By Ashley Scoby
Provided you don’t live in a darkened cave, you have at least some idea of fantasy sports.
Specifically, if you’ve spent any amount of time (really, only 10 minutes) watching football over the past two months, you know about the recent trend of daily fantasy sports. Instead of laying down money at the beginning of the season and creating an entire team, fans put money on individual players on a week-to-week basis. The TV commercials have seemingly taken over the airwaves, and Congress has taken notice. Reports of insider trading have rocked the fantasy sports world in the last couple of weeks.
And considering NFL players themselves don’t live in abandoned sinkholes in the middle of nowhere, they hear about fantasy just as much.
“That’s probably the number one question I get anymore anyways,” said Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. “I don’t really get the whole thing.”
Some players – like Stafford, and like wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who also said he doesn’t play – try to maintain as much ignorance as possible. Others take the exact opposite approach.
Detroit safety Glover Quin admitted Wednesday that he’s part of a team of investors that have put their money into daily sports entities such as DraftKings and FanDuel – the two companies that are in the middle of possible insider trading allegations and lawsuits.
“That’s what happens when you do stuff to change the world,” Quin said, likening the situation with daily fantasy sports to when Uber first came onto the scene and challenged traditional taxi companies. “When you’re doing something that literally changes the way you watch sports and the way people view sports, it’s gonna have to be some regulations you have to go through.”
Quin, who says he loves the thrill of helping businesses grow and “seeing how it turns out,” doesn’t actually play fantasy sports himself. He played fantasy basketball once several years ago, but didn’t like how much effort was required because of the amount of games. So instead, he decided to capitalize financially on an entity that has quickly exploded, especially as it relates to the NFL. FanDuel, for instance, signed a deal with 15 NFL teams, creating a partnership between the two behemoths.
“All you have to do is turn on ESPN and when they start dedicating shows strictly to fantasy, you know it’s big,” Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said. “Not only that, but the amount of revenue it raises and you hear some of the money that’s being won by, if it’s true, what they advertise, it’s a pretty large amount of money.”
Asked if he supported players like Quin actually investing in these companies, Caldwell said that “as long it’s legal, there’s no issue.”
That remains to be seen. But at least until a decision is made regarding the legality of daily fantasy sports betting, players will continue to be engulfed in the trend. Vikings running back Adrian Peterson said that his wife was recently asking him about how to make her team on FanDuel.
Johnson, who has been away from his peak form this year, hears fans talking all the time about his performance.
“Just, ‘I’ve got you on my fantasy team, you’ve got to do this and that this week,’” he said, laughing. “I’m like, ‘Right.’”
As for Quin, he’ll just keep reaping whatever benefits he’s receiving from his investment. He declined to say how much he had invested, or how the companies were doing.
“Fantasy changed the way people look at games,” he said. “Like, if you grew up and you were a Redskins fan, you didn’t like the Cowboys. But if you’ve got Dez Bryant on your fantasy team, you still might not like the Cowboys but you want Dez Bryant to score. … Fantasy is a huge thing and a bunch of people play. FanDuel and DraftKings are two companies that are blowing it up right now.”