Have Daily Fantasy Sites Gone Too Far?

FanDuel and DraftKings. Those are the two heavy hitters in Daily Fantasy Sites. If you hadn’t heard of them before, I’m sure you’ve heard of them by now. It’s estimated that the two sites have pumped more than $150 million into the radio and airwaves in order to boost awareness and participation. The ads are everywhere. A simple word like “beer” or “pretzels” can earn you up to $600 in deposit matching from the sites. They show success stories of average people turned millionaires with the click of a button. People who have won hundreds of thousands of dollars and risked pennies on the dollar. It’s a good ad, though slightly misleading. (more on that later) But what I’m concerned with is the possibility that these sites have shot themselves in the foot. That they’ve gone too far with the ad campaigns.

This is too much.

Screenshot 2015-10-05 at 7.19.10 PM - Edited

This is what you’re greeted with when you are trying to access your ESPN fantasy team. It’s a full on ad explosion of FanDuel madness. I literally had to search before I was able to find the link for my teams. I was overwhelmed. This was far more annoying than the average 45 second commercial blitz. People coming to this particular part of the ESPN site are likely already fantasy sport fans, and as such, have probably heard of Daily Fantasy Sites and FanDuel. So is this necessary?

Ironically the crowd that seems to be complaining the loudest are fantasy fans.

I think as fantasy players, we can see how misleading the ads are. The sites are trying to turn something that many devote a large portion of their time to, into something less that what it is. Turning it into a game of luck. Being good at fantasy sports isn’t luck, it’s a skill. To be an exceptional fantasy player requires time, effort, and research. Do you think Matthew Berrys just fall off the turnip truck every day? No. It takes years of time and energy to get to a level where you can predict the production of teams and players. Often, it’s fantasy players who are the ones profiting from daily leagues. They already have a basic knowledge and skill set that puts them ahead of the curve. Are there fantasy players out there that aren’t the best daily league players? Absolutely. Are there daily league winners out there that possess only a basic knowledge of football or fantasy sports? It’s possible. But the majority of winners are coming from a select group of people. In fact,

“Sports Business Journal reported that 91 percent of the winnings at daily fantasy sports sites are claimed by just 1.3 percent of players — the so-called sharks. These winners, some of whom play full time, rely on sophisticated algorithms, trend data and knowledge of the games and matchups to invest heavily in optimal lineups for each 24-hour period.”

So these average joes flashing their hard earned checks are the exception not the rule.

Speaking of Daily League sharks deadspin.com has just released an article about possible insider betting.

Winning a contest like Millionaire Maker, which has hundreds of thousands of participants, is less about buying up the best players than about finding market inefficiencies and selecting players who will help the fewest amount of your competitors while running cheap relative to their production. (This is basic tournament strategy; it’s the same reason you’re discouraged from picking all chalk in a large March Madness pool.) Thus, when you select a lineup, you have to try, blindly, to determine both the bargain value and how under-the-radar your lineup will fly.

Of course, if you have this data ahead of time—as certain DraftKings employees evidently do, or did—you have a massive advantage over your competitors. There’s no guesswork, only algorithmic scheming. You can remove the behavioral uncertainty from the equation and play knowing all opposition strategies.

Pretty much a DraftKings employee had access to information that he used to win a high stakes league at FanDuel. New information suggests that the employee may not have had access to the information until after he had formed his lineup, but the reporting of the story has cast quite the shadow over the DFS sporting world. Currently, there isn’t much oversight with Daily League Sites. If stories like this keep popping up you can bet this will change. Read the full article here:

http://deadspin.com/draftkings-employee-with-access-to-inside-info-wins-35-1734719747?utm_campaign=socialflow_deadspin_twitter&utm_source=deadspin_twitter&utm_medium=socialflow

Overall, I feel like the media blitz, and the misrepresentation by the sites, kind of cheapen the product they are trying to sell. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great product. I love fantasy football, and have participated in leagues on both sites. But in my opinion, it’s all become too much. I hope that in the future DraftKings and FanDuel can turn their image around, because right now they’re turning off a lot of fantasy players, as opposed to recruiting their business.

