AFL Fantasy Pre-season Schedule Analysis

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Updated: February 23, 2019

This point in the AFL season is perhaps the most active for AFL Fantasy coaches. The platform has been opened, and we are madly looking for any information that will help us get our team to one we are happy with for round 1. Who is training the track down? Who is getting more midfield time? Which player that changed clubs in the off-season is going to have a different role in their new team?

We have not had any JLT games, and you can’t really take any information from AFL X, so anything we do is just speculation. With that in mind, it is important to take into account something that is 100% locked in – the AFL Fixture. Which teams have a good run to start the season? This will help us build our bank balance with cash-cows and mid/under priced players. What is the schedule for the Bye rounds? Good planning will ensure you don’t drop dramatically in overall rankings. Which teams have a good run over AFL Fantasy Finals to give us that extra boost we need to overcome our mates in our League finals?

This article will cover all that and more, using the team scoring data from last season. What you won’t find in this article is recommendations for which players to pick up based on the schedule. There are many, many articles and team picker articles for you to peruse to help you with that.

So let’s move forward by first looking backward…..

2018 Points Against

This table shows the overall points scored against for each team in the 2018 season. Port Adelaide and 2018 premiers were the hardest teams for opponents to score against, whilst cellar dwellers Gold Coast and Carlton were the easiest.

This data was loaded against the 2019 AFL fixture to provide the data for this article.

2019 Season Difficulty

The schedule difficult algorithm is based on opponent points conceded, points scored at the ground a team is playing on, and points conceded by opponents at that ground.

There are a couple of interesting notes on this table:

  1. Gold Coast are going to have a rough year for Fantasy. They have the lowest expected team score for the season (largely because they give up the most fantasy points to opponents, and they can’t play themselves!).
  2. Carlton are the surprising team here, coming in 3rd. This is reflective of their low finish in 2018, and therefor being matched up against the lower finishing teams more often. They play Gold Coast, Western Bulldogs and St. Kilda twice, who were all in the bottom 5 for Fantasy points conceded.
  3. Whilst there may not appear to be too much difference between first and last (41 points), once you extrapolate this over 22 games, the difference is significant – 902 points.

Carlton and Gold Coast were by far the easiest teams to score against last season, and it is hard to see that changing for 2019. If you are tossing up between a couple of players in your Fantasy team, you may want to have a look at the below table to see which one has the most games against Carlton and Gold Coast.

The Saints are the only team that play both Carlton and Gold Coast twice in the 2019 season. The opening round sees them take on the Suns at Marvel Stadium, and they play again in Round 15 at Riverway Stadium in Townsville.

They play Carlton in Rounds 10 (Marvel) and 22 (MCG), giving them a nice even spread throughout the season.

If you are looking to end the season with a bang, GWS play Gold Coast during AFL Fantasy Grand Final week. There could be some epic scores there, especially if GWS are fighting for a better position in AFL finals.

The First 10 Rounds

Everyone knows the start of the season can make or break your Fantasy year. This is the time that your cash cows fatten up, and your bargain priced players increase in value the most. So which teams have the most Fantasy friendly run to start us off in 2019?

The top 4 teams are pretty closely grouped together. Adelaide, Port Adelaide, Hawthorn and Geelong all have solid starts to the season.

The Crows have a very juicy run particularly from rounds 4-7, where they play North Melbourne (Mrvl), Gold Coast (AO), St. Kilda (Mrvl) and Fremantle (AO). The Crows have some very temping under-priced players this season, and will be a popular team for AFL Fantasy.

The GWS Giants are right down the other end of the table with easily the most difficult start to the season. They will have a rough time on the road to start the season, with away games against West Coast, Geelong, Hawthorn and Melbourne (as well as Sydney, which is classed as an away game at the MCG), all of which played finals last season.

Fantasy Finals Schedule Difficulty

As the season progresses, we will get some more relevant data on which teams have the best Fantasy Finals runs based on scoring from the 2019 season. For now though, we will use the data that we have at hand and look way into the future to the business end of the Fantasy season. Be it beating your mates in your main league, or making that final push up the overall rankings, having players in your team with a good run over the last 4 weeks of the season is key.

After having a tough run to start the season, GWS come home with a wet sail, making Giants players definite upgrade targets throughout the season. They play three home home games against Sydney, Hawthorn and the Western Bulldogs, followed by the golden Grand Final week matchup againt the Suns.

Partial Lockout – Loophole Weeks

For those who are confident enough that they know how to loophole, there a bunch of Thursday night games (and one Wednesday game) throughout the season. The most ever actually. This means that we now have 9 opportunities to take advantage of loophole captain and bench options. I’m not going to go into how the loophole works – there will be enough articles and podcasts on that leading into Round 1. The only bit of advice I would give is if you are not 100% sure of how it works – DON’T DO IT!!

Let’s start by laying out each of the Thursday night games this year.

Round 1 – Carlton v Richmond (MCG)

Round 2 – Richmond v Collingwood (MCG)

Round 3 – Adelaide v Geelong (Ade)

Round 4 – Sydney v Melbourne (SCG)

Round 5 – Brisbane v Collingwood (G)

Round 6 – Richmond v Melbourne (MCG) – Wednesday game

Round 6 – Essendon v Collingwood (MCG)

Round 13 – Adelaide v Richmond (Ade)

Round 14 – West Coast v Essendon (OS)

Round 15 – Essendon v Greater Western Sydney (Mrvl)

In terms of games per team, the below table how many loophole games each team has.

Richmond is the team that gives you the best chance for loophole options. However if their game style in 2019 mirrors their 2018 effort, there are not many players that are worth putting the VC on. The next two teams are very relevant though, with both Collingwood and Essendon having multiple Fantasy premiums in their team.

The Bye Rounds

If you are looking at overall ranking, the Bye rounds are key to maintaining – and improving – your overall ranking. As the great man from the Draft Doctors – the Statesman – would say, if you are not planning for bye rounds, you are planning for failure. If you are only interested in League wins, the bye rounds are less important, as there are no head to head games over these weeks.

This season, the Bye rounds are spread over just 3 weeks – the China game is no longer a standalone bye. This is different to the last two seasons when you could load up on Port Adelaide players (let’s face it, there was no point bringing in Gold Coast players) after their bye to help you out over the other 3 Bye rounds.

The key to Bye round planning in the pre-season is to make sure you don’t have too many premiums from one Bye round in your team to start the season. At the mid-point of the season, you have started to move on your Rookies to grab the cash, so they don’t have the same level of importance when it comes to the byes.

Each season, there is one round that is a nightmare for Fantasy coaches. In 2019, it is Round 13. With Collingwood, Melbourne and Geelong all having multiple Fantasy premiums in their teams, it is important not to load up too much on these players.

Schedule notes

When analysing the 2019 AFL Fixture, there were also a number of interesting notes that were picked up.

  • With an early Showdown against Port Adelaide, the Crows play 9 games in Adelaide in the first 15 rounds.
  • Brisbane have 3 games at the Gabba during AFL Fantasy Finals, however they play Richmond at the MCG in Fantasy Grand Final week.
  • Collingwood play their first 4 games at the MCG, and only travel out of Victoria once in the first 9 rounds.
  • West Coast doesn’t play Richmond until Round 22 (August 18, 2019). Their previous matchup was Round 9, 2018 – 455 days between games.
  • Geelong doesn’t play Carlton until the final round of the season.

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Written by Archie Keeler (@OTLSArchie)

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