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FTC seeks to block merger of FanDuel and DraftKings

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BOSTON — Federal regulators are challenging the planned merger of FanDuel and DraftKings, saying the combination of the two largest daily fantasy sports sites would create a company controlling more than 90 percent of the market.

The Federal Trade Commission announced Monday that it will file a complaint – along with the attorneys general of California and the District of Columbia – seeking to temporarily stop the deal, pending an administrative trial scheduled for Nov. 21.

Combining the onetime rivals would “deprive customers of the substantial benefits of direct competition,” Tad Lipsky, acting director of the commission’s Bureau of Competition, said in a statement.

DraftKing’s Jason Robins and FanDuel’s Nigel Eccles, the CEOs of the two companies, said in a statement that they’re disappointed by the FTC’s decision and are weighing their options.

Daily fantasy sports contests are online games in which players build rosters of real-life athletes and vie for cash and other prizes based on how those athletes do in actual games. They grew in large part from a 2006 federal law that banned online gambling but created a specific niche for fantasy sports.

The FTC, in announcing the complaint, said it wasn’t convinced that other fantasy sports companies could provide sufficient competition if the merger went through.

It also said consumers were unlikely to view other products, including the traditional, season-long fantasy sports competitions played by millions of Americans each year, as a meaningful substitute for the contests offered by the two companies.

Boston-based DraftKings and New York-based FanDuel agreed to merge in November as the industry they helped pioneer fell under intense regulatory scrutiny.

With the two companies engaged in a costly advertising war, state attorneys general, lawmakers and gambling regulators across the country began to question whether the online contests amounted to illegal sports-betting operations.

At the time the merger was announced, the companies maintained their niche business was just a small part of a larger, multibillion dollar fantasy sports industry in which ESPN, Yahoo and other major corporations have long dominated.

The companies said a merger would help them reduce costs as they lobbied for state laws recognizing their legality and fought off legal challenges in court, as well as help them improve their contests.

Both had raised millions of dollars through investors and sponsorships with prominent teams and sports leagues in a few short years but still weren’t profitable.

But the daily fantasy sports industry has sharply contracted in the past year, despite roughly a dozen states adopting new laws and regulations.

More than two-thirds of daily fantasy sports companies have shuttered, changed focus or joined with competitors, the Fantasy Sports Trade Association has said. That’s left DraftKings and FanDuel as the largest remaining operators.

DraftKings, which was founded in 2012, is the currently the largest in terms of entry fees and revenues. FanDuel, which was founded in Scotland in 2009, is the second largest.

Best fantasy football waiver wire pick-ups for Week 3

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By Rotoworld.com

Welcome to the 3rd edition of Waiver Wired for the 2017 season. Luckily we did not see the big injuries of last week, but the sheer volume of departures made it almost as painful. Five of the top six tight ends in average ADP will enter the week at least questionable, and Greg Olsen is set to miss at least six weeks because of a broken foot. At receiver, both Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are questionable for Week 3 while Corey Coleman is set to miss at least a month and a half with another broken hand. Running back did not escape the carnage, either, with Rob Kelley and Jordan Howard questionable with a rib and shoulder injury respectively, while Sam Bradford sat out Week 2 and may have to miss more time with a knee injury, although the Vikings are hopeful he will be good to go this week. All of that means the competition on the wire and in FAAB bidding might be a bit more competitive this week, especially at tight end.

As a reminder, the drop list consists of players who are no longer must-owns, recommended adds are available in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues, the watch list consists of players who are worthy of a roster spot if possible, and deep cuts are players owned in five percent or fewer of Yahoo leagues.

