Don’t Be Intimidated of Daily Fantasy Sports

The Exponential Growth Of Daily Fantasy Sports

The daily fantasy sports industry is growing.  Commercials, radio spots, and all other kinds of advertising are everywhere for these one day fantasy sports leagues.  The promise of a big payday is very tempting, but when it is time to set your first line up it can be very overwhelming.  Sure Lebron James is better than Terrance Ross, but what if there is a $5,000 price difference?  I have to risk $20 to compete for the $1 Million?  Is this even legal?  These are only a few of the questions that cross everyone’s mind when they first experience daily fantasy.  I am here to ease your mind and help you jump head first into the most fun endeavor you have ever encountered.



My Daily Fantasy Sports Story

When I was first introduced to daily fantasy sports it was the beginning of the 2013-2014 fantasy football season.  I had run out of season long podcasts to listen to, so I moved on to this new and interesting Daily Fantasy Fix podcast.  If you have never listened to this Rotogrinders sponsored podcast hosted by Dan Back I highly recommend it.  This particular episode was a preview of the first weeks slate of games for the NFL season.  I had dominated my friends in all my season long leagues so I was sure I could take down a big contest in this too.  I was humbled very quickly as I watched my first $100 deposit evaporate into thin air.

Just because myself and many others struggled to find success early in our daily fantasy sports careers it doesn’t mean you have to follow the same path.  If you take to heart the information that follows I assure you your transition into daily fantasy sports will be much smoother than mine and you will be posting teams at the top of the leaderboards in no time.

Legality of Daily Fantasy Sports

With the rise in popularity of daily fantasy sports comes more speculation around its legality.  Every time I have a conversation with someone not familiar with daily fantasy sports the conversation almost assuredly turns to its legality.  With so many similarities to traditional sports betting and the online poker boom I don’t blame anyone for being skeptical.  I am not a competitive poker player by any means nor do I have a lot of experience with traditional sports betting, so I can only comment on what I know best and that is daily fantasy sports.  As a disclaimer I am not a Lawyer and do not claim that my opinions hold any weight when it comes to legal decisions being made in the future around the legality of daily fantasy spots.  What I can do is explain why it is legal today and why I think it will stay that way.

Daily fantasy sports is legal in all states except for Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, and Washington where state law will not allow betting on fantasy sports in any capacity.  This is because daily fantasy sports is treated the same as season long fantasy leagues in which millions of people participate each year.  Fantasy sports in all forms is exempt from the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006 because it is considered a game of skill.  I absolutely think that succeeding in daily fantasy sports takes skill.  The players who put the time and effort into perfecting the skill consistently find themselves in a position to win.

The future of daily fantasy sports legality can also be gleaned by the direction the industry is going.  Think about all of the money big organizations are shelling out to get a piece of the daily fantasy sports pie.  FanDuel recently raised $275 million from investors which included Google, KKR, Time Warner Investments, and Turner Sports.  Not to be outdone, DraftKings raised $300 million in new funding led by Fox Sports.  On top of the recent waive of investments both DraftKings and FanDuel have reached exclusive agreements with many of the professional sports leagues and teams.  You may be asking what this all means in terms of the legality of daily fantasy sports.  If for some reason daily fantasy sports would be deemed illegal, this would not only effect the websites themselves but also each of the major sports leagues and any company who has an invested interest.  Daily fantasy sports not only brings more fans but these fans are the ones that will watch any game no matter if it is their team or not.  Losing these fans would mean a lot of lost revenue for the leagues.  There are a lot of powerful people that now have an incentive to make sure the daily fantasy sports industry continues to flourish.


DFS Terminology

Another major barrier to entry into daily fantasy sports is the vocabulary.  After listening to just a few minutes of a daily fantasy sports podcast you will assuredly check your podcast settings to make sure the language is still set to English.  GPP, cash games, fading, contrarian, bankroll, and stacking are only a few of the terms that may seem foreign.  While it may seem like a tall task to master all of this terminology, there are only a few concepts you truly need to know to get started.  The rest will come with time.  I have defined a few of the key terms below.

GPP(Guaranteed Prize Pool) – This is a game type with a lot of entries, sometimes as many as 100,000+.  The payout structure is typically top heavy and you will need to create lineups that have more risk in order to score in the top 10% of all entries.

Cash Games(50/50s) – This is a game type in which there could be a large player pool or very few.  The payout structure is flat which means the first place team will get just as much as the last team in the money.  The top half of the field is usually paid out and once the rake is taken from the prize pool you usually win just shy of double your money.  This means that you will want to create a safer lineup because there is no incentive to place at the top of the leaderboard.  The goal should be to score better than at least half the field and nothing more.DraftKings NFL

Contrarian – This is a term used to describe the mindset of taken a player you don’t think will be very highly owned.  In large field GPPs it pays off to be contrarian because having a player perform well who is not highly owned can give you a large advantage over the field.

