The Daily Roto turned one year old last month and I have to admit time flies! I was thinking how much has changed in the last year for the industry and even for myself! I’ve can’t believe I’ve written hundreds of articles and even three books! I know here at The Daily Roto we’ve received so much support from our readers and appreciate all of it! We hope we have been able to help you with the way you approach this game.
Speaking of this game, much has changed in the industry. I was scanning through our site just reminiscing over some of the articles we’ve posted in the last year. That’s when I noticed a lot has changed with the sites since I wrote my original reviews of them. I thought I’d go through them site by site and talk about how they have changed whether it is good or bad.
DraftKings – Year in Review
I’ll start this off by talking about the big dogs in the game first. Draftkings is a completely different site from a year ago. We can start with some of the obvious which is the increased prize pools. I knew DFS was legit. If you talk to anyone who is serious about playing or even working in the industry, Draftkings gives us all some sort of job security that it will stick around. DFS isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and Draftkings gives us hope that our future looks bright. They have partnered with MLB so they have full support from the league. If that wasn’t good enough, Disney decided to get into the action and invested a cool quarter billion dollars.
I wasn’t happy with Draftkings purchasing both StarStreet and DraftStreet because I felt like it monopolizes the industry. My original thoughts were that people who played Draftstreet and Starstreet were aware of Draftkings and not the other way around. But this is all a play to becoming the number one DFS site out there. Draftkings has something for everyone, and it is a pretty exciting time to be a player because the money is huge and is only getting bigger. In the football season we saw seven people become millionaires. I can’t wait to see what they have in store this baseball season as it moves along.
The other thing Draftkings did that really stepped their game up was related to all the sports they added. In the last year they added Soccer, PGA, and even found a way to turn MMA into a fantasy game. They are always looking for something they can add to make their site better, and I’m calling my shot right here! I think they add DFS NASCAR next year! I’m not a NASCAR fan by any means, but I know it’s a huge market as well. I won’t be shocked if Draftkings breaks the ice and adds this sport.
In all honesty, when I was re-reading some of my articles, I notice I always referred to Draftkings as “1b” or “right behind Fanduel,” but after this year, I think they finally did it and moved up to number 1. They hands down made more noise than any other site this last year and I don’t think it’s even close in regards to who provided the most innovation.
FanDuel Year in Review
FanDuel still has their strong user base and it pains me to say this, but it is the number two DFS site out there?! The only thing I can say which Fanduel did better than Draftkings is they set the bar first. They aren’t afraid to announce their prize pools for their Championships, and Draftkings purposely waits until FanDuel’s are released (in my opinion) so they know how to react to them. The one thing Fanduel did this last year was buy the rights to the Playboy Mansion for Tournaments. In every sport they have a Playboy Championship and they are now trying to introduce regional championships which have live finales in different states. This is a cool concept which gives DFS players a chance to attend one of their famous live championships possibly closer to home.
Fanduel also made strides this year by partnering up with the NBA and became the official DFS site of the League. I’m not exactly sure what partnering up really means outside of us seeing their logo courtside but the same could be said about Draftkings and their partnerships.
The biggest downfall to both of these sites getting so big is (again in my opinion) they both feel they can charge whatever the hell they want for their rake. If you ever look at their qualifiers you will notice they charge up to 30%! That is just flat out insane and to the average player they aren’t going to notice it because they don’t look at the numbers. But when you do the math you find out they are charging between 2-3 thousand dollars per player who wins a seat to a live finale. Last time I checked it didn’t cost too much to fly coach and stay in a group rated hotel in Las Vegas. The other issue I have is what I said the first time I noticed how much overlay they had on the first millionaire contest. They will make it up somehow because they are a business, and most likely it will come from us.
Nevertheless, both sites are thriving and this is a good thing. It reminds me of the poker days when the online sites were booming except compare to poker, DFS is legal and we don’t have to worry about losing our money. The fact that Disney bought in says a lot because I don’t see them affiliating their name with an online poker site.
