In the recent years, Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) has aggressively made its presence known to sports fans and businesses everywhere. By the end of 2015, industry heavyweights DraftKings and FanDuel both had estimated values of around $1 billion and collectively controlled about 95% of the American DFS market. This dreamlike business, however, has started to take heat nationwide as lawmakers, regulators, and law enforcement agencies question the industry’s legitimacy. The courts are holding investigations into whether DFS constitutes illegal gambling in almost two-dozen states. Comprehensive bans have already been established in Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada and Washington.
Even the New York Times took notice of the rapidly growing industry, publishing an article in early January 2016 titled, “How the Daily Fantasy Sports Industry Turns Fans Into Suckers,” where writer Jay Caspian Kang argued that DFS is rigged to ensure the average sports fan’s defeat.
In an attempt to salvage the image of their cash machine, DraftKings and FanDuel have issued statements contending that DFS is a game of skill and not blind luck. These attempts, however reasonably supported, seem like desperate attempts to keep a good thing going, but a budding start-up built on a marriage of sports and analytics is backing up the giants’ claims.
During his senior year of high school, Dylan Elder (COL ’19) and three of his best friends took an AP Statistics class that forever changed how they looked at sports. The self-proclaimed “sports nerds” had played sports since kindergarten, watched professional sports their entire lives, and played season long fantasy teams. This passion and the growing presence of DFS all converged during the 2015 basketball season and their company, And1Analytics, was born.
And1Analytics takes the guesswork and luck out of DFS and proves that it takes more than the occasional viewing of SportsCenter or game highlights to succeed in the highly competitive field.
“When you play these games you notice that if you don’t do the research beforehand, over time, three or four days a week, you’re going to lose,” Elder said. “Guys have these complicated algorithms they rely on, they make money off of this, and they put more time into it than the average sports fan.”
What And1Analytics provides its customers is their own complicated and constantly evolving algorithms, which generate lineups for DFS games and tournaments for a number of professional and collegiate sports. They offer three packages – Season Long, MVP and VIP – and all are catered to different DFS player needs. The best package according to Elder however, is the MVP.
The MVP offers two lineups per day for every sport And1Analytics offers. Both lineups are specialized for either tournament or 50/50 based games and give customers a wider array of lineups. This breadth acts much like a diversified stock portfolio, allowing users to spread risk over a variety of different sports, which mitigates users’ losses. So where does the skill come in?
Elder admits, “Before we had this algorithm, I was losing. More than half the people playing Daily Fantasy are doing this for fun, and that’s my favorite part about it, but if you actually want to make money off of it, you have to put in the effort.”
And1Analytics has shown that through research and hard work, redefining the experience proposed by Kang is possible. Since November 2015, the team has published the records of all of their lineups. Thus far, And1Analytics’ lineups have a calculated 61.4% cash return rate. In an industry where DraftKings’ and Fanduel’s business plans are built around their customers losing, this statistic is promising. The success however, does not stem from blind luck. The team is constantly researching and analyzing sports data, updating their proven algorithms, and developing new ones to replicate their success in new sports.
The team is dedicated to their customers, company, and the pastime they love, allowing the young enterprise to become one of the most successful competitors in DFS. And1Analytics proves through its products and resulting victories that winning in DFS comes down to going beyond what the average sports fan is willing to do. They understand that many sports fans do not have the time for such intensive analytics and research, but with a single subscription, the average sports fan has access to a team that will do it for them… that is, for a price.