Making Cents of it All --- Time for FanDuel and DraftKings to level the playing field

In this blog, I want talk about things that can affect whether you win money or lose money playing Daily Fantasy Sports.

The issue of coaches resting players in the NBA has reached a new high and the bottom of it all is, not surprisingly, money. Money that not only affects the NBA but is also an issue that I feel greatly affects NBA DFS.

NBA teams resting players and giving very little notice to the league office is such a big concern that NBA commissioner Adam Silver sent a memo to all team owners urging them to be more involved in the decision to rest players, reminding them that sitting LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love for a nationally televised game did not make the television network happy. Sitting the trio of Cavalier stars caused GM David Griffen to get a call from the league office the very next morning. The league is viewing this issue as very serious. NBA players have also weighed in from both sides of the issue. LeBron James has defended it and Patrick Beverley said, among other things, that “fans deserve better”.

But the issue of coaches resting NBA players isn’t only affecting the commissioner and the television networks. The issue is also having a huge impact on winning and losing money playing NBA DFS and definitely letting the element of chance affect way too many contests. Much more so than what I think the casual player realizes.

Fanduel and DraftKings have successfully separated themselves from Vegas by stating that DFS are games of skill. I sincerely believe that to be true. DFS games claim to be contests where a user is rewarded for his research, for his knowledge. The element of chance is greatly reduced in DFS because the user does have a say in the outcome by choosing their own lineup. Of course there will always be some amount of chance in every game. The beauty of DFS is that the couch potato can win. The Monday morning QB can throw a td pass.

Unfortunately, though, the element of chance is affecting way too many NBA DFS games on both sites. Sometimes more than 50% of the users in a tournament have LOST even before their team takes the court. That is unacceptable but yet allowed to continue to be fact because FanDuel and DraftKings have done a great job of making people think that the majority of its users prefer to not have the late-swap feature. In reality, the two Goliath’s are protecting their own interests by not allowing late-swap.

Until this NBA season, you could play on DraftKings if you wanted to play late-swap NBA DFS games. Late-swap allowed you to make lineup changes up until the tip off time for each player on your roster. I was shocked when DraftKings announced before the present NBA season that they were not allowing late-swap for NBA only anymore. FanDuel has never allowed games with late-swap. This is also not a new issue here on Rotogrinders.

I get the point that has been the leading argument against the late-swap feature the past couple years —— that the casual user does not want the burden of checking for updates all night. In a RotoGrinders forum 5 months ago, a DraftKings Team member, Markness, commented that DraftKings has “received feedback from players who have decreased their play or even stopped playing completely because they want to “actually enjoy watching the NBA.” Although Mark did say that DK did see “the value of late-swap”, he also said that “there are no plans of removing it for other sports, but for NBA specifically, it has become clear that the amount of extra time and energy required to compete as a result of late-swap functionality is taking too much away from the enjoyment of the game.” I don’t buy that at all and neither should you!

With everyone today having the internet in their pockets, making roster changes is not that difficult anymore. You can get alerts from RG and adjust your roster in a few minutes. And you still will have the option of making your lineup and leaving it. Allowing lineup changes does NOT mean that you have to make late-swaps. You can still set it and forget it.

DraftKings took away late-swap because the whales, those players who have huge bankrolls and put the max number of lineups allowed in tournaments, were playing on FanDuel. The whales enter a lineup for just about every lineup combination possible…..and then some. They don’t like late-swap because it allows a large percentage of players to make lineup changes and that reduces their advantage of having so many different lineup combinations. Take away some of DraftKing’s rake and they’re going to act. I believe that is why late-swap was taken away for NBA on DraftKings and that is why it has never been allowed on FanDuel. For FanDuel and DraftKings this is about making as much money as possible and rightly so. But the present rules favor the whales by a lot and the sitting of players is allowing too much chance to determine the outcome of tournaments for so many people. That is where things are wrong and something can be done to fix it by both FanDuel and DraftKings. If they really cared what the casual user thinks, then start thinking about them more often.

FanDuel and DraftKings have made many changes in the past year to help the casual player compete but they need to make a better effort at leveling the playing field for all users, especially in DFS for the NBA.

Let’s look at it through some numbers concerning FanDuel’s $3 NBA Shot on FanDuel today, March 27th……..

………with less than 30% of the contest filled up (the contest allows 98,039 entries so after only 24,0000 entries had filled) there were already over 50 different players who had at least 25 lineups and half of them had the maximum 150 different lineups.

