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Daily Fantasy Sports players often flock to massive GPPs and the high volume of players over at industry-leading DFS platforms DraftKings and FanDuel, and while each site does certain things extremely well, there are nuances between the platforms’ scoring models and player pricing (among other things). So why play DraftKings? Here, we take a look at the pros, the cons, and what it takes to get started on one of the premiere daily fantasy sports platforms.
DraftKings launched in 2012, three years after FanDuel’s launch, in Boston, Massachusetts. Jason Robins, one of the co-founders, serves as the company’s Chief Executive Officer, while the other two co-founders are also executives within the company.
What began with a $1.4MM investment in 2012 quickly turned into an investment from Major League Baseball, and, ultimately, a $24MM Series B fundraising round. By 2014, the company boasted 50,000 daily active users, major partnerships, and an advertising push that included such verbiage as “Win a shipload of money.” That push, led largely by a bloated marketing budget, inserted DraftKings in front of millions of new users, promising the opportunity to win big money in the talent-based contests.
That drew the scrutiny of government agencies and policy-makers, such as Eric Schneiderman, who is famous (and in some instances notorious) for his role as antagonist to DraftKings and FanDuel as the Attorney General of New York State. He issued cease-and-desist letters to the two DFS giants in 2015, heavily disrupting the two companies’ revenue streams.
This led to a period of uncertainty, which led to a proposed merger between DraftKings and FanDuel. That merger was ultimately was abandoned due to strains with the Federal Trade Commission and issues surrounding DK/FD 90%+ market share. Given this, the two giants are moving forward in an attempt to continue scaling up as unique entities, but in an environment where the government has stepped in with much more oversight.
Why Play At DraftKings?
- Massive Prize Pools: The big thing that got DFS into hot water in the first place was the suggestion that anyone can win it big. Well, though these GPPs (Guaranteed Prize Pools) at DraftKings are highly competitive, they do boast the highest payouts in the industry, including the Millionaire Maker, their featured product. If you’re looking for high-risk, high-reward, DraftKings does it better than anyone else.
- Reintroduction of Night Mode: I hated it when Night Mode was removed, and there was at least some traction within the community to bring it back. Well, DraftKings listened. Their Night Mode setting is considered much easier on the eyes by many. I certainly enjoy the darker theme to the lighter.
- Late Swap (in most cases): DraftKings has drawn some ire for eliminating late swap from the majority of NBA contests. However, the site does support this feature in NFL, MLB, NHL and Soccer, so there’s still plenty of late swap contests available at DK.
- No Kickers: Some enjoy selecting kickers. We’re not those people. DraftKings eliminated the kicker position several years ago, which has been a positive thing, considering we get the Flex position instead.
- Ambitious Product Growth: With new sports, new formats, and an ever-expanding product portfolio, DraftKings is the leader in gaming development. This year, they came out with their new Pick’Em format, and a few years back they released the DK Live App, which integrates with the flagship DraftKings app to bring you the latest player updates on gameday. When it comes to first-to-market, DraftKings is more of a trailblazer than a follower, which means you’ll likely get the best of the hot, new features there before anywhere else.
- New Pick Em Format: Speaking of the Pick’Em format, the newest game at DraftKings introduces a lower-barrier-to-entry option that narrows down the massive list of player options to a handful at each tier. It’s a nice change of pace, but still quite competitive.
DraftKings offers DFS contests in NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, Golf, NASCAR, MMA, WNBA, SOC, eSports, and CFL. They also offer several different types of contests:
- Classic (Salary Cap): The original game format for DraftKings, the classic game features a $50,000 salary cap to be spread out across a set number of positions. Players can spend whatever they want on whomever they choose, just as long as the final overall salary does not exceed that $50,000 figure. The players scores are then calculated for the overall lineup score.
- Pick’Em: Unlike the classic format, the Pick’Em format is a new, lower intensity format that limits the user’s available choices by selecting a subset of the overall pool and dividing those players among eight tiers. DFS players are tasked with selecting one player at each tier, with available players at a given tier stacking up well against the majority of the other players at said tier. For instance, at the top tier, one may be forced to select between Todd Gurley, LeVeon Bell, and Antonio Brown, meaning you’ll only be able to roster one of those three elite options.
DraftKings also offers different types of contests within these game types, including multiplayer, head-to-head, double-ups, triple-ups, GPPs and Leagues.
- Head-To-Head: You vs. someone else. Simple as that. The head-to-head format won’t double up your money outright thanks to the rake, but it’s an effective contest type, especially for those who identify more as lower-stakes cash players.
- GPPs: Guaranteed prize pools are the biggest, shiniest contests over at DraftKings. As their name suggests, GPPs are guaranteed pools, and at DraftKings, they typically carry massive guarantees (i.e. Milly Maker). These are high-risk, high-reward tournaments that give players incredibly low probabilities of winning.
