Recently, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law which sat on his desk for months, while advantageous politicians figured out how to get their cut of this unforeseen juggernaut that is called Daily Fantasy Sports. DFS is a way to play competitive sports related games like Fantasy Football, but in much more of a “gambling style” and less of a “contest between friends style.” Here’s how it works in a nutshell: You pay a fee of varying size, depending on the contest. You have a virtual budget of $50,000 (FantasyAces) to spend on drafting an entire team consisting of the following positions (QB,QB,RB,RB,WR,WR,TE,FLEX,FLEX,DEF). The trick is to get the team together you think will score the most points that week, but without exceeding your budget. If you spend high to get a top player in one position, you have to lower your price on someone else. The best strategy includes finding undervalued/underpriced players in any given week. It often feels like you are suffering the toils of managing a real team. Cash prizes are paid out under various pay structure types like “50/50,” where the top scoring half of all entrants win money, “Top 3,” or “head-to-head.” Your winnings go directly into your DFS account. That’s it.
The DFS industry was essentially given carte blanche to conquer the online gambling industry when the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) became law in 2006. As the bill was directed mainly at the online poker industry, a void was quickly filled by companies like FanDuel and DraftStreet (later absorbed by DraftKings), and by 2010, popularity was beginning to soar. In 2013, FanDuel awarded the industry’s first $1,000,000 cash prize. In Q1 of 2011, entry fees totaled $1,356,459. By Q4 of 2014, that number had catapulted to $370,703,531! In 2015, total entry fees nearly reached $3 Billion. FanDuel made about $174 Million and DraftKings around $106 Million.
Why the sudden, meteoric rise to power in the gambling industry? The answer can be found in one crucial difference. Parlor games, like tables and slots in Las Vegas, even horse racing are completely or primarily “games of chance.” No amount of reason will determine why a little bouncing sphere should land on Black 33 rather than Red 7. The reason DFS has gained such momentum (and a main reason it has survived political interference) is that sports like football, baseball, and other fantasy represented sports are primarily “games of skill.” Analyzing and interpreting data on players and distilling that data set into the form of weekly or daily starting lineups is driven almost entirely by knowledge, research, and skill. Even the weather is considered valuable research data.
Having finally taken the plunge, I made my first foray into DFS last week, on FantasyAces, a smaller outfit who just consolidated with the now defunct FantasyFeud. I hear a lot of suggestion around the industry about the advantage of starting out this way, and then working up to the more competitive, higher stakes games at FanDuel and DraftKings. I did okay. The only person who kept me from winning several hundred dollars (because you get no points for shitting the bed) is a guy named Devontae Booker. I watched the whole game. He looked not only atrocious, but timid, even impotent. He hesitated at the line almost every play, never worked to find holes, and even with a lackluster offensive line, he just plain sucked. He is my automatic Meister Brau Sip Of The Week. He doesn't even get an official spot on the Sip List. By definition, that makes Kapri Bibbs an automatic start for me. There is definitely a different strategy to apply to Daily Fantasy than Season Long Leagues, and I plan to write more on that in the future. This week, I’m going to stick in a few of my DFS picks for Week 10.
Kapri Bibbs (RB - DEN) VS. NO
The Broncos have proven two things, so far, this year… 1) they cannot run the ball; 2) they cannot stop the run. Listen to me right now… The Denver Broncos are not the best team in the AFC West anymore. That distinction now belongs to the Oakland Raiders. There. I said it. Denver is going to probably have to duke it out with KC for second place. I would temper my expectations on Bibbs, but New Orleans suuuuuucks against the run (not as badly as SF, but close). Bibbs went off for a 67 yard TD run last week when the Raiders were otherwise stomping all over them. Price (FA): $4,000
RANKING: LAWSON'S SIP OF SUNSHINE IPA
Jameis Winston (QB - TB) VS. CHI
I may be starting to sound like a broken record, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Jameis looked like he got “broke” last week after taking a hard twist to the knee, but he has practiced all week. Winston has been a serviceable (or better) lower end QB1, and that should not change this week. Price (FA): $6,550
RANKING: BOTTLE LOGIC FUNDAMENTAL OBSERVATION IMPERIAL STOUT
Mike Evans (WR - TB) VS. CHI
Chicago’s secondBeary is dreadful. They’ve allowed the second most receptions (133) and the second most red zone touches (26). Strangely enough, they have also allowed the most rushing attempts to wideouts (17). Since Mike Targetmonster Evans is out of the concussion protocol, this one is a stack. Price (FA): $5,900
RANKING: THE ALCHEMIST FOCAL BANGER
Carson Palmer (QB - ARI) VS. SF
In case you missed it, I'll say it again… VS. SF. Next! Price (FA): $6,800
RANKING: FUNKY BUDDHA MORNING WOOD
Tyler Eifert (TE - CIN) @ NYG
Man, does this guy know how to find the end zone! Price (FA): $4,900
RANKING: JESTER KING ATRIAL RUBICITE
J.J. Nelson (WR - ARI) VS. SF
Both John Brown and Michael Floyd have seemingly struggled this year, and Coach Bruce Arians maintains that Nelson is now the #2 wide receiver in Arizona. Hosting a San Francisco defense that has allowed the sixth most fantasy points to WRs, Nelson should see his fair share of work. The only thing that could stand in his way is if the Cardinals get off to a big lead before he’s had a chance to produce. He’s tremendously undervalued in DFS leagues this week. I still expect good flex numbers for him in Week 10. Price (FA): $3,750
RANKING: TRILLIUM BREWING CUTTING TILES
Seattle Seahawks (DEF) @ NE
I’m pretty sure Angry Tom Brady is gonna shut the door on the Seattle D on Sunday. Expect them to put up one of their lowest numbers of the season.
RANKING: INDIAN WELLS BREWING RASPBERRY ALE
Danny Amendola (WR - NE) VS. SEA
He hasn’t done well against top ten pass defenses this year. Expect that trend to continue through this week.
RANKING: MILWAUKEE'S BEST ICE
DeSean Jackson (WR - WAS) VS. MIN
The Vikings have had some issues lately, but their secondary is still tough as nails. Jackson has struggled, and will have his hands full if Xavier Rhodes is shadowing him.
RANKING: PABST BREWING COLT 45 MALT LIQUOR
Todd Gurley (RB - LA) VS. NYJ
I don’t trust the Jets’ rush defense, Gurley’s recent performance, or the Rams’ awful offensive line.
RANKING: CORONA LIGHT
Jeffrey Gray is a fire spinner, actor, fitness consultant, and works with M.D. and Osteopathic students on clinical skills. Fantasy Football has ruined his life, and he wouldn't have it any other way. Unless, squirrel! You can reach him on Twitter @graydog or email email@example.com.
Jeff "The Guru" Gray owns Gray Area Fitness, has a BA in Biology from Whittier College, works with osteopathic and medical students at 2 universities, is an avid shooter, acts, writes, and spins fire. Animal lover, Burner, traveller, fantasy football analyst, he's just your typical Tourette's/A.D.D. kid from the suburbs. He currently looks after his codependent dog and neurotic cat. Passion and experience sums it up for The Guru, and new destinations, great shows, cars, and crazy animal adventures are always within his purvey.