Drew Magary’s Thursday Afternoon NFL Dick Joke Jamboroo runs every Thursday during the NFL season. Email Drew here.
I couldn’t get my money. I won five bucks this past weekend playing daily fantasy football for the first time and when I went to “withdraw” my winnings, I was confronted with the crushing news that I needed to win more than $20 to have my riches sent back to me via PayPal or check:
This post is not an ad. I feel like I have to disclose that to you in advance because the two major daily fantasy sites have so completely co-opted the sports media this fall that every last bit of programming out there now feels like an ad for fucking FanKings or DraftDuel. There are entire segments of SportsCenter devoted to it. ESPN’s main fantasy columnist had to admit he was a paid sponsor of DraftKings after slobbing their knob in the middle of a column (and he continues to do so). ESPN Radio has been completely taken over by it:
Even fancy-pants Grantland has been roped into the boondoggle, according to reader Louis:
This season on the Grantland NFL Podcast, Robert Mays and Bill Barnwell have been having to do a weekly section where they ‘draft’ fantasy teams for a ‘daily fantasy league’. It’s never obvious that Draftkings is sponsoring this, but they make sure to mention them by name at least a few times.
In previous years Mays and Barnwell have done fantasy sections, but it’s always been really silly and usually not very in depth. This year their mood seems to completely change when they have to do this segment (on Friday) and although they try to have a good time doing it, it’s clear that there was orders from high up for them to focus on daily fantasy, and to specifically mention Draftkings money values.
I have long been used to ESPN being subsumed by its brand sponsors, but this campaign has been invasive to an unprecedented degree. You can pimp Budweiser all over ESPN, but they won’t have an entire segment devoted to how you open a can of Rasp-Brr-Rita. Daily fantasy, on the other hand, can been woven into the actual programming so completely that it BECOMES the programming. There’s probably a fucking banner on for it on this very site as we speak. I do a podcast with Marchman and the average response to that podcast is, “Fuck you, another goddamn DraftKings ad?!” And so I have to state here, explicitly, that I have no control over ad buys on that podcast, and I am free to say FUCK DRAFTKINGS all I like.
In fact, this post will be dedicated to doing pretty much that. Because I decided to play the game for the first time this weekend, to see if this is something really worth getting into, or if it just happens to be the most efficient way ever devised of separating stupid sports fans from their money. Take a wild guess which conclusion I reached.
Daily fantasy was born from the notion that normal fantasy football is flawed. And it is. I have played fantasy football for two decades and I know that it’s flawed because I never fucking win (this is TOTALLY the fault of the game and not my drafting acumen). The people in my league either take the game WAYYY too seriously or they don’t pay attention at all. People leave starting slots open. Waiver rules are weird and annoying. The players you want to draft always get snatched up right before you have a chance to draft them. Coordinating draft times and pot payments are a complete pain in the ass. If your team sucks, you lose interest after a couple of months. And everyone is too afraid to make trades. Season-long fantasy football has grown, in many ways, tiresome.
Daily fantasy exists to exploit that discontent. As the ads scream at you constantly, there is no season-long commitment. No slog. You draft a new team every week (drafting is usually the most enjoyable part of fantasy football anyway), and every last player is available to you. Yes, you! Carl ain’t swooping in and stealing Julio Jones from under you. You can grab Julio any time you like, which is what I did.
I signed up for DraftKings and was immediately bombarded with dozens of options for wasting my money. There is a baseball game, in case you simply can’t wait until the weekend and have to lose your money RIGHT NOW THIS INSTANT. There were four million different football pools to join, the most expensive of which had a $5,300 entry fee. And there was a “limited time offer” wherein the site offered me extra credit if I put my deposit in before the clock ran down. PRESSURE’S ON…
I entered my credit card (oh god), put in one of those notorious promo codes (I actually couldn’t remember one off the top of my head; so much for advertising), put in five bucks and got three “dollars” for free. Those bonus dollars, as you might have guessed, cannot be withdrawn from the site as real money. That gave me eight “total” dollars to dick around with. So I entered two different pools, drafted my lineups (took roughly three seconds), and was then asked if I wanted to join four zillion other pools…
If you are a hardcore gambler, this interface ought to look familiar to you. It’s the same template that was used by online casinos back before the federal government cracked down on them and domains like Bodog.com were seized by the department of Homeland Security. See for yourself. Here is the main lobby of FanDuel:
And here is the main lobby of PokerStars, which is no longer legal:
The biggest pool I joined, which cost $3 and had a million dollar weekly top prize, paid out all the way to 84,950th place. The smallest prize is just big enough to keep you playing into the next week, and the week after, and the week after that. As I said before, you can’t withdraw anything under $20 from this site, even if you win it fair and square. And this isn’t a problem for most people, because the site assumes you will just put that money back into the contest until you spend it all. This is how slot machines are also designed, only you get to experience the thrill of drafting your favorite player instead of pulling on a lever or pressing a button.