Let’s say you made up 5 lineups for this tournament and said to yourself “wow, I have this one covered”. You feel pretty good about your lineups. Well, the whale has 30 lineups to every one of yours! Did that put it in prospective? And there will be, if the math holds true throughout the filling up of the contest, around 100 different users who will each have 150 different lineups with another 100 users having at least 25 different lineups. That is still 5 lineups for every one of yours. The odds ARE NOT in your favor! And DraftKings and FanDuel know this. And both say no rule change on lineup changes will happen for NBA DFS.

A spokesperson from FanDuel said to me via email exchanges that:

Before getting into email conversation between myself and FanDuel, let me say that I strongly believe that FanDuel has an OUTSTANDING customer service and they have always replied very quickly and always addressed the reason why I messaged them. They are second to none!

“There are a couple things to consider regarding our current system. First, based on previous surveys and interviews, we find that most FanDuel players do prefer our current rules. Our research has found that many players like that they are able to watch games without having to worry about checking injury reports and adjusting their lineups throughout the night.

Another thing to consider is that all FanDuel users operate under the same rules and are therefore susceptible to a scenario like this. That is to say, while this situation may not have worked out in your favor, it is very likely that you’ve benefited from a player being scratched in the past. We’re confident that over the course of a long season, these situations will even out.

Again, we are continuing to collect feedback about this topic and appreciate your reaching out. This is a topic that will continue to be discussed internally, but with those reasons mentioned above in mind, we don’t currently offer this feature.”

But again this all goes back to the whales being allowed to submit so many lineups that they do not want lineup changes. Having a player sit that has a 30% ownership helps anybody that didn’t roster the sitting player. Throw in a teammate that is also going to sit and/or a player from the other team, and the tournament could have 70% of the entrants eliminated before all the games have even began! That is roughy 2/3 of the field out because of chance. Lost because a coach decided to sit players and it not be announced until after lineups lock.

Do you think that helps you and your 5 lineups or the whale and his 150 lineups?

I understand that FanDuel and DraftKings care more about the whales and experts than they do me….and that’s OK. But c’mon let’s make a better effort to level the playing field so casual users have a better chance than they presently do. At least allow some late-swap contests.

In an article on RotoGrinders a few months ago, Brent Holloway (bholloway) wrote:

“A quick sampling of feedback around the Internet shows that the DFS community is split in its opinion regarding the change. A RotoGrinders Twitter poll found that 64 percent of more than 1,800 respondents did not like the change (of DraftKings taking away late-swap for NBA DFS), and the debate is raging in a 27-page thread (as of early Friday afternoon) on the RotoGrinders forum.”

FanDuel says they are still collecting information on this topic and that it is still being discussed by them. If you have an opinion on this please let me know. Also you could contact FanDuel and DraftKings and let them know how you feel. They are listening. and

I suggest more tournaments in the $2 to $5 range where only a limited number of lineups is allowed….say 5 to 10. That would give your 5 lineups a much better chance. But a big thing they could do is allow late-swaps for at least some of their contests. Do some simple charting and see which games are more popular —— ones that allow late-swaps or ones that don’t allow late swaps.

Seems pretty simple to me, but understandably money matters to Fanduel and DraftKings are probably not that simple.

If you liked this blog, could you click on the “+” at the top of the page? Thank you.

That’s my two Cents….what’s yours?

ps… I was putting this blog on RG I received an email from FanDuel stating they are going to allow late-swaps for SOME contests for the upcoming baseball DFS season. That’s a start! Now do the same for NBA.

About the Author


  • mrmpossibl

    Great article. I was surprised by the news that DK was eliminating late-swap but when it happened I knew the reason immediately……. I agree with every aspect of your article except for DFS not being a game of chance. Using a combination of 150 lineups is not skill, it’s simply covering as many bases as possible because a select group of players have the bankroll to do just that. You can do all the research in the world and the end result is that you’re still wagering on something that is out of your control. We may thank the DFS gods for finding that loophole in the law, but fact is that with all the variables/human influence involved ……. it’s still a game a chance.

    The truth of the matter is that the “casual” player keeps these entities afloat. The casual player stops playing the whales, sharks, or whatever the next clever moniker that they assign, will eventually find another pool to swim in. If we want late swap to return to DK and be instituted on FD, stop playing. As long as we complain, but keep playing why would or should they accommodate us?

  • krawdd

    I basically play low entry fee,single entry or limited number entry tourneys for some of the reasons above.I can not compete with the 150 entry type Sharks because of limited bankroll,they are spending $450 to enter there teams and I am spending $3 to enter the same tourney.I consider it similar to playing the lottery with a little research to help my chances of taking down a big tourney.Of course these sites will cater to their high volume,big bankroll players.You don’t want to bite the hand that feeds you.I have basically accepted the facts these sites don’t care about single play,low fee players.I will continue grinding hoping for that 1 big payday

  • getoffme

    u only need one lineup to win period, it doesn’t matter if i have 150 lineups or 1 lineup… i hate when people complain about someone’s bankroll or lineups being greater than theirs because it really doesnt matter, the only way u win big tourneys is luck Period….

  • mrmpossibl

    If you have 150 lineups and I have 1 lineup your chances of winning a tourney, or even cashing period, greatly increases. So technically, yes it does matter. Lol in a game where numbers are the end all….. I don’t see how you say can it doesn’t.

  • RT1127

    I don’t have a large bankroll and I prefer no late swap. Didn’t think I would like it at first but now once lineups lock I don’t have to think about anything. I can put in the time and research during the day and up to lock. Once it’s done it’s done. I can go about my night without the stress of needing to constantly check the news or re-work my lineups. I play every night and not once did it burn me this year in any major way. If I believe there’s a chance someone could sit I just stay away. For those who do their research I don’t think it really hurts them. There may have been only a few times all year where a major stud sat completely without any indication. I believe it hurts those who don’t put in the time and research and that’s the way it should be.

  • tylestei

    Very well-written piece.

    I am a casual FanDuel player who will play between $1-$20 almost every single night. Having never had the late-swap feature, I have became use to the lock of lineups, and being able to just enjoy the NBA action for the night and cheer on the guys who have filled out my lineup. Another thing about playing almost every night, is a supportive girlfriend who will listen to all my analysis that she doesn’t understand, yet still try and show an interest in this hobby of mine. With that being said, she also doesn’t want me sitting on my phone all night checking updates and tinkering with my lineup; lock hits and I can, in a sense, put my phone down for the night.

    I have definitely been burned by late scratches but I have also been aided by them. I think the problem lies between the NBA and its franchises on releasing information. Take for instance last night’s slate (3/27): Gordon Hayward missed shoot around which took place hours before lock, yet no info was actually given about him not playing until an hour or so before his game, which was the last one of the night to tip-off. There had to be a feeling amongst the Utah organization as to whether he would play or not. Maybe because his injury was severe enough or maybe they felt they wouldn’t risk furthering the injury in a game they felt they could win without Hayward.

    Also, as a math person I think the max-lineup entry isn’t as big of an advantage as one would think. Admittedly I would rather see a smaller max entry but hopefully you can follow the math logic behind my point.

    I’m sure a lot of players build multiple cores and sprinkle in bits and pieces, where there’s a very good chance a number of those players don’t ‘crush value’. This is the reason they max enter so they can hopefully hit at least one big lineup and profit for the night. For simplicities sake, let’s say after all your research you come to the conclusion on 3 players from each position that will lead your team to the promise land.

    That’s 3 PGs, 3 SGs, 3 SFs, 3 PFs, & 3 Cs. With FanDuel’s construction of 2 at every position except C, the math logic follows:

    You have 3 PGs and must choose 2 where order doesn’t matter (i.e. if they sit in the first or second PG position it doesn’t affect anything)

    Therefore you only have 3 ways to mix-and-match your PGs. The same follows for SG, SF, and PF. Center is a simple 3 choose 1 case where you have 3 different options.

    Which leaves you with 5 positions of 3 choices, or 3^5 = 243. That’s 93 lineups you would have to decided on not playing, in this very simple scenario.

    When it comes down to it, you need to pick the best players regardless of your opponent as there is essentially infinitely many options for lineups.

    I love the NBA and I foresee myself adapting to any new rules implemented into DFS! Sorry for leaving the longest comment ever but hopefully it provides some knowledge!

  • jordanh415

    • 783

      RG Overall Ranking

    For many individuals who do the daily DFS grind and put in time and research hours, it is quite disheartening when someone is scratched (e.g., “ such as Jimmy Butler earlier this year”)….whether it is a small hobby or a form of self-employment, it is important to recognize that when people are able to put in many iterations and player combinations (and have the bankroll to do so) they have a far greater chance of taking down a tournament than the small entry player, especially if say they only had 50% or less exposure to the scratched player and made tons of hedges and contingency lus. Thus, lets say 50% of their lineups are dead but the scratched player was owned by a majority of low volume players (say 80-90%)……the +EV that the shark gains in that scenario is insanely high… I think Late swap is a great option to have in case you get word of a player getting scratched, etc after initial “lock”……you can always choose to not pay any attention to the news and feel free to set your Lu and forget about it…but I would much rather have choices and options rather than restricted freedom….I find it surprising the rationale I hear supporting no late swap when we are a country and community based on freedom of choice and yet people want to restrict their freedom to choose with late swap….the logic does not add up….more options and maneuverability is better than limited or restricted options…..