 

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/zorn/ct-daily-fantasy-sports-blize-perspec-0916-20150915-column.html

 

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SKYLLZONE: A new option in Daily Fantasy Sites

I’m sure by now you’ve heard of Draftkings and Fanduel. They are the two leading Daily Fantasy Sites. The idea behind a “DFS” is that you can enjoy the thrill of fantasy sports, with no weekly obligation. You don’t have to worry about trades, setting a roster, the waiver wire, or finding 10 random people to join your league. It’s easy to join, and can offer some pretty impressive payouts. Both sites offer “free roll” and “pay to play options”, so money is not necessarily required. Though, to get any sort of payout for a free roll tournament, you’ll have to beat out quite a few of your fellow fantasy players. League sized vary from head-to-head match ups, to tournaments with over 5,000 entries, which offers a lot of options, but can also be overwhelming. Each of these sites are salary based, meaning you start with a set amount of money, and then have to “buy” players for your team. Player’s “salaries” are based on rankings, and weekly match ups and change from week to week. This salary based drafting may confuse some who are use to the more common snake draft format when building fantasy teams. Also, finding an edge can be tricky as you’ll have to weigh price vs. production for each player.

Skyllzone offers a different experience. Instead of drafting against real people, you are actually drafting against machines. (computer generated teams) Each team has it’s own unique algorithm based on rankings and draft position that influences its draft choices. So even if you participate in multiple drafts, you can get a different result each time. A perk of drafting against a computer as opposed to a person is the increased odds of winning. Draftkings and Fanduel have become saturated with DFS professionals. Players that are far and away above the skill level of the average drafter. As a result of both sites gaining popularity, they also attract a lot of fantasy writers, statisticians, and analyst. For me I like I like to give myself the best possible chance of success, and I feel like going up against these type of players, limits my odds. The site is extremely user friendly. There are no bells and whistles, no searching for the league that you want, just a simple lobby where you can draft using “Skyll Points” for cash, or free entry leagues where you can earn Skyll Points. Skyll Point/Cash Leagues offer a $10 pay out to league winners, and a cut of a $600 pot, for players who finish in the top spots globally. The thing I like about Skyllzone is that you only have to beat nine competitors to earn a pretty decent cash prize, and the entry is free. For the 2015 season there is a membership fee between $4 and $8, but through Skyllzone’s free leagues you have the ability to win Skyll Points which you can then use to enter paid leagues. Another user friendly aspect of the site, is that league drafting is based on the standard snake format. You don’t have to worry about budgets or salaries and instead can just pick your favorite players as they’re available. The draft style in my opinion makes it easier to draft quality players and to find value for your team. An added benefit is the roster size at Skyllzone. Unlike other Daily Fantasy Sites, Skyllzone allows you to draft two bench spots on your roster. This allows you to take a chance on players who are questionable to play, and gives you some insurance against injuries.

Some drawbacks to the site are the limited fantasy options available, and limited drafting. Currently football is the only fantasy sport offered, though it’s likely with time the site will expand. As far as weekly drafting goes you’re limited to five free points leagues, and ten skyll point leagues a week. So you don’t have quite the flexibility that some of the other sites offer. Furthermore there are no big payouts. The $600 global pot is a new feature for the site, so I’m not sure how that pay out system works, but for winning your league you’re currently topped out at $10.

As far as I’m concerned I prefer Skyllzone to other sites. I highly prefer the snake draft format to the salary format, and for me, I’m not looking for big payouts. I’m more of a low risk, moderate reward type of girl. It’s less pressure, less hassle, and more fun. Another great way to approach skyllzone drafts is to analyze roster moves and waiver wire options. You basically get a chance to redraft every week. By reanalyzing players, it can show you strengths and weaknesses on your year long teams, as well as players that you could possible target for weekly pick ups. The computers aren’t stupid, so if a later round pick keeps getting drafted, it could mean that player has potential for the upcoming week. Always, look for an edge.

Daily Fantasy Sites are a great way to get your fantasy fix with out the full season commitment. Skyllzone stands out from other leagues by offering a more comfortable draft style, and a more user friendly format. It’s great for those just dipping their toes into DFS drafting, and for those looking for another league option. Overall I highly recommend you give it a try!

If you would like to use my referral code use: http://www.skyllzone.com/ref/draftdaydame

Happy Drafting FF Fans!

My Fantasy League: Continued

So far I’m wrapping up my first MFL, and I’m mid way through my second. And there are a few things I’ve learned that I would like to share with those either currently participating in their own drafts, or considering joining one in the future. Now, my MFL experience is relatively small but these are tips that I will definitely use in future drafts.

1. The long draft will be both convenient and frustrating.

It’s nice to be able to not stress about making a draft pick as soon as you’re on the clock. If your pick comes up while you’re stuck in traffic, it’s no big deal. Just wait til your home in the comfort of your PJ’s and wifi. No more using up your data perusing for rankings! However, the extended time does tend to become a strain. Whether it’s the long wait for your next turn, or the annoyance/guilt that you’ll feel by holding up the line when you need a little extra time. There’s really no win here. In my opinion a live draft is always the way to go, but I’m enjoying the experience, and for some the convenience will be invaluable.

