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Fantasy fool: FanDuel, DraftKings a no-win proposition

I'm starting to understand NFL fans who think that fantasy football has ruined the game they love. Because the daily fantasy sites are ruining fantasy football.

I'm starting to understand NFL fans who think that fantasy football has ruined the game they love. Because the daily fantasy sites are ruining fantasy football.

In case you've been living in the Amazon for the last several months, these sites - dominated by DraftKings and its evil twin, FanDuel - are spending like a Bush/Clinton PAC to convince you that $5 and your encyclopedic fantasy knowledge can make you an instant millionaire.

After all, how hard can it be to pick the best player at each position in any given week, under a not-that-restrictive salary cap? It seems so easy, until you realize that you aren't playing against the guy in the next cubicle.

In fact, you have about as much chance of winning a weekly DraftKings jackpot as you do of winning your state's lottery, since the "game" is dominated by deep-pocketed "sharks" who enter hundreds, sometimes thousands, of lineups with a dizzying array of player combinations using statistical algorithms specifically built to tilt the odds in their favor.

This weekend, you probably thought you'd be in the money if you started Marcus Mariota, DeAngelo Williams and Antonio Brown. But the sharks not only had those three, they played a few dozen variations that enabled them to randomly hit on Lamar Miller, Sammy Watkins, Cole Beasley and Delanie Walker, too.

You lose.

Call me old school, but I still look forward to draft nights before the regular-season opener. I prefer competing against people I know - for money, yes, but more for the sheer entertainment value afforded by a 16-week-long test of wits. I enjoy the trash talk, the thrill of the trade, the starting lineup conundrums, the joy of preening atop the standings and the satisfaction of clawing my way up from the cellar.

Stand up, America! Let's take back the game we love and return to a more civil world in which game-day broadcasts are brought to us by beer, pizza and erectile dysfunction ads. The way our Founding Fathers intended.

Catch 'em while you can

Derek Carr, QB, Raiders. I rarely recommend the same guy more than once, but Carr is inexplicably available in roughly 40 percent of all fantasy leagues. Perhaps after a three-game stretch in which he has amassed 923 passing yards, 11 TDs and one interception, Carr will get some respect.

Karlos Williams, RB, Bills. With Buffalo's next game falling on Thursday night, Shady McCoy is a long shot to play with his injured shoulder. Williams showed what he can do when given the chance and can be a very handy short-term proxy.

Brandon Bolden, RB, Patriots. He's the next man up to replace Dion Lewis (knee), who is most likely done for the season. LeGarrette Blount will likely see the majority of the carries, but Bolden should inherit Lewis' change-of-pace role. Bolden could be a decent bye-week or injury fill-in.

Don't be fooled

Shaun Draughn, RB, 49ers. If this week was any indication, Draughn has earned the lead running back role until Carlos Hyde returns. But the 49ers are heading to their bye week and Hyde is eyeing a Week 11 comeback.

Cole Beasley, WR, Cowboys. On the heels of two consecutive goose eggs, Beasley suddenly became Matt Cassel's best friend on Sunday night. But the No. 3 wideout in Dallas is barely roster-worthy when Tony Romo is under center.

Vernon Davis, TE, Broncos. Davis didn't make the box score in his first game as a Bronco, and the chances of his contributing meaningfully any time soon are slim.