It wouldn't be right if the first game ever played for VFL/AFL competition points outside Australia went unmarked by a MAFL wager, and both the Head-to-Head and Line Funds have made sure that this isn't the case.
The Head-to-Head Fund's wager on the Saints is but a token gesture - it's just 0.52% of the Fund, though at that the largest of the Fund's wagers this week - while the Line Fund's bet is the standard for these early rounds of the season and 1.25% of the Fund.
The Head-to-Head Fund has assessed two teams other than the Saints as wager-worthy, if only barely, and the Line Fund has found four other teams, three of them favourites and therefore giving start, that it feels good enough about to entrust with Investor money.
Investors, alongside the three Head-to-Head and five Line wagers, have Margin Funds at risk in four contests, three of them in the same contests in which they've Line Fund wagers and the fourth in the Hawks v Roos game, which is the last game of the round.
The week's Ready Reckoner is perhaps most notable for the pretzelian shapes of the return profile for some of the contests.
The Fremantle v Richmond and Carlton v Adelaide games are, perhaps, the archetypes of this modern form. In the case of the former, the six different returns giving rise to the multi-plateaued profile are associated with home team losses, draws, wins by 1 to 9 points, wins by 10 to 12 points, wins by 13 to 19 points, and wins by 20 points or more. The best result from an Investor viewpoint is a Dockers win by 13 to 19 points, which is worth a little over a cent.
In the Carlton v Adelaide game, the discrete return ranges correspond to a Blues loss, draw, win by 1 to 9 points, win by 10 to 12 points, win by 13 to 19 points, and win by 20 points or more. As for the Dockers v Tigers clash, a home team win by 13 to 19 points represents the best outcome for Investors, here also worth about a cent.
Returns for the Brisbane v Melbourne and St Kilda v Sydney clashes, though fewer in number, are nonetheless more lucrative in prospect. A Lions' win by 36 to 39 points is worth about 1.4c, while a Saints' win by any margin is worth about 1.3c.
The week's downside risk is spread roughly evenly across five contests, with a St Kilda loss by 6 points or more, a Fremantle loss by any margin, a GWS loss by 15 points or more, a Carlton loss by any margin, or a Lions victory by fewer than 35 points each representing reductions in the value of the Recommended Portfolio of about 1c.
TIPSTERS AND PREDICTORS
Most unusually, the Head-to-Head Tipsters are, in aggregate, pro-underdog in four contests this week, tipping the Dons to upset the Pies, the Tigers to topple Freo, the Crows to beat the Blues, and Port to defeat the Eagles.
The Margin Predictors are far more resolute in their support for the TAB favourites with only Combo_NN1 breaking ranks in the Freo v Richmond contest by tipping a Tigers victory, and Bookie_9 alone in deciding that Port will beat the Eagles (albeit by less than a point).
What's perhaps even more notable about the Margin Predictors' margin predictions this week is their coherence in terms of victory margin. In all but one of the contests - the Dogs v Cats game - the standard deviation of their collective margin opinions comes out as a single-digit number.
There's not a lot more divergence amongst the Head-to-Head Probability Predictors. Relatively speaking, the week's contrarian Predictor is ProPred, and even its level of defiance is but a meekly different assessment of Port's chances as being 30% versus a consensus view of 42%. Hardly the stuff of revolution.
The Line Fund algorithm, however, has been particularly strident in its views this week, most memorably in rating the Lions as 81% chances, and West Coast, Collingwood, the Dogs and the Roos as better than 60% chances on line betting. Its four remaining selections - St Kilda, Freo, GWS and Carlton - are all also rated by it as, at least, 57% chances on line betting. That's not at all consistent with the conservative behaviour we've seen from this algorithm in previous seasons and especially interesting news in light of the fact that the Fund doubles its wager size next round.