The Magic Number – Revisited


With the team picker (almost) open for the 2013 season, I thought it was time to go over some of the basics for AFL Dream Team now that . Namely, I want to address the Magic Number. It’s important to understand the Magic Number, as it can strongly affect the prices of players throughout the season.

So, hands up who doesn’t know what the Magic Number is? Put your hands down, this is the internet and I can’t see them anyway. If you do know what it is, skip to ‘The Magic Number in 2013’, if you haven’t heard of it before, or want to refresh your memory read on.


How the Magic Number Determines a Players Price.

One of the key mathematical elements of AFL Dream Team that you need to understand is that the total value of the league never changes. So if you add up the prices of every single player in round one, and compare it to the total value of players in round 7, 15 or 22, that value will always be the same. For this to work, it means that for every player that increases in price, there must be players who decrease in price. This is where the Magic Number comes in.

To ensure that the leagues value doesn’t increase above it’s starting value (the total cost of all players), a Magic Number is used in the formula that prices every single player. This ensures that players will increase or decrease at the same rate, and that players who are performing better than others increase faster than those who are performing worse.

Although you will never need it; for those curious, this is what the formula for determining a players price looks like: (75% x old price) + (25% x Magic Number x 3 Game Rolling Average)

Now if that formula doesn’t make sense to you, that’s okay, just understand that the Magic Number is embedded in the formula for how a players price increases of decreases. Thankfully, it also works behind the scenes, so you’ll never have to do the calculations yourself. The one thing you must understand however is that it will change every round (starting in round 3) to ensure the total value of the league remains stable.


The Magic Number in 2013

The Magic Number in 2013 has increased almost exactly in line with the Salary Cap increase. This means that, in principal, it will be just as hard in 2013 to fit premium priced players into your team, as it was in 2012. The key difference is that we don’t have a string of 15-20 rookie priced players who are near certainties of games (via expansion clubs) like we did in the past two season; meaning picking a good team does become harder.

Due to the increase in players prices (via the Magic Number), I am starting to hear things like “Dane Swan is so expensive, I’ll just wait for him to drop in value and pick player x instead.”, which is a nice sentiment, but it’s important to understand how and when such premiums will drop.

The Magic Number will naturally decrease in value as the season progresses and new players increase in value. This natural reduction in the Magic Number’s value allowed coaches last season to aim to get premium priced players, like Dane Swan, Gary Ablett Jnr & Lance Franklin at slightly less than they would have had to pay at the start of the season. In fact, by round eight 2012, a player who had maintained their average from their starting price, was around 6-8% cheaper than if you started the year with them.

For example, Scott Pendlbury, who started the season with a 116.6 average, and a cost of $576,900, had dropped $33,500 to $ 543,400 holding an average of 117. This is a 5.8% price drop. Over the season, players continued to drop. In fact, Mitch Robinson, who started 2012 priced at $456,200 with an average of 92.2, ended the year with an average of 92.8, but fell in price by over 21% to $358,600, a huge $97,600 drop, all whilst maintaining his average. All because of the Magic Number.

What this means for coaches this season, is that any player who holds their average over the first eight rounds will cost around 6% less than when they started the year as an upgrade target, but on the flip side, if a player increases their average by 6% they will maintain their value, and above 6% they will cost more.

Obviously, you have to weigh up the value of getting a player at a cheaper price later and the points you may miss out in the meanwhile, versus paying the premium value of a player upfront, but also getting their premium scores. The below table shows the possible price reductions based on some premiums holding their average until round eight.


Starting Price

6% Reduction

Dane Swan



Gary Ablett Jnr



Trent Cotchin



Scott Thompson



Lance Franklin






Based on this years Magic Number being approximately 5,150, waiting for Dane Swan to drop $41,286 suggests whoever you get instead of him will need score within 8 points (41,286 / 5,150 = 8.01) of Swan’s score for it to be worth while, if they are a direct replacement/keeper. Why? Because you still need points whilst you wait to upgrade to win leagues, etc.

In other words, if whoever you get instead of Swan is a keeper, and they don’t stay within 65 points of his total score in the eight weeks it takes to upgrade him, than you are actually worse off (in overall position), despite saving $40,000+. In contrast, if whoever you get instead of Swan will be unique mid-priced player (Eg, Harley Bennell, Ben Howlett or Matthew Wright), used to upgrade to Swan and they increase their average by more than 6%, then you come out on top, as you’ve made the difference in points, and cash.

So how will you use the Magic Number to work for you?  Will you hold out for a drop by the super-premiums? Or will you hope they increase their average by 6%, making them almost unreachable to anyone who started without them? Guns & Rookies and Mid-Priced Mayhem? Let us know below!

Follow me on twitter@RLGriffin85  for all things AFL, and hit up the comments below.


