Players Guide to Daily Fantasy Sports

Every year sports fans look forward to their fantasy sports drafts, where they plan and research how to perfectly construct their rosters and then work all season to pull just the right moves to make the playoffs. If things go perfectly, they can make a go for a title and potentially a cash prize if their league awards one. On the downside, injuries, bad drafts or even regrettable trades can kill a season before it really ever gets going. Then it’s months before you have a chance to torture yourself all over again.

That isn’t the case with daily fantasy sports (DFS), which take the season long format and break it down into weekly and even daily segments.

That awesome feeling you get when your sweet sleeper pans out?
You can have that every day.
Didn’t land the studs you wanted in your regular season long league?
You can draft any studs you want in daily fantasy sports.
Sick of seeing your players succumb to the injury bug?
With DFS, there’s no such concern.

The thrill of fantasy sports no longer has to be drawn out for a full season for the sport of your choosing. With daily fantasy sports, sports fans and fantasy enthusiasts alike can take their love for fantasy sports and their knowledge of the game and put their money where their mouth is and compete against other fantasy sports lovers to win cash. And they can do it right now.

On top of the enjoyment of drafting the exact players you want and seeing how everything unfolds, you can win money in the process. Daily fantasy sports sites allow you to enter various contests against die hard players just like you, who you can go up against for a shot at real cold, hard cash.

Daily Fantasy Sports vs. Sports Betting

Daily Fantasy Sports Sports Betting
More skill based Can sometimes be difficult to follow laws
Completely legal More money to be won overall
More opportunities to win

That’s just a few key differences between the two, but probably the best part about daily fantasy sports is that it is completely legal no matter where you live. Betting on fantasy sports isn’t taking as big of a risk as, say, betting on a horse that will win a race or a team that will win a contest. Instead, it has been legally deemed a “game of skill” where individuals must choose players based off of research, data and personal insight. The players selected form your “fantasy team”, and you’re competing against other human fantasy players.

Skill Luck
Daily fantasy sports is more skill based because your competition is other DFS players, and you pick your team based on their skill level, not whole team efforts. Sports betting is not entirely based on luck but more so than DFS due to the competition being professional sportsbooks, and betting against full teams can be unpredictable.

While DFS in a sense may feel like gambling due to players putting money on the line and potentially winning big prize pools, it’s more skill-based and has less to do with luck than normal gambling. There’s an argument to be made that poker and other “gambling” are also rather skill-based, but the important thing is the legal system at least got it right with daily fantasy sports.

While not gambling, daily fantasy sports does share some similarities with traditional sports betting.

The biggest similarity between DFS and regular sports betting, of course, is the rush involved. Daily fantasy sports is far more skill-based, but there is no feeling in the world like betting some money for a chance to win a whole lot more of it. It’s arguably much more fun in DFS, too, as it enhances the sport itself and as the contest draws to a close, you can track your team’s success live up until the end of the game. The intensity of watching your team climb the ranks and getting closer and closer to a huge cash prize simply can’t be matched.

Our page on DFS vs traditional sports betting covers more information on the differences and similarities.

Daily Fantasy Sports vs. Season Long Fantasy Sports

In addition to being completely legal, DFS is also in so many ways a far better alternative to the season long grind. It’s a whole different (and more refreshing) grind, as you don’t have to deal with all the negatives of a season long commitment and can draft an entirely different team every single day or week.

Here are some of the key differences between daily fantasy sports and the season long version:

Amount of Time

In season long fantasy sports, you have the weeks or months of research going into your draft, the actual draft itself, and then the entire year dedicated to one team. If things don’t go as planned, you’re stuck with a crappy team and you don’t win any money. With DFS, the preparation is rarely more than a few hours (if that) and a bad team can be washed away the very next day.

Amount of Money You Can Win

You also aren’t winning cash prizes on a daily and weekly basis in the regular fantasy leagues you’re used to. Some leagues do award weekly prizes or a big pot and the end of the year, but it’s rarely anything close to what you can chase on a daily basis in daily fantasy sports.

Your Team Can Be Whatever Your Heart Desires

A lot of DFS games do have salary caps which put restrictions on your lineup to a certain degree, but even with a salary cap you still have full control over who you put on your team. How many studs you use is up to you, especially if you put the time and effort in to find cheaper players that end up being bargain buys (sleepers).

For more information on the differences be sure to check out our article comparing daily fantasy and season long leagues.

How to Play Daily Fantasy Sports

Find the right site

Okay, so you’re down for some daily fantasy sports. But where and how do you even participate? The first step is to pick the daily fantasy sports website you want to play at. The two most popular (and best) DFS sites without a doubt are DraftKings and FanDuel.

