Everything You Need to Know About Daily Fantasy Sports
Daily Fantasy Sports are all the rage these days. With industry giants like FanDuel and DraftKings dominating every NFL game with countless commercials, it’s hard to ignore daily fantasy sports any longer.
With that in mind, here’s our guide to everything you need to know about daily fantasy sports.
What Are Daily Fantasy Sports?
Daily fantasy sports, often shortened to DFS, are fantasy sports that you play on a short-term basis: typically either daily or weekly. Some games are even played over just a short portion of the day.
The fantasy sports work in a similar way to traditional fantasy sports sites on Yahoo, CBS, ESPN, and others. The main difference is that betting is built directly into the system. Companies like DraftKings and FanDuel distribute millions of dollars in winnings every day.
With daily fantasy sports, you sign up, choose which type of contest you want to join, then draft your team. Most DFS games are based on a salary cap system or something similar. You have $50,000 to draft 10 different NFL players, and each player is assigned a dollar value based on their fantasy value.
How Do Daily Fantasy Sports Contests Work?
DFS contests work in a slightly different way to traditional fantasy sports. Instead of playing against your buddies in a 10 man or 12 man league, you’re typically playing against ten, twenty, or even thousands of other people online.
There are certain contests where you can play head to head against other individuals. Your drafted team goes against another’s drafted team and the team with the most fantasy points at the end of the contest wins.
In situations where thousands of people have joined a pool, the top, say, 500 people might receive a payout, with the first place player receiving the highest payout.
Some of the most popular types of daily fantasy sports contests include:
— Leagues: Leagues can involve anywhere from 10 to 20 to a few hundred people and last for a day or a week. They typically consist of fewer than 1000 contestants.
— Tournaments: The higher-publicized tournaments typically come with larger cash prize pools and might have thousands of players. Winners can take home $250,000+ in some of these pools.
— 50/50 Contests: These contests pay out to the top 50% of the league. If you can beat the average, then you’ll get paid.
— Head to Head: This DFS contest is similar to traditional fantasy sports. You’re paired up against someone on a weekly or daily basis. If your lineup scores more than your opponent’s lineup, then you win.
— Multipliers: Multiplier contests allow the top percentage of players to multiply their entry fee. So if you paid $100 to join that league, then you might be able to multiply that by 2x or 4x by winning.
How Are Daily Fantasy Sports Legal?
Sports betting is illegal across America. So what’s the difference between daily fantasy sports and sports betting?
The difference, in the eyes of the US government, comes down to skill: fantasy sports is a game of skill. Thus, you’re not betting on a game of chance.
The United States actually debated this issue extensively back in 2006, when they ruled on the matter in what has become known as the “UIGEA carve out”.
Nevertheless, the United States controls gambling laws primarily at the state level. Certain states have outdated or overly complex gambling laws, which means that the major DFS sites avoid them.
Residents of Iowa, Arizona, Louisiana, Montana, and Washington typically cannot complete in daily fantasy sports, for example. The same can be said for residents of Quebec, in Canada (although the rest of the country can play on most sites)
When Can I Play DFS?
Sports go on at all times of the year, obviously, so there’s really no limit to when you can play DFS.
In the NFL season (which is the most popular DFS to play by far), you’ll find a few different types of contests throughout the week. There are contests that include every game in the week (starts Thursday and ends Monday) as well as contests that include just Sunday, or Sunday PM or Sunday AM.
Which Sports Can I Play?
DFS sites are expanding their sports all the time. DraftKings has one of the widest selections of sports available today. Their sports include:
— Football (NFL, CFB)
— Baseball (MLB)
— Hockey (NHL)
— Basketball (NFL, CBB)
— Golf (PGA)
— Motorsports (NASCAR)
— Soccer (EPL, UCL, MLS)
The types of sports vary widely, but the basic premise remains the same. You choose players that you think will do well in a given period. These players earn points based on the “good” things they do within a game or match.