2. Your feelings about quarterbacks will be put to the test.

In both drafts I’ve participated in quarterbacks have been a hot commodity. In one league it’s understandable due to the new “super flex” option (more about that later), but even in my other league which is basic PPR scoring quarterbacks seem to be flying off draft boards far ahead of their ADP. I’m not sure if this is just an “MFL thing” or if it’s indicative for this year’s drafts. More and more quarterbacks are putting up consistently high numbers. Last season, 10 quarterbacks finished with a better than 17 point game average in standard scoring, and six of them ended up with 300+ fantasy points. In comparison, only two running backs finished with a better than 17 point PGA, and not a single running back or wide receiver garnered more than 300 points. Theoretically this would keep the demand low, since the supply is so great, but it seems like more drafters are pouncing on the sure thing of a good quarterback. If going with a less than desirable quarterback makes you anxious (think Carson Palmer, or Jay Cutler), you better pull the trigger sooner than later

3. By the end of the draft, you’ll be picking up some deep sleepers.

When doing your due diligence and draft prep you always mark down a few names that you want to take a late round flyer on. But you should keep in mind, In most MFL leagues your going past the typical 15-16 rounds and venturing into the unknown 20 round territory. This means there are about 50 more players being chosen. So root around and find those deep, deep sleepers. There are always a few players that emerge off the waiver wire into fantasy greatness. The extra rounds mean you have an opportunity to find these diamonds in the rough, as opposed to depending on the luck of the waiver wire when you want to stake your claim.

4. The big new thing in fantasy? The super flex.

What is the super flex? It’s the ability to play a quarterback in your flex position. The reasoning behind this newest twist in roster tinkering is due to the change in quarterback value. During the emergence of fantasy football, the elite quarterback was a gem to have during your fantasy season. Now a days, it’s easy to find a weekly starting quarterback as late as the 10th round. As a matter of fact, it’s a strategy that I often recommend. But by opening up another roster spot the quarterback can fill, it gives quite a boost to the value of a good quarterback. To offset this, leagues that use the superflex often have point per reception scoring, or points per carry. The fine line is that you don’t want to make quarterbacks so valuable that it’s far easier to play some ho hum quarterback over an otherwise startable running back or wide receiver. This is my first league with the superflex option, so I’ll have to get back to you on the impact during the season, however, it’s definitely something to keep in mind when you’re drafting. Make sure to check your roster requirements and scoring system.

5. The variety of scoring and player options are becoming both intriguing, and terrifying.

Couldn’t have summed it up better myself.

At myfantasyleague.com the tinkering seems practically limitless, and more sites are opening up their custom options. I have started to question if there’s such a thing as “too much of a good thing”. Remember when people just went to Starbucks for their superior coffee selection? Now it’s more for the “fixin’s”. And it seems the coffee quality, in my humble opinion, has gone down hill as a result. I worry that all the new add-ons and balancing acts, it may take away from the game. Call me a purist but to this day my favorite league is a standard scoring keeper league, where a live draft is mandatory and the rosters are traditional. We add spice to our league by way of ridiculous side bets and merciless trash talk. While the ideas behind such additions are exciting and make for even more analysis and opinionating, it also means more work for commissioners and drafters. Either way, it’s a thrilling time to be involved in the fantasy football world, and the level of customization available is impressive.

These are some things to keep in mind if you’re thinking of joining an MFL league. I think the site will continue to grow in sophistication and popularity, and I for one will be using it multiple times during this fantasy season, and in the future.

MFL Draft Only League. The Details

This is my first Draft Only league to participate in. (shout out to http://www.myfantasyleague.com for hosting) So, even though I have participated in plenty of drafts, I don’t know quite what to expect, or quite how to prepare. The difference in this league is that the draft is completed via email, and it’s loooong. I’m on day three of the draft and I’ve drafted four players, You see each manager gets up to 8 hours to draft. That’s a lot, though usually managers don’t use up their full allotment of time. Notice the “usually”. Either way you’re probably looking at a good week of draft immersion. The good thing is you get plenty of time for research, the bad is that you kind of have to keep up with your draft progress and your email. But in today’s tech savvy world checking your email 8 hours doesn’t seem like too much to ask. I’m excited to try out a new league format, so I decided to share my experience with you! Here’s some notes on what to expect if you decide to try out a MFL Draft Only League.