We break down those sites more in their site reviews and even compare them head to head, but those are the sites you’ll want to start out with. Go ahead and sign up to get started, and then you can either deposit some cash right away if you feel you’re ready, or you can test your skills, the site and the games by joining free games.

Pick the right sport

Once you’ve picked the site you’re going to play on, the next step, naturally, is picking your fantasy sport. Start with a sport you have a lot of knowledge about. You know how to play it somewhat, you have a good grasp of the players and teams, keep up to date with the latest news and roster changes and even perhaps have enjoyed season long leagues in this sport. We have listed a few of the most popular Daily Fantasy Sports you can play today:

  • Basketball
  • Soccer
  • College Football
Pick the right game type

Now that you know what sport you feel you can master in the DFS scene, you can find the appropriate game type and league size to test your fantasy skills.

Daily Fantasy Sports Game Types
  • Head to Head (H2H)
  • Double Up (50/50)
  • GPP (Guaranteed Prize Pool)
  • Free Roll Games

A free roll is a good place to start, as you’d have a free entry to play and could potentially win some cash to build your bankroll. Whether it’s free or not, though, you will have the option of choosing your game type, which can range from Head to Head (H2H), Double Up (50/50) or a GPP (Guaranteed Prize Pool) game. Head to Head and Double Up games always offer approximately a 50% chance to either double your money or win a specific amount of money. In a Head to Head game it’s just you against one other person and the 50/50 games you only need to beat half the field. Hence, the 50/50 labeling.

GPP’s are a little trickier, and the style of play is also completely different. However, GPP’s are usually low entry fees and if your team does very well you can maximize your fantasy knowledge by winning huge cash prizes.

With everything set up, you’re in the contest of your choice and now all that is left is for you to draft your team. The contest and sport can dictate your exact strategy, but over time you should be able to gauge what kind of team has the best odds of winning any type of contest.

It’s always smart to figure out what type of Fantasy league you want to join and then form an appropriate strategy. Here are a few examples of what we mean:

GPP League

A Guarnteed Prize Pool contest is going up against a ton of other people, so you’ll want to build a roster with players less likely to be used by others in the field, or use players that carry a bigger upside.

Head to Head & 50/50 Leagues

In H2H and 50/50 leagues, you want to build a balanced team of generally safer options, while taking very few risks. Due to only having to beat one person or half the field, you don’t necessarily need the best possible team to cash out.

Why You Need to Play Daily Fantasy Sports

What daily fantasy sports ends up being to you, of course, is entirely open for debate. The combination of game types, sports offered, durations and prize potential is pretty much endless. We’ve covered the more popular fantasy sports above, but those aren’t the only games available. With daily fantasy sports you have more options than that for which sports you can participate in. Here are just a few of the other sports:


In addition to those sports, a wide variety of college sports are also available given you find a participating site.

All in All, You Should Play Daily Fantasy Sports Because

It’s Fun

Put your sports knowledge to the test and play competitively with your friends or people around the world.

It’s Legal

Fantasy sports are considered games of skill, so you never have to worry about whether or not placing a bet is legal where you live.

It Can Be Profitable

If you play smart enough you have the opportunity to make some extra money from fantasy sports. If you’re really good, you have the chance to make it a full time job.

You Can Enjoy Yourself Without A Season Long Commitment

You never have to commit yourself to more than you want to play with daily fantasy, which gives you much more room to improve as you play.

Still need more convincing?

Consider this:

Anyone Has The Chance to Make It Big

Poker can be a great time with your buddies, but going into huge tournaments and dominating is a lot easier said than done. That’s the case with DFS too, but to a far lesser extent.

No Pressure From A Table or Crowd

With daily fantasy sports, you don’t feel the pressure of a table or crowd like you would in other gambling situations. Rather, you can build out your roster and watch your game unfold in the comfort of your own home - or anywhere you want via a mobile device.

Improve Your Sports Knowledge and Skills

You can also improve your skill-set as a daily fantasy gamer on a daily and weekly basis. Think you have MLB figured out and just can’t knock one out of the park in the first week? Don’t worry, you still have another 150+ regular season games to go!

Arguably the most compelling reason people participate in DFS is for the variety. Even the best experts can get tired of doing the same fantasy sport every day, all year long. That versatility allows you to dip your toe into various genres and improve your overall skill-set in daily fantasy sports.

Finding that your just not good at a certain sport?
Just skip it and try some others!
Stuck on a losing streak?
Try a different league or a different sport!
Want to make DFS a full time job?
If you work hard enough, you can do that!
Daily Fantasy Sports Wrap-Up

While daily fantasy sports is all about fun and a chance to use your knowledge and skills to win woney, there is also some obvious risk involved. DFS can be just for fun or you can make a career out of it, but regardless of your skill-set or playing level, always remember never to bet more than you can afford to lose. That’s an important thing to always remember for bankroll management, but also for your own peace of mind.