If I had been smart enough — or skilled enough — to put Oklahoma City backup point guard Cameron Payne and Utah Jazz center Jeff Withey on my Daily Fantasy Sports team at Draft Kings last night, I might be telling you about how I turned $3 into $50,000.
There is a guy out there who actually is telling that story today, because through a combination of skill and luck, that player — who goes by the username of “supermanb8” — turned his $3 entry fee, or wager (depending on your point of view) into $50K by winning the $450,000 NBA Tip-Off Special last night with a lineup of Payne, Withey, Draymond Green, Zach Randolph, Rajon Rondo, DeMarcus Cousins, Al-Farouq Aminu and Anthony Morrow.
I put $3 at risk last night, as I do every night, and also drafted Green, who was coming off two straight triple-doubles and posted yet another — his NBA-leading seventh of the season — in Golden State’s 111-101 victory over the Charlotte Hornets.
But I also took a chance on Shane Larkin, who took over as Brooklyn’s starting point guard following the season-ending injury to Jarrett Jack, and Larkin was an abomination in Brooklyn’s 103-94 loss to Boston, scoring just 4 points with 2 assists, 2 rebounds and 2 turnovers in 27 minutes.
Larkin was drafted by 19.5 percent of the 172,500 entrants in the $3 entry fee league, whereas Rondo was chosen by only 7.8 percent of the players and finished one rebound shy of a triple-double with a line that included 13 points, 19 assists and 5 steals.
supermanb8 was not the only one who chose Draymond. A whopping 26.7 percent of entrants had the triple-double machine in their lineups. But what supermanb8 did in building a team around Rondo was brilliant. He also selected DeMarcus Cousins, who is the best center in the NBA but was drafted by only 5.4 percent of the entrants, and Cousins rewarded him with a line of 33 points, 19 rebounds, two blocks and another pair of 3-pointers, giving Boogie 29 made 3-pointers this season after he had totaled just 11 in his first five seasons combined.
supermanb8 also had the foresight to select Zach Randolph, who comes off the bench now for Memphis but was playing at Portland … the place where he played his first several seasons in the NBA and became a fairly reviled figure in that town before being traded away. Looking at it with 20-20 hindsight, you had to expect that Randolph would be stoked to play in Portland, and he was, going for 26 points and 18 rebounds in 31 minutes as the Grizzlies beat the Blazers 91-78.
Was the selection of Randolph a stroke of luck or a display of skill? I’d say it was the latter.
If you don’t know Randolph’s tendencies, and if you can’t channel those tendencies into a timely selection of Z-Bo, you don’t have fantasy basketball skills. Simple as that.
Was there any luck involved for supermanb8? Absolutely. He finished just 0.25 points ahead of the second place finisher, “floydmoorejr” and his lineup of Rondo, Withey, Rodney Hood, Shabazz Muhammad, Thaddeus Young, Kyle Lowry, Chris Bosh and Victor Oladipo. If any of those eight players had committed one fewer turnover (turnovers cost your DraftKings team 0.5 points), “floydmoorejr” would have picked up that $50,000 first-place prize instead of his $30,000 second-place prize.
All of this is especially relevant these days because the existence of the Daily Fantasy Sports industry is in jeopardy, with New York state attorney general Eric Schneiderman going after the two biggest players in the DFS industry, DraftKings and FanDuel, in a case that is now being heard by the full New York State Court of Appeals.
At the heart of the argument is whether DFS is a game of skill or a game of chance, and truth be told … it is a combination of both. (Full disclosure: I have a partnership with DraftKings, and I have partnered in the past with FanDuel. As a publisher for the past 4 1/2 years, I have experienced the benefits and frustrations of doing business with DFS companies, with the former outweighing the latter.)
You have to be smart and a little lucky to pick the right players on your eight-man roster every night, and if you are not keeping up with every box score every day, you are going to get trounced in DFS.
Yes, injuries can have an impact on thee outcome on any given night, but DraftKings allows players to be subbed out right up until tipoff, so if you are playing DFS and are staying plugged in up to the moment each night, you can make last-minute changes to adjust to last-minute announcements. And if you think juggling a smart phone, a remote control and a laptop in front of the television is not a skill, especially at age 50, you are just plain dead wrong.
There is a lot at stake in the DraftKings/FanDuel case in front of the New York Appeals Court. If the fantasy companies lose, it will likely inspire other states to take similar actions against Daily Fantasy Sports companies.
Losing the New York market would make a substantial percentage of DraftKings’ and Fan Duel’s customers ineligible. And if other states follow suit, the entire DFS industry would be at risk, and the trickle down effect would be massive.
The DFS companies’ partnerships with professional sports leagues and individual teams would disappear, depriving those entities of significant revenues. All those advertising dollars that flooded the market during football season would vanish. And when ad dollars vanish, companies that rely on advertising dollars cut costs (e.g. eliminate jobs) to make up for the shortfall.
The Fantasy Sports Network, which has grown into a behemoth, would become irrelevant.
Web sites that cater to fantasy sports players, such as Rotoworld, would see significant reductions in Web traffic. And when traffic goes down, revenues go down. And when revenues go down, guess what happens? Yup, people lose their jobs.
The Daily Fantasy Sports industry is a monster, no matter which way you look at it. It is part of an economic engine woven into the fabric of all pro sports. If it collapses, bad things are going to happen. But even if it survives, it’ll probably never operate on the level it was operating at just a few weeks/months ago.
If you’ve never played Daily Fantasy Sports, maybe you want to give it a try? This link will take you to a $3 entry fee contest, but it’ll be free if you are trying it for the first time. If you want fantasy advice, we have a writer here, Kent Williams, who gives free tips seven days a week.
More on this developing story in this interview with CineSport’s Brian Clark:
Chris Sheridan is publisher and editor-in-chief of SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter.