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$2.5 Million NFL Sunday Million Tournament


What Does It Take to Win?

For my first weekend, I entered one of the signature contests at FanDuel: the $2.5 Million NFL Sunday Million Tournament. The entry fee is $25 and the top prize is $300,000.

The Sunday Million is the event touted around the Internet in so many FanDuel ads. All season, I’ve been seeing an advertisement for these weekly tournaments at my favorite fantasy football league site, My Fantasy League.

$300K 1st Prize Jackpot

I like to think those ads have no effect on me. But then again, here I am, and the first week I’m a member at the site, I’m playing in one of the contests. While I know the odds are bad that I’m going to win anything, the allure of playing for a life-changing jackpot prize is significant.

I give a chuckle when I say “life-changing”. For the past ten years, I’ve been a freelance writer online. A whole bunch of that content was for online gambling webmasters. Way back when, I used the term “life-changing jackpot” to describe progressive slot machines. Now I see Bally Gaming using the same phrases. It’s pure ego to think those people saw my stuff and were influenced, but I say all that to mean I should know better than to fall for the sales pitch.

Winning $300K would be nice, but it hardly would change my lifestyle. I’d buy a new car, but otherwise pay a major tax liability and put the rest in the bank. I guess everyone could use $300,000, though.

Prize Pool and Tournament Payouts

Second prize is $100,000, with a nice number of prizes for the lower finishers. Still, to win any prizes, you have to hit on virtually all of your picks for the week, because the odds of someone else having a big week are huge. In these cases, you need to swing for the fences, so to speak: get QB/WR combos and that kind of thing. The lineup decisions are not easy.

At present, 69,965 players have entered the tournament. At $25 a pop, the breakeven point for FanDuel (which guarantees $2,500,000 in payouts) is 100,000 players. If less than 100,000 people joined the field, you would be playing a positive expectation game. That is, if you played it 100,000 times, you would expect to make more money than you paid to enter. That’s the theoretical advantage, at least. I guarantee more than 100K fantasy football owners will join the contest, though.

My Lineup

I’m playing under the name “GenghisCaan”. That combines the name of my favorite historical conqueror and my favorite actor. I’m hoping the name brings me good luck.

  • Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers @ Oakland Raiders
  • LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadephia Eagles @ Green Bay Packers
  • Alfred Blue, RB, Houston Texans @ Cleveland Browns
  • Alshon Jeffrey, WR, Chicago Bears vs Minnesota Vikings
  • Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers @ Tennessee Titans
  • Jordan Matthews, WR, Philadephia Eagles @ Green Bay Packers
  • Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Blair Walsh, PK, Minnesota Vikings @ Chicago Bears
  • Cleveland Browns Defense vs Houston Texans

I made a classic mistake of daily fantasy football tournaments and didn’t double-up on the quarterback/wide receiver combo. The best way is to go all-or-nothing, because the winners are going to hit on a few huge points. If you hit on the QB, then you’re more likely to hit on the wide receiver. The thing is, Rivers’ receivers are not as reliable as he is: he spreads it around. The Chargers play the Raiders, so I get a top-end quarterback for a couple of thousand less in a dream match-up. I don’t like that I’m missing out on the GB/PHI or IND/NEP games, because those should be shootouts where the quarterbacks have to keep throwing all day. Rivers might take his foot off the pedal if he wins easily.

LeSean McCoy and Jordan Matthews

I wanted McCoy, because he’s due and the only reason he sucked last week was the team didn’t use him. This week, they play the Packers and want to shorten the game, since it’s Mark Sanchez versus Aaron Rodgers. To keep Rodgers off the field, McCoy needs a big day. He’s simply cheap compared to the other top backs. His 2014 hasn’t been super, but it’s still a top player for a thousand more than the CJ Andersons and Alfred Blues of the world. Jordan Matthews is still under-priced, so I’ll double-dip and hope for a big road game. If I was brave, I would add-in Mark Sanchez and hope for an offensive explosion in a shootout, then add a better 2nd wide receiver or tight end.

