A different year

Added 08 March 2011

This time it’s different!
There are now 17 teams (GWS enter in 2012).  The season goes for 24 weeks and each team gets 2 byes (like it did in 1991 – 1994 when there were 15 teams).  The length of the AFL season may have changed the way some teams approached the NAB Cup this year.  There is no split round due to the 2 byes.  In rounds 4,5,6,16 and 19 three teams have a bye and there are (therefore) only 7 games on those weeks.  AFL Dream Team and Supercoach treat these weeks somewhat differently and you need to read the fine print to know what is best for you.  Suffice to say that if your team is packed with players from the 3 teams all having the bye on the one week, achieving a decent score will be a problem.  And because there is at least One team with a bye each week, the temptation to load your “team” with a heap of players from one team only is not a great ploy.

The biggest problem with the bye is the one presented to tipsters.  Is it good or not?  Do you tip teams that have had a good rest – or risk them?  In the most recent year of the bye (1994) just over half the teams lost after the bye.  But the results were far worse in the first year of the bye (1991) where the majority of team lost or performed poorly after the week’s rest. 

To take whatever recent data we have on the week’s rest, we can review teams playing after the split round in the past couple of years.  Quite often, the week after the split round yields a team on a ~7 day break playing a team on a ~14 day break (thus playing as if having had a bye).  The teams having the week’s longer break in 2010 went as follows:
Underperformed terribly:  1
Underperformed:  1
As expected:  1
Exceeded expectations:  1

The 2009 results were:
Underperformed terribly:  1
As expected:   2
Exceeded expectations:   1

The games of interest were both Essendon games:  The Dons had the extra break in 2010 and were slaughtered by the Crows the next week by 84 points.   In 2009, The Blues (with the extra break) played the Dons and it was a Bomber victory by 69 points.  In summary, the week’s rest is a slight negative.

In 1991 & 1992, there were 4 games only in round 1.  This meant that 7 of the 15 clubs began their seasons in round 2.  in 1991, the teams commencing their seasons in round 2 against teams that had played round 1 had the slight edge (3 of 5 exceeded expectations).  In 1992, 2 of 3 exceeded expectations and 1 was as expected.  In 1993 and 1994, the league played some 6 match rounds (with 3 teams having byes now and then a la 2011).  In 1993, the team with the bye in round 1 (Sydney) performed as expected (losing by heaps to the Hawks). And in 1994, the team with the bye in round1 (North) far exceeded expectations – blowing the Saints away.  So having the bye in round 1 is a slight positive as it shortens the season;  also teams have a huge build-up for round 1 and can sometimes be sitting ducks for the team first up in round 2.  But, as the Swans showed in 1993, this won’t help a lot if you have little ability.  The Swans finished 1993 at 1 and 19!

Then there is the substitute.  What happens here is that each team has three on the bench that they can sub in and out as normal.  A fourth player sits on the bench in his green vest.  There he sits until a player is brought off the ground – not to return for the day.  That player will don the red vest.  Once that swap has been made, the player who began the day in his green vest can play as a normal player – coming on and off as needed.  But, of course, there are still only three players on the bench to swap.  The press thinks that this will shorten the life of big blokes because teams will want runners to interchange.  In reality, it is probably too early to know.  Some teams in NAB Cup and challenge games (where teams have six interchange and two green vest players) have had a go at limiting their bench effectively to three and one in order to practice for the regular season.  We will all watch with interest to see who uses it best.

AFL Dream Team and Supercoach players should note the substitute when the teams are announced on Thursday nights.  Moving your “sub” player to the reserves may be a smart move if you have one of the MAIN 21 to replace hm with.