  • Not necessarily. For a player who maintains their average, their rolling average is more influential than the magic number. Hence why Robinson was so cheap at the end of the season.

    • Actually, Robinson was still over-priced at the end of last season, with a break-even of 178. Had he maintained his average for another three weeks, he would be another $30,000 cheaper.

      I agree that rolling averages are significant, which is why in my example in upgrading to Swan I stated the total points, not just the average.

  • Great stuff Griff! Massively interested in the number this year with the lack of expansion teams… below is something that may be of interest to some.

    2013 Prices taken from @DrDreamTeam on Twitter. Thanks to Damion Maher for compiling this list.

    Swan. $688,100
    Ablett $642,500
    Beams $599,40
    Boyd $593,700
    Watson $579,400
    Cotchin $568,700
    Pendlebury $568,700
    Deledio $568,600
    Stanton $548,900
    Scott Thompson $541,200
    Shane Tuck $538,900
    Jack Redden $531,100
    joel Selwood $530,900
    Danger $525,000
    Kennedy (swans) $523,900
    Marc Murphy is $522,000
    Buddy $521,300
    Cox $512,400
    Scott Selwood $503,500
    Stevie J $501,700
    Goddard is $501,300
    Callan Ward $501,300
    Griffen $500,500
    M.Barlow $495,300
    Bartel $492,700
    Shuey $488,100
    Zorko $487,800
    Rocky $481,700
    Daisy $480,000
    N.Foley $474,500
    Gibbs $473,300
    Jarryd Roughead $472,200
    Judd $465,800
    Fyfe $458,500
    Nic Nat $442,800
    Heppell $439,000
    Bennell $438,200
    Dustin Martin $437,100
    Chris Masten $436,000
    Mitch Wallis $427,600
    Mummy $425,400
    Johnno Brown $409,600
    Broughton $408,000
    Goldy $407,300
    Hodge $398,600
    Col Sylvia $393,100
    Lake $392,800
    Cassisi $384,500
    Eddie Betts $355,500
    LeCras $355,400
    Lower $352,200
    Luke Ball $343,100
    Hurley $336,800
    Caddy $328,600
    Rischitelli $322,000
    Jarrod Harbrow $321,400
    Nick Smith $320,800
    Shaun Atley $311,200
    Morris $303,200
    Ellis $300,300
    Pederson $296,200
    Adam Selwood $291,700
    Jordan Roughead $291,400
    Bock $282,800
    Gray $276,100
    Big O $275,600
    Kennedy (WCE) $272,300
    Mitch Morton $269,800
    Embley $264,300
    Knights $254,500
    K Harper $253,200
    Gumby $249,600
    Krak $243,200
    Rohan $240,900
    Varcoe $234,400
    Leuenberger $233,600
    D.Menzel $232,100
    Lachie Whitfield at $183,700
    Tom Couch $170,700
    Stringer $165,700
    Wines $156,700
    Sam Mayes $152,200
    Daniher $143,200
    Troy Menzel $138,700
    Staker $132,600.
    Jasper Pittard $132,600
    O’Meara $108,500
    Brad Crouch $108,500
    Daw $108,500
    Lee $108,500
    Viney $102,700
    Colqhoun $102,700
    Jones $102,700.
    Terlich $102,700.

  • But if you think their average will be down early, then it’s profitable right? Say if Stanton and Swan both average 120 in the first six rounds, it’s worth starting with Stanton. And in that situation, if they’ve both averaged the same, how many rounds would it take for their prices to come together?

  • paper says higgins is flying.. who keen?:P

    • He’s had an unlucky run with injuries, this will defo be his breakout year…….


  • GnR all the way baby, the larger the number the easier it is to jump on a fallen premium, and the more coin a rookie makes for you, win-win.

  • Although the players are ‘cheaper’ in terms of money, this is only because the value of the money has decreased. It seems like you’re getting a discount, but you aren’t. The upgrade targets may get 6% cheaper, but the players that you’re trading upgrading from are also 6% cheaper than they would be if the magic number didn’t change. I find it more simple to look at the average that a player is priced at, rather than their actual money price, as this isn’t affected by any variables like a magic number throughout the year.

    In conclusion, you aren’t really getting them cheaper at all.

    • Unless you have some money held in reserve. This would increase in value by the same rate the Magic Number decreases.

  • So with less rookies soaring in value this year, the price of premiums scoring at their average won’t have to fall as much to keep the competition’s value the same, right?

    • In theory, this is correct. It just depends on how many rookies get games early in the season.

      • Remembering that rookies aren;’t the only factor to the magic number, and that if players in their second and third seasons all start improving in average, then the Magic Number must take this in to account as well.

        • Cheers Griff. Yeah that is true. But you’d feel that it won’t have as big an impact if they go from 60 to 80 than from rookie price which is essentially 20 to 60.