Fantasy Football might be rigged, but I keep playing.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has started an inquiry into the practices of fantasy football web sites after an assortment of revelations including one in which an employee at the popular site DraftKings was discovered last week to have used his own company's proprietary data analysis to take home a $350,000 prize at FanDuel, a rival site.
But regardless of this investigation, and others by some states, I'm still playing.
I began playing fantasy football three years ago after spending college watching friends pour over the reams of data generated by the sport and its players. Gradually, I began to do the same, betting a little bit from week to week. It wasn't until I started playing fantasy football consistently that I realized how immersive and enjoyable it really is. Currently, I'm hooked to the the daily fantasy engine at Fan Duel.
Be certain, I'm under no illusions. Fan Duel is a gambling site, plain and simple. Each week, a participant is given the opportunity to wager money on various kinds of contests arranged by the site and other members using the site. FanDuel provides the thrill of being able to win money in both very large and very small amounts. That's certainly an incentive.
Nonetheless, it's quite obvious that fantasy football can, and should, be classified as an online sports book and casino.
Participating in FanDuel is really quite easy. You start by buying into a contest with other fantasy players ranging from $1 wagers to those well over $100. These contests vary in both the size of player pool, prize money, and game start times.
Once registered, a participant is given a "salary" to "buy" players. Players are priced in descending order, depending on how popular they are with other players buying them onto their own teams. Once your team is composed, you have the option to edit your line up until the earliest game begins, depending on what teams your players are on and what day those players play.
Then, based on performance, players gather points. The higher your total cumulative point count, the higher your rank among your contest's participants. To win actual money, you must have enough points to beat out nearly 70% of all other players. These points can fluctuate minute by minute as games continue from Monday to Thursday to Sunday. You can lose money just as easily by having other players' teams outrank you with better performances. Winners receive their money on Tuesday, after all weekly contests have ended.
This (almost) scientific element to both watching football and playing out this "fantasy" has brought a whole new level of enjoyment to the viewing of the sport. It's given me a new a reason to watch games, to pay attention to the players I so carefully picked. The competition is friendly, (relatively) inexpensive and low risk if you play low-stakes. To a casual sports fan like myself, this makes football, well, more fun.
I have a reason to want certain teams and players to be competitive, and I find myself invested in the sport. It has made me a smarter fantasy player. I have learned more about football strategy itself, and this education has allowed me to make smarter decisions when creating a line-up or making a wager, albeit a small one, on a contest. Simply, I like using Fan Duel, because it is fun.
I haven't invested a large amount of money in Fan Duel. I've actually made money. As someone who doesn't gamble regularly or visit casinos very often, the site offers a small thrill each week that makes the experience both enjoyable and lucrative.
I'll keep playing, regardless of what the FBI finds.