Comfortable and Furious

Trying Fanduel: Football

OK, here we go, step by step on a journey into daily fantasy. I’m trying Fanduel. Fantasy Football: the hard stuff. We can do it together. Holding hands. Drinking out of the same glass. Maybe occasionally wearing each others underwear.  So I’m going to go step by step through my first week playing these games.

Upfront, Fanduel and Draft Kings have very, very good affiliate programs. So if you decide to sign up through us, it will be tremendously helpful.

Having said that, I’m honestly enjoying this stuff. Promise! I have a few complaints, which I’ll get to. But first let’s just walk through what I did this week.

First you pick a contest. From what I can gather, the smartest thing to do is to pick a 50/50 league, where the top half of the contestants all “double up.” They don’t really double up, because the site takes some of the pot, which is how they make money. But you get $1.80 for every winning dollar.

fanduel screencap trying fanduel beginging start

Next, you set your lineup using a screen like this, which is specially designed to make clicking on the buttons addictive and fun and the final nail in your marriage’s coffin.

fanduel screengrabs gambling football

Really, the number one thing here is that you should spend all of your money. The player valuations are made using math and computers and shit, so you don’t want to stray too far from them. A good way to think of it is that, in order to win, your players will need to earn more than those valuations. But if you leave money on the table, they’ll need to exceed their prices a bit just for you to break even. That’s not a winning approach.

50/50 Contests

The reason this is a smarter way to go is that you can win a lot just by not screwing up. There are going to be guys in your pool starting injured players or who don’t pay attention to matchups or Vegas lines. You start a good, safe, intelligent lineup and you should finish in the top half more than half the time. So I entered one of these leagues. Here’s my lineup:


One thing I did that might not be obvious to non-gambler is to look at the team totals set in the betting market. In case you are a Jehovah’s Witness or something: people can bet on an over/under on how much each individual team will score. Say, 28 points. As people bet the lines move until they reach a number far more accurate than you’d ever be able to predict on your own. The market is smarter than the individual. So, the market price is the best indication of how many points a team will score. And, DUH, you want guys on teams that will score a lot of points. So look for guys who have high team totals in the betting markets, and avoid guys who have low team totals.

Other things I considered:

Opportunity: Especially for my bargain basement RBs. If they are going to hand they guy the ball, he might get points. That’s my theory, anyway.

Fanduel is .5 PPR: I read that some people have trouble adjusting to this. My view is, you want to avoid guys who have little to no PPR value, like RBs who don’t catch and receivers  who mainly go for homeruns. However, don’t get carried away and go with pure PPR guys. You might argue Julien Edelman is such a player, but the Pat’s other non-Gronks are so bad at catching, I think he’s becoming a crutch for yardage and a viable red zone target.

Fanduel scoring is somewhat light for pass yards (.04 points per yard), and it’s only 4 points per passing TD. So you don’t wanna really spend big on QB if you can find a nice affordable option because the separation from one guy to the next won’t be as great.

Tourney Style:

Since I’m playing for small money, I decided to gamble it up rather than playing it smart and enter a couple tournament style contests. In these, only the top finishers get paid, but they get paid more. If you win the whole contest, you’re rich! It’s basically like a poker tournament.

I put together two tourney lineups. Here they are, your last place and second to last place finishers:


fanduel lineup screengrap questons beatable win money

Factors I considered:

I took a few more gambles with my lower end players and have better top end players, since you need an outrageous score to win. I think Bobby Rainey, for example, is the more talented RB in Tampa. Plus, while I would never wish for Doug Martin to get injured* it’s a very real possibility.

Another thing with tourney style is to make sure your players synch up for maximum point potential. For example, a receiver and QB from the same team are OK, because they allow you to double dip in points. I especially like having your riskier receiver plays matched up with your QB because it’s a double pay off when you hit, while simultaneously, the primary receivers, who you don’t own, get screwed. So this is why I like having Foles and Ertz together. If they hook up, not only do I double up on points, anybody who owns Jeremy Maclin is getting less than normal and will be hard pressed to finish ahead of me.

On the other hand, you probably shouldn’t pool guys who are on the same team, competing against each other. Like RBs and QBs and receiving duos. Because to win the tourney, you’ll need a best case scenario and it’s pretty unlikely that Philip Rivers will throw for 5 touchdowns while Donald Brown rushes for 3 and Gates and Allen each catch 7.

*lol, jk, of course I hope he is injured.

Me Gusta:

If you’re like me, having action on a game makes it fun to watch. That’s why regular fantasy is good. That’s why daily fantasy is, perhaps, better. It certainly will be once your regular fantasy team is out of contention. With only three teams, I’ll have a rooting interest in a ton of games. Moreover, my biggest entry is $5 and that’s enough for me to care. Even in my $1, 50/50 league, I want my eighty cents and I’ll be pissed if I lose, like how John Elway used to get mad and flip the table  if his kids beat him in Hungry Hungry Hippos. Basically, if you are a freaking adult and therefore  are a bit over being excited over sports alone, this is some really cheap, competitive entertainment.


No Me Gusta:

The juice is pretty high on these and you’ll have to do pretty well to beat it in the long run. I’d only play bigger if I really spent tons of time working on getting a big edge. Or if I just felt like a gamble. One thing I think they could do to improve this is restrict the buy ins. I’ve learned that the “pros” enter hundreds of contests across all buy in levels. This is the sort of thing that turned online poker from Best Buy to Radio Shack. Let the sharks and giant squids and killer whales fight each other. If you let them effortlessly vacuum up all the plankton, the ecosystem will take a beating.