FanDuel NBA Lineup Change Is No Slam Dunk With DFS Community

Written By Juan Carlos Blanco on October 9, 2018
FanDuel NBA

There’s one thing that’s a constant in daily fantasy sports (DFS). Well, besides the screenshot brags on Twitter.

Gripes. The player community hasn’t exactly been shy about voicing their opinion about things that haven’t sat well over the years.

Granted, a general rule of customer service is that it’s impossible to address every complaint or resolve an issue to unanimous satisfaction. But to their credit, industry leaders DraftKings and FanDuel have offered some grease to the squeakiest wheels over the years by adjusting their product accordingly.

This coming NBA season brings with it two such examples. For its part, DraftKings has decided to bring back the late-swap option for NBA after a two-season hiatus. Meanwhile, FanDuel recently announced some news that’s in a similar vein, but with a twist  – the site is changing a component of its full-roster-format contests by dropping the lowest score in any lineup:

Half-hearted attempt = late swap lite?

To an extent, this serves a similar purpose to a late-swap option. For example, contestants with a late scratch in their lineups won’t get penalized for it by having to take a zero. The NBA is notorious for wreaking DFS havoc with its last-minute real-world lineup adjustments. This change is an effort to neutralize the effect of such instances.

However, it falls short of serving as a true late-swap replacement. Contestants are still out of luck if they have more than one late-scratch player on their roster. The same applies if they have both a late-scratch player and another who also exits a game early with an injury and falls well short of their scoring expectation.

And, without an actual late-swap feature, players can’t fully capitalize by plugging in a player’s typically cheap replacement if it’s a late scratch that’s announced after the slate locks. Being able to do so would allow them greater, valued lineup flexibility elsewhere.

Announcement not exactly met with open arms (or wallets)

Think DFS Twitter took note of said shortcomings?

One look at the reactions underneath FanDuel’s Oct. 5 tweet tells the tale – the DFS community’s reaction seems to be a firm “thanks, but no thanks.” And, in many cases, that’s putting it nicely.

Respondents also brought up another couple of key strategical anomalies that FanDuel’s latest change brings about:

  • The ability for contestants to roll the dice by grabbing a minimum-priced that may not even be active, knowing that the player’s score (or lack thereof) will be dropped anyhow. In turn, they’ll have that much more salary flexibility to roster viable mid-range options and high-priced studs.
  • The possibility that the upper portion of a contest’s leaderboard gets drastically altered due to the lowest score in lineups being dropped. For example, an otherwise first-place finisher drops out of the top spot.

Change may be subject to change

As with any major change to a business model, there’s no doubt FanDuel had a healthy debate before implementing this one. And given the amount of pro/con discussion the whole issue of late swap has generated in the past, they were likely expecting to deal with a fair share of negative feedback.

But it’s unlikely they saw this level of backlash coming. If they did, maybe they wouldn’t have gone in this direction in the first place.

The move is clearly an attempt to appease the many customers who’ve cried foul about the NBA’s hyper-fickle injury/inactives reporting over the years. Yet sometimes, in an attempt to compromise on a polarizing issue, things can inadvertently be made worse. Given the potential nightmares that could ensue with the new policy costing someone large amounts of money, for example, it seems increasingly likely the company will at least tweak some aspects of it.

Meanwhile, with many players now proclaiming they’ll move all their NBA play to DraftKings due to them re-implementing late swap, FanDuel’s current approach is increasingly looking like nothing short of an airball.

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Juan Carlos Blanco

Juan Carlos Blanco has served as a freelance writer for a wide variety of online publications and websites, with an intensive focus on fantasy sports. Juan has provided analysis and comprehensive coverage of the MLB, NBA, NFL, CFL, AAF and AFL while also reporting on news and developments in the daily fantasy sports and online gaming industries.

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