If you’ve turned on sports radio or watched a game in the past few years, you’ve no doubt heard about DraftKings, FanDuel, or FantasyScore; you’ve probably heard about a guy who has won millions of dollars, and that you can be just like him if you play.
So now that some of your friends and co-workers have left your fantasy leagues to jump on board with these websites, you’re left wondering - what is all the hype with these Daily Fantasy Sports?
What is Daily Fantasy Sports?
Daily Fantasy Sports (or DFS) appeals to sports fans that don’t want the season-long commitment of a traditional fantasy team. They are fantasy leagues that last the span of a league week, a day, or sometimes just a portion of a day. You pick when you want your contest to occur, what type of contest you want, draft your team, and using traditional fantasy football scoring, however your players produce on the field determines where your team finishes in the contest. You receive your payout that evening, and then your commitment is done.
You can start all over again the next week!
What exactly are contests?
Unlike traditional fantasy sports, you aren’t playing head to head against another opponent. With DFS sports you play in a “contest” against ten, twenty, even hundreds of thousands of people. Your drafted team is matched up against everyone else’s drafted team, and depending on how well you do, you will rank somewhere in the contest and potentially receive a payout.
What types of contests are there?
There are several different ways to play DFS. Leagues are usually under a thousand people and offer multiple prize positions. Tournaments are played with thousands of people, and offer very large prize pools for the winners. 50/50 Contests pay out the top scoring 50% of the contest. Head to Head play is similar to traditional fantasy football, where you matchup against a single opponent. And lastly, Multiplier leagues are where the top percentage will “multiply” their entry fee, usually “double up” or “quadruple up.”
When can I play?
For the NFL, you can play in a contest that includes every game in a league week (Thursday Night Football through Monday Night Football), Sunday only, or Sunday AM or PM only, depending on the DFS service. If you play over the course of an NFL week, you have to wait until Monday for your results, but you can draft any player that’s playing that week. If you play in a more specific contest, you can only draft players that are playing in that time frame.
How does the draft work?
While traditional fantasy sports only let one player be on each team, it’s exactly the opposite in DFS - every team could have the same player. You are given a salary cap to spend on your team, and each player is priced differently. Your goal is to use your salary cap to assemble the perfect winning combination. Does paying the $9,700 premium for Aaron Rodgers justify downgrading your RB to a more affordable $6,400 Chris Ivory? Maybe only spending $6,300 on a QB like Derek Carr allows you to upgrade your WR position to someone like Julio Jones. These are the decisions you get to make every week with your roster.
The salary cap varies from one DFS site to another, as do the players’ values. So make sure if you’re ever looking at a DFS advice page, that players are priced correctly for your website.
Some sites, like FantasyScore, are also providing DFS games with traditional style drafting. You can create your own leagues or join existing leagues.
What are the lineup requirements?
It depends on the website, but lineups are very similar to a traditional fantasy football lineup: QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, PK, DEF or a flex position in lieu of the third wide receiver. Some sites, like FantasyScore, don't require a kicker. A big plus in my book.
How much does it cost to play?
Each contest differs in entry fee - the cost ranges anywhere from free to $1,000+ a contest. A higher entry fee reflects a higher payout for the contest winners. Once you deposit money into your account, it stays in your account until you transfer it to a bank account or have a check mailed to you. If you win money, it is added to your account.
I heard that DraftKings/FanDuel/FantasyScore will match my deposit up to $X or X%?
Ah yes - the ol’ deposit match trick. It’s very easy for them to quickly throw into a 30 second commercial that they will match your deposit, but of course, everything has fine print:
From FanDuel’s website:
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.
So if you deposit $100 into your account, you would have to play with $2,500 before seeing the full $100 bonus. DraftKings has a similar policy, but there bonus is released at 5%.
So far, FantasyScore seems to be the only company that fairly delivers their bonus - paying users 50% of their deposit, with the incentive being that it can only be used as entry fees and cannot be cashed out.
FantasyScore is also offering a special right now for all Huddle members. Sign up and get $5 deposited into your account FREE. And you could use that free money to enter The Huddle's GPP contest offering $2,250 in prize money. CLICK HERE to take advantage of this offer.
How do sites make money on this?
The DFS service provider takes a cut of every pot, which isn’t as noticeable in larger contest or tournaments, because winners receive larger portions. In smaller H2H or 50/50 contests, the fee is clearly deducted from the winners’ payouts (A $5 50/50 league will actually only pay $9, not $10 etc…)
That means for a $5 50/50 league with 100 people, where there’s $500 in the pot, the DFS site is actually making $50 of that - 10%. Not bad, considering there are thousands happening a week with some tournaments having pots of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
This seems an awful lot like gambling. How is this legal?
The federal law that settled this issue back in 2006 for traditional fantasy sports (commonly known as the UIGEA carve out) also applies to DFS. So like traditional fantasy sports, DFS is not considered gambling. Since gambling law is primarily controled at the state level, and due to a few state's laws being vague and out-of-date, most DFS companies have chosen to avoid those states. The most common five being Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana and Washington. The same can be said for most traditional high-stakes and medium-stakes contests.
Is DFS right for me?
If you have found yourself growing a little tired of the season long commitments of a fantasy football league, it’s definitely worth giving DFS a shot. Similarly, if you just have a deep passion for fantasy football and can’t seem to get enough of it, it’s definitely worth trying.
If you’re one of those people that covets the draft and can’t wait to come up with the next best trade, this might not hold your interest as much. But at the end of the day, DFS was built on a foundation of short term commitment and instant gratification (or disappointment) - so even if you only want to spend a few dollars and try for a weekend, you have very little to lose in trying it once.
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