To be able to understand the daily fantasy games that FanDuel offers, we at Footballguys wanted to get a jumpstart on the 2013 season and run an interview series with some of the biggest Daily Fantasy players in the business. What better way to learn the tricks of the trade, then by interviewing the guys that have the experience and results as some of the top players at FanDuel.
When it comes to grinding it out in the Daily Fantasy Sports world, few players stand out as much as Naapstermaan (Erik) does. He currently sits at top of Rotogrinders Tournament player of the year honor, and in the past year has made it into FanDuel's Vegas finals for both of their high stakes NBA and NFL contests. Naapstermaan is a master when it comes to the FanDuel tournament play and who better could we ask for advice then from Erik.
Naapstermaan (Erik) Interview
First off, what is your Fantasy Football background?
Football was definitely the first sport I started doing fantasy in, and that was probably when I was 14 or 15 with some free season-long leagues on Yahoo with friends. I've been doing anywhere from 1-10 season-leagues a year since then and I started playing daily fantasy NFL in 2010 on Fanduel.
What first got you interested in the Daily Fantasy Games type of leagues?
I discovered daily fantasy at pretty much the perfect time. I had grinded online poker for about 8 years and then when it got pretty much shut down I was looking for something to really get in to hardcore and just saw an ad for Fanduel.com online and haven't left since. The instant payouts and just the daily competitiveness of trying to out-think thousands of other people was what got me hooked.
What is your reaction to the recent explosion on the Daily Fantasy Games scene?
It's interesting since there's pluses and minuses of having an insane influx of new users coming in to an industry. The biggest plus is that more people are trying out a game they aren't totally comfortable with yet, and will likely donate a few deposits before catching on. The biggest minus is that fields are getting much larger (if you play the tournaments), and it's going to be extremely tough to start qualifying for finals of major events in fields of over 5,000 people when it used to be under 1,000. Overall I think it's awesome because more daily fantasy sites are competing with each other to get as many of these new users as possible which in turn makes the product and prize pools improve and grow as fast as the new people are joining.
How do you feel about Daily Fantasy Games compared to the Season long (Redraft/Dynasty) leagues?
To me there is no comparison besides the concept of having a real-life person on your fake-team and competing against other peoples' fake-teams. With daily you are basically having a season-long draft against yourself as many times as you want a day, on any day you want, but only for games on that day. With season-long you are drafting 1 day of the year for the entire season, and if you do well you get paid 6 months later. Daily fantasy just basically wipes the slate clean every single day that you want to play, and you don't have to worry about guys on your DL, trades with other owners, etc., you are in total control of your team every day which is just way more fun for me and pretty much everyone I know who's tried it. Sure season-long leagues with friends are fun and all and I will always play in those, but for any hardcore sports fan or even a casual fan who just wants some side action, daily fantasy is the way to go.
How does FanDuel compare to the other Daily Fantasy sites when it comes to weekly NFL contests?
Fanduel probably has the largest user-base as far as NFL goes, just since they have been doing it the longest, have the most advertising, and have the simplest interface for new users learning daily fantasy. They also have the biggest live final in Vegas for NFL which will likely have a $250k+ 1st place prize this year so that's the one to go after. Other sites also have amazing daily NFL products and huge prize pools so you just have to try a bunch out and you will know which ones you like the most over time.
Can you discuss some of the FanDuel features you like best when it comes to the NFL.
I like the simplicity of their lineup builder and scoring so you can make a team extremely fast if you don't have much time. I love playing tournaments and Fanduel definitely has the biggest selection of NFL tournaments, ranging from $1 up to $535, with single-entry and multi-entry options at all levels as well.
Is there anything you think FanDuel could improve upon with their football leagues and contests?
I think some players should have multi-position eligibility, like Dexter McCluster as a (RB/WR) instead of just one position. It would make for much less lineup overlap with way more lineup possibilities. Also a utility spot of some kind, either replacing one of the kicker/defense spots or just adding an extra position, would make it way more fun with so many options.
With a variety of league types that FanDuel offers (H2H, 50/50, 3-man, 5-man, 10-man, 20-man, Tournaments), which ones do you play regularly? And Why?
I started doing h2h and the small 3-20 man leagues and over time I just moved primarily to big field tournaments. If I put in the research and effort to make a team or many teams that I feel are optimal for that day, I'd rather go for the biggest prize possible than just doubling my money (minus the rake). There's definitely more variance which I am able to handle and with multi-entry tournaments you can plan a few different lineups to work together or sort of hedge against each other or just cover more players you like that day, which is more fun/challenging to me than focusing on just 1 lineup and playing against just 1 or a couple other people. Any size/format can be profitable you just have to find which ones you do best at or enjoy playing the most.
What other players in the industry should people be looking out for?
Oh man there's too many at this point to list them all. Once you play against the same person a few times or study all their entries in a tournament you quickly realize who knows what they are doing, who takes it seriously, who thinks outside the box on their picks, etc., and which users specialize in what sport and what game type. If I started listing off players to look out for I could probably list over 50 with no problem and I don't want to leave anyone out haha.
What advice or tips would you give to a rookie just starting out in the Daily Fantasy Games scene?
Just take it slow at first. Read a ton of strategy articles on daily fantasy, stick to 1 or 2 sites at first and try a few free games to get a feel for the scoring/lineup formation process. If you see results in free games then try some real money games and over time as you get better and keep seeing results branch out to other sites maybe or take some shots at big tournaments or higher buy-in games, just as long as you are smart with your bankroll and know how to move down levels if you go on cold streaks.
It is week 1 of the NFL season and you just got a free $100 to play with on FanDuel, how do you spend the money?
Haha I wrote a blog on this exact same question on Rotogrinders.com last season, except the $100 could be used on all of the main daily fantasy sites and only for tournaments. It's hard to answer the question without seeing what Fanduel is offering yet on week 1 of NFL but for a new user I'd recommend trying a little of everything. A $5 h2h, a $5 five-man, ten-man, twenty-man, etc., and all of the $10 and under tournaments they offer. If you put together a lineup you really love then take a shot at a huge payout even if the buy-in is a little out of your range. I have a feeling that week 1 Fanduel is going to put out some incredible payouts for even the $10 and under buy-in tournaments so take some chances it's only 17 weeks long!
You have qualified for some of the bigger FanDuel Vegas events and had to beat huge qualifying fields and odds to do so. Do you care to discuss your thought process when it comes to submitting a lineup for these large tournaments?
I like putting multiple entries into these qualifiers so my thought process is just to cover my favorite plays of the day while throwing a few off-the-wall lineups in that you think no one else will have. For NFL most of my variation in multiple lineups is in the kickers and defense. To win a qualifier you usually need the defense that goes off as well as a top 5 kicker to get that big edge over the field. For a single entry just make sure your team is unique with some studs and sleepers and hope you hit the right kicker and defense and you got a shot at Vegas!