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.
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. Support@fanduel.com and email@example.com.
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.
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That’s my two Cents….what’s yours?
ps…..as 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.