What is Reignmakers?
Reignmakers is a game on DraftKings (DK) that integrates NFTs into daily fantasy sports (DFS). If you've ever played Madden Ultimate Team, this is a similar experience. Players are “franchise owners” who construct rosters of players. You construct lineups to enter contests for cash prizes and/or player cards to bolster their rosters. You need to be 21 or older to play within the US and there are certain states that are restricted from playing.
Contests are “free” in that you don't pay to enter them but you essentially do pay through the cost of your cards. They are like cars in that once you use them they generally depreciate in value as there are less opportunities to win money every week.
It's crucial to discuss this with your CPA to avoid surprises. So far, DK has given next to no guidance and does not appear to want to clarify things any time soon. They will give you a 1099 form the following year for any wins over a certain $ amount.
In the U.S., gambling earnings are taxed separately from capital gains and there are nuances to what you can and can’t write off. At year-end, you will likely need to tax loss harvest cards.
What happens to my cards at the end of the season?
Last season, everyone thought that the value of cards would plummet to zero by season’s end. However, DK has pleasantly surprised the community by providing ongoing rewards to holders at every stage. These rewards included monthly offseason franchise score payouts, crafting token airdrops, and extremely +EV crafts during the offseason. Additionally, this season features exclusive contests for 2022 cards with impressive prizes, further enhancing the value and utility of holding onto these cards.
Why should I play this over traditional DFS?
Traditional DFS is fiercely competitive and often demands extensive time spent on projections, simulators, solvers, and other computer-assisted tools to gain an edge. However, like with anything new, Reignmakers has yet to have a mass migration of DFS pros. Many won't even bother looking into it yet.
Furthermore, there is a massive information edge to be had (because DK is piss-poor at communication) that skews the expected value (EV) of plays massively in our favor. I find reignmakers far easier to play than traditional DFS as you can just jam in the best plays possible the majority of the time. Instead of being limited by a salary cap in traditional DFS, you are limited here by your own wallet. You might also enjoy Reignmakers if you treat player cards like stocks where you can profit on sound investments.
I know nothing about football or fantasy. Can I still make money on this?
Yes! DK has weekly pack drops and monthly crafts that have so far been very +EV (high variance). For the greatest time/payoff ratio: participate in the pack queues and flip the packs if you hit. There is also an inefficient marketplace that you can grind an edge in.
In the wise words of DFS pro and MVHQ member Al Smizzle - Reignmakers is a MARKET GAME FIRST and a DFS game second.
You will generally make far more consistent money by buying low, selling high, and capitalizing on news (sound familiar?
Treating it as a market game will also protect you from the gigantic carrying risk that buying player cards have – injuries.
As a rule of thumb:
WATCHING THE GAMES AND PAYING ATTENTION TO BREAKING NEWS WILL BE ONE OF THE BIGGEST MARKETPLACE EDGES YOU CAN FIND.
Generally speaking, news on injuries and availability moves the market the most. This was in full force this week 1 with major season-ending injuries moving markets rapidly.
Within the first couple of plays Aaron Rodgers suffered a season-ending injury. Offers were taken en mass and the backup, Zach Wilson, had his cards skyrocket in value ($100 to around $350).
Price impact by position tends to match scoring consistency and I grade the importance as follows: RB > QB >> WR > TE
As seen in the current RB market crisis, RBs are more plug-and-play than the other skill positions and as a result, the next man up will generally see similar scoring potential. The same can’t be said for QBs and WRs as losing starters in those roles massively decreases the potency of an offense.
As we’ve seen last season, liquidity tends to be low between Monday-Friday and really spikes up around Saturday-Sunday. It makes sense as players can still get injured during practice (looking at you Kelce).
The best time to sell will usually be right before lock and the best time to buy will usually be on pack/craft drops and right after games end.
Last season everybody knew that Cleveland Browns QB Deshaun Watson would sit out the first 12 games. Here is the chart of the price history at the elite tier:
He pretty much 5x’d off the lows after season start (~$75 to ~$350) even though everyone knew exactly when he would be playing. You can capitalize on the fact that the reignmakers market is usually short-term focused (which makes sense with the carrying risk for most players).
The NFL requires teams to publish practice reports and disclose any injuries players may have. You can almost see prices move in real time as a player’s availability changes daily.
While player cards normally depreciate in value over the season, players can increase or decrease in value based on the performance of them and their team. If you watch live you can notice workload stats that will be discovered and spread by touts and sharps in advance. For example, if you were watching the Ravens in week 1 you could easily see that rookie Zay Flowers was being involved in the offense early and often and he looked damn good doing so. Within a day, there were a dozen twitter threads talking about his workload.
Contest Types and Tiers
There are three types of contests:
Each contest type has different requirements for player card rarity in order to field a lineup:
You can see that as you go up in tiers you can play up more cards from the previous tier.