  • superboom9

    @mrmpossibl said...

    If you have 150 lineups and I have 1 lineup your chances of winning a tourney, or even cashing period, greatly increases. So technically, yes it does matter. Lol in a game where numbers are the end all….. I don’t see how you say can it doesn’t.

    Exactly. The 150 lineups is an attempt to cover the variance and luck involved…and Mike Malone and Jason Kidd rotation decisions.


    If there are 145,000 entries, what do you care where those entries come from. All that matters is that the contests fill and somebody wins……PERIOD

  • getoffme

    6AKINGNYC my point exactly…. its alot of luck and little bit of skill

  • sonic999

    • 770

      RG Overall Ranking

    Who would ever think they drop 5 lus and have the slate “covered” as you say.? Lol cmon. The max 150 entries hardly covers “every possible lu and then some”…if its that easy drop max entries into the arcade or $1 sometime and see what happens. Maybe you’ll do great and off you go to massive riches. No need to complain about the whales, they dont know any more than you if you put your mind and time to it and they make possible these huge pots we all love.Thinking all it takes is 150 entries into 100,000 entry gpps and you’re somehow an automatic winner is just silly. Seriously, just try and see sometime. When I try to play 40-50 (like last nite) its a disaster if u have the wrong core. I’d like unlimited entries and 10x bigger pots even though I usually play just a dozen or so lus a nite. If u pick the right guys u win regardless of what any so-called whales do.

  • mrmpossibl

    I honestly don’t see how people can believe that this game is based on skill (maybe it’s just to support the loophole so DFS doesn’t get banned) when it’s clearly chance. Skill would be 145,000 players with joysticks lol controlling the players and may the best man win. Once you submit your lineups and the game locks, it’s strictly where the cards fall afterwards. There’s too many uncontrollable variables to peg this as more skill than luck..

    Refs, players, injury, foul trouble, coaches, unexpected blowouts (Mavs/Sixers…Cavs/Spurs), etc. All the research in the world cannot counteract those variables, especially in contests where 1/10 of a point makes an extreme difference. That’s where the benefit of saturating contests with as many lineups as possible comes into play…… Let’s not forget that not so long ago there was no limit to the amount of lineups that one person could enter…. There were players entering up to a thousand lineups in contests, so this blind support because it’s been capped to 150 is ridiculous.

  • mrmpossibl

    The 150 cap was instituted, really after all the investigations and threats to shut down DFS.. Before that players could enter as many lineups as they wanted. So once again the numbers still benefit those that can afford to take advantage of playing the odds.

  • mrmpossibl

    Since FD never offered late-swap we really can’t complain too much about not having, but as a community of players that are requesting it, it should be considered. Now as far as DK; has anyone wondered why they decided to remove late-swap from the one pro sport that is notorious for last-second player news. It’s really tantamount to strong-arming. The truth of the matter, especially concerning GPP’s, is that the prize money is player provided…. The companies make their money from the rake… So my thinking is that it should left up to the players to decide what’s best since it;s actually our money on the table….. that’s where those 150 lineup players voices are heard most.

  • jbhfootball

    Do the MATH! Let’s take today’s DK $450K $8 entry. 8*150 = $1200! If you are so sure that the pro has an advantage, why haven’t you scraped the funds together and thrown it all in? There are only 66,100 entries today. That puts your odds at .002269% as opposed to .000015%.

    But guess what?

    You WILL not do it! You know why!

    I’ve followed some of the bigger names in DFS and have inspected their lineups. Guess what? There are a lot of losses in there! If you can take losing a lot of money day in and day out, waiting for the big win, then do it!

    Most of us, myself included are not built that way. We can’t tolerate that pain.

    I’ve started following the BIG single lineup guys!

    Do you know that about 50% of the top 10 Rotogrinders are single entry guys?

    They do heavy volume and spread that lineup all over the place and every slate!

    That’s a bit closer to my tolerance!

    Don’t hate, imitate!

  • lsuroyalty

    I just wish on all the casual players only contests their would be more clarity on making them ‘whale-proof’.That would actually be great. Because Bigpappagates winning a casual players only contest last NFL season (I’m not hating, just using as an example, but..)…I didn’t really understand that, since he wins well more than average.

