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NFL Players Become Deadfellaz Zombies in DraftKings Fantasy NFT Collab

Matthew Stafford and others get the Deadfellaz treatment as Polygon NFTs that plug into DraftKings’ fantasy football competition.

4 min read
DraftKings turned NFL players into Deadfellaz characters. Image: DraftKings

In brief

  • DraftKings, NFT project Deadfellaz, and the NFL Players Association have teamed up for a collaboration.
  • Cards that show NFL players turned into Deadfellaz characters will be released via DraftKings’ NFT-based fantasy football platform.

With Halloween nearing, fantasy sports platform DraftKings announced today that it has partnered with Ethereum NFT project Deadfellaz and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) to create zombified NFT versions of star players to use within DraftKings’ fantasy football game.

A total of 13 current NFL players have been illustrated as Deadfellaz characters that will be released as NFT collectibles through the DraftKings Marketplace, including Matthew Stafford, Nick Chubb, Jalen Hurts, Kyler Murray, Alvin Kamara, Deebo Samuel, and others to be announced.

DraftKings will release the NFT player cards on October 25, and buyers can then use those players within their weekly fantasy football lineups in DraftKings Reignmakers Football starting on October 30. The NFT-powered fantasy football game awards more than $1 million in prizes each week to users, and the Deadfellaz cards will function through the end of the NFL season.

Reignmakers Football is inspired by traditional fantasy football platforms but is built around NFT player cards that users can buy, trade, and collect. Each week, users create a lineup and earn points based on the players’ respective real-world performances, and can earn cash and other prizes for being a top scorer. The NFTs are minted on Polygon, an Ethereum sidechain network.

The deal was completed in partnership with OneTeam, the group licensing partner of the NFLPA. DraftKings and the NFLPA announced their own alliance in December 2021 as they prepared to launch the Reignmakers Football platform for the current NFL season.

Deadfellaz is an Ethereum profile picture (PFP) collection that spans 10,000 avatars, each with a unique mix of visual traits. The project launched in 2021 and has generated just shy of $100 million worth of secondary trading volume to date, per data from CryptoSlam. In April, the project signed with United Talent Agency (UTA) to pursue brand partnerships and more.

“DraftKings is focused on collaborating with established Web3 brands, and we believe that Deadfellaz has proven to be a significant player with a strong reputation in the space,” DraftKings co-founder and President Matt Kalish told Decrypt. “We also liked the creative concept of zombifying NFTs of some of our favorite athletes, and we think our players will too.”

Pseudonymous co-creator Betty told Decrypt that Kalish is a longtime Deadfellaz holder who previously resold one of the NFTs for 69.6969 ETH (“for the culture,” she quipped). DraftKings also sponsored the project’s NFT NYC activation in June. She said that the zombified style adapts well for brand collaborations.

“The power Deadfellaz as a brand holds—that can’t really be said for all NFT projects—is the ease in which we can apply our aesthetic and IP to different settings and still have it make sense,” Betty explained. “This is because of the strength of the brand identity, but also the way we can connect emotionally to the characters and their stories.”

Deadfellaz has pursued a number of other deals in recent months, including a newly-revealed apparel drop with musician Steve Aoki’s Dim Mak brand—Aoki’s a big NFT collector and Web3 creator—as well as with ski and snowboard brand Gilson.

A collaboration with apparel brand Wrangler, meanwhile, saw the creation of Deadfellaz-themed jeans embedded with an NFC tag, which could be scanned with a smartphone to view an exclusive digital comic via NFT platform LTD.INC.

Betty said that she and pseudonymous co-founder and husband Psych must consider how any potential brand collaboration fits within the Deadfellaz ecosystem and community, particularly with thousands of NFT owners in the mix. Does it benefit holders or expose the brand to a new audience? Does the prospective partner pair well with the Deadfellaz ethos?

“To do this, we really do need to maintain a close bond with the people who make up our community, affectionately known as the ‘Horde’—something that is not necessarily needed in Web2 because of data capture and demographic statistics,” she said.

Editor's note: This article was updated after publication to include comments from DraftKings co-founder Matt Kalish.

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