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Fantasy 101

The Magic Number – Revisited

Griff takes us through the Magic Number. What is it? How is it determined? And how can it help us upgrade to Swan on the cheap?


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.

Born Adelaide, Lived Darwin, Resides Canberra. A Crows fan as a child, I have became a big supporter of the GWS Giants in their foundation year. I love my footy, multimedia design and beer(s).

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