Alfred Blue in for Arian Foster

Alfred Blue is starting in place of Arian Foster, so I hope to get Foster numbers for $3000 less. Blue did well filling in for Foster earlier this year. Ryan Mallett gets his first NFL start, so you assume Alfred Blue gets plenty of carries. For the same reason, I started the Browns Defense. The weather could be bad, so I might change this one.

Jeffrey, Reed, Walsh

Alshon Jeffrey and the Bears are set to have a bounce-back week against the lowly Vikings Defense. Jordan Reed goes against the even lowlier Bucs Defense. Blair Walsh is a bargain basement kicker, but he’s going against a defense that gave up 50+ points two weeks in a row…Draftsharks has him rated as their top kicker this week.

Antonio Brown Is Money

Antonio Brown is simply money this year. He’s the best receiver in the NFL at the midway point of the season. My division rival in my local league is staying in the race due to Antonio Brown in 2014, so I want some of that action. Start him if you can.

Another mistake I’ve made is to play so many players on the road. One of these days, I’m going to devise a strategy to play only home-team players. This isn’t about who wins the NFL game, though. It’s about who scores the most fantasy points, and an NFL player can score plenty and have his team still lose. Besides, it’s hard to pass up Antonio Brown against the Tennessee Titans, just because he’s on the road.

Updates Monday

I’ll give an update on Monday of how I fared over the weekend.

Anatomy of a Sunday Millions Winner

My first week playing the $2.5M NFL Sunday Million was a dismal failure. I’m sitting at 94.84 points with Antonio Brown left to play. While he should put me over the century mark, it’s far worse than I did in the Rookie Contest.

I finished in the middle of the pack, way out of the money. Of the 114,942 contestants, I’m currently sitting in 61,955th place. Brown should give me the juice to get into the top half of the contestants, but it’s a poor performance, by any standards.

Week 11 Winner: redman8

It’s instructive to see what the 1st place team did, though. This should give you an indication of how good you must perform to win. Redman8 sits in first with 194. Aaron Rodgers finished with 28.84. He also had Alfred blue at 15.6 and C.J. Anderson at 15.5 as his running backs. Unsurprisingly, he had Mike Evans, Jordan Matthews, and Kelvin Benjamin as his receivers. They finished with 36.4, 19.2, and 21.4 points, respectively. Gronkowski chipped in with 15.1 points, Nick Novak with 9 pts, and the Green Bay Packers Defense with 30 points.

This should give you an indication what wins. Take a top quarterback, despite getting only 4 points per TD (instead of 6). With running backs, you can get cheaper options by playing the match-ups. Injuries change the RB situation more than any other in the NFL. Blue and Anderson would be worthless many weeks of the season, but they were one-week solid contributors, due to injuries to the starting RBs on their teams. Jordan Matthews was a popular choice this week, because he was cheap and he’s done well. Rookie Kelvin Benjamin has been posting elite numbers for less-than-top salary cap costs, so he’s a popular option, too.

Mike Evans – Player of the Week

The teams that picked Mike Evans had huge boosts. Evans has flashed this season and the Redskins were a good match-up for him, but no one could have expected the rookie to have done so well.

Tight Ends and Defenses Are Pivotal

Gronkowski had a solid contribution, like you would expect. Don’t skimp on tight ends, because only a few are consistent performers. You need everyone pitching in for the $300,000 prize, so you make your long shot longer if you skimp on TE.

The defense is huge, though quite unpredictable. Before Nick Foles went out, the Eagles Offense was a bad match-up. With Mark Sanchez in the game and the Packers clubbing everyone these days, so redman8 decided to go against a solid Eagles team, otherwise, and it paid off with a huge 30-point boost–great for a defense.

That’s the anatomy of a winning team in daily fantasy football.

1 Comment

  1. I haven’t tried any of the large tournaments yet, because my bankroll is still so small. Maybe I’ll set aside a little money to take a shot at the big money in this coming weekend. I played in 25 $1 buy-in head to head tournaments, and it looks like I’ll win about 17 of those match-ups. It’ll be a profitable week–I should make about $5.60 in profit. But it sure would be nice to get one of those life-changing jackpots.

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