Daily Fantasy Football
Daily fantasy sports, or DFS, is a new way of playing fantasy football and it is rapidly gaining popularity. At its most basic level, every week you are assigned a salary cap and must construct a standard fantasy football team while staying under the cap. It’s like a poker tournament in the sense that you hope to finish #1, but if you finish in the top 10% you’ll likely make the money. The same steps are repeated the following week. While it seems that it is very similar to seasonal fantasy football, which it is, it also has many distinct differences that make it more challenging, fun and prosperous.
I had never heard of DFS before the 2013 season and didn’t start playing it until half-way through the season, as I was skeptical that I would be able to succeed and make a profit. I was right as it took me until week 17 to make a profit, but I learned valuable lessons on how to play the game and after an offseason of researching and learning about DFS, I am fully prepared and beyond excited for the 2014 season to play and you should be too. Here are the top 5 reasons to play DFS this coming fall and 100, 000 reasons to sign up.
1. The Time Commitment
Like most things in life, you get out of it what you put into it and that doesn’t change with Daily Fantasy leagues. DFS players vary drastically, from players who play a few weeks a year, to those who spend a few hours a week making lineups and there are also players who work at DFS 8 hours a day during the season and legitimately make a living off their earnings. If you are reading this, you will likely fall into one of the first two categories and that is perfectly fine as you will still have fun and could still make money. DFS is unique from seasonal football because in seasonal, you must set your lineup and make free agent moves every week or you will have a losing team and/or be kicked from your league. In DFS, when you play is up to you as it is a weekly game. If you have a big work week and can’t make time to set some DFS lineups, no problem, just play next week. Is your seasonal team 1-6 and has no chance at the playoffs? Jump right into DFS and start fresh every week. The flexibility of DFS is a huge perk over seasonal fantasy football because no matter when you start or stop, you are not at a disadvantage.
When it comes to the time commitment of preparation for DFS, it is more or less the same as seasonal fantasy. You still need to spend some time (or a lot) in the summer learning about players, teams, etc., but if you are already playing in a seasonal league you are doing that anyway, so there is no additional offseason preparation needed for DFS. As for during the season, the time you spend on setting your seasonal team’s lineup, adding free agents and negotiating trades would be allocated to assessing player prices and making different lineups in DFS.
Overall, the average daily fantasy sports player will spend about as much time during the offseason and during the season as a seasonal player, but the DFS player will have the benefit of deciding each week if they want to play.
2. The Salary Cap System
While caps and prices vary from site to site, all DFS sites use a salary cap system for users to assemble teams, not the snake draft or auction draft styles of seasonal fantasy. While this kind of system does take some time to learn, such as which positions do you spend a lot on and which do you go cheap, the biggest perk is obvious, freedom. Unlike seasonal fantasy, where once you draft a team, you are stuck with those players, in DFS you can pay for any player you want each week, even if other teams in your game (we’ll get to that next) have them. This allows you to truly play your best hand every week as there are no restrictions on who you can have on your team, as long as you fit them under your salary cap. Never again will you be stuck with an injured player or a player who was traded into a worse situation as you have a league-wide player pool to chose from, not just your bench.
While it may seem like a very different system when compared to seasonal fantasy, the main concepts on how to win are the same and about finding value. In seasonal, you try to find players in the draft that will outperform their draft slot while in the salary cap system, you try to find players that will outperform others in their position group in relation to their price tag.
3. Game Options
Games also vary from site-to-site, but that is one of the best reasons to play DFS, there are so many different game types that allow you to play to your comforts or strengths. There are simple games such as Head-to-Head games, where you are matched up with one user, make a team and play it out like in seasonal leagues where the team with the most points wins. There are also 50-50 leagues, where you and anywhere from 10-200 league mates each select a team and you win money if you get in the upper 50th percentile of the league, meaning you are in the top half of the league in scoring. Similar games such as Triple-Ups, Quadruple-Ups, etc., require you to be in the top 1/3 of the league in scoring for you to triple your money. For Quadruple-Ups, be in the top 1/4th in scoring and you quadruple your money.
For those looking to gamble and risk, there are Guaranteed Prize Pool leagues, or GPPs. These massive leagues have thousands of people and typically small entry fees. The risk comes in the fact that you usually have to score in the top 10% or so to win money, but you will walk away with big winnings if you do.
Games that do not use the salary cap system are easier and take less time, such as Pick’em games. There are many types, but you are put up against an opponent and are given 5 match-ups between QBs. For example, if you pick which QB will score more points in the 5 different match-ups more than your opponent, you win.
Game options vary in levels of risk, complexity and difficulty, making it near impossible not to find a game or league that is a fit for you.
4. The Money
While this is the number one reason many people play DFS, making money is not as easy as it seems. Each game has an entry fee and corresponding winnings based on the level of risk of the league you are playing in. It is important to know your level of play and join leagues appropriately, or you will lose money. However, when you figure it out and start making profits, it enhances the DFS experience tremendously. There are many ways to make a profit in DFS, whether steadily winning in 50-50’s and Head-to-Head leagues, or having many entries in a GPP and having one lineup win big. With tournaments giving out millions of dollars in prize money every week and with huge buy-in’s for low risk games like 50-50’s, there is the potential to come out of every Sunday with thousands of dollars in profit. You may struggle at first, but the incentive to make a profit is what makes DFS so addicting, challenging and fun.
5. More Football!!
Seasonal fantasy football blew up in popularity because it made football more enjoyable for fans, as they invested in certain players or teams and thus found new things to cheer for. While the joy of watching your favorite sleeper on your seasonal team dominate week after week can’t be replaced by DFS, what DFS can do is make every game on every Sunday more fun. By playing in only 5-10 leagues a week, your lineups should be diverse enough that you should have a player to root for in nearly every football game.
I fell in love with DFS the first week I played it and I am confident that it will blow up within the next few years and surpass seasonal fantasy as the go-to fantasy game. The combination of the salary cap system, the flexibility in time commitment, game options and the ability to earn profits makes DFS an incredibly fun and challenging game.
Interested? Ok, cool. Want to win $100,000?
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Sean Berenbaum is a student at The Ohio State University but is originally from Herndon, VA, a suburb of Washington D.C. Sean has never seen a winning season or a playoff game as a serious Rams fan but remains as passionate a Rams fan as there is.