- Multipliers: Whether it’s doubling or tripling up that you want, multipliers give you the opportunity to do it. While taking down first place carries the same payday as finishing anywhere else in the money, multipliers do all for more predictable DFS performance than high-variance GPPs.
- Leagues: If you’re looking to get the gang together in a DFS capacity, leagues might be right for you. This private feature allows you and your friends to compete week-to-week, tracking results throughout. Though certainly not the most popular DraftKings feature, it does have a specific use case that appeal to many, especially those who are used to the competition and community amongst friends experienced in season-long formats.
DraftKings Rules & Scoring
DraftKings scoring is very similar to other sites, though there is obviously going to be some nuance. For instance, touchdowns are worth 4 points and each rushing yard is worth 0.1 points. However, DraftKings operates with a full-point-per-reception format, meaning each reception is worth 1.0 points, the equivalent to 10 yards rushing or receiving yards. This is a highly important distinction to make, as receptions are more valuable here than any other site.
Also, DraftKings offers player performance bonuses at certain thresholds. This spans across multiple sports. For instance, in NBA, players are given bonus points for double- and triple-doubles, whereas in NFL, players earn bonuses for receiving yards and rushing yards of 100 or more in a game, as well as for 300+ passing yards. FanDuel does not leverage a bonus system, which is another reason certain plays are better on one platform than another.
While the full-point PPR format and bonus system are the two greatest differences between FanDuel and DraftKings in scoring, obviously other nuance exists. However, by and large, scoring doesn’t differ greatly between the platforms. But when it does differ, as it does with PPR scoring and performance bonuses, the implications are massive.
DraftKings Salaries and Lineup Construction
DraftKings offers the most comprehensive portfolio of contests, featuring everything from League of Legends to the WNBA to NASCAR and MMA. While Pick’Em contests do not differentiate tiers by position, most sports do follow a very specific lineup structure, albeit with plenty of flexibility thanks to multi-position eligibility and FLEX spots.
Roster construction by sport:
NFL: QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, WR, TE, FLEX, D/ST
NBA/WNBA: PG, SG, SF, PF, C, G, F, UTIL
MLB: P, P, C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, OF, OF, OF
NHL: C, C, W, W, W, D, D, G, UTIL
SOC: F, F, M, M, D, D, GK, UTIL
Golf: 6 golfers
eSports: TOP, JNG, MID, ADC, SUP, FLEX, FLEX, TEAM
MMA: 6 fighters
CFL: QB, RB, WR, WR, FLEX, FLEX, D/ST
NASCAR: 6 drivers
Again, DraftKings features multi-position eligibility, as well as flexibility in lineups thanks to the flex positions in most sports. Golf, NASCAR, and MMA are the clearest outliers, as those are the three sports in which no player slot is differentiated at all by a position (since they are individual sports).
These roster setups do not differ greatly from FanDuel and other sites, though DraftKings is probably the most flexible and therefore allows for a greater amount of potential lineup constructions. That, one could argue, increases the importance of skill and precision on this site.
DraftKings Deposits & Withdrawals
DraftKings accepts deposits via PayPal and all major credit cards. DraftKings also accepts Visa, MasterCard, and American Express gift cards. After approval, funds from withdrawal will typically appear anywhere from 2-8 days later. Physical checks, one form of withdrawal, do take up to three weeks, however.
What Makes DraftKings Different and Final Thoughts
DraftKings has long been the brasher, more bullish DFS website, acquiring a massive amount of funding, executing persistent marketing campaigns, and a more comprehensive partnership strategy with professional sports organizations (they’ve partnered with the NHL, MLB, and others).
While DK (and the industry as a whole) got a slap on the wrist by Schneiderman and co., and while they’ve taken a much more conservative marketing approach as a result, DraftKings remains the leader in the industry. While others may do certain things better at a micro level, the Boston-based company has the most complete package, and that includes the best contests, top guarantees, and, at this point, has to be the most likely to succeed.
That doesn’t, however, mean you’ll succeed on their platform just by depositing. While, yes, literally anyone with $20 and a DraftKings account can technically win the Milly Maker, don’t get your hopes up. Those contests have hundreds of thousands of entries and have a very top heavy payout structure. Also, be mindful of the lineup limits and payout depth on any contests you are entering, as you’ll have a much better shot at cashing in some contests as opposed to others .
But DraftKings offers plenty of contests to fit a player’s style or likes. For instance, head-to-heads are perfect for those who don’t want to max-enter GPPs with dozens of lineup variations and potentially hundreds of thousands of opposing lineups. Multiplayer double-ups are another way to lessen the risk. And of course there are single entry tournaments, 3-entry tournaments, and other limited-entry tourneys that seek to decrease the amount of lineups per entrant. Recently, all contests with a buy-in of $4 or less, have been capped at 20-entry max.
In short, no matter what you’re looking for in DFS, DraftKings likely can accommodate you in one way or another. They give you a free entry upon your first deposit and frequent player points allow you get something back in exchange for your play. Overall, DraftKings is number one for a reason.