It’s sometimes daunting to tackle an entire branch of the fantasy industry as if it can be distilled in 500 to 1,000 words. For this week’s “type of league”, I’m going to try to give a view into the DFS (daily fantasy sports) world for the beginner, the intermediate, and the expert.
What the bleep is DFS?
It’s kind of surprising that fantasy sports has been a season-long game for the most part from the beginning. If you were in for a fantasy penny, you were in for the pound of the entire season, at least the 13 or 14 weeks leading up to the playoffs. Daily Fantasy Sports changed the landscape. Now you can play a one-day, or one week of the NFL season, league. There are a variety of sites that allow you to pick a team the old-fashioned way through a draft, or more popularly, pick a set of players who fit under a salary cap.
Before we get started, who are the players?
You have to know where to play before you can play. I’m not listing all of the options, just some of the most popular and/or the ones who have paid me off (as if).
Fantasy Throwdown: I went with the free (used to be free only, now you can play for money) and simple to start. In Fantasy Throwdown, you “challenge” a friend to play a one-week league. You pick three games from which to cull the player pool and then there is a “draft”. One cool feature is you can select a player or block your opponent from drafting a player. Say you think there are only two good QBs in the pool. Take the first and block the second with your following pick.
Fan Duel: Blame Davis Mattek. He’s the guy who led me to the dark side of playing daily fantasy for money. To begin, yes, you have to input some “funds”. Make sure you click the NFL button because as far as I’m concerned, no other sports exist. There are three kinds of main leagues. You can play a “50/50″ in which you enter a pool of contestants and if you finish in the top 50%, you win. You also can go head-to-head, but pay attention to how many contests your opponent has won. Both teams set a lineup and whoever scores more wins. There are tournaments that feature up to thousands of players with one or a few winners. Look for the guaranteed prize pools so you know that someone’s winning the big cash.
DraftKings: As I mentioned in a recent article, DraftKings is on a buying rampage. That means bigger prize pools. Games are similar to FanDuel’s offerings, along with some big tournaments including the Fantasy Football Millionaire Series (four $1 million prizes) this fall and a promise of $5 million in prizes for opening weekend. I usually play for a buck.
DFS Elite: Why not throw in one more site? DFS Elite isn’t one of the “big boys” yet but they are interesting in that their site was 100% mobile until offering a desktop version (for the codgers like me) this year.
How do I get started?
Most sites are going to go with the hard sell, or at least some kind of sell, for you to deposit. There are bonuses for signing up to most of the sites, although you have to play for a while to earn those bonuses. Play to get paid, as they say. The important aspect is to start slow. I played a few $1 leagues (50/50 and head-to-head) before considering any tournament action.
Moving on to Intermediate Action
Once you’ve signed up, it’s time to get acquainted with the fun of roster selection and bankroll management. Roster management is how you spend those salary-cap bucks in your league. Bankroll management has to do with how much of your “stash” of cash you play with on a weekly basis. If you put all your money in one tournament or weekend, you could have a bad run, go broke, and decide to watch more PBS on the weekends. One site to check out is RotoGrinders, where experts of all kinds help you get an idea of what’s going on. If you really want to step it up, there’s always Fantasy Insiders, where you can get a guide to each of the major daily fantasy sites and check out podcasts, videos and articles with some of the best in the industry.
Feeling an Expert?
To become an expert, you have to get into the head of an expert. For my money, there’s nobody better than Jonathan Bales, who has written approximately 100 books on fantasy strategy (I probably shorted him on the actual number). He was nice enough to send me a copy of his latest book in the Fantasy Football for Smart People Series. The latest book features chapters written by daily fantasy experts, and we’re talking people who have won six-figure contests in the game. If you’re wondering about the recent bona fides of these experts, his co-author on this book, Peter Jennings aka “CSURAM88″ won the DraftKings $1 million fantasy baseball championship this week.
Look for the book review and an excerpt of the book itself later in the week. Note that all sites have already set their “prices” for players for Week 1 of the NFL season so happy shopping.