That difference is important, because drafting is what makes daily fantasy a “game of skill” that keeps it legal in most states, but not all of them…
These sites will also help you manage your regular fantasy league. DraftKings even lets you import your season-long fantasy league from ESPN.com so you can do all your fantasy business in one virtual spot. It’s telling that NFL.com, ESPN.com, CBS, and FOX all let you play regular fantasy on their normal sites, but do not directly sell daily fantasy to you. That has to go through a separately branded enterprise, and almost certainly because the list of states that have banned the game is likely to grow. Last I checked, there is only one free daily pool at DraftKings. Otherwise, the minimum entry fee is a quarter for their “Arcade” pools. The penny slots, basically.
As for the game itself, it’s like any other casino game: fun right up until the moment you don’t win. I drafted my two lineups, talked myself into those lineups winning me a million bucks, and eye-banged both lineups all Sunday long. And when Julio Jones ran rampant all over the Cowboys secondary, I exulted, until I realized that everyone else ALSO probably owned him and that, in order to win substantial money, I needed to be the guy who took Julio Jones AND Joseph Randle AND Andy Dalton AND Devonta Freeman AND LeGarrette Blount. Every player you don’t own who does well is almost certainly owned by one of your million opponents. And there’s no point in picking some expert’s favorite “values” because everyone else will then pick them, too. The prices are set brilliantly, so that you can draft enough studs to think you have a chance to win, but then are forced to take a chance on lower-level guys who are basically crap shoots. You can talk yourself into being a football wizard who knows just the right matchups to exploit for sleeper picks that week, but I can assure you that you are bullshitting yourself, and that DraftKings is counting on you to bullshit yourself.
On DraftKings, there’s a little money bag next to your entry if you are in one of the winning slots as gameplay progresses. At one point, I was up to winning seven bucks in one pool. I’M RICH, MOTHERFUCKER! Then I settled back down at five bucks in 77,846th place.
My other pool got me nothing. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to see the million-dollar prize next your money bag before watching Jamaal Charles fumble away first place for you.
I was on the low end of entries, of course. As Bloomberg reported earlier, the people that “win” at daily fantasy are hardcore gamblers who enter hundreds of pools and use their own algorithms to set advantageous lineups. This renders daily fantasy a “game of skill” only if you consider investing a shitload of resources to rig the game to your advantage a kind of skill. Everyone else is going to lose money, and lose it quickly.
That’s fine, in a lot of ways. In theory, people should be able to waste their money however they want. And when I go to a casino and lose 50 bucks, that’s the price of entertainment. I already know the house rules are stacked against me. So I have to find some entertainment value in those hours I got to spend losing money and cursing at the blackjack dealer. Daily fantasy is worthwhile if you approach it the same way, but that requires both education and willpower. There is proof everywhere that legalized gambling is most likely to prey upon the weak and helpless… people who are really counting on betting to make them money. The reason Montana outlawed daily fantasy wasn’t because of some moral epiphany, but because they run a daily fantasy game through their own state lottery. They want that guaranteed revenue stream for themselves.
What BIG DAILY FANTASY has done is take standard fantasy football and inject with the kind of fast action that scratches the itch of hardcore gambling addicts. Studies have shown that casinos devise games that are designed to be played quickly, so that the action never lags, because gamblers who are in the zone never want to stop playing, regardless of how much they win or lose. They play until they cannot play anymore, or “until extinction.” That is why DraftKings has a minimum withdrawal, no matter how pitiable you may find that amount. They expect you to play to extinction, and you will. No one will take their money out.
The NFL’s massive popularity long been tied to gambling, in the form of straight-up wagers and season-long fantasy football. And the League has done a masterful job of keeping their ties to gambling at arm’s length by avoiding the mention of betting lines and positing regular fantasy football as a fun activity that requires no wagering of any kind—the thrill of trading and drafting and being a virtual GM for the length of a season. But there’s no disguising what daily fantasy really is, and if more fans make the transition from standard leagues to the fantasy casinos, it’s gonna make the coverage a lot more awkward. In fact, it already has. It’s really fucking awkward, because all of the NFL’s media people are now bought and paid for, and they now spend the bulk of their time on the air trying to sell you on a game that is fast, engaging, and set up to rob you blind.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.
Giants at Bills: Former Deadspin fellow and recent college graduate Rohan Nadkarni is a self-proclaimed fan of the Dave Matthews Band, which is insane to me because A) the Dave Matthews Band is fucking terrible, and B) No one under the age of 35 should even know who they are. Staff writer Greg Howard had never heard their music before, so we forced him to listen to some because we’re dicks. HEEEEE WAKES UP EN THE MERNINNNNNN. Here now is Greg’s review of Dave Matthews’ music:
“whitening in a bottle… surprisingly soulless… like a guy trying to recreate soul based on an old music video he saw in elementary school… he’s garb”
I feel like he nailed it. By the way, I attended college just as “Crash Into Me” was peaking at No. 1 on the “songs played by campus sensitive guy with an acoustic guitar to woo ladies” chart. Past chart-toppers on that list include “Fields of Gold,” “What It Takes,” “Daughter,” “Everybody Hurts,” and the reigning all-time champion…
That’s Fred Durst and Goo Goo Dolls guy doing “Wish You Were Here” at a 9/11 telethon. Nothing back then made sense.
Ravens at Steelers: Every time they air this game I gotta hear about how fucking TOUGH this rivalry is, as if three extra personal foul penalties during the game will somehow make up for the fact that I gotta watch a 500-year-old Mike Vick go against the Flacco slot machine. Bad blood almost invariably makes games sloppier and worse. I’d rather watch two BFF teams high five after every play while scoring 60 on one another.
Chiefs at Bengals: There was a big WSJ article this week about the increasing length of college football games. According to the dek, “Already this season, there have been 66 games that lasted for more than 3 1/2 hours and six epics that passed 4 hours.” That’s fucking insane. They have to shorten halftime at college games, which takes forever. And they gotta get rid of the “clock stops when you get a first down” rule. College spread offenses already average a hundred first downs per game. I’m surprised any TCU game ends at all with that stupid rule in place.
Vikings at Broncos: I watched Adrian Peterson have his breakout game last week, and it was fucking weird. They kept talking about his long streak without a touchdown, without ever mentioning WHY that streak existed. And then they talked about Peterson’s wife giving birth that day to a baby named Axyl, and the whole time I was thinking, “Well, he’s gonna beat the piss out of that kid.” But they never mentioned any of the abuse stuff. Not once. Even though I root for this team, it’s not like I’ve completely forgotten about it. I’m not that much of a fanboy sociopath. It’s awkward, and the fact that they don’t talk about it during gameplay makes it even more awkward. You can’t sell me on any heartwarming angle involving Peterson’s return to the field of play.
By the way, Peyton and Teddy Bridgewater have the combined arm strength of Bob Dole.
Texans at Falcons
Rams at Cardinals
Cowboys at Saints
Lions at Seahawks: This is second straight week the Lions are in primetime. The NFL schedule maker should NEVER trust this franchise to be successful for two consecutive seasons.
Eagles at Skins: Turns out RG3 might back up Kirk Cousins in the near future after spending the first of month of the season wistfully walking around the stadium in civilian clothes before games, just to show people he hasn’t died. And the reason Griffin might end up being No. 2 is due to this curious item on the Skins from Mike Jones of the Washington Post:
On Monday, Colt McCoy came down with a mysterious foot injury, apparently suffered over the weekend. He walked about slowly on the field, wearing his jersey but only a ball cap instead of a helmet, and in sneakers instead of cleats. He didn’t take part in stretching or drills. Gruden declined to give details when asked about McCoy’s status. He only confirmed that the backup quarterback was in some way injured. Later Monday evening, a person with knowledge of the situation said that McCoy had suffered a cut on one of his feet, and that was the reason he didn’t practice on Monday.
Jones immediately then dismissed the idea of a conspiracy to help elevate RG3 on the depth chart:
McCoy has too much self pride to fake an injury to help the team out on this narrative.
DOES HE?! Does he really? Because you know what I think, Mike Jones? I think that Danny Snyder is still in love with RG3, forced Gruden to keep his sorry ass, and is now foisting bogus injuries on Colt McCoy in a transparent ploy to help RG3 weasel his way back onto the field. These are the Skins. They are the opposite of Occam’s Razor. The simplest explanation of their actions is usually the WRONG one. The more paranoid and byzantine the explanation, the more likely it is. Two weeks from now, Cousins will have a “concussion” and Griffin will magically be the starter again before losing both legs at midfield.
Panthers at Bucs
Browns at Chargers
Packers at Niners
Jets at Dolphins (in London): If the Dolphins just leave Joe Philbin stranded in London, what are the odds that he could figure out his way back to America? I bet he would ask three people the way home, and then give up, and then settle down in the Cotswolds and take up gnome carving.
Raiders at Bears: That game last week where the Bears punted on every possession… that game ball belongs in Canton. They didn’t even kneel the ball to end a half. Some sort of perfection was attained that day, and it ought to be commemorated. You have to be historically flat and shitty to have every possession end in outright surrender.
Jaguars at Colts
Pregame Song That Makes Me Want To Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
“Hawkeye” by ASG, submitted by Charles:
Listened to the Wildlights album that has been all over my FB feed, which is great, and this is the lead singer/guitarist’s original band. Song has everything you need, driving guitars, screamed lyrics, non-screamed lyrics, vocal harmonies, an artsy instrumental break, minor/major transitions. Plus these guys are from North Carolina so I’m sure all of their sports loyalties are awful.
I can live with them being Duke fans if they BRING THE THUNDAHHHHHH.
Suicide Pick Of The Week
Last week’s suicide picks of New England, Carolina, and Seattle went 3-0, making me 5-4 on the season. Again, we now pick three teams for your suicide pool, along with one thing that makes want to commit suicide. This week, the picks are Green Bay, Arizona, Carolina, and giving a fourth grader a trumpet. Never do this. My kid asked to play trumpet in the school band. It was only after I rented it that she admitted that she only picked the trumpet so she could make fart noises with it. CRIMINY! FOILED BY MY OWN BLOODLINE! I already regret not buying the insurance on that fucker. It’ll be broken by next week.
Gregg Easterbrook Memorial Haughty Dipshit Of The Week
You already know about that hilariously bad Lee Judge column from earlier this week about the Harper-Papelbon fight…
Indeed. The question of our times, really. But incredibly, the Kansas City Star decided to double down on this piece of shit by issuing a public editor’s “sorry not sorry” column supporting Judge’s right to support Jonathan Papelbon’s right to choke people.
Twitter is the most negative corner of the Internet, in my opinion. Its short bursts of 140 characters tend to be long on outrage, and media sources are constant targets.
Oh no! The poor media! OUR MOST PRECIOUS RESOURCE! We must protect them as we would our children. Did you know you could feed Thom Loverro on less than $50 a day? YOU CAN HELP.
I reached out to Lee, who it should be noted has also been a political cartoonist for The Star for some 30 years.
Well, if ANYONE knows baseball, it’s a cartoonist.
He’s well accustomed to expressing provocative opinions, sometimes in blunt language.
Allow me to translate: YOU PUSSIES CANNOT HANDLE LEE’S MANLY TRUTHS.
His reply, in which he stands by what he wrote:
Judging the Royals is an inside look at big league baseball…
From a cartoonist.
It not only deals with how the game is played, it also reveals some of the game’s unwritten rules.
