Stat change costs man $1M prize on MNF game

  • Joined ESPN in 2014
  • Journalist covering gambling industry since 2008

A stat correction that changed a sack to a tackle-for-loss in the Chicago Bears-Los Angeles Rams game Monday caused a $997,000 fantasy football heartbreak for a 41-year-old insurance agent in St. Louis.

For 30 minutes after Monday’s game ended, Rob Huntze thought he had won the $1 million first prize in a DraftKings contest.

Everything had worked out perfectly for Huntze down the stretch of the Rams’ 24-10 win. One of Huntze’s lineups that featured both the Bears and Rams defenses had scored 92.79 points, the most out of the 176,470 entries. His computer screen showed a $1 million first prize.

He texted with friends and called his parents to share the exciting news and took his dog Achilles for a quick walk.

When he returned, he wanted to refresh his computer screen again, “just to see myself on top,” he said. “And, then, boom.”

A sack that had been credited to the Bears defense late in the fourth quarter was changed to a running play, a three-yard loss by Rams quarterback Jared Goff. That three-yard loss dropped Huntze into a tie for sixth place with 18 other entries, and his prize money dropped from $1 million to $3,078.94.

“Heartbreaking on many levels,” a resigned Huntze told ESPN on Tuesday.

The play in question occurred with three minutes left in the fourth quarter. On third down, Goff faked a handoff to the right side and bootlegged back to the left. Bears linebacker James Vaughters didn’t bite on the fake and teamed with defensive tackle Akiem Hicks to bring Goff down three yards behind the line of scrimmage.

Hicks was initially credited with a sack, but the official scorer later changed the play to a three-yard loss on a run by Goff. Rams wide receivers appeared to be blocking downfield, an indication of a designed run. Sacks are not credited on designed runs.

“It had to be a sack,” Huntze said. “There’s no other way to look at it.”

“Plays such as this one are routinely discussed by the Stats Crew and updates accordingly,” Michael Signora, senior vice president of football and international communications, told ESPN in an email. “In this instance, because the play happened so close to the end of the game, it was reviewed by the Stats Crew and then updated prior to publishing the Game Summary, commonly referred to as the Game Book.”

Stats corrections are not uncommon and regularly affect fantasy contests. Huntze said he lost out on $5,000 due to a stat correction in a previous fantasy contest, but this time, it was much more painful.

After the correction, five entries finished tied for first with 91.19 points and split the $1 million prize. Huntze’s entry, robocles (37), would have won first by itself, earning him the entire $1 million. Instead, he said his 43 entries won a total of $3,554.

Wild swings on late plays happen weekly in fantasy football, but going from winning $1 million to just over $3,000 had the daily fantasy community buzzing over Huntze’s bad fortune.

An avid daily fantasy player who has qualified three times for DraftKings’ world championship, Huntze said he believed Monday’s contest was going to be his “big breakthrough.” Despite the $997,000 letdown, he plans to be back in action Thursday night.

“I want a little redemption story,” he said.

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