During the firestorm of legal controversy that’s enveloped daily fantasy sports, one common accusation levied by the industry against opponents has been particularly pointed- efforts to ban the games would have the net result of stifling innovation and entrepreneurship. Perhaps one of the best examples of the very initiative and ingenuity that typifies so many in the DFS space exists in the form of Draftpot, founded and headquartered in the epicenter of the industry’s ongoing battle to achieve legal clarity—New York City.
How it all started
Joey Levy, Jessica Vandebon and Joshua Hughes—co-founders of the relatively nascent site— were your average Columbia University students just over a year ago, before jointly developing a prototype of their non-salary cap daily fantasy platform and inviting others to try it out in a Reddit thread in January 2015.
The then-one-day old site had paid out a whopping $54 in its first night of operation, but that figure would soon pale in comparison to what was to come. Beginning with a fellow Reddit user that eventually became Draftpot’s initial backer, the next several months saw various angel investors come on board, culminating in a $2.2 million fundraising round in the summer of 2015.
Unique from the outset
From the onset, Draftpot set out to differentiate itself from others in the space with the absence of a salary cap. The impetus was to level the playing field—certainly a lightning-rod theme within the industry–by removing the many factors that come into play when trying to build a lineup around salary restrictions.
With every participant having unrestricted access to designing a “dream team” each time they set their lineups however, the “skill” component of DFS would seem, on the surface, to be significantly reduced. But, as anyone who’s ever tried their hand at Draftpot’s “Fan Mode” (non-salary cap) games can attest, appearances can be deceiving.
Despite the considerable roster flexibility the format offers, one of the main tenets to successful DFS tournament play in particular persists- players must still strive to be sufficiently contrarian so as to differentiate themselves enough to rise to the top of the leaderboard. In essence, the non-salary cap format presents a different type of roster-construction challenge-resisting the urge to simply stock up on the superstars that everyone will also be gravitating to, without considering potential ownership percentages.
For those with a taste for more traditional DFS gameplay, Draftpot appears to have found a happy medium in the form of its “GM Mode” contests. The games feature a points-per-game pricing system for each athlete, with a maximum of 300 cumulative points per game allowed on each roster. With the points system serving as a reasonable facsimile to a traditional salary-cap format, GM Mode-contests satisfy the user who wishes to incorporate a more conventional DFS strategy when building a lineup.
Draftpot currently offers or has offered NBA, NFL, LOL (League of Legends), MLB, NHL, CFB, NAS and PGA contests. Entry fees are as low as ten cents, and currently go as high as $50. The site offers an array of contests types familiar to DFS enthusiasts- guaranteed tournaments, head-to-head matchups and standard double-ups.