Hockey, Industry

7 months ago

What is Wrong with 92-million Budget Hockey Games on Fanteam

It’s absolutely clear that DFS-hockey tournaments on FanTeam are in dire need of changes. The game is too far from being ideal, but it looks like FanTeam is completely satisfied with the current state of affairs. As one of the best DFS-hockey player in Europe, in this article, I want to highlight one of the much-needed changes – cutting the salary cap in hockey contests.

The Current State

At this moment, when entering large NHL slates, you have a budget restriction of 92 million for 8 players. Basically, it means that you can field almost every player your heart desires. The average sum per player stands at 11,5 mln. with the current budget restrictions, which is extremely high.

Imagine having a budget of 130 mln. in the EPL Weekly Monster. It would allow you to stack Sterling, De Bruyne, and Aguero from Manchester City (each worth around 14 mln.), then add TAA, Robertson, and Salah. They cost a fortune, but relax, the price is of no concern, because you are still left with around 50 mln. for 5 remaining players. Would the game like this be interesting for you?

This is exactly how the situation in hockey tournaments stands right now and it is killing the game. 


This lineup was created under the 130m restriction for the upcoming Weekly Monster.


Let’s take a look at the recent NHL slate that took place on January 4th as an example. This slate consisted of 7 games:

In the blink of an eye we could create the following lineup:

This lineup includes one of the most obvious line stacks of the slate which is VAN-1, two obvious defensemen – Josi and Hedman, a stud one-off player –  Matthews, and a decent third defensive choice –  Subban. I created that lineup in 30 seconds – no difficult decisions, no space for creativity, no diving into teams’ depth.

The Bad

The main problem of the current budget rules of hockey tournaments is obvious – it makes the game less skill involved. To be honest – there is absolutely no skill involved right now. But, as we know, despite all the randomness, DFS is considered to be a game of skill. Hockey is a highly random sport by itself, and such ugly budget rules make the game no different from a roulette.

The next problem is that the pricing pushes you into picking only the stud players. There is no need for selecting skaters from teams’ second and third lines or looking for value defensemen. It makes the game very simple and random, where more prepared players basically have no room to beat the rest of the field.

Well, then such budget restrictions must be good for amateur and new players, right? Wrong. If a game is as random as a roulette or lottery, why would new players want to STAY and play DFS hockey more than a couple of times? There are better alternatives, such as betting or the aforementioned roulette.

Fans of the sport will still want to make choices that matter as they learn the DFS game. Making these choices is what makes the game fun in the first place. Fantasy is about picking differentials, about weighing your options, about predicting what the rest of the mob will do. It is about trying to get better at all these things be you a newbie player or an expert. Such pricing takes the thinking, tinkering, analysis, and, ultimately, decisions out of the game, making it just a random stud-fest.  

With over 10k hockey tournaments played and being ranked 2nd on the all-time hockey earnings list on FanTeam, I consider myself an expert. I invest a huge amount of time preparing for the NHL slates. I use a number of different resources, do my own research by analyzing advanced data and matchups. But all of this is depreciated by the tournaments’ rules, where in order to create solid lineups, you don’t have to do any in-depth study. Just make different combos of well-known players and rely on luck. This bothers me a lot, and I’m sure other skilled players, which make up the core of active fantasy hockey players, as well.


The Solution

It should be said, that the budget of 92 mln. for NHL tournaments was not implemented on FanTeam from the start. Actually, such a change had taken place only at the start of this season. With half of the season gone, it’s absolutely clear that the experiment has failed. Perhaps this change was intended to attract new players, but I don’t see the number of players playing NHL skyrocketing.

What I suggest to FanTeam is bringing back the old budget rules by «indexing» the budget a little bit for «inflated» prices – 82 mln looks to be the optimal number. The half-measure of 87 mln., that has appeared sometimes on FanTeam, is still not cutting it.

Under the 82 mln. salary-cap you can afford one full line stack, one stud defenseman, and then you will have plenty of middle or low-priced options to choose from to complement the star players. There will be room for contrarian and unconventional decisions, and the game will become more interesting.



At first glance, it might seem that I want to impose hard restrictions on casual players and to make the game more favorable for the pros. But what I really want is to make the playing environment fairer. I want each player who invests time and energy in doing research and development of his game to be rewarded for his efforts.

Cutting the salary cap will not solve all the problems, as DFS-hockey on FanTeam suffers from bad pricing and imperfect scoring system as well. I believe that the platform has to find the right balance by creating favorable conditions for both professional and recreational players. Bringing back old budget restrictions would be the first step in the right direction.   



Khan, a Ph.D. student in Economics, loves studying advanced sports analytics and using it to his advantage in DFS. Having started to play daily fantasy sports in 2017, he currently has a net profit of over 30000 euros. Sits in the top-3 of DFS-hockey players in Europe, finished 3rd in FanTeam's World Championship of Fantasy Football 2018.