There’s a bit of a misconception in the DFS industry that max-entering is easy. Or even more egregiously wrong – that it’s advantageous. But when you see the same names hovering around the top of the leaderboards a couple of times a weekend it can seem that way. More entries, more chances to win, right?
That’s true. But there’s also more chances to lose. When you whiff a slate multi-entering a Main contest, which can be north of 100 entries at $15 a pop… that hurts. There are two big reasons why you only see 15-20 guys max-entering each slate, and that’s because a) it’s bloody hard, and b) not many bankrolls can handle a downswing when you’re playing at this volume.
This is why you see the usual suspects peppering the leaderboards regularly, and I’m betting that if you’re reading this, you can rattle off a handful of names off the top of your head that keep popping up in your contests.
But as 2023 trickles along, I’m super interested in one punter in particular.
MAKING THE PODIUM:
15 rounds into the season, there’s been three Draftstars users that have each won an insane 4 Main contests apiece. That means that of the 57 AFL slates this year, 12 of those were won by the same three blokes – absolute dominance.
Two of those names won’t raise eyebrows as DFS veterans who are still crushing it in 2023. “ILoveLamp” and “offthemap” are industry titans who’ve been at the top of the game for a long time, and currently hold the top two spots on the Daily Fantasy Rankings website. It’s no surprise to anyone that they’ve been collecting top-cashes all season.
The third name is a newcomer that has absolutely stormed into the elite group of max entry players. After not even playing the Main contests to start last year – his first entries were in Round 8, and he never max-entered until Round 13 – Draftstars user “jjway18” has simply dominated the AFL DFS contests right from the very first round of season 2023.
jjway18 has proven to be an all-rounder this year, notching a victory in Round 1’s $100,000+ Cats vs Magpies contest, before bringing home the bacon in multi-game slates in Round 2, Round 4 and Round 12.
Pooling some data from the Main contests this year reveals some seriously impressive stats from jjway18. His 35% cash rate is elite, but he constantly turns a high percentage of those teams into leaderboard line-ups, recording the equal-most line-ups in the top 5 of Main slates this year with a huge 11 entries.
This has him trailing only the most consistent and fundamentally excellent player in AFL DFS in Rwhelan09 for total profit and ROI this year. The ROI is particularly impressive; without going into the exact numbers, it’s Rwhelan09 slightly ahead of jjway18, followed by daylight in third.
What an incredible season of DFS we’re witnessing unfold.
jjway18’s first multi-slate win is super impressive to me because of how he is able to leverage multiple trends in his line-ups.
The winning line-up was a bona fide Sydney stack up against the rebuilding Hawks, with some real differentiation from the masses by packaging up Sydney’s key forwards for a dual upswing. But not only did he get a jump on the field, he snuck one past the biggest and best names in DFS, as you can see below (thanks to DFSAustralia’s Historical Ownership tool):
The number of SYD-only forward duos amongst his top line-ups shows it was a deliberate stacking strategy that paid off handsomely.
However, I really liked the skill involved in his 4th-placed line-ups, adding in Essendon DEF stacks (in this case, Redman/McGrath against the Suns) in conjunction with Swans favouritism. In my experience, being able to hit multiple trends while still revolving around your core picks is extremely difficult to do when multi-entering – this is a big weakness of optimisers and crunchers in general. More on this below in another winning line-up.
Looking at jjway18’s second multi-slate win, a pattern is quickly emerging with another pair of cheap upswinging FWDs headlining the winning line-up. Not only that; he pulled off the St Kilda stack along the way:
Hitting underpriced forwards is a great way of giving your line-ups enough variance to claim top spot. As a wise man once told me, there’s no point having 100 teams that min-cash. You need to bake some standard deviation into your entries to break the mould, and who are naturally the most volatile players?
That’s right, forwards. If your fantasy output scales with goals, it’s natural that your scoring will waver week-to-week, at least much more than a midfielder or a ruckman that are constantly ticking their scores over with micro-stats. Jjway18 has leveraged this on multiple occasions this year, turning players with low averages such as McLean (63), Amartey (50) and Cumberland (40) into some serious profit.
As I alluded to earlier, one of the most difficult elements of max-entering is maintaining quality line-ups throughout all 100+ entries. It’s a delicate balance, knowing that cutting down time expenditure often means making incremental sacrifices to the overall robustness of your slate.
This is all guesswork without seeing the man in action, but it looks like jjway18 is more focused with player correlation than team stacking. He constantly has very high percentage ownership with the players in his “core”, and cleverly uses the leftover slots to add in little micro-stacks.
They might be “SYD forwards” as we saw with a winning line-up above, or the “PORT forwards” and “WCE defenders” from his Round 12 victory, as you’ll see below:
This win is probably the most impressive of them all. As I mentioned earlier, being able to hit multiple trends effectively in multi-entry DFS is exceedingly difficult, and jjway18 has pulled it off to perfection here.
I outlined the basic concept of having your line-ups “tell a story” in a How To Win article earlier this year, and that’s exactly what jjway18 was able to achieve with this line-up. The game script for this line-up was clearly something like “Port forwards dominate Hawks and West Coast defenders muck around with it to limit the margin as they get smashed by the Pies”. He’s surrounded them with other Core picks in Darcy Cameron (80%), Ben Keays (70%) and Connor Rozee (40%), as well as the best-value pick on the slate in Mitch Knevitt at 13.7X value.
In fact, I was able to unearth at least 15 line-ups that loosely followed this formula, and a further 8 that were Duggan-only line-ups from the Port stacks. This was a clear strategy, and hitting it often enough with different combinations of players resulted in a huge payday.
This has been my favourite article to write this year, being able to find the excuse to dive in deep on the clear rising star of AFL DFS.
I’ll definitely be paying more attention to volatile forwards in the future, and trying new crunching methods (such as these elegant micro-stacks) to replicate the 100-plus line-up strength that jjway18 has been able to consistently achieve from the slate I’ve analysed.