It takes a monumental effort and/or a fair amount of good fortune to win a large daily fantasy sports tournament.
Players might submit hundreds of thousands of total lineups, and the top few typically score within a few tenths of a point of each other.
Multiple entries create a field of disproportionate opportunity, too. Players with the deepest pockets have the most chances to win the biggest prizes. The best use a bevy of modeling and forecasting tools to optimize their odds. It has become a complicated game.
The two primary players in the DFS space, FanDuel and DraftKings, are both rolling out something a little more casual. DraftKings just launched its Pick’em format, a fast-paced, tiered drafting system free from salary cap constraints.
FanDuel is set to offer its own version of cap-less contests for the upcoming NFL season.
FanDuel ‘Mini’ format is DFS, concentrated
FanDuel’s new “Mini” concept takes DraftKings’ idea and boils it down to the basics. Mini is a condensed version of DFS.
Players fill just five roster spots: one quarterback, two running backs and two wide receivers. The salary cap is gone, allowing lineups to be stuffed with elite options. From there, the scoring for Mini contests follows the same rules as other FanDuel contests. It’s concentrated, high-octane daily fantasy sports.
The new offering is FanDuel’s second major change within the past month. It updated its “Friends mode” with the new Championship leagues, providing seasonlong group contests that are designed for a slow burn. This new Mini format is more like gunpowder than lamp oil, though.
There are no paid Mini contests in the lobby as of the time of writing, but FanDuel says they will be live for Week 1. There is, however, a huge free contest in store.
‘Golden 5’ weekly contest
To push its new offering, FanDuel’s announcement centered around the “Golden 5” contest with a total of $340,000 in prizes.
Each week, players can compete to set the perfect Mini lineup — the Golden 5. Create the week’s best-possible five-man roster and win $20,000. If nobody claims the prize for the week, it rolls over to the following week. Once it is claimed, it resets back to $20,000 and starts over again.
If more than one player ties for the high score, the prize will be split between all comparable lineups.
Sounds easy, right?
Probability is a branch of mathematics that sometimes deals with numbers so large they’re hard to visualize.
Despite the statistical nature of sports, there are some numbers that just don’t seem right. The public is just now starting to grasp the astronomical odds of filling out a perfect NCAA tournament bracket, for example.
Doing some quick napkin math, there are just under a billion possible Mini lineups for Week 1. It’s unlikely there will be more than one combination of players that produces the same possible top score, so just one lineup might be a winner in a given week.
Removing players lower on the depth chart makes the number a bit more manageable, but it’s still quite a task. It’s certainly better odds than the billion-dollar promotion going on over at DraftKings.
FanDuel is guaranteeing the total sum of money for the Golden 5, regardless. If nobody sets a perfect lineup all season long, all $340,000 will go to the highest scorer(s) in Week 17.