The Other DFS Sites
Now to the small sites that we reviewed. What have they been up too and how are they shaping up in this last year? I personally love the smaller sites and got my start (financially speaking) because I won more these sites. Even though their tournaments don’t have prize pools in the six and seven figures, they still have some tournaments which award a good chunk of change to the winners. Draftday has been reviewed as the possible third biggest fantasy site after the purchase of Draftstreet and Starstreet by Draftkings.. Well DraftDay followed the footsteps of Draftkings and bought Fan Throw Down. I kind of find this funny because Fan Throw Down bought Daily Joust (one of my favorite sites in my early career) and then just turned to shit.
Fan Throw Down had huge issues and issued tax reports for everything you won even if you were down. Nevertheless, the site was horribly ran and was publicly traded. Their stock drop to pennies. Since the purchase of FTD, DraftDay really hasn’t made any changes. Their prize pools are almost the same and their cash games are still the same size with the same familiar sharks. The weird thing they did that I still don’t understand is they created another site and advertise it like it’s a completely different platform. I thought there was a new DFS site when I first heard of FanWars.com, and went to check it out only to find I already had an account with them. Their interface was the exact same as DraftDay and my sign in worked for Fanwars.com. So I still don’t understand what that is all about.
The next site I’ve reviewed was FantasyDraft.com. They had everything going and I called them out to compete with Fanduel and Draftkings as the next big thing. They have popular athletes as spoke persons and they even play on the site. They have a crazy sixth degree referral program which I thought was sure to take off. Everything was looking great as the interface, business model, and star power was all there, but THEY weren’t! They failed to launch their football until well after 3/4ths of the season was over and that was their first big mistake.
Their football season was pretty successful and I was really curious to see how they would translate over to basketball. They basically didn’t! Their games were about 1/20th the size and they had no big games. It didn’t make any sense and I thought “well, baseball is the 2nd biggest fantasy sport so maybe they are waiting for baseball”. Nope, wrong again! Here we are at the end of April and they still don’t even offer baseball. So I have no clue what is going on over there and I feel like a fool for being so excited for them.
FantasyUp had a great concept which I thought was sure to get players attention. They offered no rake from the middle of football season until April. The site motto was “for the players by the players” and they were very promising to start. But again it turned out to be the same cast of characters every night and the biggest complaint they had was they allow too many multi entries in their cash games. One player could make up to 10% of the field in some cases and it sucked when three guys made up 60% of the people who cashed. Still, kudos to them by offering different types of games like pick’ems and their pick-three and five.
I still like the site but after reading a Forbes article I feel like they don’t have plans to create bigger games. The overall goal of the site was to sell it to ESPN or Yahoo when they got into the DFS industry. Too bad for them because ESPN is owned by Disney and they just invested into Draftkings. Yahoo is set to launch their own DFS format and I haven’t heard anything about them planning to buy and use FantasyUp. CBSsports is still in the works and who knows, I may be wrong. They may be using the money they are collecting from their rake to start investing in their GPP’s.
Fanday was a site who had a cool promo where they literally gave you your deposit before you even played a game. No other site was doing this and I thought they had a nice interface as well. That promotion lasted about a week though then they stopped it.They had some decent tournaments but something didn’t seem right to me. Newer sites all have one thing in common that draws most the new business their way. It’s simple. It’s overlay because they don’t draw the traffic of the other sites. But for some reason Fanday never had overlay in their tournaments? I found this funny because they didn’t fill all their cash games and it was quite common for them to cancel them because they weren’t guaranteed. Yet their tournaments always filled up.
Then I found that they ran their own “advice” site called rotowriters because I highly doubt any affiliate site would rank Fanday number 1 and Fanduel number 2 in their rankings. Nevertheless, all their writers were avid players on Fanday. Then I started receiving emails from a site wanting me to pay them for Fanday Lu’s. This seemed odd because they aren’t that big of a site and I can’t imagine the demand for Fanday lineups would be that high.
