DFS Strategy: My Beef with Daily Fantasy Sports
Todd takes a break from crunching numbers and making graphs to share his feelings on the pay-for-play aspect of Daily Fantasy Sports
Don't worry. This isn't another piece on multiple entries, luck or whether DFS is legal. The only mention of The Book was that right there.
In short, my issue with DFS is how integral the pay-for-play nature of the game is to its existence and likely will remain for its growth. I realize there's a faction that plays for the fun of it but all you need to do is think about how the sites advertise and market themselves. It's all about how much you can win and how fast they pay out. The incentive to join is matching deposits. Let's not be naive; it's the ability to win money, not the fun of playing that's the driving force behind the growth of DFS.
Let's go back to a little over five years ago when the first machination of DFS was available. What if instead of a pay-for-play format, it was presented as the next generation of seasonal fantasy baseball? What if the rules were twelve or so participants chose a new team every day, just like DFS is now, but instead of a one-day contest, points were totaled for each day and the person with the most points at the end of the season was crowned champion?
The frustration with drafting injured or underperforming players on your traditional fantasy team would be alleviated.
But here's the kicker. Presently, one of the arguments traditionalists use to disparage DFS is the luck on any given day. If the scoring were season-long, the narrative would be that on any given day, unexpected things will happen. However, over the course of 180 days, the person most adept at identifying the more favorable match-ups would come out on top. The focus would be on how cool it is using some of the new next-level analytical processes on an every day basis to pinpoint the best potential point scoring scenarios. There would be no talk of luck or injuries.
For me, the agenda isn't padding my back account but rather the challenge of understanding, learning and perfecting the next iteration of the game I love. I can hear the snickers - "You dumbass, you can do all that and make money too."
That's not the point.
Taking the fact I make my living writing about DFS as well as seasonal formats, to most fantasy baseball is entertainment, a hobby. We all pay for entertainment like attending a sporting event, movies, concerts, shows or a good meal. Hobbies often cost money like a round of golf or a day on the slopes. In essence, the money pays for the entertainment, in DFS, winning money is the entertainment. Maybe not for everyone but let's be honest, DFS wouldn't be around if you couldn't win money by playing.
This may seem contradictory but it's well publicized that I'm very active in the high-stakes arena and have had a decent amount of success. I play because I think I can make money. But the difference is high stakes pay-for-play isn't the only platform for traditional fantasy baseball. I choose to play it. I just wish I could choose to play DFS with a group of my buddies with mostly pride and the personal satisfaction of beating them as the driving force.
A counter to my own argument is people talk about the camaraderie of traditional fantasy, especially on draft day. What is wholly overlooked is how easily DFS lends itself to fostering that same close-knit fellowship. Right now, friends bounce line-up ideas off each other all day long then often sweat vicariously when one of their circle is looking to take down a tournament, Twitter is fantastic for this. I'd venture to say that after draft day, the amount of interaction in seasonal leagues pales in comparison to DFS. Actually, it's not remotely close and this is perhaps the dirty little secret why, other than money, DFS is so popular. If seasonal leagues became all DFS-style, then this would abate some. You're not going to share your cheap value plays with a league-mate and sweating out a league championship on the last day of the season isn't exactly sweating a tournament qualifier or big-payout tourney.
Who knows, maybe once the various DFS sites are turning a profit they'll see about attracting more of the traditional purists in this nature. As popular as DFS might be, there's still more fantasy players not playing than are playing -- a lot more. In the meantime I'll play the cards being dealt and work on getting better under the present conditions. Speaking of which, next time I'm going to share the reasons I'm not a better DFS player.