The Drop List
QB: Eli Manning
RB:
Bilal Powell, LeGarrette Blount
WR:
Corey Coleman, Mike Wallace
TE:
Greg Olsen

Manning is not getting any help from his offensive line or pass catchers, but he also deserves blame for the Giants’ slow start. Unfortunately for Manning, things do not get any easier, with the Eagles, Bucs, Chargers, Broncos, and Seahawks next up on the schedule before the bye. Unless something changes, he will not be usable in any of those matchups. The running back cuts are risky, but it does not look like either of these guys is going to be worthy of a start in the near future. Powell is in what now looks like a three-way timeshare for the worst offense in the league while Blount played behind Wendell Smallwood in Week 2. Perhaps the Jets come to their senses or Blount starts routinely falling into the end zone, but neither is a must-hold if something enticing is sitting out on the wire. Coleman would have been Kenny Britt before the injury, but Britt has to be held to see if he can do anything with the young receiver out – the safe bet is on no. Teams with an open IR spot should hold onto Coleman, but he was at best a WR3 when healthy and could miss multiple months. Olsen is a tougher case because he has been a high-end option at a thin and getting thinner position, but he struggled down the stretch last year, did not open this season strong, and is now going to miss at least six weeks.

Quarterbacks
Carson Palmer owned in 60 percent of Yahoo leagues. No. 1 QB if available
1. Jay Cutler
2. Joe Flacco

Running Backs
Buck Allen owned in 56 percent of Yahoo leagues. No. 2 RB if available
1. Chris Carson
2. Darren Sproles
3. Chris Johnson
4. Chris Thompson
5. Samaje Perine
6. Wendell Smallwood
7. Alvin Kamara
8. Alex Collins
9. D’Onta Foreman

Wide Receivers
1. Danny Amendola
2. J.J. Nelson
3. Rashard Higgins
4. Jermaine Kearse
5. Kendall Wright
6. Marqise Lee
7. Allen Hurns
8. Mohamed Sanu
9. Jaron Brown
10. Devin Funchess

Tight Ends
1. Cameron Brate
2. Ben Watson
3. Jared Cook
4. Ed Dickson
5. Evan Engram
6. Austin Seferian-Jenkins
7. Zach Miller

Defense/Special Teams
1. Green Bay Packers
2. Philadelphia Eagles
3. Jacksonville Jaguars
Looking Ahead: Atlanta Falcons

Kickers
1. Graham Gano
2. Dustin Hopkins
3. Blair Walsh
Looking Ahead: Phil Dawson

Cowboys Favored Over Rival Giants in Sunday Night Football Opener

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While Ezekiel Elliott’s reinstatement might move the line, one should remember the Dallas Cowboys struggled moving the ball against the New York Giants last season.

The host Cowboys are listed as 4-point betting favorites against the Giants with a 47.5-point total in their Sunday Night Football matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Cowboys are 5-1 straight-up in their last six games at night, but the Giants are also 4-0-1 against the spread in the last five games of this long-running NFC East rivalry. Eight of the last 10 matchups have been decided by seven or fewer points.

With the Giants, who were 11-6 SU and 8-7-2 ATS in 2016 when they earned an NFC wild card berth, the main concern offensively is whether WR Odell Beckham Jr. (left ankle) will be able to play after not practicing for more than a week. Losing Beckham would deprive QB Eli Manning of a deep threat against a beatable Dallas pass defense.

The Giants, once again, will likely have a very pass-dependent offense due to a below-average running game and offensive line, where LT Ereck Flowers could have issues blocking the likes of DE Demarcus Lawrence.

New York is a slow starter – 1-5 SU in its last six season openers – and that could be one reason to lay chalk provided the Cowboys stay in the 4.0 to 5.0-point range on the Week 1 NFL odds.

The Cowboys last year went 13-4 SU and 10-6-1 ATS, when Elliott and QB Dak Prescott were getting their feet wet as rookie starters. Winning, as well as giving bettors a cover, will probably boil down to the Dallas offense solving its woes against the Giants defense. Wide receiver Dez Bryant had just one catch in both games against New York and CB Janoris Jenkins in 2016, while SS Landon Collins and the Giants’ rush defense conspired to put Prescott in a lot of obvious passing downs.

Dallas is just 3-6-1 ATS in its last 10 divisional home games, according to the OddsShark NFL Database, which is either a long-term trend or something that will change soon if they are indeed a Super Bowl contender.

The total has gone over in seven of the Giants’ last nine games against the Cowboys. The total has gone over in six of the Cowboys’ last eight games in September.

For more info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the new OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.