Then it all clicked, they must be behind all of it and I believe they are filling up their guaranteed tournaments in house and keeping the money they win so they don’t have to pay it out to the users. I’m going to look into this more because this is incredibly illegal if it is true and it would be incredibly hard to trace. We don’t personally know all the users we see every day and how would we be able to tell if they had 30 in house lineups in their tournaments? Stay clear of Fanday and don’t waste your time there. It seems really shady to me and there are plenty of other sites who have better things too offer.
Victiv is striving and in my opinion is the third site in the industry. They expanded their games to PGA and college sports as well. Their football season was incredibly successful and they paid the winner $50,000 along with tickets to the Super Bowl! Then they followed up football with a pretty successful NBA season where their champion took home $25,000.
With the way they have been moving, I would have to say one could argue they are the number three site out there. I feel the way we compare Fanduel with Draftkings would be about the same as how we can compare Victiv with DraftDay. They are 3A and 3B but aren’t even close to Draftkings and Fanduel.
DraftTeam is another new site that made some noise with their $100k championship for the NFL season (which I was able to take 4th for seven grand). Their interface is still horrible and their pricing is all over the place still. I’m still not sure what to make of it because there are days where you have guys who are 1/10 the price of other players and almost seem like a must play at that price point. Their basketball season wasn’t nearly as big as their football season as their prize pools saw a huge drop. My assumption is they studied the market and realized that Basketball isn’t the sport to invest in, especially if you are a newer site.
They started off their MLB season with a nice opening day tournament and quickly after announced their mid season championship. As long as their GPP’s keep the payouts the way they are, I’m almost forced to keep playing there. That’s good for them!
Draftster is the last site I’m going to talk about for my year in review. What a roller coaster ride they were this last year and I think they finally flew off the tracks at the start of this baseball season. Their football season was phenomenal and they had such a great concept. The SES (single entry showdown) was their end of the year tournament where you had to win a Q to play in. You could only enter one team in the Q. They had three different buy in levels so this took away the advantage players with a big bankroll had. The big bankroll player’s weren’t allowed to make 20-30 teams to take down a Q and play in the SES championship. Everyone was equal and money didn’t factor in on who was the best fantasy player.
In the basketball season you could tell that Draftster was a new site because they were constantly changing their games to get a feel for their user base. This is quite normal. They then eventually made it where you could enter up to 10 $10 teams. First second, and third place were huge pay outs and 4th-60th just doubled their money. There was always overlay and they would often change their pay outs to top three heavy, or top 60 with a more even payout. This was kind of cool because the top three heavy pay was huge! We are talking $1000 for first, $500 for second and $200 for third. They even mixed in a $2000 for first one time.
I personally hate Draftster because they have the worst tie breaking rules in the industry. I tied for first when the prize was $2000 with a guy who had five of the exact same teams as me. They said he joined the contest first so he won the tie breaker and he won over three grand and I won ten bucks. Fuck those guys!
They completely changed the way they are doing baseball because they got killed and lost a lot of money in the basketball season. Now their baseball tournaments are $5 to enter and first pays $75. I guess if you are a micro stakes player that may be the place to play, but I’m done with them and don’t care if they go under after how they treated me.
Overall, it’s been an exciting year in DFS and I can’t believe this “just for fun” hobby is turning into professions for so many people. It’s looking more and more promising and even more big name companies like Yahoo and Poker Stars are getting in the mix. The more the merrier I say because all it means is they are going to fight with each other to earn our business. I was worried for a little because I felt the industry was monopolizing with all these sites buying out each other, but with Yahoo and Poker Stars jumping in the mix it means the exact opposite.
I can’t wait for next football season because that’s when we are going to start seeing the true colors of this industry! I also think after next football season we will have an idea of what to expect regarding this industry because it will either be really successful, or it’s going to come crashing down. As of now, things are looking good but I still feel that pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered!