For a while, there were only a few options for fans to play daily fantasy football in the U.K. But as the new Premier League season kicks off in 2016, another established industry name has joined the list of fantasy football operators: FanDuel. In this article we look at the key differences between FanDuel and DraftKings, and see which daily fantasy football platform is the best for you.
It’s not always the case that gamers need what they’re playing to be realistic, but in daily fantasy football, many fans crave an experience that makes them believe they are managing a real-life football team. To create this belief, there has to be something in the game that connects with the play happening on TV screens or at the football ground.
On realism, FanDuel runs the show. This is because, mostly, of a questionable decision made by DraftKings before Euro 2016 to switch from the traditional modus operandi of fantasy football platforms – select 11 players to form an imaginary team – to a simplified squad of eight. This takes away the need to pick a formation and eliminates the need for utility players, but it also makes DraftKings seem more like a game and less like an immersive experience. This might have been what they were aiming for, plus a wish to snare the more casual gamer.
FanDuel sticks to the principles of regular football – it’s your 11 players against everyone else’s, in a battle to see which is best. You can pick one goalkeeper, three to five defenders, three to five midfielders, and one to three attackers, though of course you can only pick 11 players in total. This flexibility is something most football video-game players are used to by now, and it allows managers to load their attack, or go for a defensive team for low-scoring days. Though both FanDuel and DraftKings make it easy to follow in real-time the in-game scoring, it helps to be able to build a team that “feels” real.
Mobile apps also help in the respect of building realism, because they’re how you follow your fantasy fortunes on the road. DraftKings now has apps for all platforms – iOS and Android are both covered. DraftKings took a while to get its Android app up and running, but it’s just as slick and informative as the Apple version always has been. FanDuel has come straight out of the blocks with apps for both platforms, which carry an intuitive design that made team selection a pleasure.
In both cases, Android apps need to be downloaded through the website in your mobile browser, because Google’s Play Store does not support what Google terms gambling apps. To do this, you need to enable your device to accept app downloads from third-party sources, in the Settings menu.
It’s not just about picking a realistic team. Daily fantasy managers also demand that they be able to follow the game’s scoring easily and transparently, with said scoring system making sense to all players. It’s a tough ask, about as easy as baking a perfect souffle, and it must be said, although DraftKings scored an own goal with its selection process, it’s clawed a goal back through its scoring, which is far more comprehensive and believable.
FanDuel has put a massive emphasis on goals. You take 15 points for a player putting the ball in the back of the net – more than any other fantasy game – but the only player that gets rewarded for a clean sheet is the goalkeeper, in a major break from tradition.
This means that hitherto dull-but-reliable defenders who don’t score goals often but do take clean sheets, like Stoke City’s Ryan Shawcross, are inherently less valuable in FanDuel than DraftKings. It also means that a disproportionate amount of a manager’s fantasy money will go on attacking players, potentially destroying the requirement for balance in a team that is one of the things that makes football so intriguing in the first place.
Awarding 0.5 points for “drawing a foul” also seems a mis-step; diving is a blight on football, as is the modern trend to run towards an outstretched leg so that the player has the opportunity to fall over it. We used to call it “conning the ref,” and it seems utterly wrong to make it a virtue of daily fantasy football.
By giving points for goalkeeping and defensive clean sheets, DraftKings sticks closer to the accepted template of fantasy football games through the ages, and ensures that there is a necessity to purchase good defenders in order to win a league. 10 points for a goal is still high enough to prioritise the purchase of goalscorers, but low enough to make other parts of the game important too.
DraftKings has its scoring drawbacks, notably the awarding of 0.75 points for any cross, whether it reaches an intended recipient or not, making inaccurate playmakers inexplicably valuable. However, it has fewer idiosyncrasies at this moment than its rival.
Being completely open, this writer still feels that Mondogoal, a third daily fantasy sports platform, available in the UK and Italy, offers the best balance of risk and reward, attack and defence in its scoring, which places greater emphasis on a player’s technique and end-product, looking at pass completion and only counting crosses if they lead to a goal, which nullifies the effectiveness of headless-chicken wingers with no delivery. You can find out more about Mondogoal’s scoring system here.
You can tell from what has been said above that both FanDuel and DraftKings have benefits and drawbacks. You’re not going to find the perfect daily fantasy sports game for you unless you assess properly the two products and form your own opinion on which is better. They both offer the fun of making the performances of players you have selected into something to be passionate about. That’s the thrill of daily fantasy football, and that’s why we suggest you give these platforms a try.