Which are vague and dumb and unknowable and interpreted here by a cartoonist.
In today’s column I said that if Jonathan Papelbon wanted to choke Bryce Harper, he should have done it in private. Ballplayers have scuffles and arguments more often than fans know, but those scuffles and arguments are supposed to take place out of the public eye.
“As a baseball insidertoonist, I’ve seen more choke holds in my life than Jon Jones.”
Whether fans like it or not, baseball players throw at each other, do takeout slides on each other and sometimes fight with each other.
This is the best. I call this the Cowherd Move, which is when a hot take artist believes he is opening your eyes to REALITY. Let Lee Judge teach you kids a little bit about how the world works, gang. “You’re gonna get choked out there. YOU JUST ARE. Deal with it. (Sunglasses)”
When they do those things, there’s a right way to do it and that’s what today’s column was about.
NO. NO THERE’S NO RIGHT WAY TO ATTACK A TEAMMATE YOU FUCKING MORON. Giving me a scholarly tour of your idiocy doesn’t make it any better. I know EXACTLY what your purpose was when I first read it, which is what made it so fucking dumb to begin with.
Back to the public editor now…
My own opinion is that a blog may be a place for frank ruminations on these sorts of topics, and I find some of the Twitter hand-wringing disingenuously genteel.
Oh, do you? Hmm. Yes. Indeed. So very GENTEEL to be concerned for Bryce Harper’s throat.
But sure, I also understand the critics, who might disagree with or not want to hear a pundit’s thoughts on those “unwritten rules.”
I understand these precious naifs being too scared to learn about the REAL WORLD. Whatever happened to America, man? Can’t even choke a friend without people getting in a snit about it. By the way, Judge wrote a followup column that essentially TRIPLED DOWN on his original take. The man has found his niche. By next week, “Chokin’ Up With Lee” will be a recurring feature column.
Emmitt Smith’s Lock Of The Week!
“This week I like the Pittsford Steamers (+2.5) to win at home against the smuggling Ravers! I know that Ben Whataburger is sitting out this game with a knee perjury, but I think the Steamers will tally around Michael Vick and give Bartimore a hefty drones of Levitra Bell! You CAN’T stop Levitra. When Levitra pops in there, you will be able to masturbate the ball down the feel all day long!”
2014 Emmitt Smith record: 2-3
Fantasy Player Who Deserves To Die A Slow, Painful Death
Justin Forsett! I should have known, man. I should have known the SECOND I drafted Justin Forsett that he would revert back to being waiver bait. FARTKINGS SET YOUR PRICE TOO HIGH, YOU USELESS DWARF MAN.
Fire This Asshole!
Is there anything more exciting than a coach losing his job? All year long, we’ll keep track of which coaches will almost certainly get fired at year’s end or sooner. And now, your potential 2015 chopping block:
(*potential midseason firing)
And so we come to the beginning of the end of Jim Tomsula. I know it came at the expense of my favorite team, but I hoped that Week 1 win against Minnesota might serve as proof that Tomsula was some kind of Chauncey Gardiner type who was secretly brilliant despite looking like a professional mover. We should savor the Tomsula sideline reaction shots while we can, because this poor man isn’t long for his job.
Great Moments In Poop History
Reader Travis sends in this story I call DUTCH BABY:
Right after I graduated from college, a friend and I made a trip to Europe. Spent a two days in London before heading to Amsterdam. At this point, my friend and I have spent every moment together. So we split up in Amsterdam… almost immediately after which I realize I haven’t taken a dump since we left the U.S. So it’s almost three days without crapping. Once that realization come to me, it hits me like a ton of bricks. Immediately.
I’m only a couple of blocks from my hotel at this point, but now I’ve got the poop sweats going. So I’m not going to make it. Thankfully, there is a McDonald’s (of course) on my way back. So, in full-blown awkward poop-walk mode, make my way to the bathroom.
There is a line for the men’s room, which means after a short period of waiting I’m already at DEFCON 1. Now since I’m in Europe, there’s a sweet old lady who is an attendant for the bathroom. The people in Holland speak English really well for the most part, but this lady was speaking Dutch. And since I only speak AMERICAN, I have no idea what she is saying. I eventually figure out that she is allowing me to go into the empty women’s room if I wish.
