Daily Fantasy Sports 101. Everything you need to know.

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Intro to Daily Fantasy Sports

With what seems like a $7 billion advertising budget for daily fantasy sports sites, it’s easy to get drawn into the allure of winning some of this ‘free money.’ After all, Scott Hanson of Pasadena, CA has turned $35 into over $2,000,000 playing DFS, right? While daily fantasy sports definitely do offer an exciting thrill ride, it’s important not to expect to win big while going in blind. Therefore this intro to daily fantasy sports will serve as a preseason, or spring training of sorts to give you a background on the “hobby” that is sweeping the nation.

How do Daily Games Differ from Season Long Fantasy Sports?

It’s pretty self explanatory, daily fantasy sports involve picking a team that you have for only that day (or weekend in football). After the actual games are over with, your team is graded then cleared to pick an entirely new team for the next slate of games.

What’s the Big Allure of DFS?

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In 2008 Tom Brady took a low hit from Bernard Pollard 8 minutes into the first game of the year and was lost for the season, essentially ruining the fantasy leagues of millions of fans who took him in the top 5 at their year-long drafts. While injuries still hurt in daily fantasy sports, they only cripple you for a day instead of about 5 months. With DFS you draft a team based on that day’s matchup from a pool full of healthy players. Plus you get paid at the end of the games instead of risking your league commissioner to hold the winnings for an entire season knowing that he or she drives past a casino every day on their way to work

How are Teams Selected?

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Every squad in a DFS game is awarded a salary cap and just like a real general manager for every team not named the Yankees, must stay below that cap while fielding the best team possible. Unlike season long drafts where once a player is taken he becomes unavailable to the other teams, in DFS multiple teams could theoretically have the same roster.

Types of Daily Fantasy Games Within the Game


Disclaimer- winning $2 million of a $35 investment isn’t the norm in daily fantasy sports. If people are expecting to get into DFS for a quick payday they’re likely better off buying a lottery ticket. That being said, it’s a definitive possibility but it depends on winning what’s known as a GPP game (guaranteed prize pool).

GPP – You know how hard it can be to win a fantasy league against 7 of your friends so imagine trying to beat out hundreds if not thousands of other players, many of which who are using advanced analytics and automated computer scripts to submit hundreds of different lineups to increase their chances of winning. This type of fantasy game is called a guaranteed prize pool game and although it offers the slimmest chance of victory, it does offer the highest return on investment. If you finish in the top 5-10% of 1,000s of players, imagine the prize pool possibilities.

Head to Head or 50/50 – Many beginning players get frustrated (and lose their bankroll) with the GPP games because the odds of winning are so stacked against them. The best way to learn daily fantasy sports (while winning money) is with head to head or 50/50 games. Head to head is pretty self explanatory where if you win, you get your opponents money. With 50/50 games all you have to do is finish in the top half of entrants and you’ll double your money. It’s a great way to learn the nuances of lineup strategy in preparation for big payday GPP events.

Lineup Strategies

Lineup Strategy

How you put together a lineup is the biggest factor in your DFS success. The strategy behind lineups depends on which type of game you play – either head to head or guaranteed prize pool games. With head to head (or 50/50) the best bet is to create a somewhat conservative roster since you only have to beat half the other players. This is defined as selecting players with a guaranteed floor instead of a high ceiling.

The roster for guaranteed prize pool games involves taking some chances though as it’s where the sleeper picks are the key. If a star like Aaron Rodgers, Mike Trout, or Lebron James has a good game, 80% of the other teams likely have him as well. If lesser known players put up gaudy stats (while simultaneously the stars also have bad games) your odds of rising to the top of the contest increase. Of course the hard (and fun) part is finding those sleeper picks.

These basics of daily fantasy sports can provide a good foundation for you to get started in this exciting pastime. One thing to note is that it’s best to start off with the free or $1-$2 games so that you can get familiar with the user interface, the scoring, and learning what works and what doesn’t when it comes to putting together a lineup. Stay tuned as we delve more in-depth about the strategies, bankroll management, and other factors that lead to DFS success. You may not win $2,000,000 in your first week of playing…but then again maybe you will?

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