DraftKings user papagates won first place in this weekend’s Fantasy Football Millionaire contest, DraftKings’ flagship contest. RotoGrinders has a breakdown of the strategy he used to take home the win, but DraftKings is currently investigating whether he used another illegal strategy to win by colluding with his brother, another top daily fantasy sports player.
A DraftKings rep confirmed the investigation to the Wall Street Journal this afternoon:
“We are in the process of an ongoing investigation,” said Jennifer Aguiar, the DraftKings head of compliance. She and other company representatives declined to comment further on the specifics of the probe, including whether the money has been paid already. They said the company hasn’t yet determined if there was any wrongdoing.
The DraftKings probe appears to be focused on whether at least one winner of Sunday’s contest found ways around the site’s limits on how many entries each user can submit and the level of cooperation they can have with other players.
Fantasy Football Millionaire rules allow players to submit 150 entries. Since winning a mass-entry contest requires not only having high-scoring players, but high-scoring players that nobody else owns, having more lineups would hypothetically allow a player to increase the variance of lineups they play, therefore increasing their chances of hitting on a winning combination. The brother of papagates, DraftKings user chipotleaddict, is another high-ranking DFS player (both are ranked among RotoGrinders’ top-ten DFS players). Both are a member of the small minority of DFS players who win a majority of the prizes. The investigation appears to be about whether they colluded and pooled lineup data. This would violate the site’s collusion rules.
RotoGrinders user Mphst18 speculated in a forum post last week that the two players had been sharing lineup data. Mphst18 noted that papagates and chipotleaddict each would enter the same amount of lineups in big money DraftKings contests with no overlap between lineups. DraftKings said that their internal fraud system detected the suspicious activity before the RotoGrinders post.
The brothers spoke to the Wall Street Journal and denied colluding:
Martin Crowley [papagates] said he and his brother, who lives in Greensboro, N.C., often discuss general strategy but barely talked at all last week and never divulge specific lineups. A business-school graduate, he said “I can understand why people might be concerned” given that he and his brother both won such big contests. Nonetheless, he said was “stunned and obviously very upset” that others believe he and his brother might have violated the rules.
Collusion or not, one wonders about the legitimacy of an operation that needs rules regulating how you can speak to your own brother.