The 2016 Knights were the worst side of the modern era, and possibly the worst side ever. The good news is it will be hard for the Knights to win so few games again this season, a touch of regression to the mean and a favourable bounce here and there and the Knights will double, maybe triple, their win output. Since 2000 only the 2003 and 2006 Rabbits have won 3 games or less and they won 5 and 12 games in the following season. I doubt the Knights will win 12 but 5 is pretty realistic, it’s hard to be that bad for long. Here’s the list of all the teams to win 5 games or less and the number of wins they had the following season.
Other than those bad Rabbits no one has a run of sustained ineptitude. The problem for Knights fans is their side resembles those Rabbits sides somewhat.
NRL teams don’t often collapse into a total rebuild like the 2016 Knights so it is hard to get a read on how long this rebuilding might run for. The discouraging thing is despite handing out a record number of debuts did the Knights really debut a lot of NRL calibre players that will be playing a big part on the Knights in three or four years? My suspicion is that rather than looking back on 2016 as the year that the Knights gave opportunities to players who became their centre pieces they’ll look back and see 2016 as the season they gave opportunities to a bunch of guys that no longer play in the NRL.
The Knights were spectacularly bad on defence last season. The 800 points they conceded is the fourth highest total in the 24 game era and they managed to miss a staggering 876 tackles. Combine that with their inability to make opponents miss tackles the Knights had a negative 284 difference between tackle breaks and missed tackles, the Titans were also pretty bad (negative 248) but no one else was below negative 85.
All of these points conceded, missed tackles and lack of tackle breaks point towards the fact the Knights were an easy match-up for fantasy players last season. They ranked 16th against opponent wingers, centres and five eighths, 15th against hookers and fullbacks and 13th against locks and second rowers. The only position they weren’t embarrassing against was halves and that appears to be a statistical anomaly more than anything else. They’ll make a good fantasy opponent this year too.
These guys won’t remind anyone of the 1997 Knights anytime soon. In fact this is the worst starting 17 in the NRL by quite a big margin. There’s a lot of uncertainty here with Gagai, Hodkinson, Mataora and Buhrer the only players you’d consider certainties when healthy.
2016 Positional Minute Splits
The Knights had the highest number of interchange minutes in the NRL last season which was weird considering their interchange contributed the lowest PPM in the competition with just 0.677, nobody else was lower than 0.7.
It is all well and good to give the youth an opportunity but when the youth isn’t especially good it is a pretty big waste of time. The Knights have a couple of decent young halves but a lot of that depth wouldn’t make the roster for most other teams.
Average Fantasy Points Allowed Per Position
Fantasy points for everyone!
Key Fantasy Changes
It is probably easier to list what hasn’t changed: Trent Hodkinson is still the halfback.