When you’re betting on MMA, for example, you receive a fixed salary cap of $50,000. You use that salary cap to draft 5 players. The player pool consists of all fighters expected to participate in the upcoming event. Do you pick consensus favorites like Ronda Rousey or take your chances with some of the undercard fighters? MMA points are given out based on Significant Strikes (+0.5), Advances (+1), Takedowns (+2), Reversals and Sweeps (+2), and Knockdowns (+3). You also get points for winning each round. Winning the first round is worth +100, for example, while the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th rounds are worth +70, +50, +40, and +40, respectively. You get +25 for a decision win.
Meanwhile, NFL fantasy scoring should be familiar to anyone who has played fantasy football before. Passing TDs are worth 4 points on offense, for example, while 10 receiving yards are worth 1 point. (0.1 points per yard).
What Are the Lineup Requirements?
Lineup requirements understandably vary from sport to sport, but the basic idea remains the same: you draft a full lineup of players from different teams to create your full fantasy lineup.
FanDuel’s NHL fantasy scoring requires you to pick 1 goalie, 1 defenseman, 1 right wing, 1 left wing, and 1 center, for example.
In NFL DFS, you typically pick a QB, 2xRB, 3xWR, TE, K, and D (team defense). Some sites don’t require you to pick a kicker.
One of the big differences between DFS and traditional fantasy sports is that you’re not typically restricted to certain players: just because someone else picked Aaron Rodgers as their number one QB doesn’t mean you have to pick a different QB. You can all have the same lineup (although this isn’t true in all DFS leagues).
How Much Does it Cost to Join Daily Fantasy Sports?
One of the cool things about daily fantasy sports is that you can win/lose as much or as little as you like. When you log onto sites like DraftKings and FanDuel, you’ll see entries for $1 games and entries for $2,500 entry games.
Signing up is typically as easy as sending the company a payment using your credit card. When you cash out, you’ll get that amount refunded to your credit card.
What’s the Deal With These Deposit Matching Bonuses I Keep Hearing About?
If you’ve watched any sports event in the last few months, then you’ve undoubtedly seen FanDuel and DraftKings advertisements with promises of promo codes and deposit matches or bonuses.
Typically, these deposit matches and bonuses aren’t quite as good as they seem to be on TV. If you read the fine print, then you’ll see things like this (from FanDuel):
“Bonuses are earned gradually after you enter and complete paid contests. Deposit bonus is released as real cash at a rate of 4% of the entry fee of the contest you enter. For example, if you enter a $25 contest, $1 of deposit bonus will be released into your main funds account.”
That means if you deposit $100 into your account, then you would have to play with $2,500 before you get that entire $100 matching bonus. DraftKings, for what it’s worth, uses a virtually identical system with a cash release rate of 5% per year.
In other words, you won’t get your $100 bonus immediately after signing up. You’ll need to continue playing before you can access that cash and cash out.
How Do DFS Sites Make Money?
Daily fantasy sports sites make money by taking a cut of every pot. If you’re in a smaller head to head contest with a $10 payout (from a $5 entry), then you might win $9 after FanDuel takes its cut.
This isn’t as noticeable in the larger leagues, where the company will still collect its fee. Fees typically range from 5% to 12%, depending on the size of the league.
There are also certain contests where DFS sites will actually lose money. The company will provide a guaranteed prize pool (GPP), which means they guarantee a payout of say, $1000. If fewer people than expected join that pool, then the DFS site is still required to payout that amount.
Who Should Play Daily Fantasy Sports?
Daily fantasy sports are more popular today than they have ever been before. That’s both a good and bad thing: it means average and below average players are joining these sites in droves, providing easy fodder for expert fantasy sports players.
On the other hand, it means you’re also facing huge competition. You’re not just competing against the 10 idiots in your office anymore: you’re competing against thousands of people in certain contests – including people who play daily fantasy sports for a living.
With that in mind, the best way to join DFS is to dip your toe in the water. Sign up. Take advantage of the matching bonus offers currently available. Join a few cheap contests and see how you do. Maybe you’re the next big thing in fantasy sports