Head-to-head focus: Managing the bye period

Max Bryden gives you his best tips to get through rounds 13-20 from the perspective of a head-to-head focused Supercoach player.


For me, it was about round 6. The moment I realised the dreams of the $50k overall prize this year were getting beyond my reach and it was time to salvage what was left of my SuperCoach ‘expert’ tag and try to win my H2H League.

Money can’t buy bragging rights in the group chat!

The bye period is one of the most intense parts of an overall season, but for H2H players, what are the best tactics to get through and set yourself up for a charge at finals?

Here’s a few tips to keep in mind to get through rounds 13-20 with a wet sail and ready to claim your title.

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Save your trades!

A new feature this year in most H2H leagues is the ability to turn on ‘byes’ in the ‘bye rounds’.

That means that for the three major byes (13/16/19), H2H match-ups will be paused and your performance this week doesn’t matter. If this is you, I recommend booking a date night with your significant other with the time you’ll save this weekend.

Trades are the most valuable currency in H2H Finals, and a real way to separate yourself from your rivals.

Given the increased amount of byes this year, saving trades could mean the difference between having to hold the $700k value of Payne Haas or Reece Walsh on your bench in round 25 (Qualifying Final for most leagues with a Broncos bye) or having the chance to get someone in with that value. Save those trades!

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There’s only two valid reasons to trade in round 13 if you’re focusing on H2H: a) you’ve run your numbers for round 14 and you are looking light on due to the Manly, Parra and Knights bye or b) an active round 13 player in your team has a huge BE and is about to drop a ton of cash.

The latter might apply to a guy like Gutherson who has a huge breakeven this week and is on the bye in round 14 – thank you for your service to the Doueihi’s this week champ but it’s time to go.

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Know which teams have the best game coverage in H2H rounds

All teams have byes between rounds 14 and 20, so a quick study of the draw is important to understand where you might be caught short with one of your guns missing a game.

To understand this, simply look at the draw between those rounds and remove 16 and 19 to see which teams have the best coverage.

The teams with no byes in that time are Broncos, Storm, Dolphins, Warriors, Panthers, Titans and Roosters.

All other teams have one bye during this time with the exception of the Eels who have the bye in round 14 and 18 – the best bye coverage teams overall are the worst for H2H players!

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This is especially important for spine positions in your team where you may not have a gun in the reserve position.

Dylan Brown owners who have I.Kat or Schuster as their back-up will need to decide if you’re comfortable running the reserve in those two crucial weeks where Brown won’t be available.

Similarly, the great draw for the Panthers and Roosters makes highly owned guys like Turuva and Billy Smith holds throughout the period as a valuable number.

The worst thing that could happen would be a forced trade if BOTH of your guys in a spine position are out for the week. Combos of Gutho/Turbo, Dyl Bags/Schuster and even owners of Garrick, Marzhew, Hopgood and Haumole need to be planning now for how to manage round 14.

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Look at which teams have the best draws over the stretch

Going one step deeper into the draw may allow you to find the best players for match-ups during the period, and help decide which guys to sell to ensure you’ve got a strong 17 each week.

While the Bunnies don’t play in round 20 after Origin 3, in H2H weeks they face the Titans, Dragons, Cowboys and Warriors in their next four which could see some great attack.

Conversely the Dragons face the Panthers, Bunnies, Warriors and Sharks which will be four really tough games which will be hard for them to capitalise on given current form lines.

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A realistic application of this would be deciding what to do with Greg Marzhew from the Knights.

He’s reasonably highly owned but has the bye in round 14 before facing the Broncos in 15 and Panthers in 17 – hardly an ideally draw.

Flipping him to an AJ or even Cody Walker via duals will get you in extra gun for one of these crucial weeks.

Going one step further to interrogate which teams have the best draws in your H2H finals can also be a great way to get ahead of the game in your league.

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Know your opposition

This is a super dedicated approach to H2H, but could prove a difference maker, especially in round 14.

Studying your upcoming schedule of league opponents and identifying who are your uniques can help guide your tactics for the bye period.

For example, if you know this week that your opponent is stacked with Parramatta and Manly players and won’t have enough trades to field a full 17, sitting back and taking the win without trading could prove huge down the track for your league. 

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Pending your position on the league table, you may need to decide on your level of aggression throughout the bye period. If you’re chasing ranks and need to climb the table trading during the byes is fine, however be smart about it. 

Here’s some players I like for rounds 14-20 of NRL SuperCoach with a head-to-head focus:

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  • Dylan Edwards – Plays every round of H2H and averaging nearly 50 in base + power this year. Always lifts his game when Cleary and Luai sit which could occur in some of these games. Excellent draw too!
  • Tohu Harris – if you take out the injury affected games he’s averaging 77 points per game. That’s while playing 80 minutes too. Always a risk that his minutes come down, but he’s not likely to get cheaper than his price this week. Set and forget in the front row.
  • Jamayne Isaako – as mentioned on the pod this week, his averages this year are almost identical to Reuben Garrick’s, but the ownership isn’t! At $660k, the price might not get cheaper this season. If you’re a believer in the ‘Phins, bite the bullet and get on.
  • Nick Meaney – interesting test for the Storm incumbent into how he will perform without the full brigade for the Storm. Still in POD ownership territory
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  • Brian Kelly – criminally flying under the radar and scoring beautifully outside of David Fifita. Kelly’s got a B+P of nearly 50 and has been picking up attacking stats for fun thanks to Foran’s good work inside of him. Draw is a little tough but for a guy in less than 1% of teams he’s performing incredibly well.
  • Phillip Sami – if he stays on the left he could be a season keeper given his B+P of nearly 40 and attacking upside.
  • Eliesa Katoa – pending fitness, if named in 14 he’s a perfect trade in target at a great price. An upside 2RF who is getting better every week – will be the dominant attacking focal point the weeks that Munster misses too.
  • Cody Walker – back to his brilliant best this season and has the keys to the highest scoring SuperCoach team. A scary prospect to face up against.
  • Briton Nikora – Sharks have the best draw for H2H finals and he could be the second best 2RF. Someone I don’t want to face in a H2H any week.

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