On the night he returned from Las Vegas, where he won $US2 million playing fantasy football, Scott Hanson went back to work, training a client at Equinox gym in Pasadena.
The same client had an appointment the night of his first big fantasy win — a $US15,000 prize in Week 5 that made Hanson take this hobby more seriously.
“This client might be good luck,” he says, joking.
Hanson started playing daily fantasy sports on the website FanDuel this fall. He was watching football with his wife, Danielle, early in the NFL season when a commercial for the website came on TV.
“My wife was like, ‘Hey you’re really good at fantasy football, you should try it out.'”
Daily fantasy sports isn’t like your regular fantasy football league. The leagues last one day instead of all year. They’re salary cap-based instead of draft-based, meaning you have a certain amount of money to spend on players, and you can pick any players you want as long as your roster stays under the maximum limit.
Hanson deposited $US25 on FanDuel a few days later, he says. Three weeks after that he deposited another $US10 and decided to enter a $US5 league with thousands of other players.
He won league, pocketed $US15,000, and things began to take off.
“I started putting in around $US1,000 a week on average,” he says.
He’s not one of the professionals who’ve turned daily fantasy sports into a full-time job. But he’s not exactly an average Joe either.
Hanson, a 33-year-old former elementary school teacher who’s now a personal trainer, has an analytics background. He used to work part-time for ProFootballFocus, an NFL advanced stats website that’s highly regarded in the industry.
Hanson would spend up to 10 hours logging player participation data (the position a player lines up in, the type of play they run, etc.) for a single game. He also wrote articles.
“It’s something I feel like helped me a lot in my analysis,” he says. “I used their grading to help me make the picks.”
By the middle of the season Hanson was steeped in spreadsheets and advanced stats. He came up with his own player points projections using everything from Vegas point spreads to PFF grades, which helped him identify which players offered the most value in a given week considered their price.
He qualified for the FanDuel Fantasy Football Championship by winning a $US2 qualifier. He entered 30 different teams in that qualifier, and one of them won it — earning him one of the 100 available spots in the annual event.
At the FanDuel Fantasy Football Championship in Las Vegas — where the company gave out $US7 million in prize money — he entered this team, and won the $US2 million 1st-place prize:
He plans to pay off his debt with the money, and buy a car. He’s also going to keep playing daily fantasy sports, starting with basketball this winter.
“I have a system that I’ll be using,” he says. “Overall I’ll have around $US35,000. I’m not going to put all of it in each week. I’ll probably put around a third of it in each week.”
The plan is to cash 80% of the profits and use the other 20% to build his bankroll, assuming he wins.
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