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You Can Win at Daily Fantasy Football, But Is It Worth It?

You Can Win at Daily Fantasy Football, But Is It Worth It?
by mbriggs on 11-21-2015 at 12:00 pm

 It’s hard to avoid the Draftkings and Fanduel commercials. These new unicorns are spending over $200M in ads this year. The government has caught on to the fact this is legalized gambling, and will certainly be taking action. The sites argue that Fantasy Sport are a game of skill, and thus are not considered gambling. My take is it that there is quite a lot of skill involved.

I engaged mostly to have fun. When you have a few bucks riding on the weekly games (NFL for me) it makes them much more fun to watch. If you engage, be aware that there are many players you will be competing with that make a living playing fantasy sports. It’s somewhat akin to jumping into the World Series of Poker.

The Skim
What really irritates me is the size of the skim, which gamblers call the vig. Aside from playing against the pros, even if you win, the bite the sites take for each transaction is substantial.

The sites call the skim “10%”, but it doesn’t feel that low when you are playing. There are many types of fantasy contests, the two primary categories are Tournaments (GPP:Guaranteed Prize Pool) and Cash. The easiest to understand are the 50/50 Cash games. If there are 10 entries in a 50/50 Cash game, then the top 5 scorers win. Let’s say you enter two $50 50/50 games. This will cost you $100. If you win both, your payout will be $80. (The skim would be 20%!). If you lose, you’ve lost the entire $100.

Let’s say you win one $50 game, and lose one $50 game. In this case the total net to you is (-$10). The sites figure your total outlay is $100, and their take is $10, thus the advertised “10%” skim.

Given the cost of each contest to Fanduel and Draftkings is pennies, does the skim seem high to you?

I’ll not get into tournaments, but will say that your chances of winning one are in line with winning the lottery. The pros will each submit dozens or even hundreds of lineups into each tournament.

You Can Win
The good news is that there are many quality advice sites available. The best advice comes with a fee, but it’s fairly nominal. In my view the best advice sites are The Football Guys, Rotogrinders, and Pro Football Focus. I think I paid $30 for a year’s worth of the Football Guys. Make sure to understand that it takes time to consume all the advice, which comes in a variety of formats. I like to listen to the Football Guys and Rotogrindsers podcasts while walking, and make heavy use of the Fooball Guys Interactive Value Charts while setting lineups. Net, net , the minimum weekly time investment is a minimum of 6 hours, my guess is that most players, pros and non pros alike, spend much more.

Persistence is a Virtue
I’ve played in a couple of hundred Daily NFL 50/50 games on Fanduel and Draftkings over the the last year. I’ve won around 70% of my contests, but my winnings are modest, thanks to the skim. This past week I was 0-9! The experts will warn you that it happens, and you need to persevere through bad weeks, as there is an element of luck involved.

I am not particularly anxious to re-engage after my 0-9 performance, but suspect I’ll jump back in.

(postscript) I entered 4 50/50 contents the week following and went 2-2. Net to me is -$20.

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