The mint counts of most players per tier are as follows: Core: Unlimited Rare: Unlimited but lower than core Elite: 240 Legendary: 40 Reignmaker: 8
Further roster limitations
The only restriction on the lineup you field is that you cannot use more than one superstar and that the superstar’s rarity must match the tier of contest you are trying to play. As an example, this means that you cannot play up a rare superstar in an elite tier contest.
Here is the current list of superstars:
This list will only change twice – once in week 9 and once right before the playoffs. There will never be more than 25 superstars and there will never be a superstar of both the QB and WR/TE positions from the same team.
How much do I need to play?
The first thing to consider is how much time and money you want to spend on this game.
(The naming convention here is just used to aid in tailoring further sections to each category) To field one competitive classic lineup each week, I estimate the barriers of entry for the tiers as follows: Core: $30-$150+ Rare: $250-$350+ Elite: $1200-$2000+ Legendary: $4000-$5000+ Reignmaker: $10,000+
(I find that core is extremely liquid, rare/elite have decent liquidity, and legendary/reignmaker tiers are illiquid)
Deciding what tier to play
After deciding how much you might want to spend, you will then need to figure out what payout structure is most appealing to you. Here is the table for payouts in the different tiers from week-to-week:
The max single lineup winnings per tier are as follows: Core: $3k Rare: $10k Elite: $20k Legendary: $20k Reignmaker: $20k
You might think to yourself, “Wait, why are the payouts the same for elite, legendary, and reignmaker”?
Well because the Elite-Reignmaker tiers have set mint counts per player, there are fewer total entries and lineup combinations that can be made. This results in the cash and win lines to be lower on average compared to the tiers below.
Once you have settled on the tier you want to play, you can then decide on the method in which you want to construct your roster. Prevailing sentiment is that buying the players you want is better than buying packs but I can’t deny that ripping packs is super fun. In some cases, it can also be better for tax purposes if your roster is largely opened through packs versus bought on secondary. You can also center your roster construction around what you pull if you want fate to give you a direction. Say you happen to open a stud WR like Calvin Ridley – well now you can build a lineup around him by pairing him with his QB, slapping in a superstar of your liking, and by filling in the other two slots.
(Most lineups you make should start with a pairing of a QB and one of his pass catchers as they are highly correlated in terms of scoring.)
You will probably be best served by either playing 1-2 core classic lineups or by playing 1 core deep roster lineup for either 2022 or 2023. These lineups cost the cheapest and you won’t have to worry about needing to replace players for games not on the main slate (1-4pm EST games). Invest in better quality players and just have fun with it. Pick a QB from the free starter packs and build around that QB. Since the points required to win is going to be the highest in core on average, I would lean towards playing deep roster as there are more points of differentiation.
Current cost: $15
Example deep roster lineup:
You should play 1-5 lineups at the rare+ tier and focus in playing better quality players. I would specifically avoid the rare tier in deep roster as it has bad play-up value.
Make sure to buy insurance for your most expensive players by buying their backups at QB/RB (I recommend a 10:1 ratio of expensive asset to insurance). In cases where a team’s third WR is good, I would buy them as insurance as well. (Think Tyler Boyd for Cincinnati)
Focus on the core-rare tier and try to go wide (10+ lineups) with your roster. Your goal is to enter as many lineups and lineup shells as you can into the main and deep roster contests and aim for a top 10 finish by capitalizing on late swap (see late swap section COMING SOON). Grab players with multiple showdowns and sell into the showdowns for maximum value. Make speculative bets on backups and undervalued players and sell into news.
You can play pretty much however you want to. I recommend fielding a lineup in each single entry and consider playing a tier lower than you would in the “Baller” category in order to go wide with your lineups. Focus on good serials of quality players with the most showdown games to get maximum value and capitalize on late swap (see late swap section COMING SOON).
Generally I wouldn’t worry about it unless you were in the DIEHARD category and just know that it’s some money every month or so for owning cards.
It will help you determine the absolute floor price of your cards too. The value per point changes throughout the season but as of right now it is around 20 cents per point.
To potentially help you decide on which teams to invest in, here are my preferences based on a blend of information pulled before season start as well as perceived offensive strength.
Where you place your lineup can be the difference between a top 100 finish and a takedown. As a result, contest selection is one of the most important decisions you can make in reignmakers.
Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately lol) for us, Draftkings gutted the prize pools of the main contests and both increased the prize pool and flattened the pay table in the single-entry contests.
You should almost always put your best possible lineup into the single-entry contests!
These have a relatively low cash line ~80 points most weeks and usually ~140 will take it down.
Here is the average for weeks 3-8 last season:
With this in mind I typically construct lineups for these contests as follows"
The RMFWC qualifiers pay 1 spot and usually are somewhere between the single entry and main contests in terms of points needed for a takedown. If you really wanted to play it I’d just employ a late swap strategy where you have an unlikely QB/WR stack going and you late swap pieces if it goes off.
That's it for now, be sure to join us in the DFS, Reignmakers, and Betting channel in MVHQ where we discuss our plays and edges that we see in Reignmakers.
To come: Showdown data and strategies, Lineup construction for late swap and strategies, Deep roster strategies and analysis!