First off – I want to offer a massive congrats to one of RG’s own, Jakz101 (Eric Crain) on his Millionaire Maker win. If you’ve met Crain, you know he is genuinely one of the nicest guys you’ll ever come across. Super pumped for our newest millionaire!
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly in some of your minds, I want to take a moment to address the “controversy” that has surrounded his win.
For starters, it should be mentioned that any big win from a well-known DFS player/“tout” is going to generate at least some level of controversy. If someone writes articles and goes on air talking about the plays they like, people are going to comb through that individual’s thoughts from the week to see if they followed their own plays. Heck, the week Smizzle won the Milly, he had written up 7 of the 9 plays he used. People still complained.
Of course, having cleared out that disclaimer, the situation here is admittedly a bit different.
For those of you who are not Premium Content subscribers, here’s some quick background:
Each week in NFL, Crain uses a lineup builder to create 150 lineups, which he throws into the Milly Maker. Because Crain is masterful at creating a sharp, narrowed-down player pool and turning this pool into a profitable weekend (while also – as witnessed this week – giving himself a clear shot at a huge weekend), I came up with the idea of a Premium article in which he would share some of the core pieces in his player pool (Crain writes this article for DraftKings Premium, while TheSeige – who is equally masterful in this area – writes this article for FanDuel).
In theory, this was an awesome idea. As we saw this weekend – when Crain took first place (and three of the top four spots) in the Milly – having a look at some of his player pool could help readers a ton.
The problem this week, of course, was that Crain listed 11 players in his article this last week, and only one showed up on his winning lineup. Naturally, this has led to some criticism and frustration from a handful of readers. If you will give me just three or four minutes, however, I would like to share some thoughts of my own, while also inviting you to collaborate with me in order to ensure we are continually putting out the absolute best product in the DFS industry.
If you are a Premium subscriber, you know we have focused our product primarily on helping readers to make good picks on their own. Our flagship articles (my NFL Edge and MLB Edge, STLCards’ Covering the Bases, CheeseIsGood’s Million Dollar Musings, and JumpaHoo’s Jump Shot) are not written with the intention of “providing picks.” Instead, these articles are intended to, essentially, take a massive amount of research and transfer this research to the reader in an easily-digestible form. The NFL Edge, for example, takes me about 30 hours each week to research and write, and it takes about an hour to read – so in that hour of reading, you can pick up the 25 hours of research I accumulated myself. During MLB and NBA, these articles typically take around 20 to 30 minutes to read, and enable us to transfer 4 or 5 hours of research to the reader in that time. It was because of these articles that 12 different people told me at the DraftKings MLB live final in Toronto this last summer that they would not have won a seat to the live final without their Premium subscription.
But we also, still, want to offer the more traditional-type articles – articles that are more picks-based. I know most of our readers have more of an interest in the research-driven pieces, but there are readers who prefer picks-driven pieces – and honestly, even those who do not prefer such pieces still typically click on these articles just to make sure there is nothing they are overlooking.
The article concept I came up with for Crain and Seige was – in my mind – sort of a blend between the two. Obviously, no one can expect these guys to share their exact player pool each week, as this would lead to everyone plugging the same players into the Lineup Builder, and everyone ending up with nearly identical (or completely identical) teams. Instead, I envisioned this article being exactly what Crain’s was this last week: 11 to 15 players, with some obvious plays and some less obvious plays, and some thoughts on why these players would be cycled through his 150 rosters. What I did not have the foresight to envision, of course, was this situation occurring: a Milly Maker being won, with only one guy from the player pool on the team.
First off, let’s be clear: this is totally on me, and I apologize to anyone who has been upset by this situation. I should have seen the potential for this to occur, and I should have made it more clear to readers what I saw this article being, or I should have come up with a plan to prevent this situation arising.
At the same time, I also think there are things we can do better with the RotoGrinders Premium product. For example, I would love for all of our writers to update their articles later in the week. But readers of my own article know I have only done so twice myself, through the first eight weeks of the season. Once you shift to “roster construction” mode, the mental shift to going back and adding things to an article can be a weird one to make. But, again: it’s one we should all be attempting to make; this last week, I updated on Saturday primarily to convey that nothing much had changed in my thinking – but because I would love to set a precedent for readers that they can check back on Saturdays for my updated thoughts, I checked in to let readers know my thoughts were still in the same place (basically, a non-updated update, so readers can know each week that they should check back in case anything major has shifted in my thinking).
Most weeks, in fact, Crain does the same thing. Most weeks, he updates his article with his late-week additions. It was quite unfortunate that this was not one such week – but this does open the door for us to discuss this, and to continue improving our product.
My genuine goal is for RotoGrinders Premium to be the single most powerful and valuable DFS subscription any player can have. One of the great assets we have in this area is that all of our Premium writers have achieved consistent, reliable success at the highest level of play. We don’t just hire guys for Premium who “can do good research and write about it”; we don’t have a bunch of guys writing for us who do well with five dollars in play each week. Instead, we have a group of guys writing for us who have proven that they can take their research and turn it into successful DFS play at the highest buy-in levels, and against the toughest competition.
This is awesome.
What becomes a bit complicated, of course, is that writing DFS content is practically charity for most of these guys. For example: I had over $18,000 in play this last weekend – and I played only one lineup, and it was all on DraftKings. As you know, I am unique among “high-end” DFS players in playing only one lineup (and in often focusing my play on one site) – so if I had $18k in play on one site, with one lineup, you can imagine how much money some of these other guys have in play each weekend across multiple lineups and multiple sites. Moreover, most of these guys also play NBA at a high level (and are focused there on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday – in between their Premium articles coming out, and NFL kicking off on Sunday). No matter how much we pay writers, they are always going to have far more of a financial interest in maximizing their time for roster construction. I fear that if we go too far with requiring writers to constantly update their articles throughout the week, we will actually sacrifice quality quite a bit. Most high-end guys will eventually decide, “The money I’m being paid for constantly updating this article is not worth the tradeoff for the time being taken away from my roster construction.” This might lead to articles that are updated frequently…but that are no longer written by actual, successful DFS players. It’s definitely a conundrum, and I’m not certain there is even an easy, simple solution.
What I will say is this:
1) I hope no one thinks Crain was intentionally attempting to mislead anyone. If you know Crain, you know this was not the case. And if you listened to Crain’s late-week GrindersLive shows, you know he talked about nearly all the plays he used on his winning team. This was just an unfortunate blend of situations – a week in which Crain’s thoughts changed a lot as the week went on, and in which he did not get a chance to update his article. Most weeks, the guys he wrote up on Wednesday would have been the same guys you would have seen on his winning Milly Maker lineup – and then, the whole discussion here would be how ridiculously valuable that article is for readers, instead of the discussion being what it is now. Truly, anyone who looks at the big picture – examining Crain’s Player Pool article and how it has lined up with his actual rosters throughout the season – will know and acknowledge that this was just a really unfortunate blend of situations.
2) I genuinely feel the blame for this falls onto me, as I was the one who came up with this article concept, and I was the one who failed to foresee something like this occurring. To any readers who were upset by this, please accept my apology – and please, again, realize that probably 6 out of 8 weeks so far, a “Crain Milly Maker win” would have matched up with his “Player Pool” article in a big way. It just sucks that this was a week in which thoughts changed late and updates were not made. (Note: I was just informed that this was actually the first week all season Crain did not add a late-week update to the article, as he was sick later in the week. Again, just a really unfortunate blend of situations…)
3) Regarding “updates being made,” you can count on me for the remainder of the season to update the NFL Edge. We are going to try to make sure Crain and Seige drop some updates in their Player Pool articles when they can as well. (For what it’s worth, CheeseIsGood usually updates his MLB article close to lock; I have no idea how that dude is able to put in so much research, put in winning teams, and update his article close to lock in a truly daily sport, but suffice it to say, he’s a beast.) We are also working really hard to get our rankers to update their Consensus Value Rankings throughout the week, to reflect their updated thoughts. And I am going to talk to other writers about updating their articles in the rare instances when it is necessary for them to do so.
I want the RG Premium platform to continue being the single most valuable subscription platform in the DFS industry, and of course, the balance there is having elite DFS players writing for us…while also trying to encourage these elite players to take a break from roster construction, and to go back and add things to their articles and/or rankings.
This is where I could use your help!
Please chime in below with any thoughts you have – both on how we can improve things in this specific area, and on anything else you have been thinking of lately that you would love to see incorporated into, or changed, or improved, or adjusted, in Premium.
If you don’t mind, please refrain from using this thread as an area to be accusatory and/or nasty. I’m sure there are other places you can go to do that. Let’s, instead, reserve this thread for constructive discussion (also: feel free to let us know things you like about Premium and do not want to see changed, so we can make sure to keep strengthening those areas).
Thanks so much for your ear (and sorry for the length!)
(P.S. Monday-through-Wednesday is “NFL Edge research and writing” time for me, so I won’t be able to drop in a ton on this thread during the first half of the week. But I’ll do my best, and I will definitely come through here during the second half of the week – as will other RG guys, I hope/assume.)