Normally, there is ZERO chance I would do this. But again, I’m at DEFCON 1 with a three-day crap loaded and ready to go. So I waddle my way into the women’s room. And unleash a round of terror I’m sure that toilet has never seen.
Problem is, this trip to the bathroom take a long time. A really long time. Eventually, there is a line for the women’s room – there are two toilets in this bathroom, so there is me in one and a rotation of people in the other toilet. But even with multiple courtesy flushes, I know it smells like hell in there. Eventually, I hear some rumbling, even hearing someone who clearly was an American say “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON IN THERE?!?!??!?!!”
This would be a pretty embarrassing moment coming out of the men’s room. In my own country. But adding the fact that I’m in a foreign country in the freaking women’s room… yeah, it was brutal.
Eventually I finish up, but I just want to get the hell out of there ASAP, so I book it straight out with my head down. No washing hands, no eye contact. But… since this is Europe, the sweet Dutch lady is waiting for me to give her money for using the bathroom. So she basically chases me down through McDonald’s screaming at me. She’s not so sweet any more. Just to get the hell out of there, I threw whatever change I had in my pocket. I figured out later it was close to $10 US in change that I gave her. At the time, I thought I gave her way too much. In retrospect, I probably short-changed her.
As always, foreign poop mishaps are always the best poop mishaps. Fingers crossed for the Dolphins and Jets.
Gametime Snack Of The Week
Pumpkin morsels! I’m gonna tell you right now that I’m part of the problem here in America today. I bought pumpkin chips a few weeks ago. I bought pumpkin donut holes for the kids last weekend and they liked them. Sometimes I buy pumpkin stuff in the fall, and it’s fine. I mean, I don’t get the pumpkin coffee, like some asshole. But I’m not above pumpkin- and apple-flavored garbage in moderation. It’s cinnamon and cloves! It tastes pretty good! FIGHT ME.
Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week
KODIAK RIDGE LAGER! Oh, shit yeah! Reader Steve submits this can of carbonated dip spit:
As you can plainly see in the picture, it’s called “Kodiak Ridge Lager.” I found it at a local beer shop here in Plattsburgh, NY last year for the can’t-leave-it-behind price of just $2.99 per 6-pack, which is pretty impressive considering you usually can’t leave the place paying anything less than $4 - $5 a pack.
And you know what? It wasn’t bad! This website, consisting of one single page, revealed so many amazing things in such a small amount of space: http://www.kodiakridgebrews.com/
“Experience the power, the unrestrained vivacity, the unrivaled taste of Kodiak Ridge Light and Lager beer.”
It’s just a thing of beauty.
It really is. I MUST HAVE THAT BEER. I appreciate the simplicity of it. “Here’s your bear drawing. And here’s your beer. Now go drink, you asshole.”
Robert Evans’s MVP Watch!
I think it’s time to end the Evans MVP Watch, gang. Sad? YOU BET! The right time to do it? PROBABLY TWO YEARS TOO LATE! If I’m straining to come up with this shit, I should probably stop doing it. I’ll have to replace him with the Lupica voice or something. YOU WANTED TOM BRADY TO SHOW ROGER GOODELL WHAT FOOTBALL IS ALL ABOUT.
Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Browns Fans
Total Recall. The original. Not the stupid remake. And I know The Martian is coming out soon, but I still prefer to think that Total Recall’s future vision of Mars will prove to be more accurate: mutant hookers, Johnny cabs, an external atmosphere that will turn your face into a rubber mask… I’ll take that Mars over Matt Damon shitting in a tent.
By the way, this whole “we can totally survive on Mars now that we think we might have found some water” shit is a real stretch. They didn’t find a RESERVOIR, man. And if I can’t drink water in fucking Mexico, what are the odds of Martian water giving me some kind of unholy radioactive diarrhea? No space station Brita filter is gonna be enough to make that shit clean.
Gratuitous Simpsons Quote
“I did a little research and I discovered a startling thing... There was violence in the past, long before cartoons were invented!”
Enjoy the games, everyone.