Monday, 30 November 2015

FURTHER FIXTURE ANALYSIS

In the last blog post, the AFL fixture was examined to see if it met the expectations the AFL sets itself. And according to the FootyMaths rankings and assessments, the 2016 fixture has achieved is objective nicely.

But that was an assessment of the season as a whole, and in this blogpost an assessment will be made on 4 sectors of the season.



Breaking down a 23 week season with 22 games into four neat sectors means we need to split into 2 sets of  round blocks and two sets of 6 round blocks with one of the a 7 round blck where each team plays 6 times because of the staggered bye.

Rounds 1 to 5: 

Adelaide draw a very short straw to start the year with the toughest draw of the 18 teams, markedly tougher than all others, with the exception of West Coast.

WHO HAS THE TOUGH FIXTURE?ROUNDS 1-5
RNKTEAMLAD POSFMI RANK PTSSUM OPP'N PTSHOME / AWAY BONUSTOUGH DRAW INDEX
1Adelaide6122065132004.60
2West Coast21416604602.73
3St Kilda1484759861000.98
4Carlton1880457361000.75
5Fremantle31215545200.58
6Hawthorn115135785-3000.47
7Sydney/SMFC51282554300.45
8Brisbane Lions1778358011000.29
9GWS11100153452000.09
10Richmond71253538500.01
11Geelong10115354060-0.10
12Melbourne138435489-100-0.64
13Essendon158885156200-0.76
14Collingwood1211025111100-1.05
15W Bulldogs/FFC811495163-200-1.69
16North Melbourne4124548980-1.90
17Port Adelaide912215108-300-2.06
18Gold Coast168374936-100-2.74

As the chart below shows, this is because Adelaide face 6 of the best 8 ranked teams in the first 6 weeks of the season. The chart also shows an easier run for Adelaide later on, but another 5 meetings with high ranked opponents to round out the year.
Overall, as per our original analysis, enough to have them with the second toughest draw for 2016



West Coast fare marginally better in the first 5 rounds, with 4 of the top 8 ranked teams in the opening line-up.
Overall West Coast face the FMI top 8 ranked teams less than Adelaide, but do meet Hawthorn twice, handing them the number one spot in the tough draw index.



At the other end of the spectrum, the Gold Coast and Port Adelaide appear to have gotten an easier lead-off to the year, with scheduled games against a few of the strugglers along with the lower ranked teams from the top 8.










Rounds 6 to 10: 

Heading into May and the latter days of Autumn, the season starts to get tighter as the weather in the southern states closes in. Looking at rounds 6 to 10, it is Richmond that have the hardest time of it, joined by Sydney and Fremantle. Whereas for Melbourne its a good run. A chance to bank a win or two before the opening of that 'other' season in June.

WHO HAS THE TOUGH FIXTURE?ROUNDS 6-10
RNKTEAMLAD POSFMI RANK PTSSUM OPP'N PTSHOME / AWAY BONUSTOUGH DRAW INDEX
1Richmond712536119-1002.15
2Sydney/SMFC5128256822001.75
3Fremantle3121558321001.69
4GWS1110015934-1000.96
5Brisbane Lions177835960-1000.53
6Hawthorn11513553400.32
7Gold Coast1683756321000.01
8Collingwood1211025306200-0.06
9Carlton188045609-100-0.12
10W Bulldogs/FFC8114954100-0.22
11West Coast214165160-100-0.31
12St Kilda1484756070-0.39
13Geelong1011535380-100-0.47
14Essendon1588854310-0.62
15Adelaide612205355-100-0.75
16Port Adelaide9122150990-0.80
17North Melbourne412454970100-1.06
18Melbourne1384348380-2.58

Richmond face four of the top 8 ranked teams in May, with Hawthorn the biggest hurdle. Their winter months do look better though, but a return match with the Hawks helps bump up the 7th placed Tigers to be the odd one out in the draw analysis, sitting 3rd toughest overall.


Sydney also meet Hawthorn and two other of the FMI top 8 ranked teams, and also have another stiff run toward the end of the regular season. The Swans do qualify for an easier run either side of their bye thou, which could help build some momentum leading into that hard end of season run, and possible finals.


Fremantle get the nod for the third hardest run in May, with another schedule of games against three teams in the top 8 FMI rank. As with Sydney above, there is a softer run in the next 6 games, and another tough set just before seasons end.


Melbourne pick up the best of the run through May, with three of their five games against lowly ranked opponents, and only one against a top 8 level team. The Demons do have a rough time of it through the remainder of the winter.







