Three weeks of the AFL season are past us and…honestly, we don’t know who is good or bad yet. Are the Suns set for another long year, or is there light in the tunnel? Is Ross Lyon about to be sacked, or is he a genius for the Dockers upset win over the Bulldogs? Should the Tigers make a big offer to Dustin Martin, or for some unknown reason not offer one of the best players in football the money he deserves?
WE. DON’T. KNOW.
We are going to look at how the team strengths sit (according to the HPN Team Strength Ratings introduced last year) and see what rash judgements we can bring to the table.
In 2016, HPN did not run our team ratings this early in the year; unsure what affect the volatility of the small sample size would have over the data. However, we think there are some interesting trends emerging early, some which will hold and others that won’t.
Across a 22 game season, each week of football is worth roughly 4.5% of the total season. However, after round three each game for each team represents 33% of their sample – a very high amount. To attempt to counter this, we have (as we did last year) adjusted each Rating for the opposition strength as determined by Ratings in their opposition’s other games. In short, this should make the data less “noisy”.
As you can see, the consensus best team so far in 2017 (Adelaide) holds the top spot on the HPN charts as well. Two of the three currently undefeated teams hold spots in the top four; namely Adelaide and Richmond. Joining the Crows and Tigers at the top end of the HPN Ratings is pre-season presumptive premeriship favourite GWS and early season surprise packets Port Adelaide. It is worth noting that the only loss so far by both the Giants and Power has been to the top ranked Crows. All four sides sit near the top with respect to the Mid Scores, and have scores in each of the three categories above the league average (after adjustment for opposition). These are good early signs for this quartet, but early signs nonetheless.
Also siding with popular opinion is the noted backward movement of two perennial favourites, Geelong and Hawthorn. The Cats and Hawks may have records that are polar opposites, but both sides seem to have slipped a little from last year. If it were not for Geelong’s incredible efficiency up forward, they could be sitting at 1-2. And the Hawks have barely fired a shot yet.
Perhaps the most surprising result of the early HPN ratings is the low grade given to the Bulldogs, who have a promising 2-1 record. The Dogs have taken a significant hit from the opposition adjustment, as they have only recorded close-ish wins (and a loss) against relatively low ranked sides. This should adjust over the coming weeks when they face tougher opposition – pending their ability to win those games. It is also worth noting that the Cats and Dogs record-breaking midfield performances from last year have declined severely in the season to date – something to keep an eye on.
Finally, the Essendon and Carlton ratings were skewed significantly by the extreme weather on display last weekend. This should normalise over the coming weeks.