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.
In this interview we get a chance to ask Westy (Derek) a few questions about the evolution of the Daily Fantasy Football games and what it takes to win on a weekly basis. Westy is best known for his ability to dominate the head-to-head games market and has a real respect in the Daily Games community for his particular skill set. For bonus tips and help with your weekly lineups be sure to follow Westy over on Twitter @westyDFS
Westy (Derek) Interview
First off, what is your fantasy football background?
I started playing in the mid 90s when I got to university. During those years I spent more time playing fantasy football and baseball than I did studying. I remember constantly trying to work out trades with my buddy Aaron during Statistics class. I played at Sandbox primarily until they went out of business in 2002 and then I moved over to Yahoo!, which is where I still play the majority of my season-long leagues.
What first got you interested in the Daily Fantasy Games type of leagues?
I discovered Daily Fantasy Sports at an online sportsbook before Fanduel even existed. I liked how much easier it was to win compared to betting on sports. It was great finding out whether I won or lost the same day. Regardless of the outcome I knew the next day was an opportunity to start over again which I think is the biggest benefit over season-long leagues. Back then there were no Guaranteed Prize Pools (GPPs), it was all head-to-head (H2H) and smaller group contests. I had a lot of success playing H2H football and baseball contests there before the sportsbook folded. Then I discovered Fanduel :)
What is your reaction to the recent explosion on the Daily Fantasy Games scene?
It's crazy how fast things are growing. It's great as a H2H player because the overall player pool is expanding rapidly. The industry growth has translated into lots of competition among the sites which has resulted into more perks for the players like bonuses and loyalty programs, as well larger tournaments and prize pools.
How do you feel about Daily Fantasy Games compared to the season-long (redraft/dynasty) leagues?
I've pretty much given up all my season long leagues now except for a couple that I've been in for a long time. The daily game is so much more exciting and you get to take that feeling of doing a draft and apply it each week. You can play daily fantasy sports so many different ways (H2H, small groups, big tournaments) as opposed to having to keep the same team week after week in traditional fantasy football which is a big draw for me. One thing that's always bothered me about Redraft/Dynasty leagues is that you can't control things such as other owners making bonehead trades and screwing up the league or influencing your chance to win. Daily fantasy takes those issues away since there are no trades and it's just your best team against everyone else's and each week things start all over again.
Can you discuss some of the FanDuel features you like best when it comes to playing daily fantasy football?
Fanduel has the most players so that's a big plus. Their site is easy to use and the lineup builder is simple. The feature I like most is their roster editing which has been greatly improved within the past year or so. Since I play 200+ contests a week at Fanduel during the NFL season it's important to me that the lineup editing works well.
Is there anything you think FanDuel could improve upon with their football leagues and contests?
As someone who posts hundreds of contests per week during the NFL season, I'm really hopeful Fanduel adds the ability to post multiple contests at once. Most sites offer that feature and I'm surprised they don't have it yet. I typically spend a few hours each week posting contests and I'd much rather use that time on other things. I know they are working on it and I hope they get it ready for Week 1.
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 primarily play H2H and 50/50s. I do play the bigger tournaments but I don't usually play the 5-20 man groups as I don't like the big swings in variance. My specialty is H2H and I try hard to play as many contests as possible against as many different players as I can to control my risk and earn a steady profit.
I recently interviewed Naapstermaan and he went on and on about how you dominated the head-to-head competition on FanDuel. Why do you prefer the H2H versus larger tournaments?
I prefer H2H for a few reasons. I like to control my bankroll conservatively and the best way to do that is with H2H and 50/50 contests. And I just feel much more comfortable playing heads up. I like to build the best team I can and enter it against as many different players as possible. I just prefer to build one quality team that I believe gives me an edge and then I apply that edge as much as I can. I also play at other sites and I find that managing 500+ H2H contests each week in addition to entering the bigger tournaments is too much for me from a time (and stress) perspective.
What advice or tips would you give to a rookie just starting out in the Daily Fantasy Games scene?
- Learn as much as you can from online strategy articles and forums like Rotogrinders.
- Handpick your opponents. This is key. The best way to do this is to watch the contest lobby and play a variety of players with a low number of wins. DO NOT post games if you're just starting out, you'll get nothing but sharp players picking them up. It's best to pick your opponents in the beginning until you gain some respect.
- Do play a few games against some of the better players (at lower stakes) to see how they are putting their teams together. It's a great way to learn.
- Stay up to date with player news - Rotoworld is a great resource.
- Play freerolls when you can, they cost nothing to enter and you can win cash and learn at the same time.
- Manage your money intelligently. Decide on your goals and your bankroll and manage your risk accordingly.Play a variety of contest types (H2H, 50/50, 5-man, 10-man, tournaments) to find out what you enjoy and which you have success with. Try a few different sites too as they all have different roster sizes, scoring systems and player pricing.
- Every player is different and every site is different, sometimes it takes a little time to find the best match.
What other players in the industry should people be looking out for?
There are so many great players now I wouldn't even know where to start.
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?
For me personally I would take a shot at Fanduel's big football tournament, the FFFC. I'm only speculating but the top prize should be the $250,000 range. If I got $100 free I would use it there since it's the biggest bang for the free money.
For players who prefer a little less riskier option I'd say jump in a couple of 10-man $50 50/50s. The 50/50s are great because it's like playing a whole bunch of H2H matches at a fraction of the risk level. The trick is to note the other players already in the 50/50 and pick one with opponents you feel you can beat. All you need to do is defeat half the other opponents but you don't want to be entering a group with lots of sharks. I'd enter two of those 50/50s with different opponents and see if I could double up with that free money.
How are you planning your bankroll management (percentages) for the upcoming football season?
I'm fairly conservative since I play with a larger bankroll than most people. I will play 10%-15% of my bankroll per week spread across four sites - Fanduel, Fantasy Feud, StarStreet, and DraftDay. I played at eight sites last year and it was just too much of a time commitment. This year I'm going to focus on the four sites which are the best fit for me and focus my time there.
What type of daily fantasy football information would you like to see in the future from the Footballguys community?
As little as possible! No, just kidding, but I have noticed an increase in the skill level of my opponents as more fantasy football sites like Footballguys post quality information. I'm finding it more difficult each year to maintain an edge as the regular player has access to a lot of good information online without having to do all the research himself.
More from James Brimacombe:
Player Spotlight: Jay Cutler - July 24
Daily Games Introduction: What is FanDuel? - July 21
Player Spotlight: Kendall Wright - July 11
Player Spotlight: Ben Tate - July 2
FanDuel Plays of the Week: Week 17 - December 27
FanDuel Plays of the Week: Week 16 - December 19
FanDuel Plays of the Week: Week 15 - December 12
FanDuel Plays of the Week: Week 14 - December 5
FanDuel Plays of the Week: Week 13 - November 27
FanDuel Plays of the Week: Week 12 - November 21