Daily Fantasy A Different Way: DraftKings Takes Away Salaries With New ‘Pick’em’ Format

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DraftKings Pick'em

DraftKings is launching a new daily fantasy sports product called “Pick’em” that will try to engage more casual players in time for NFL season.

“This is our most significant release we’ve made … in a really long time,” co-founder Matt Kalish said at media briefing ahead of the upcoming NFL season in New York on Tuesday. “It’s the thing we’ve had in mind the most as we were building up the platform.”

What is DraftKings Pick’em?

Pick’em is an offering from where users don’t have to stay within the constraints of a salary cap.

The mechanics of the contest will be familiar to what DFS players are used to. Namely, users must select which contest they want to enter and pay the entry fee. They will still be playing against other DraftKings users in those contests.

No salaries, but tiers

From there things get a bit different. Players in the Pick’em mode have no salaries associated with them. That obviously means there is no salary cap, which is the only type of game that DraftKings and FanDuel had offered to date.

When constructing their fantasy lineups, users will be asked to select players from “tiers” of available players. Users will be given a list of several players — approximately eight for NFL contests. All they have to do is choose one from a tier.

Users will be whisked off to the next screen, with another tier of players available to pick from. This continues until one player from each tier is selected. Then the mechanics return to DraftKings’ core game, where players rack up fantasy points; the users accumulating the most points win cash prizes.

The tiers are likely to have players that are expected to account for a similar number of fantasy points.  The idea certainly isn’t a wholly new one in the fantasy space, but it’s the first time it will be run with this kind of scale.

Contests are expected to go live on Aug. 15.

Not just NFL

“It’s something that can apply to every sport we do,” Kalish said.

At the start it will be available for NFL, Major League Baseball and soccer contests, with Pick’em expanding to more sports eventually. They will be constructed like this:

Why the new fantasy product?

DraftKings and FanDuel are both trying to expand their product and encourage more recreational users to play and continue playing.

While DraftKings says it has eight million registered users, CEO Jason Robins said on Tuesday that about half of those can be classified as “active.”

Growing that number is obviously at the heart of DraftKings’ plans. And offering a game format that is a bit easier to play is one of the ways it hopes to do that.

“One thing we heard from a lot of players is they thought the salary cap model is a little bit intimidating,” Kalish said, “that it feels like you have to be doing math all the time and pulling up an Excel spreadsheet.”

“It’s something we’ve been asked for by our players dating back to 2014,” Kalish continued.

It’s also much more mobile-friendly, Kalish said, as it’s easier to select players in Pick’em, without the constraints of a salary cap.

The news of Pick’em came as FanDuel targets seasonlong players with its “Championship Leagues” launch.

While the future is uncertain, it’s clear both DFS companies will be looking to iterate and expand their product offerings.