I’m a pretty big sports fan and love playing fantasy sports.
So when I heard about daily fantasy sports sites, where you can bet real money, I had to give it a try.
But I ended up losing money. And I’m not sure if I want to play there again.
If you're wondering why they're legal -- when sports gambling is not in most states -- it's because they're legally consider a 'game of skill,' not a 'game of chances.'
I joined DraftKings over FanDuel only because I saw its ads during the MLB playoffs. Both companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on ads.
The league I joined was called 'Millionaire Maker.' Although I only bet $20, I had a chance to win up to $1.2 million. Up to 88,500 people (out of 359,617 contestants) in this particular league would get paid at least $30.
The rules are straightforward: put together the best team possible while staying under your virtual $50,000 budget.
The key is to spend wisely: Fill the the roster with as many undervalued players who you think will score big (that most people are not aware of).
I started with the Jets defence because they gave up the least number of yards this year. Plus, I'm a Jets fan.
The Jets' Brandon Marshall has been playing out of his mind this season, so I got him as my wide receiver.
I went with Tom Brady at QB. He's the most expensive player and was playing against the Colts, a team he's crushed many times in the past. The Colts defence also gave up the 5th most yards this season.
Another no-brainer pick: Adrian Peterson. The Vikings' running back has been one of the best fantasy players for many years.
I filled the rest of the roster with sleeper picks, like Julius Thomas at tight end who just got back from an injury. Same with Justin Forsett, who was scheduled to play a weak 49ers defence. Both were owned by less than 2.5% of the teams.
Things seemed to go well at the start. A lot of my sleeper picks, like Thomas, Forsett, and Allen Robinson scored better than expected. Marshall and Brady both had big games too.
It was largely because of one player: Adrian Peterson. The guy I spent the second most on ended up scoring only 6.7 points. If he had put up his average ~20 points, I would have easily cracked 88,500th place.
That made me think: is this really a game of skills? My 'skills' only applied in the player selection process. The rest of the game was left to the players -- or almost sheer luck.
But that doesn't seem to be the case with the best daily fantasy sports players. Some of the top daily fantasy sports players, like Jonathan Bales, claim to make hundreds of thousands of dollars on these sites.
The time and effort they put into finding players and predicting who will play well is truly mind-blowing. He tracks player data on this spreadsheet. 'I'll out-predict (sports reporters) every week. It's not even close,' Bales told Tech Insider.
This is how my team compares to the #1 team last week in my league. I don't know how this guy did it, but he was able to find cheap players who scored tons of points, like LeGarrette Blount and Chris Ivory.
It's why I don't think I'll ever play daily fantasy ever again: I'll never be able to compete with the best players unless I really spend a lot of time analysing player data and performance.
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