Strategy Playbook: When is the right time to take risks?

We take a deep dive into the relevant weekly strategies to help you with your NRL SuperCoach trade tactics.

Strategy Playbook

This certainly seems an appropriate subject for me this week, as I contemplate trading out a player who is currently averaging 115 points this season and single-handedly ended my last one. Such is the nature of risk-taking! 

In this article I’m attempting to apply risk analysis concepts to SuperCoach. Generally, in SuperCoach, as in life, we expect enhanced returns for increased risk. 

Financial markets provide an example of this. The financial analogy is an intriguing one for me, as I think as SuperCoaches we’re essentially looking for the right ‘portfolio’ of assets. 

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In terms of risk analysis, it seems limiting to me to think solely of risk-aversion. I recently came across a risk analysis tool, which offers an alternative to the standard risk matrix. 

This tool is more akin to a cost-benefits analysis. Much like portfolio management, it is focussed on optimising value. 

TABLE 1: Adapted from Fehring A, 2018, ‘Putting the appetite into risk management: Is it time to delete your risk matrix?, Governance Directions, Vol 70, No. 7.

CategoriesLikelyOccasionalPossibleUnlikelyRare
R I S K SCatastrophicExtremeVery HighVery HighHighHigh

MajorVery HighVery HighHighHighLow

ModerateVery HighHighHighLowLow

MinorHighHighLowLowVery Low

NegligibleHighLowLowVery LowVery Low
R E W A R D SNegligibleHighLowLowVery LowVery Low

MinorHighHighLowLowVery Low

ModerateVery HighHighHighLowLow

MajorVery HighVery HighHighHighLow

SignificantExtremeVery HighVery HighHighHigh

N.B., I have adapted the table by replacing ‘detrimental impacts’ with ‘risks’ and ‘beneficial impacts’ with ‘rewards’.

I see three key areas where SuperCoaches might apply this tool: 

  1. Captaincy decisions.
  2. Start/sit decisions. 
  3. Trade decisions. 

I generally try to assess the risks associated with the first and second areas based on ‘repeatable’ stats. Based on the stat categories from nrlsupercoachstats.com, I personally assume ‘repeatable’ stats to be ‘base’ (hit-ups and tackles), then ‘power’ (offloads and tackle breaks), then goals and forced dropouts, then all other stats. 

On the flipside, I consider the rewards for captaincy and start/sit decisions to be highly matchup dependent. For example, the rewards for captaining Cody Walker this week could be extreme, given that he plays the Bulldogs and has previously registered the highest ever SuperCoach score. 

I’m assuming that the less ‘repeatable’ stats (such as tries and try-assists) are easier to repeat in favourable matchups. 

Trade Decisions

Now onto trade decisions, which appear to me to be far more complex. Every Supercoach team differs where trade decisions are concerned.  

The complexities with trade decisions lay in our ability to determine the scoring potential of the players we’re trading in, as well as trading out. For example, this week I’m considering trading James Tedesco and Jason Saab to Latrell Mitchell and Brain To’o. Consequently, I need to assess the scoring potential of all four players, for at least the period I plan to hold / go without them, in order to determine the value of the trades. 

Then throw in the opportunity costs of foregoing other players and trying to determine future trades. No wonder Supercoach can be a frustrating game!

Nonetheless, we can only consider the trade options presented to us for any given round, with a future plan in mind. Difficult as this may be, we can make educated guesses on likelihood, utilising the tool above. 

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In my case, trading out Tedesco carries the risk that I won’t be able to get the best player in the game (who can be captained to score double points) back into my side. Therefore, the potential cost could be major, perhaps even catastrophic. 

On the other hand, Latrell Mitchell has the potential to put up massive scores against his opponents in the coming rounds. This could net valuable points, as well as see Latrell increase significantly in value. 

A further consideration for me is that I already own Cody Walker. I think it’s debatable as to which of Cody or Latrell is the better captaincy option. Consequently, it’s harder to factor captaincy points into my potential gains. 

The other benefit of the trades I’m considering is that I can upgrade Jason Saab to Brian To’o. Therefore, I need to consider the benefits of both trades together, rather than in isolation.

To aid my decision-making, I’ve attempted to quantify the earlier risk matrix to assign a points value to the impact of trades.

Table 2: Estimated Points Impact of Trades for Risk Matrix


ImpactPoints
R I S KCatastrophic200+

Major150+

Moderate100+

Minor50+

Negligible0+
R E W A R DNegligible0+

Minor50+

Moderate100+

Major150+

Significant200+

I have purposefully left $ values out of the above. Instead, I’ll aim to determine the benefit of any $ I make based on the points it will net me later in the season. 

Now I’m going to attempt to assess the risks / rewards of the trades. Utilising this tool is actually a first for me. My calculations are usually limited to a calculator and the notes section in my phone.