1. There is no Trash Talking

In most drafts (especially live drafts) you’ll inevitably hear some trash talk. Even the most civil leagues with throw out some snide comments. But for the most part, the in-league dialogue is pretty silent. There is a league chat page, and the web page gives you the opportunity after you draft to brag about your pick, but so far I haven’t seen any use of it. After all, beating your chest after getting Calvin Johnson late in the second round, really loses some oomph when someone reads it a day later when it’s finally their turn to draft. So, if that’s something you’re in to, your taunts will likely fall on deaf (or delayed) ears. If you prefer peace and serenity during your draft then you may have just found your draft day happy place.

2. It’s important to pay attention to scoring details.

During my draft I had the feeling that some may have missed the memo on this one, and it’s important that you’re not one of these people. The site has the option for I think 12 different scoring standards, including the option for custom scoring. If you want a reference for rankings be sure you’re using the correct scoring parameters, and drafting accordingly.

3. The ADP is all over the place.

I recently read a well written article about not strictly going by ADP’s when drafting by @ffcouchcoach. ( http://www.ffcouchcoach.com/draft-strategy-why-its-a-mistake-to-let-adp-rankings-dictate-how-you-draft/) Be sure to keep that in mind when you draft with a draft only format. It’s important to have a balanced roster of core starters along with some players with “boom” qualities. Look for players that may have went undrafted last season due to their “feast or famine” numbers. Players like: Eddie Royal (three games with 15+ points), Mohammed Sanu (three games of 15+ points), Michael Crabtree (three games of 14+ points), Anquan Boldin (five games of 14+ points), Benjamin Cunningham (four games of 11+ points), Ronnie Hillman (four games of 11+ points), or Matt Asiata (six games of 12+ points). It’s a perk that you don’t have to set your lineup and worry about starting one of these guys when they have one of their “famine” days. Just stash them on your bench and wait for the feast.

4. You will not have enough beer, or cheese dip to last the whole draft

Seriously don’t even try. One of my favorite parts of draft day is enjoying a beer and chowing down on some seriously-bad-for-you foods. You won’t have that in this format. If you try your typical draft day routine during one of these marathon drafts you’ll end up somewhere you don’t want to be. I’m not proud that I ate a whole bag of chips over two days absentmindedly snacking while checking stats. A family sized bag. No bueno.

5. You will get frustrated waiting for your turn.

Inevitably, you’ll have “that guy/girl” who will take their full allotment of 8 hours to draft. Maybe they have a busy work/social/home life, but that matters nada to you. You’re just checking your email every couple hours, and it’s still that guy’s turn. It is frustrating, but really it could be worse. It could be that person who’s trashed at your draft, or the person that autodrafts then complains about his team, or the person nagging you to just pick already. Take the draft with a grain of salt and just draft the best team you can. Every league has “that guy/girl”, they come in all shapes and sizes.

I’m still excited to see what kind of team I end up with, and sharing more of this MFL journey with you guys. Sound off in the comments if you have any questions or advice for fellow drafters!

MyFantasyLeague.Com: The future of your league?

I have just signed up for my first MFL league. But what is an MFL league? It’s a hosted league from the site myfantasyleague.com. It is the most diverse, flexible, and unique site I’ve found so far. The customization available is ridiculous, and would be a lot of fun to tinker with, but for the sake of this post, I’m going to keep things pretty light and breezy.

I joined an MFL draft only league. You participate in a snake draft with (in my case) 12 teams. The catch is, that each team owner has 8 hours to make their draft selection. 8 HOURS. This may seem like overkill but it really allows you to make an educated draft time decision. Of course, this means that a draft can last weeks instead of hours so keep that in mind as you sign up. After your team is drafted (20 players). You won’t have to worry about setting a lineup for the rest of the season. “Wait, what the heck?!” Yep, no lineup setting. Your starting lineup is based on your best scoring players for that week. So, you won’t have to agonized over which wide receiver to start every week, worrying that you’ll make the wrong decision. MFL sets your optimal line up. EASY PEASY!  Whichever team wins, based on total points, gets the “W’, and the glory. Each week your starting lineup will change based on best available player per position. It’s a fun way to experience being in a fantasy football league without the everyday hassle of trades, the waiver wire, or weekly roster decisions. This is great for people in multiple leagues, those just starting out, or those who are looking for a different league experience. Not to mention, that FREE leagues exist. All reward, no risk! I’ll keep you updated on how my first draft goes, including advice and pointers for those interested in joining or starting their own leagues.

IT’S THE FINAL COUNTDOWN…..to kickoff. 🙂