m sure.

Luck and circumstance, they really matter, skill alone is not enough.

Does this apply to cows?

Oh my yes! A guy who played inside mid in the VFL and did great might score well as an inside mid in the AFL, but then gets played in the forward pocket, and of course scores like a small forward and not an inside mid.  That’s why we care so much about where a cow will be played as well as where he will be played.



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One thought on ““Stuff” Father Dougal Says – True Level of Ability”

  1. This has really helped me re-evaluate my premiums. Dawson is the only $600k defender that I feel super comfortable with that he shouldn’t drastically decrease this season.
    Sinclair, Stewart & Sicily all over 28 and have had career best years in 2022 makes me feel it is hard to sustain.
    Docherty produced similar numbers in 2016-17 but at 29 now it will be harder to back up.

    With the mids I think Andy Brayshaw is in that age bracket where another increase is likely, worst case maintains. Steele is of the age where he could return to 2020-21 average of 120+, most likely between 110-115 with potential for more. Oliver unlikely to drop as opposed to Laird, who at 29 may be likely to drop off more than Oliver.

    The forward line Dunkley and Taranto seem logical to bounce back to scores similar to their previous season bests. Harder to seem Coniglio improving so can only see his price dropping to become an upgrade.

    In the rucks, Marshall seems to be the only one with minimal chance of going backwards for next season due to age and previous season scores which indicate he may be priced below his TLA.

    I generally tend to go a premiums and rookie approach and I can lock in 7 of the 13 premiums I want to start with as they show the least chance of regression and minimise my risk.

    Oliver, Brayshaw, Steele
    Dunkley, Taranto

    I will probably look at breakouts or those premiums that are currently slightly underpriced to fill my remaining premium positions

    Dale, Cumming, Young, Ridley
    Parish, Green, LDU
    Darcy, O’Brien
    Rozee, Gulden



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