Option 1

TradeImpactLikelihoodRisk / Reward
Tedesco – MitchellMajorPossibleHigh risk

MajorPossibleHigh reward
Saab – To’oMinorUnlikelyLow risk

SignificantLikelyVery high reward




Trades CombinedModerateUnlikely – possibleModerate risk

SignificantOccasionalHigh – Very high reward

First off, I’ve determined that the potential costs for the Tedesco to Mitchell trade could be major. I think the main risk is the potential of not being able to get Teddy back in, as well as for him to be captained by other SuperCoaches. 

I originally had the potential risk as catastrophic. However, I downgraded this to major, based on Latrell’s increased base + power stats this season. This has increased from 17 last season to 35 this season. Granted, this season is only a three-game sample. Nonetheless, a key assumption I’m making is that Latrell will have more opportunities with the ball in the coming rounds, based on team matchups.   

So, I’ve also deemed that the risks associated with this trade are ‘possibly major’ (i.e., a 50% chance). I’ve reached this conclusion with consideration to Teddy’s and Latrell’s respective matchups over the next 3-4 weeks in particular. Had Latrell’s matchups been less favourable and/or Teddy’s more favourable, I would’ve increased the risk likelihood and impact.

I’ve rated the potential rewards of the trade relatively similarly to that for the risks. The potential increase in value of Latrell and decrease in value of Teddy, combined with potential for Latrell to outscore Teddy, means that I see the potential rewards as major significant. 

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However, I’m mindful that Teddy’s base + power and ceiling has proven to be higher than Latrell’s in the past. So, I’ve rated the likelihood of the benefits from this trade as ‘possible’.  

I originally had the potential rewards as significant. However, I again downgraded them to major. This is because I anticipate that Latrell will need to be traded out.

The other trade-in from this option is certainly enticing. I’m assuming that there is an ‘unlikely’ chance that Saab will be able net me 75+ points for the season. Meanwhile, To’o has a favourable run of fixtures, as well as high base + power stats for a CTW. Therefore, I think there’s a ‘likely’ chance of deriving significant benefit from this trade.  

As I’ve determined that the Saab to To’o trade is low risk / very high reward, I consider that the two trades combined carry a moderate risk for very high reward. Such is the potential benefits from freeing up the money from the Teddy to Latrell trade. 

Option 2

Moving onto a more conservative trade option. 

TradeImpactLikelihoodRisk / Reward
Liddle – SchusterMinorPossibleLow risk

ModeratePossibleHigh reward
Roberts – FergusonMinorPossibleLow risk

MajorOccasionalVery high reward




Trades CombinedMinorPossibleLow risk

Moderate – Major rewardPossible – occassionalHigh – very high reward

Both Liddle and Roberts are on the borderline of playing in my 17, so I think it’s unlikely that trading them will cost me many points in this way. However, they may go onto increase in value enough to earn 75+ points in the long run, so I’ve assessed the risks of trading out both players as ‘possibly minor’. 

Meanwhile, I think Blake Ferguson can average 60+ for the season, or until the round 13 bye round. Therefore, I consider there is an occasional chance this trade will be of major benefit. 

The Liddle to Schuster trade I’m slightly less certain of, mostly due to Schuster being new to the starting side. Nonetheless, I believe Schuster will make more money than Liddle, especially given the difference in breakeven between the two players (Liddle B.E. 4 vs Schuster B.E. – 65) Therefore, I’ve deemed the potential rewards from this trade as ‘possibly moderate’. 

Verdict

At this stage, I’m leaning towards option 2, as I’ve assessed it could be just as beneficial as option 1, with lower risk. 

However, I’m still wondering how long I can hold Latrell and/or go without Teddy. My concerns are that Teddy plays the Dragons in round 7, the Broncos in round 11 and the Cowboys in round 12. 

Therefore, I’m finding it difficult to plan to go without him for that period. Tom Trbojevic could also be an option by then though, for games against the Tigers in round 7 and the Broncos in round 10…

How to best apply this tool

There are two immediate considerations I can see when applying this tool:

1. Take the time to identify your options

I’ve limited the number of options to two for the purpose of this analysis. Naturally, we all have limited capacity to only consider so many options, especially at one given time. 

However, I believe we can get the most value from this tool by taking the time to identify a wide variety of options.

Personally, I find that taking time at the end of the round to look at key stats (e.g., base + power), is an effective way to do this. I’ve also found contemplating trade-in options whilst watching games can be effective. 

2. Evaluate your decisions based on process, not outcome

I picked this up from a decision-making expert who was a guest on one of my favourite podcasts. A correct decision doesn’t always result in a beneficial outcome and vice-versa. Therefore, I can see an application for this tool in evaluating decisions. 

To this end, it could be beneficial to evaluate decisions at various stages of the season utilising this tool. The purpose of doing this in stages, rather than weekly, would be to assess the assumptions made once the results have been given time to play out. 

Best of luck with your decisions for this coming round. Enjoy the Easter holidays!

[1] https://www.successpodcast.com/show-notes/2018/7/18/making-smart-decisions-when-you-dont-have-all-the-facts-with-annie-duke

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