FanDuel, Yahoo Add Offerings Blending DFS and Season-Long Fantasy Sports
Just over a week ago, DraftKings launched “Leagues,” a new love child of season-long and daily fantasy sports. This week, DraftKings’ largest rivals, FanDuel and Yahoo! launched their competing offerings as an attempt to make DFS less about winning huge jackpots (or at least create the perception of such) and more about having fun taking on your friends to see who the smartest fantasy player is.
Let’s start with FanDuel, as it is compares most directly to what DraftKings is offering. FanDuel’s product is called “Friends Mode,” a competition-type in which players can enjoy the fun and limited commitment of daily fantasy wrapped in a season-long package. Those of us who have played DFS are used to entering huge guaranteed prize pool contests in which we plunk down our five, ten, or twenty bucks and try to essentially win the lottery by scoring more fantasy points than thousands of other players, many of whom submitted hundreds of entries. Friends Mode eliminates all that, allowing players to pick a lineup for a daily contest and only play against their friends in a small league, just as they might in a season-long fantasy game.
It is a very simple concept. A commissioner can form a league, give it a name and picture, and then invite friends to join. These friends can already be on FanDuel, or a link can be sent for those not already on the site. After that, the commish just determines what kind of contest will be played each week (this can be adjusted, as desired) and what the buy-in will be, and FanDuel handles everything else. League members can participate in as many of the contests as they would like; there is no penalty for skipping a week if life gets in the way. Contrast this to season-long fantasy, where forgetting to set a lineup can create problems and players frequently stop playing as the season wears on.
To give it more of a season-long feel, each league will have long-term standings posted, determined by each player’s top five weekly scores. It does not appear that the standings at the end of the season mean anything monetarily – they are just for bragging rights. But that’s one thing that could make this cool: players can still compete for money week to week without worrying about having to be obsessed with the league for an entire season and still be able to get the satisfaction of gloating over their buddies when all is said and done.
I haven’t played in a season-long fantasy league in a few years, something that was actually quite a relief until I discovered daily fantasy. It was nice being able to watch my Green Bay Packers and freely root for them to just win, rather than cheer for Randall Cobb to catch touchdown passes over Jordy Nelson or hope Aaron Rodgers DIDN’T thrown many touchdowns because my opponent was starting him, while still hoping the Packers found a way to win. Yahoo, though, was the site I used when I did want the confused loyalty of season-long fantasy.*
Yahoo’s product season-long/DFS hybrid is different than either DraftKings’ or FanDuel’s. It is still a week-to-week DFS game with overall season rankings, but there are no leagues involving friends and family here. Really, the “Yahoo Cup” is essentially still just daily fantasy against anyone and everyone who plays DFS on the site, but with added prizes at the end.
The big key with the Yahoo Cup, though, is that it is completely free to enter and all players are only permitted to have one entry. So, the field might be huge, but nobody is getting any sort of extra advantage using scripts or by dipping into their deep pockets.
There will be $10,000 in prizes awarded in Week 1 of the NFL season for the Yahoo Cup with additional prizes (likely) each week. At the end of the sixteen weeks, the contestants with the top 10,000 cumulative scores will split $93,000 in prizes, with $50,000 going to the winner. Most people – 1,001st through 10,000th place – will receive $1. That is one terrible hourly win rate across a sixteen week contest, but hey, it’s free money.
In Yahoo’s general multi-round contests, players must finish higher than a certain place in one round to advance to the next, but it does not appear that this is the case with the Yahoo Cup.
*Shout out to CBSSports.com, though, a site on which I played season-long fantasy basketball once, probably a decade and a half ago. I won that league and received an “autographed” letter of congratulations from Shaquille O’Neal in the mail.