As Eddie might say, after picking up a gambling addiction: What a big week in DFS! Not only were we rewarded with the gift of AFL footy on our TV screens, but we had DraftKings finally enter the Australian DFS market (with a late, late flash on the outside), while Draftstars refined their product with some tasty new contests and price points. 

We’ve got a lot to talk about, so I’m not going waste your time with a lengthy intro – let’s get straight into the inaugural edition of the Newsletta!

  • THIS WEEK’S HEADLINES

No Training In Groups Of 10

We had upsets galore in Round 2 upon the resumption of AFL footy, and I found it hard to ignore the similarity between those who misfired… They all rely on possession-retention footy. 

The Crows were murdered. The Hawks didn’t give a squawk down at GMHBA. The Doggies’ style never got going, even on a slick Marvel deck. West Coast and GWS were the 2 biggest favourites of the weekend and got systematically dismantled by harder and hungrier midfielder units. Even the Pies, who walked away with 2 Premiership points, were lucky to do so after kicking just the solitary goal during their last 3 quarters of footy.

This is the effect of a global pandemic in motion, in my opinion. 3 weeks of club training after 3 months of only kicking the pigskin casually with a mate isn’t enough to fine-tune your skills (ask anyone who’s played local footy). And at the top level, it’s clearly not enough time to be able to execute intricately-engineered gameplans built on perfection. 

Solo Rucks, Make Bucks

The signs were there in Round 1, but Round 2 confirmed it – the dual ruck structure is the walking dead. Clubs spoke with their Teamsheets on this issue, with serial offenders in Richmond and West Coast falling in line with the shift in ruck strategy industry-wide.

In DFS, the results were mouth-watering. Soldo pumped out a 74 against the best ruckman in the competition without Nankervis nipping at his heels, while NicNat reached value with 62 in his 67% game-time – his second-highest TOG% in a game since Round 9, 2016. Even Oscar McInerney produced an 85 of his own, taking 71% of the CBA’s while Stef Martin builds his fitness on the comeback from a knee injury. 

That’s not to mention other DFS studs such as Goldstein (127, 100% TOG), Gawn (123, 95% TOG), O’Brien (103, 90% TOG), Lycett (90, 75% TOG), Sinclair (93, 77% TOG), Pittonet (74, 85% TOG), Stanley (83, 79% TOG), and Ceglar (74, 78% TOG). We had solo ruck goodness coming out of every orifice in Round 2.

Bagged and Tagged

There was a mini resurgence on the tagging front in Round 2, but it was more the shift in thinking league-wide that piqued my DFS interest. We knew Shiels would be heading to Dangerfield, Guthrie to Mitchell at stoppages made sense and St Kilda opting to shut Johannisen down were standard plays based on what we knew from last season.

Or what we thought we knew, because it seems that in the age of Coronaball, shutting down the opposition’s best contested player is now more important than quelling the influence of the classier option.

Jack Viney was the highest scorer in Round 1. Fast forward 3 months and a pandemic later, and he’s suddenly a better tagging option for Ed Curnow than Clayton Oliver? Likewise at North, as de Boer went straight to the hammer Ben Cunnington (whose 122 in Round 1 was good for 3rd-highest of the weekend) rather than the scalpel in Shaun Higgins.

Something to track moving forward, especially with Viney (12% ownership on DS, 15% on DK) and Cunnington (11% DS, 20% DK) killing DFS line-ups everywhere this weekend.

  • SLATE BREAKERS

Gryan Miers – 104

Draftstars: $9,610 FWD – 5% owned – 10.8X value
DraftKings: $4,300 F – 17% owned – 24.2X value

Things weren’t looking great for Miers owners at quarter time, failing to pick up a single stat. However, after that first break he was suddenly a dreadlocked Juggernaut (the big penis helmet dude from the X-Men universe), picking up 19 AF in the second period, 39 in the 3rd and then 46 in the last. 

No-one would’ve been happier with Miers’ impressive downhill skiing display than Fatebender, who cashed 6 of the top 8 sides on Draftstars and 3/4 on DraftKings – all with the kid that two parents puzzlingly agreed to name Gryan. Overall, no one cracked the top 30 on DK (and top 9 on DS) without him. 

Christian Petracca – 108

Draftstars: $12,600 FWD – 20% owned – 8.6X value
DraftKings: $6,300 F – 24% owned – 17.1X value

The boy who once called himself CP5 reached critical mass over the off-season and is now a man that has the tank to play out a full game in the guts. Petracca has now reported in for 74% of Melbourne’s CBA’s in consecutive matches while averaging 99 AF, behind only Ebert for Forwards across the competition. 

It was hard to turn a profit if you didn’t religiously roster this Christian, with only 1 Petracca-less team cracking the top 9 in both Draftstars and DraftKings.

Todd Goldstein – 127

Draftstars: $13,310 RK – 12% owned – 9.5X value
DraftKings: $6,400 R – 17% owned – 19.8X value

Instead of repeating myself, I summed up the essence of Goldstein with this tweet:

As unsustainable as they are, those numbers are insane. Goldstein teams flooded the DS leaderboard with 13/20 top spots (and 13/14 on DraftKings). If the Roos leave out Xerri and Campbell again next week, expect to see Goldy’s ownership go all Bitcoin on us: to the moon!

  • TROUBLEMAKERS

Liam Shiels – 37

Draftstars: $12,500 MID – 53% owned – 3X value
DraftKings: $6,900 M – 54% owned – 5.4X value

This is exhibition A as to why you never smash in large shares of ordinary footballers. Shiels’ history looked amazing (133, 104, 114), his CBA’s looked sure to increase with Jaeger missing (and they did) and his mid-ranged price tag only sealed the appeal. The likely Dangerfield tag wasn’t even much of a concern, considering the 133 and 3 Brownlow votes that he pumped out against the Cats last season when given a similar job.

But las, this was not the case. 11 months later, a soft tag turned into a hard tag and Shiels bombed, taking half the DFS field with him. Only 1 Shiels line-up cracked the Top 20 on DraftKings, while none featured in the Top 40 on Draftstars. Rough. 

Lachie Whitfield – 67

Draftstars: $15,030 MID/FWD – 27% owned – 4.5X value
DraftKings: $7,400 M/F – 22% owned – 9.1X value

After 2 rounds in 2019, Lachie Whitfield had 5 Brownlow votes and was averaging 121 fantasy points. After 2 rounds of Coronaball, he’s produced 67 points per game and a lot of angry fantasy coaches instead. It’s early days, but it looks like a return to a back flank is to blame (although I’m sure North teabagging the Giants didn’t help much either). 

Only 1 of the top 40 teams on DraftKings were able to carry Whitfield, with user DegenMug presumably absolutely filthy with him. That line-up finished 9th for $100 USD, whereas a run-of-the-mill Whitfield score of 90 would’ve bumped him to 2nd place and $4000 USD instead. Ouch. 

While the pricing structure isn’t so harsh on Draftstars, user HarrosHighfl would’ve jumped from 15th into the top 5 (and cashing an extra $1,300+) with a similar improvement from the GWS dasher.

Jack Macrae – 65

Draftstars: $16,730 MID – 23% owned – 3.9X value
DraftKings: $8,300 M – 26% owned – 7.8X value

Another year goes by, which is another year where Luke Beveridge plays his best players out of position for the first half of a season, presumably. Macrae was hitting roughly 85% of CBA’s to finish the end of 2019 (you know, when the Bulldogs won 7/10 after starting out with a 4-7 record), so why wouldn’t Beveridge drop that down to 64% in Round 1? 

“Better yet”, Beveridge thinks to himself ahead of Round 2, “Hunter is missing, so why don’t I completely buttfuck our structures and drop that down to 36% by playing Macrae out of position on a wing instead?”. Then, in a shocking twist, the team that averaged the 4th-most disposals last year lost to the team that ranked 14th, including getting fisted in the Kick (204-142) and Mark (92-55) categories. 

Unsurprisingly, the top-priced player bombing wasn’t amazing for DFS, with 20th in DS and 23rd in DK being the highest anyone got with the (former?) gun Macrae.

