Adapting to the new DraftKings structure
Jason ‘Broady_4‘ Broadbridge, AFL Analyst
AFL Season 2021 is just around the corner, and we have an exciting new game format on our hands for eager DFS punters. Draftkings – back for another year of AFL DFS – have announced that they will be moving away from the traditional lineup structure on single game slates, to align with Showdown structures that have proven to be extremely popular on the giant American platform.
Single game lineups will now consist of:
- 6 players (1 Captain and 5 Flex), with the Captain carrying a 1.5x salary multiplier and a 1.5x fantasy point multiplier.
- The salary cap will be $50,000,
- No constraints will be placed on positions,
Meaning we have a whole new strategical ballgame to jostle for the $20,000 USD first place prize that Draftkings are offering on Thursday night.
As always, careful consideration needs to be placed when constructing a lineup. In the past, picking a lineup of 9 players means that you will inevitably fall upon some POD or ‘unique’ players to separate yourself from others. However, lineups are likely to be less unique when only picking 6 as you often get a couple of ‘free square’ players per slate (for example – a min price rookie who is expected to line up in the midfield). This could lead to more similar lineups in the big-field GPP comps. As we should all know by now, you will not be a successful DFS GPP player if you just play who everyone else is playing, so thought will need to be put into how you are creating a point of difference that can catapult you to the top of the leaderboard.
The first way of achieving this is by including someone at low ownership, whether that be at the captain position, or a flex position. For example, in a Draftkings preseason practice run (they had a $1,000 showdown comp for the Collingwood v Richmond AAMI match), all of the top 5 lineups consisted of a player at lower then 10% ownership. As a general rule, you should include someone around the 10% mark or lower, or at the very least, a couple players at the 15% mark.
The second way of achieving unique lineups in showdown contests is by leaving salary on the table (i.e not using up the entire $50,000 salary cap). This may be more useful in other showdown sports like the NBA or NFL, where the player pool is much more limited in comparison to an AFL match, however it remains a viable way of creating a unique lineup. For example, setting a limit of $49,700 will mean that you have to pay less attention to finding players at low ownership, as most competitors are going to be creating lineups that use up most of the cap.
Often in showdowns, people like to get creative and pick extremely low owned players at captain, hoping for an outlier performance to shoot them up into the money, however multiple studies of other sports have found this not to be an optimal strategy. While we don’t yet know what the optimal strategy will be at Captain in AFL DFS (a couple of weeks’ worth of data will help), my initial feel is that you will either need the highest scoring player or the clear best point per dollar option to win these large field showdown slates. As mentioned above, it shouldn’t be too hard to create unique lineups as we have a pool of 44 players to choose from. This leads to me to believe that picking low owned captains will only be optimal if that player has a much better chance of being the highest scorer than the field assumes. Stick to the guns or the ‘free squares’ early.
Showdown strategy is also dependent on the size of the contest. If you are playing large field tournaments with high allocations of prize money to first then you will need to consider strategies like stacking players from the same team that may correlate well, or targeting high upside players. However, the smaller the field, the less you need to find ways of getting creative – simply plugging in the ‘best’ play at captain and taking minimal risks with the 5 flex positions will suffice in a 5-man comp.
I’ll be here providing GamePlans for Thursday and Friday’s DraftKings slates for those interested check out our packages for more details.
Until then, good luck adapting to the new structure, hope to see some big winners in round one!