Rounds 11 to 17: 

Heading into winter and the bye weeks, it becomes an uphill fight for North Melbourne most of all. Joining them is Port Adelaide who hit their harder section of draw after their easier start. The Bulldogs rank third for the June-July stretch of the season, while at the other end of the scale, Carlton, Fremantle, GWS and St Kilda are rostered for a simpler time of things.

WHO HAS THE TOUGH FIXTURE?ROUNDS 11-17
RNKTEAMLAD POSFMI RANK PTSSUM OPP'N PTSHOME / AWAY BONUSTOUGH DRAW INDEX
1North Melbourne4124577751004.90
2Port Adelaide91221747803.48
3W Bulldogs/FFC8114971611002.69
4Essendon1588872451001.31
5Melbourne138437179-1000.74
6Hawthorn1151363161000.68
7Geelong1011536739-1000.34
8Sydney/SMFC512826495-100-0.14
9Gold Coast1683768260-0.56
10West Coast2141660900-0.86
11Adelaide6122062580-0.87
12Collingwood12110263040-1.02
13Richmond712536124-100-1.14
14Brisbane Lions177836526-100-1.17
15Carlton188046369-200-1.85
16Fremantle3121559900-1.92
17GWS1110016012100-1.93
18St Kilda148475744200-2.68

Five of the top 8 ranked teams meet North Melbourne in six games planned for the early winter, with the bye splitting three from the others. It could be argued that the break makes this section of the fixture easier than a full four week stretch as others have.
North also have a tougher run in the last 6 games of the season, but as can be seen, it counters their first half softness of fixture.


The Western Bulldogs also meet 4 of the top ranked eight teams, and like North Melbourne have a bye splitting two from the others This little 6 game run is the hardest for the Westerners all year, so to convert half of these to wins should be considered a great result. .


At the other end of the spectrum, St Kilda hit their peak easiest section of the fixture, playing only one top 8 ranked team in six matches.
The Fremantle run through these weeks is also one of the easiest, and is seen in the chart further up the blog post.
GWS also have their best weeks of the season in what appears to be a reasonably evenly spread set of games for them over the whole of the season.










Rounds 18 to 23: 

The final 6 rounds that lead in to the AFL finals are all uphill for Collingwood (who have the hardest run), Richmond GWS and the West Coast.

WHO HAS THE TOUGH FIXTURE?ROUNDS 18-23
RNKTEAMLAD POSFMI RANK PTSSUM OPP'N PTSHOME / AWAY BONUSTOUGH DRAW INDEX
1Collingwood1211027413-2002.35
2Richmond7125368972002.13
3GWS111001718801.99
4West Coast2141668931001.94
5Hawthorn11513666301.33
6North Melbourne412456894-1001.05
7Fremantle312156904-1000.89
8Adelaide612206677-1000.68
9W Bulldogs/FFC8114964512000.39
10Sydney/SMFC51282658600.37
11Melbourne138436944100-0.01
12Gold Coast1683762700-1.23
13St Kilda148476516-200-1.41
14Port Adelaide912215965100-1.43
15Brisbane Lions1778361330-1.88
16Geelong1011536135-100-1.96
17Carlton188046155200-2.04
18Essendon158885946-100-3.12

As the table above shows, Collingwood get the most difficult run into the finals. THey play 4 of the best 8 ranked teams in the last 6 weeks. They nudge out Richmond, GWS and West Coast who also have a difficult 6 weeks.


The easiest easing down of the year rests with Essendon. Their index score of -3.12 is the lowest of any sector. A comfy leather armchair ride into September action of both sorts awaits.


Carlton have the second easiest last 6 weeks, and the easiest last 4. Have a look at all that light blue in rounds 20 to 23 (vs. St K, Bris, Melb and Ess).


Geelong and Brisbane also get a reasonably easy run into September with only 2 of their last 6 games against top 8 ranked opposition, Brisbane's last 8 games look like fun too.










Part of the reason for generating these charts was because of a tweet from m0nty, as below. And in looking at the gist of his tweet for his club, and extending it to all clubs, it can be proven that m0nty's premise is basically right.


All the tables and charts above show each of the 18 teams (bar one) have some block or blocks of time where they experience either a very easy or very difficult stretch.

The one team that doesn't is the Hawks. Not once through the four sectors of the season do they appear in the top 4 for hard draws, and only in the last 6 weeks does their 'Hard Draw Index' go above 1.0.
The chart below shows not exactly the pattern m0nty was tweeting about, but it is a very close match. Set-up nicely for another finals tilt?



Of course, Hawthorn doesn't get to play against the top ranked team (i.e. the Hawks), so the larger peaks are not displayed above, but they do get that sort of run that m0nty found, making their draw consistent all year.

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