  • Thanasi

    You nailed it Irish and you’ll receive plenty of push back from the mass entry crowd. You’re absolutely right though, this hobby/job will stand a much better chance staying legal when it doesn’t look like the same whales winning most of the $$ are throwing 150 tickets into contests vs someone with one. The optics are horrendous & that’s the reality.

  • irish62

    mrmpossibl…….You make some great points. I do agree that DFS games involve a lot of chance and that once we roster our team it is out of our control. But we did reduce the chance by being able to choose our own team. That’s the argument that separates DFS from Vegas.

    But I agree with you that there’s a lot of chance. FanDuel and DraftKings can reduce even more chance in NBA DFS if they would at least allow some NBA contests with late swap….that seems easy to do. With the coaches sitting players a lot I figured it was a good time to write this article. Thanks for compliment. I’ll be writing on a few more topics…..hope you check them out.

  • irish62

    krawdd……I hear ya. I only play tournaments where there is a smaller limit on the number of lineups. That’s my choice. I just wish FD and DK would offer more tournaments——other than the $1 and $2 ones—- in which they limit the number of entries well below the present 150.

  • irish62

    getoffme…..thanks for checking out my blog. I agree that good ole lady luck has to be on your side several times a night if you want to win a tournament. I wasn’t complaining about “someone’s bankroll or lineups being greater than theirs”. I’m in no way complaining about the whales. They wouldn’t be whales if they didn’t play the max number of lineups and they would be foolish if they didn’t max out the lineups. That’s the only point I was making about the whales.

    I was just saying the odds favor the 150 limit player with no late swap, along with the what seems like a record number of players sitting after the lineups lock, that FD and DK should do a better job of allowing the casual user, a consistent player who doesn’t come close to the max number of lineups allowed, to play in contests where there is late swap.

  • irish62

    RT1127……..thanks for reading my bog. And I said in my blog that I understood that argument. I get it and it’s valid. However, you could still set your lineup and forget it. You would at least have the choice. Lady luck was on your side because I have been hammered by sits. I lost 75% of my contests 10 minutes after tip-off the night the Cavs sat the trio. Those are the breaks……I get it. But at least allowing some contests with late-swap would give me the chance to make changes to save my night, and you could either play the contests with no late swap or just set it and forget it. Good luck bud

  • irish62

    tylestei……..Thank you.

    And I completely agree about the convenience of relaxing after lineups lock. Just a few contests a night where the option for late swap is available….but not mandatory…..would be great. With none, the max entry players get a huge advantage when a player sits. Throw in another player or two sitting or a couple studs sitting and the odds go up a lot. I don’t think some people realize that.

    I followed your math. As for the 93 lineups you say couldn’t be rostered, I see the point but taking out a player or two a night ——-most nights should allow a position where you can lock in on 2 players or a couple positions——- would lower the amount of lineups needed to cover everyone of your lineup possibilities. If you couldn’t come off 3 players per position other than center, then I still put my money on those who play 150 of them. Thanks for your input.

    As far as your girlfriend goes, you might want to hold onto her :)

  • irish62


    I won’t go political but having the choice to play a contest with late swap is not asking for much. Just do a few and see how they go. But I think they would be too popular for FD and DK, especially considering DK doesn’t allow them anymore. Running some contests out there could potentially present FD and DK with the problem of appeasing the limit level players. They are very important to the industry…..needed. Because playing for a big payday where you choose your lineup is awesome! Just the odds are not in your favor with no late swap for NBA the most.

  • irish62


    Great attitude bud…..but unfortunately my mind doesn’t subscribe to that philosophy. But I do care when the odds are increased negatively by chance….by a coach sitting a player after lineups lock. That’s all.

  • irish62


    First off congrats on having that green circle with #749 on it. You’re doing something better than a lot of people. Good for you. But in no way was my blog a bashing of the whale. I am sorry that you felt that way. I was relating just the fact that as a max lineup player the chance to cash is obviously better than a player who chooses to play 5 lineups and thinks he’s got a chance to cash with those lineups. I try and research as much as I can and have many times felt I have a couple good lineups. But when I consider putting them in large tournaments the thought of what sort of disadvantage I have before the games even start gives me pause. I wish I was a whale but even without the funds to start doing that (family) I have to admit that I still have lots of things to learn. Not bashing any player at all, personally or as a group. I was saying the industry could do a better job of eliminating unnecessary chance and late swap just jumps of the screen for me at least. Good luck the rest of the year….I hope you rocket up the standings.

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