If you’re addicted to dynasty fantasy football (like many of us who frequent DLF on a regular basis), you may not have heard of daily fantasy football or if you have, you may have immediately decided it’s not for you due to your love of the dynasty format. Regardless, this is a format growing faster than any other on the market and provides an incredible amount of fun. I say this as an ardent dynasty junkie who is in more leagues than I care to share. Flat out, daily fantasy football has become my new side addiction and if you give it a chance I think it will win you over as well.
So what is a Daily Fantasy Football League?
Well, the name is a bit of a misnomer as it obviously isn’t daily, but nonetheless, the format is incredibly high paced and requires next to zero commitment. You see, in daily fantasy football you draft a new team each weekend. Traditionally, this is done by filling out a roster while keeping your salary cap under a specified amount. Players are assigned a value based upon their past performance and matchup for that week.
Once you’ve filled out your roster, you must submit it into a game. This too provides the player with several options. Most daily sites provide game options such as head to head, 50/50 or GPP (Guaranteed Prize Pool) games. Head to Head games are basically what they sound like, you are paired up in a game against another competitor, winner takes all. A 50/50 game can be varying sizes, but the concept is the same – the top 50% of the participants split the pot while the bottom 50% are out of luck. Meanwhile, GPPs are where the big money is at. These games typically are several hundred to several thousand players all vying for a piece of the pot. Prizes are usually allocated with a majority of the prize money going to the overall top ten players or so and stepping down the lower the winner ranks, typically rewarding the top 5% to 10% of players.
As you can imagine, there are differing strategies for each of these game types and even those strategies will vary bases upon number of participants, player prices, scoring settings, lineup requirements and personal strategic preference. As the daily section of DLF matures, we’ll work very hard to bring you the best strategies in the fantasy world. Now, of course, I can’t tell you everything in this one piece – it would be way too long to read in one sitting and would be obsolete almost as soon as we hit the publish button. However, I can give you a few high level tips for each of these games:
Head to Head
Head to Head games tend to be where many high level players make a good chunk of their money. This seems contradictory at first, but the odds favor a strong player in this format. The reason being, you only need to beat one other player to make money whereas in the other formats you must beat several players in order to see a pay day. The downside, of course, is the payouts in this format are significantly lower. In order to dominate this format, a player can play safer but must highlight values among players who consistently perform at a high level. In order to win, an owner must load their lineup with as much consistently high scoring value as possible.
Successful daily players also tend to gravitate to 50/50 contests due to the increased odds of winning coupled with a decent payday at stake. In order to be successful in this format, owners must try to weigh high upside but low cost players with highly performing consistent players with good price values. A successful team in this format will tend to be stacked with value that ends up performing at, or above, expectations. In order to win money in this format, an owner simply must outperform half of the other participants in the contest. The likelihood of this occurring when the owner is well informed tends to be greater the larger the contest is.
GPP (Guaranteed Prize Pool)
The participation in GPP games tends to be much larger than the previous two formats. The reason for the increase in participation tends to be due to the fact that the payouts are much, much higher than other formats with prize pools usually into the tens to hundreds of thousands and even one million dollars for some season end games. Successful owners will usually solidify their rosters with very consistent, top notch performers and fill out their roster with very affordable players who are high risk but high reward. In order to be successful a team must get the expected performances from their high priced players and must hit on one or more high risk players.
There are several daily websites already in the market and vying for customers. Thus far, three sites have firmly established themselves as the market leaders in the space, but several small to moderate sized sites continue to grow and also have significant player bases and payouts. The top three sites in the daily space are currently:
DraftKings (www.draftkings.com) – DraftKings has grown very quickly over the past few years and just last season debuted the first one million dollar GPP game that took place at the end of the football season. They run a tight ship, have tons of games running at any point and have a very sleek and easy to use interface. DraftKings also has an iPhone app which allows you to enter games, update lineups and follow scores all from within the app.
FanDuel (www.fanduel.com) – If you’ve ever picked up a draft guide magazine or a fantasy football publication, it’s extremely likely you’ve seen a FanDuel advertisement. Their promotions department does an incredible job of getting their name out there. FanDuel tends to be the first experience many players have with daily fantasy sports and they do a great job with that introduction, making it very easy to get started and playing. FanDuel’s million dollar GPP game actually crowned the first daily fantasy millionaire, a huge step for the industry. They have a very clean interface and quite a loyal following. FanDuel is the most popular site in the daily space with the largest user base in the industry.
DraftStreet (www.draftstreet.com) – DraftStreet is likely another site you may have run across in a draft or fantasy related magazine. What sets DraftStreet apart is that they tend to have deeper roster requirements and usually require players to start two quarterbacks. With the recent rise in popularity of two quarterback leagues, DraftStreet may see more players flock to their site. The site could use some sprucing up as it isn’t as refined as either DraftKings or FanDuel, but they have a large player base and a wide variety of games to offer so they are definitely worth checking out.
I’d highly encourage any dynasty fans out there to give daily fantasy sports a try. It’s very different than dynasty leagues but it is an incredible amount of fun and is highly addicting. I feel the formats complement each other as dynasty provides players with a very rich and solid understanding of player skills and both how and where each player fits in with their team in the grand scope of the game. Daily fantasy however will force players to dig deeper into match-ups and can highlight opportunities a dynasty owner can exploit.