A LITTLE unconventional thinking and a lot of Jamaal Charles made for a spectacular early Christmas gift for Larry Seigle, of Newtown.
Seigle had two qualifying spots in the DraftStreet.com fantasy football championship over the weekend and captured the grand prize of $1 million, thanks largely to Charles' five-touchdown performance on Sunday.
While all the other contestants took advantage of DraftStreet's offer to fly to Las Vegas for the weekend, Seigle, 25, declined.
"I don't drink or party or anything like that," said the 25-year-old. "I just felt more comfortable staying home and focusing."
In addition to Charles' 55-point performance, Seigle also sagely used the hookup connection of Minnesota quarterback Matt Cassel (30 points) and wide receiver Greg Jennings (28).
Contestants had their pick of NFL players, but needed to stay under a $100,000 salary cap devised by DraftStreet. Seigle wanted to play DeSean Jackson and figured that also having LeSean McCoy in the lineup would be Eagles overkill.
"I didn't see DeSean and LeSean both being able to go off," Seigle said. So he went with Charles, instead of McCoy, the NFL's leading rusher who was coming off a career game against the Lions.
Seigle's other entrant finished sixth out of 40 to earn him an additional $25,000. A senior at Temple in sports management, Seigle says there will be no rash spending sprees. However, "I feel like I owe my family better Christmas presents now," he said.
John Lee, from North Wales, also earned two spots. He finished fourth and eighth, respectively, for a $65,000 payout.
"I was in the lead for the first few hours," Lee said, "until Jamaal Charles blew the wheels off the bus." Weekly fantasy leagues are gaining popularity. Unlike traditional yearly leagues, injuries or poor performances can be erased the following week. However, the costs can be prohibitive.
DraftStreet's league fees range from $22 to $420. The higher the premium, the fewer players are competing. Weekly winners through the first 14 weeks got an invite to DraftStreet's championship round. The cost of playing the most expensive leagues each week totals $5,880 (14 weeks at $420 per).
There are no legal barriers because the government considers weekly fantasy leagues to be games of skill, not luck. It's similar to online poker.
"I think yearly leagues will be gone in a few years," Seigle said. "The experience at DraftStreet is amazing; never had any problems cashing out or anything. I don't think people realize how great weekly leagues are."