Debunking fantasy football’s ‘skill game’ defense: A follow-up to wagering the war on waging

“It’s a skill game, Jo.”

-Matt Damon in Rounders

I’ve been hearing this word a lot lately when it comes to shutting down online fantasy football gambling.

Yo Yo MaSkill.

When I think of skill, I think of an athlete who does the things we can’t, a musician who fluently speaks the language of his or her instrument, an artist or writer who expresses ideas in a manner uniquely their own.

Clearly the definition of skill is rather broad.  Heck, I’m a skilled bartender.  There’s no denying that.

But one of the online fantasy football company’s most holey of defenses, and the defense of those who support their cause, is that selecting a fantasy football lineup requires ‘skill.’

Let’s pump the brakes and debunk this myth right here and now.

I joined a fantasy football league this year, just one because I have a life.

Prior to draft day, I researched available players and where I might pick them.  I combed over waiver wires and injury reports, histories and trends.  I watched a fair amount of broadcasting advising me whom I should and shouldn’t pick.  I don’t know if any of that required ‘skill.’  In fact, I’m pretty sure it didn’t.

Message in a bottlePeople who think that sort of activity requires skill have never stood on a balance beam or learned a second language or practiced calligraphy or tried to put one of those miniature pirate ships in a bottle.  That takes skill.  Reading over football manuals while pounding shots of Jameson and ordering another round of chicken wings not so much.  Heck, one could make the argument that burping the alphabet requires more skill than winning your fantasy league.  After all, how many people do you know that can burp the alphabet?

People that firmly believe winning fantasy football requires skill have been watching Rounders a little too muchThe scene I refer to in Rounders comes when Matt Damon’s girlfriend finds him playing poker again.  In the film, Damon plays a poker savant.  When she refers to his poker outings as gambling, he counters with the argument that poker a skill game, which it is.  Being successful at poker consistently, over time, entails reading cards, situations, people and knowing their tendencies.  I’m not sure fantasy football involves any of that.

It doesn’t require skill to determine that Tom Brady is (still) the best quarterback in the league, just a set of eyes, half a brain and a cable connection.  Reading Street and Smith requires about as much skill as buying produce at your local supermarket, except that the magazine section is six aisles over.

Pesci tuxedoNot once in the history of fantasy football has one person said to the winner of his league “Congratulations on your victory.  You must be really skilled” and if they did, they said it in total jest.

I certainly hope the high-powered attorneys these companies have hired to defend their liberties aren’t going in front of the judge with a “fantasy football is a skill game” argument.  They’ll be laughed out of the courtroom quicker than Joe Pesci in a tuxedo.

I’m not sure how this will end but for the life of me, I still can’t tell the difference between wagering on football games and wagering on football lineups.

Or perhaps I’m just not that skilled.

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10 Replies to “Debunking fantasy football’s ‘skill game’ defense: A follow-up to wagering the war on waging”

  1. I’d like to thank Rockets’ owner Leslie Alexander and GM Donnie Nelson for already making the NBA season such an interesting one ! The firing of Kevin McHale after a mere eleven games, speaks to the franchise’s stupidity.

    So what if both Manning brothers were big losers in week ten. Why is everyone wailing on them and not the bull#hit seen with the Dallas Cowboys ? They’re no America’s Team than one might consider the Jacksonville Jaguars are believed to be the best NFL franchise in the state of Florida. I digress but it had to be said . LOL,LOL,LOL,LOL !!!

  2. Not sure that McHale firing is going to matter much, Al. Houston’s the third or fourth best team in the West at best.

    I’d have to think Harden had something to do with that firing, no? I mean, if Harden wanted him there, don’t you think he’d still be there?

  3. As you recall from your being astounded of my knowing my win-loss record over 17 years of playing fantasy football I also consider myself as well-versed on the topic as any. Success in fantasy football involves a tremendous amount of luck. This definition of skill just comes from knowing Brett Favre is retired, Tom Brady is good, Jamaal Charles is hurt, etc. Those examples are admittedly extreme. Of course the more you stay on top of weekly player health and team tendencies you can vastly improve your chances and better evaluate player worth but ultimately you have to be damn more lucky than skillful to actually win. One thing is for sure…betting on real games should be legal and as I’ve said before if all this nonsense leads to that let the fantasy madness continue.

  4. Burnsy…

    I’m pretty sure everybody in my fantasy league combs over their lineups extensively and I’m pretty sure none of us are skilled for doing so.

    However, I’m pretty sure we’d all be sitting in front of the local sportsbook in case one ever opened here.

    Unfortunately, I have a feeling we’re a long way away from that happening, especially in Florida.

  5. I would say DFS is 30% skill and 70% other (luck). Sometimes a guy shoots 8- 12 sometimes he shoots 4-12, no amount of skill can detect that. However, knowing when the Spurs rest their key guys and catching D-Wade not playing 40 minutes before tip does take some time and research.

    Poker on the other hand I would say is 80% skill. I feel both will be regulated and allowed to some extent within the next 10 years. The States can get some money that they would lose with their Lotto play going down if they allow DFS and poker.

    I do think it is too big to fail now. DFS is here to stay . Too much big money. It will just have to roll with the punches for a while. At least I hope so, as co-owner over at http://3jackalmanac where we post daily articles.

    Thanks! Good reading here.

  6. Harden’s probs are with his heads(plural). The Kardashian bitch is playing games with both of them. Now she wants Lamar back? No wonder Bruce is Caitlyn now.

  7. Bets…

    And yet millions of Americans still watch their show.

    Amazes me.

    So can we safely say that Khloe Kardashian is the one that got McHale fired? I wonder if she could take down the ’86 Celtics.

  8. The awesome thing about all of this is that YOU have succumbed to fantasy football madness! Nice!

  9. Chump vs knucklehead.. Oh the irony.

    You and I go head to head in a tournament, the limit on entries is 100 a piece. If you haven’t been playing much if any DFS then I’ll probably mow you down, period. Just like the horde of “sharks” that I see finish ahead of the heard on the weekly basis. I export these fuckers lineups when the week is complete and their methods obviously work consistently. These guys are better than everyone else, period. And I’m better than your average Joe, but not as good as the top sharks. I know this for a fact based on weeks upon weeks of exporting everyone’s results and grading each user.. Imacros is your buddy 😉

    So no, I’m not watching Rounders and coming up with my assessment. It’s based on numbers that I personally put together in small data sets… Yes small but what I noticed was more than proof enough that some guys really are making a living kicking the avergae joes ass on the daily. They use volume in large tournaments and use algos to create optimal variance across 100’s of entries. And for head to heads, they don’t seem to have an edge on me, but there again, so far it’s a small data set.

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