At the start of the fantasy sports season everyone and their mothers are analyzing statistics and pouring over past performances to help them pick the ultimate fantasy football/baseball/hockey/soccer teams. But did you know that there is a more exciting and immediate version? And that can earn your skills large amounts of cash? Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS), first started in 2007, is growing in popularity among both sports fans and gambling enthusiasts.
It’s all in the name – daily fantasy sports (or, DFS). Rather than being season long game, players pick their ideal team for a single day/game (or weekend when it comes to NFL and golf based games). Strategically, this opens up a brand new world of possibilities as you can look at a pick’s immediate form and who they’re competing against in the next games when selecting your latest dream team.
It also provides players with instant gratification compared the usual season-long version. The choices you make today can bring you dollars tomorrow. And since you’re playing against hundreds of thousands of people compared to the usually small groups of players involved in the full season version, you often playing for a huge pot that can potentially be worth millions of dollars.
HOW DO I GET STARTED?
It’s really as easy as 1, 2, 3. And 4.
The world of DFS has been around for 10 years and has more than its share of operators, all of whom are trying to claim their piece of the pie. Sadly, quantity does not equal quality and there only a handful of established and reliable operators.
Luckily you won’t have wade through the muck and mire as we’re about to list the best DFS operators in the business.
The Big Fish
An incredible 90% of the DFS market currently belongs to just two operators – FanDuel and DraftKings. These giants have an almost equal share of the market, often leapfrogging each other into top spot. Together these two operators have been valued at over $1 billion.
FanDuel was one of the first DFS pioneers in the early days and was the undisputed market leader right up until 2015 when DraftKings launched. In November 2016 these two powerhouses shook the industry with the news that they will merge at some point in 2017. Only time will tell how this merger will affect the industry with insiders predicting two possible results – an industry–wide shake up or alternatively, it will be business as usual.
The rest of the field
Distant 3rd place is contested by FantasyDraft and Yahoo Daily Fantasy. What’s left of the DFS market goes to the smaller operators such as Draft, StarFantasyLeague, BoomFantasy, StarsDraft, FantasyAces, FantasyFeud, FanThrowdown, StarStreet and DraftOps.
Many new punters may wonder why anyone would choose to go with anyone besides FanDuel and DraftKings. And the answer is simple – value. The smaller operators try to lure you away from the big names by offering you overlay in their bigger tournaments or sign-up bonuses and free rolls. These sites have to work harder to attract players and thus will often specials and discounts to get you to sign up. So it’s definitely worth your while to keep an eye on these sites and their specials.
What sports can I choose from in DFS games?
You can compete in any of these sports:
Generally speaking, the better your team does, the better you’ll do no matter the type of game you are playing. Each sport has its own criteria for scoring points (NFL – scoring touchdowns and positive yardage, MLB – RBIs, homeruns, etc). However there are a number of other ways the prize structure can work. Once again we suggest you experiment and see what game type suits you best.
It’s worth noting that the entry fee for DFS games varies wildly and can be anywhere from free to $10 000. It’s suggested that beginners start off with the free versions while they get their footing before going up against the seasoned pros in the high entry cost and prize games.
One of the most popular set ups are Guaranteed Prize Pools. To enter a GPP game you’ll have to pay an upfront entry fee which allows you to play for a share of the prize pool.
50/50 are for those players who like to know the odds before they start with everyone in the top half of the pool almost doubling their stake while those in the lower walk away with nothing. As the name suggests, you have a 50% chance of winning.
Head-to-Head allows you to take on another individual, with the better performing team earning their player the entire kitty.
In Cash Games players either choose to set up their own league (with friends, family or colleagues) or join an existing league. In this format the best performing teams win cash prizes. The prizes are generally smaller than those of GPPs.
There are other DFS variations where players may choose a game where they predict how well an individual player performs or in which real time decisions and scoring dictates the winner. However DFS will always be based on player statistics and performances. Generally the better your selection do on the field, the better you will do.
A recent addition to the DFS menu is based on a single player’s performance rather than entire team. Other less popular varieties include quadruple/Quintuple Up, Sit-n-Gos and Beginners Only leagues.
In almost all DFS games you’ll have a salary cap. The salary cap functions as your team budget and cannot be exceeded. Every player is given a game-based dollar value. Every punter has their own method to help them choose their winning team. It’s best to experiment and see what works best for you.
You’ll be able to make changes to your roster right up until the tournament locks, with each site having their own deadlines before the actual games begin.
Once you have your squad, it’s time to wait for the real games to begin and see how your team scores. The better your team does, the better your chance of winning a cash prize.
Yes and no. While most states regard DFS as a legal form of gambling that requires regulation and licensing, the line is less clear in some states and illegal in others.
DFS is legal and regulated in the following states:
While it is illegal in the following states:
The negative opinions of Attorney Generals have led to most DFS sites steering clear of the following states:
It’s worth noting that the DFS industry popped up almost overnight thanks to a loophole in the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 that excluded fantasy sports. Several influential individuals, including the author of the abovementioned act, strongly believe that the law was not intended to apply to DFS.
While DFS is 100% legal in most states, you are encouraged to find out what your particular state’s view on the matter is before playing.
How long will it take for my winnings to be paid out?
Most sites will pay you out immediately or before the end of the day for the latest.
Are my DFS winnings taxed?
Yes. Please check the taxation percentage of your state to be certain on the amount you will be taxed.
How much is the DFS industry worth?
In 2015 DFS took in over $3billion in entry fees, with 90% if it generated by DraftKings and FanDuel alone.
Is it best to stick with the biggest names, i.e FanDuel and DraftKings?
There are obviously several reasons why 90% of the market belongs to these sites but it is still more than worth your while to see what the smaller sites are offering. These sites often have great deals and promotions in the hope of luring you away from the big names.
Can we play on college games and teams?
While some of the smaller sites still allow contests involving high school, college and amateur teams, both DraftKings and FanDuel no longer offer this option after coming to an agreement with the NCAA. More and more states are introducing legislations to stop these types of contests.
Isn’t DFS just another way to gamble on sports?
While it’s undoubtedly a form gambling, it is also clear that that it takes a considerable amount of skill opposed to luck. This is why most people consider DFS a skill-based form of gambling.
Does the DFS industry have the approval of the major professional sport leagues?
The NBA, NHL and MBL actually own shares in one of the bigger DFS sites. Thus it’s safe to say that they approve of the industry whole-heartedly.