  • 4 To The Floor

Let’s talk through 4 CBA’s that piqued my interest in Round 2:

EssenDONE 

The Bombers’ CBA’s were a mess in Round 1, like rationing 2 pizzas between the Brady Bunch family – no one will die of starvation, but no one will be satisfied, either. The positive is that these tightened up in Round 2, with the roles of Shiel (85%), McGrath (77%) and Stringer (54%) clear. The negative is that part-timers Parish (27%), Smith (23%), and Langford (4%) were starved out, while Heppell (0%) was frozen out completely on his return from injury. 

It’s also worth noting that Merrett attended just 1 of 26 centre bounces, yet scored a hefty 108 in a juicy new role. Stay tuned.

Houston Has A Problem

Houston was hitting roughly 75% of CBA’s to round out last season, so his 72% centre-bounce attendance in Round 1 was as-advertised. But for that to drop to 27% in Round 2 has me officially concerned, as any boost we were expecting from this much-hyped “midfield role” is getting lost in the rotations. Robbie Gray (0 to 31%) and Amon (0 to 19%) were the big swings the other way. Monitor. 

Not (Bray)shaw If Serious?

I was willing to overlook Andrew Brayshaw’s 11/21 CBA’s in Round 1 as it was understandable, given the 61% game-time and coming in under an injury cloud. But to back that up with 6/24 in Round 2 is just plain rude. Mundy’s return from injury over the covid-19 break has cucked him hard, and I fear that the hierarchy of Brayshaws has corrected itself: Angus > Andrew once again.

Callan Ward, Where Art Thou?

Matthew Priddis once retired halfway through a season because he finally accepted the bleedingly obvious; he could only play one position, and that was in the guts. So Ward’s return had serious Priddis overtones for me, attending just 5 of 24 centre bounces in a foreign HFF rotation, finishing with 55 AF from 77% TOG. 

The good news is that the Giants were beaten in both Contested Possessions and Clearances by an objectively inferior midfield, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this was just the soft opening for the real return of Ward in Round 3 against the Bulldogs. 

  • HOWWWWE DID HE DO THAT?

Has someone checked on Shearmagic this morning? What’s their hangover like? Have they even slept? The clever guy/girl must’ve had a serious evening of celebration after turning 7 line-ups into wins on both sites:

So, adjusting for the USD to AUD exchange rate, Shearmagic essentially turned $104 into almost $19,800! What a massive haul. But how did he (or she) do it?

As you can see, they need to sign up as a paid St Kilda member immediately, simply as a token of appreciation. The Lin Jong chalk came through, as did the Todd Goldstein one-man show, but it was the low-owned Saints that did the trick. Billings’ 112 at 2.9% owned in DraftKings was *chef’s kiss*, but it was the pairing of low-ownership inside bulls in Zak Jones and Jack Steele that formed the backbones of these sides. 

This is the perfect example of what you need to do as a low-entry player in the big GPP’s. If you want a realistic chance of binking the GPP, you need to put in line-ups with flavour. There are plenty of max-entry players that will cover the likely scenarios, so you need to really think to yourself – how can I be different? Where can I zig where others are zagging?

The answer here was obviously St Kilda stacks. All the big MME players were focusing on the GWS and Bulldogs combos, and rightly so, given how potent their respective midfields usually are. But all it took was a couple of upsets for all the GWS/WBD stacks to be dead in the water, and what was left? A couple of lonely Saints stacks, duking it out while the rest of us watched. Amazing.

For what it’s worth, St Kilda needs to be considered whenever they play at Marvel this season. If they can do this against the Bulldogs – who conceded the fewest points to MID’s in 2019, mind you – then they’re going to be in play every time they run out under that beautiful roof.

Congratulations once again, Shearmagic!

  • #DFSlife

Every week I want to cover the bad beat stories in DFS, just to end the Newsletta in a light-hearted manner… or masochistic, depending on whether your own example gets a run! If you have anything to contribute, let me know at @Tbetta9 on Twitter, or throw something out there with the #DFSlife hashtag!

Here are my favourites from Round 2:

DFS is hard, man. We all stuff up a slate here and there, and we all have our own horror stories with late changes or CSV entries issues or picking non-playing guys. So let’s laugh at ourselves (or else we’ll cry) and move on!

Until next week,

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