Whilst you can’t necessarily win the overall title or your league title in the first few weeks of the season, it would be good, for once, to not be 15,000th after round 6 and forced to spend the rest of the year battling back to a respectable finish.
How can we prevent this?
STOP what you are doing right now and read on.
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The table below shows the average finishing position of the teams from 2018 that each side will face over first 11 games of the season. For example in the first six weeks the Cowboys opponents (Dragons, Broncos, Sharks, Raiders, Storm, Warriors) finished an average of sixth last year, whilst the teams that the Warriors play (Bulldogs, Wests, Sea Eagles, Titans, Rabbitohs, Cowboys) finished an average of just over tenth last year.
From the above you can see that the Cowboys, Sea Eagles, Broncos and Titans have the toughest start to the season, so it might pay to avoid attacking players from those sides in your round 1 line-up’s.
Take Jamayne Issako for example: Although three of the Broncos first six games are at home (Cowboys, Dragons and the Tigers), they play the Storm and the Roosters away in rounds 1 and 4 respectively, which you would expect to be tough matchups for the likes of Issako. They also play the Roosters again in round 10.
On the other hand, players from the Warriors, Tigers and Raiders have a nice start to the year. Jack Wighton, BJ Leilua and Joseph Tapine for example have home games in Rounds 3 and 5 against the Knights and the Eels as well as away games against the Titans and the Cowboys. These attacking players from the Raiders could very well get off to a fast start in 2019.
The analysis for this part of the season is the same as the first six weeks; you can see from the table above where the advantages and disadvantages lie – and more often than not it is the opposite of the first six weeks.
The Tigers draw during this stretch is very difficult (Roosters, Panthers, Storm and the Rabbitohs in consecutive weeks), whilst for the Titans and Cowboys it gets considerably easier following a tough start to the year.
Hopefully this is the time of the year when those players who had a tough draw to start the year have fallen in price and you can snap them up at a discount leading into the soft part of their schedule.
Best players to start with (based on the draw)
Here’s what you’ve been waiting for, right?
Is an “easy” draw actually a thing? Yes and no. If you are tossing up between two very similar players then for sure I would look at the draw to see if that could help split the difference. But, I wouldn’t be picking a player simply because he had an easy draw to start the year. From year to year the teams that are “good” often change, and at this time of the year all we have to go off is 2018 form. A great example is the Wests Tigers form shift from 2017 and 2018, many had them penciled in as easy beats last year…
Some teams will also start the year well and then fade away, or vice-versa. Whilst I think it is another good tool to use to assess your Round 1 side, you should be using it in conjunction with all your other pre-season research.
Onto the players….
- Warriors players – Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Bulldogs, Tigers, Sea Eagles, Titans first 4 weeks – juicy)
- Wests Tigers players – Esan Marsters, David Nofoaluma and Luke Brooks (Sea Eagles, Warriors, Bulldogs first three, Eels in round 6). It gets real tough after that though, so you would be looking to sell after the Eels game
- Raiders players – Nick Cotric, Michael Oldfield (Rapana out till May) and BJ Leilua (Titans, Knights, Cowboys and the Eels in first five weeks)
- Sharks players – Shaun Johnson (easiest draw in the competition over the first 11 weeks)
Players to avoid (based on the draw)
- Broncos players – Jaymane Issako, Anthony Miflord and Jack Bird (toughest draw in the comp first 11 weeks)
- Sea Eagles players – Tom Trbojevic (Roosters, Rabbitohs, Dragons in first 6 weeks, always Roosters skews this as they do also have the Tigers, Warriors and Knights in their as well)
- Cowboys players – Michael Morgan and Ben Barba (Dragons, Broncos, Sharks, Raiders (ninth in 2018) and the Storm in first 5 weeks)
That’s it for now. What are your thoughts on the early draw?