Value – While value can take on a lot of meanings, typically in daily fantasy sports it is used to compare a players performance in relation to their salary.  Each website has its own value system which is arbitrary in nature to begin with but given a players salary they will need a certain point total to payoff the investment.  What is most important to realize is that you must consider salary when making any daily fantasy sports decisions because with a higher salary becomes higher expectations.  I will cover value in more detail in the future.

Late Swap- This is a feature that some daily fantasy sports websites offer while others do not.  If a website offers late swap, you will be able to make changes to your lineup even after the first games of that night have started.  You will be able to make adjustments to your lineup so long as the players you are swapping in and out are not in games that have already started.  This is important to keep in mind for several reasons.  First, on non-late swap websites you want to be careful with putting in questionable players whos status might not be known until after the first set of games start.  If a player is scratched after lineups lock you will take a zero for that player.  You can also use late swap to gain an edge on your completion by making changes based on late breaking news and to pivot onto certain players based on your teams needs and ownership levels.  These are advanced strategies but certainly something that will separate you from the crowd as your game grows.

I wanted to keep this list small so that you weren’t overwhelmed with new terminology but I think these are the most helpful terms to know when starting out.

Daily Fantasy Rags to Riches

Draftkings and FanDuel make sure to highlight the opportunity to make millions playing daily fantasy sports in their major GPPs.  These tournaments tend to come with a heftier price tag than most new daily fantasy players want to pay.  Without a general knowledge of what games and price points each site has to offer it may be hard to find the contest that fits your skills and budget.  While you do have to shell out the cash in the huge GPPs it doesn’t mean there aren’t games available for small bankroll new comers.  All websites offer free contests which allow you to get a feel for the salary cap style game and the website’s unique scoring system.  Some sites like DraftKings will offer free games that payout a very small amount of entries with game tickets.  There are also an assortment of lower price games such as $1 or even $.25.  These will not pay out a million on top but I can tell you it is a pretty cool feeling to turn a $.25 into a $100.  The great thing about daily fantasy sports is that there is a wide assortment of games for anyone to enjoy and many of them will not break the bank.


DFS Sharks

Trying to learn anything in life comes with a learning curve and some people may fear the troubles that may come along with this.  In daily fantasy sports it only adds to this feeling when you throw in putting hard earned money on the line against people that have been playing for years.  The most skilled daily fantasy sports players are known as sharks.  These players look to take advantage of the easy money a new player brings in.  While you may not win right out of the gate, there are a couple of things to keep in mind when starting out.  Many of the sites offer beginners leagues.  These leagues are reserved for daily fantasy players who do not have a lot of wins under their belt.  Each website has different criteria that define who is and is not a beginner but I would recommend playing in these leagues when first starting out.  I would also recommend playing in the contest with large player pools.  These can be GPPs or cash games.  As the number of entries goes up the better chance the player pool you are competing against is diluted with beginners and novices just like you.  Also keep in mind that the sharks know they are good enough to make money at this so they are looking for the contests that will give them the best ROI.  This means most Sharks will not drop down into the lower price points.  I would not be too worried about going up against the big boys until you start getting to contests with a $5-$10 price point and more.  If you do take a few lumps early keep in mind even the best daily fantasy players started off beginners and they had the perseverance to ride out the losing streaks and come out the other side a better player because of it.


Alright You Convinced Me,  Now What?

I hope after reading all of this you feel more confident and prepared to give daily fantasy sports a shot.  If you still aren’t ready to make that first deposit, sign up for each of the sites and start entering free games.  This will allow you to get a feel for the scoring systems and find out which website is best for you.  If you can I would keep track of your scores each night to see if you are progressing.  There will be volatility in any sport but consistently moving up the rankings is a strong indicator you are getting the hang of it.  I would also continue to seek out daily fantasy sports content and find a community who is as passionate as you are.  I know Rotogrinders is the community that really played a part in where I am at today in terms of daily fantasy sports.  As cliché as it may sound the most important part is to have fun.  Watching a game where you have players is some of the most fun I have ever had.  I will continue to produce content that will help you improve your game but get out there are don’t be afraid to make mistakes.  As long as you practice good bankroll management you will be competing in no time.


Now I want to hear from you.  What is your biggest fear when it comes to jumping into daily fantasy sports?  Please feel free to leave your comments and questions below.


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