The Fantasy King – the Run Home

Filed in Uncategorized by on August 2, 2013

By Mick 'the King' Adams

The latest stage in my unending quest to crack the Supercoach code, this week I thought I’d focus my attention on just what it takes to get those big scores on a regular basis. Looking at the top ten fantasy scorers over the last ten weeks, it’s clear that solving this mystery will take some further investigation. If it doesn’t solve the equation from a fantasy perspective however, taking an analytical eye to the top scores over the last few rounds is nonetheless quite illuminating in terms of where the competition stands at the moment. Firstly, the obvious:

Of the top 10 Supercoach scores from each of the last ten weeks, there is a slight bias towards backs. This is hardly a revelatory finding- it’s a boom/bust business for backs in fantasy. Forwards will be more consistent overall, but all it takes is a hat trick of tries for someone as (usually) rubbish as James McManus to be topping the fantasy table in any given week. It does demonstrate though that at the top end, big victories really do matter.

Of those players that have appeared on the list multiple times since round 11, it’s no surprise to see Andrew Fifita and Corey Parker atop the leaderboard with four top ten appearances each. Of the latter it should be noted that all four of those appearances came in a row, in his four games between rounds 11 and 16. Since then he has slightly tailed off- just an Origin hangover or a portend of things to come? Let’s not forget his horrendous start to the year in fantasy. I’ve been quick to doom him before however so won’t be making that mistake again.

The other interesting aspect of a top ten analysis is the effect blowouts have on scores. In the 64 games since round 11, I have identified 12 games as genuine blowouts, using the criteria of at least 30 points scored and a margin greater than 20. That’s 18.75% of the games, with 31 top ten scores (31%) coming from these twelve games.

That makes it easy right? Load up on players in teams likely to thrash their opposition for the week. The reality of course is that it’s not quite that simple. While it’s no surprise to see that Parramatta have featured in three of those matches (on the losing end in each- obviously) from there on out it gets a little trickier. One thing that can be said with some surety is that the Gold Coast are on the slide. After inflicting one of those maulings on Parramatta back in round 11, it’s been a bit grim north of the Tweed. Their last four starts have conceded a total of 156 points, or 39 a game. They just missed appearing on the blowouts list four times (losing 38-20 to Manly- I desperately wanted to put it on the list but had to abide by my rules). They have had injury problems like any other but it is really not good enough for a team very much mathematically in the hunt for a finals berth.

Looking at the respective runs home of Parramatta and the Gold Coast muddies the water further. Each team has three matches against teams currently in the top eight. By virtue of the fact that they are objectively one of the worst football teams of the NRL era, Parramatta seem most likely to gift their opposition big fantasy hauls in coming weeks. That should start this weekend against Manly, while they also take on Melbourne and Newcastle. The Gold Coast have Canterbury, the Roosters and Melbourne in their final six matches, while they also take on the fast finishing Warriors in Round 24.

Speaking of the Warriors, they have conceded 424 points this year, the third worst in the competition (beating only Parra and the Tigers and 19 points worse than the Titans) but looking further at their record it’s clear they don’t belong anywhere near that sorry group. Through round ten they conceded an average of 28.4 points per game, since then they are down to 17.5. It’s not in the same class as the ominous looking Roosters (conceding just 11 points per game) but it’s comparable to Melbourne (16.5). Furthermore, it looks like Shaun Johnson is back to being a safe, consistent fantasy option after the boom and (more frequently) bust rollercoaster of his 2012 season. I spoke of their massive improvement at length last week, this week I’m all but ready to declare them finals certainties. Johnson is a fantasy star, Elijah Taylor is back to his best while forwards Matulino and Mannering are handy. Feleti Mateo remains the bane of my existence however. FELETI!!!

Speaking of those Roosters, they dominate the statistical landscape at the top end, scoring more points than anyone but Souths and conceding fewer than any other team. Importantly, they are scoring well regardless of the competition, averaging 23 points against top 8 opposition and 26 against the bottom 8. This is in stark contrast to their chief rivals Souths, who have been astoundingly efficient against bottom eight teams, scoring an average of 31 points a game. Against the better squads they have struggled however, with an average of just 19.

Are Souths flat track bullies then? I hate to damn them so given how impressive they have looked at times this year, but it is definitely something that Bunnies fans already declaring the premiership should be worried about. Luckily for them however, they will soon find out, with a run home including Melbourne, Manly, Canterbury and the Roosters. It’s great finals preparation but it does mean we will likely see a fantasy downturn from Bunnies such as the Burgess brothers, who have both been less effective against top shelf opposition. Reynolds and Sutton have been mixed against top eight teams.

Manly are in a similar position, winning big in their last four starts against dodgy opposition, but losing three in a row before that to the Warriors, Bulldogs and Roosters. Like Souths, they will have their mettle thoroughly examined in the run home, taking on the Warriors, Souths, Canberra and Melbourne. Of the top teams though I definitely like Manly best from a fantasy perspective- they have been very good of late.

So I guess the fantasy magic bullet remains elusive. I will keep trying. I do feel though we’re starting to get a better picture of the premiership race. I’m really worried about those Roosters. Until next week.


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