AFL Ladder

The traditional AFL Ladder might be the single most important bit of footy information, but it offers precious little for AFL punters!

That’s why we take things to the next level with the AFL Line Ladder.

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AFL Line Ladder: Round 5

Geelong and Melbourne are focus again this week. The market just keeps getting them wrong… underrating Melbourne to about the same extent as it overrates Geelong.

Melbourne are 5-0 at the line, covering by a total of 103.5 points. Geelong are 0-5, with an aggregate of -113.5.

On the weekend, Melbourne were given a 21.5 point hurdle against Hawthorn. They smashed the Hawks by 50.

Geelong were handed a massive 56.5 point line against the hapless North Melbourne, but could “only” win by 30.

So to this week… Geelong are currently 11.5 point favorites against the Eagles (3-2 at the line this season), while Melbourne have a 5.5 head start against Richmond (2-3 at the line this season).

Opportunities? Perhaps…

AFL Line Ladder: Round 4

The market has reeled the Swans in… and comfortably. After smashing their first three lines of the season, they were set an ambitious 27.5 hurdle against Essendon, only to sneak in with a three point win.

That leaves Melbourne as the only remaining team to have covered every line this season. They again did it comfortably, given a hurdle of 1.5 points against the Cats and winning by 25 points.

Speaking of Geelong… you’re battling this season if you’re backing them. They’re falling well short of expectations in 2021 and are yet to cover a line… or even get close, really. They join a hapless North Melbourne at the bottom, whose 14.5 point head start against Adelaide was ultimately not near enough.

AFL Line Ladder: Round 3

We’ve got a bit of data now that we’re three rounds in… but there’s certainly no surprises at either end of the line ladder.

The Swans have taken everybody by surprise and that includes the betting market, smashing their three lines by a combined 140.5 points. Their most impressive performance was, of course, against Richmond on the weekend, where they were handed a five-goal headstart… only to salute by 45 points

At the bottom… North Melbourne are an obvious avoid for punters. The Roos were already struggling to get near their lines, only for them to suffer their 128-point belting on Good Friday.

AFL Line Ladder: Round 1

Just the one round down and given the results we saw, no major surprises on the AFL Line Ladder. The two big upset winners of the week, Brisbane and Sydney, reign supreme at the top. The Swans were installed 24.5 point underdogs yet won by 31 points, while Adelaide beat Geelong by 12 points when the market figured they’d lose by 28!

Of the more fancied teams, Port Adelaide looked ominous. The market made them 32.5 point favorites, only for them to run out by 52 points.

AFL Line Ladder: Round 17

The home and away season is done…

So what did we learn?

When looking at the final Line Ladder below, the first thing that strikes us is the absolute evenness of it! There’s no tearaway leaders, and things evened up at the bottom as well. With 17 rounds completed, we finished with six teams on 10 covers. Following that was another six teams just one game back on nine covers, Brisbane on eight covers, two teams with seven, two with six and, finally, Adelaide on five covers.

Betting-wise, it was an extremely even season and overall, the market did a good job of predicting most teams.

There are some outliers, of course. Perhaps the biggest one is Brisbane. Despite finishing second on the AFL ladder, they were way down in 13th on the Line Ladder, covering 8 of 17 games. The other is Fremantle, which covered 10 times to finish third… yet were 12th on the AFL ladder.

Though it was close overall, 12 of the 18 clubs finished the season with a positive record against the line. Largely, this was allowed by the performance of the three bottom sides: Adelaide (five covers), Hawthorn (six) and North Melbourne (six). It was clear from early in the season that these clubs weren’t meeting pre-season expectations, however the market took far too long to catch up to just how poorly they were going. So there was value in betting against them.

We’ve spoken about this phenomenon plenty of times when discussing the line ladder. Though some teams perform much worse (Hawthorn, Adelaide, North Melbourne) or much better (St Kilda, Fremantle) than predicted pre-season, those early thoughts remain somewhat ‘baked-in’ to betting lines, which simply don’t react quickly enough. What does that tell us? Pay special attention to very current formlines… that can yield great results.

The AFL Ladder for Punters

The Line Ladder is a fairly simple premise: it’s the same as the regular AFL ladder but we measure performance against the closing betting line instead of the scoreboard.

For example, let’s say Collingwood were playing North Melbourne. The closing line is -9.5 (Collingwood) and +9.5 (North Melbourne.

Collingwood win the game by 20 points.

Collingwood covered the line by 10.5 points. So they record 1 cover, and their ‘Final margin v closing line’ figure is 10.5.

North Melbourne record 1 miss, and their ‘Final margin v closing line’ figure is -10.5.

Then those figures just accumulate through the season. The ladder is ranked first by covers, then by cumulative margin vs the closing line.

That’s all there is to it. It measures team performance, but in relation to the market. So you get a view of how well the betting market is performing in predicting each team’s results. A good example of this in 2019 was Carlton. For the first half of the year, their win and loss performance was awful. However, they were getting a lot closer to their opponents than the market thought they would, and very often covering the line. They consistently sat at or near the top of the line ladder despite being glued to the bottom of the league ladder. That’s the sort of information that is valuable as a punter.

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