The Pythagorean prediction hated the Dragons last season. Hated them. It isn’t hard to work out why. Of the Dragons 10 wins 7 of them came by less than 6 points, so they vastly exceeded the coin toss expectation. The Pythagorean prediction also weights offense as being slightly more valuable than defense and the Dragons had a historically bad offense.
The Dragons had a point differential of -197. There have been 12 teams since 2000 with a differential between -180 and -220 and they win on average 8.25 games. The 10 games the Dragons won are tied as the highest in the sample. In that same time period there have been 8 teams scoring less than 375 points, those teams’ averaged 6 wins, the Dragons 10 wins is the most despite the fact they scored the 4th lowest amount of points.
Since 2000 there have been five instances (excluding last year’s Dragons) that teams won more than 3 games over their Pythagorean prediction, only one of those sides won more games in the following season:
One positive on the Dragons is they beat some quality sides knocking off Panthers (round 4), Titans (round 7), Raiders (round 10), Cowboys (round 12), Storm (round 15) and Sharks (round 23). That’s five of the top six sides although it isn’t too hard to poke some holes in this: the games against the Storm and Cowboys came without Origin players, the Sharks had just come off their winning streak and played flat, the Raiders weren’t in juggernaut mode and the Titans and Panthers were also better later in the year. But let’s be honest it is only people like me that point those things out, for this season McGregor can point out they have the momentum over the Raiders, Storm and Cowboys. That’s got to be worth something.
Looking at the Dragons side for 2017 they will continue to lack the spark in the back line to dramatically pick up the offensive numbers. Josh Dugan and Euan Aitken are both good, but a halves combo of McCrone and Widdop shouldn’t excite anyone. It would be really nice if McGregor could recognise the success a veteran QLD Cup player like Cody Walker had at Souths and give a spot to Shaun Nona but McGregor doesn’t strike me as that sort of coach. That’ll mean Dragons games might be a hard watch this season.
The Dragons will need to decide which starting quality back rower they leave out. I think it should be Thompson but it will probably be Sims, either way it is a nice luxury. While we are talking about what I would do: I’d also start Shaun Nona over Josh McCrone. I doubt Paul McGregor has the balls though.
2016 Positional Minute Splits
The Dragons had the third highest average minutes from a lock behind the Rabbits (70.88) and Sea Eagles (68.79) which really highlights the demise of 80 minute locks. JDB has a chance to be one of those, but with a few other quality back rowers and middle forwards it might not be necessary.
I believe Mose Masoe is still recovering from his knee injury and Hutchison is out for the season. Back row depth is awesome.
Average Fantasy Points Allowed Per Position
The Dragons gave away a lot of points to opposition props and second rowers because their playing style was so up the middle, and this lead to lots of tackles by the forwards. The Dragons were second behind the Cowboys in average tackles per game by opponent props with 29.17 per game. It might also be worth noting the Dragons were only 4th highest PPM by opponent props so part of the issue there was props played more minutes against the Dragons than they did against any other team.
Key Fantasy Changes
Benji is gone and that will hand a starting role to Josh McCrone, or Shaun Nona, or Jai Field, or Kurt Mann. Paul Vaughan also comes into the side to replace Ben Creagh.