What are Daily Fantasy Sports?
Daily fantasy sports take a season-long fantasy sports league and condense them down into a single day. Instead of accumulating a whole season’s worth of stats to affect your standings in your league, you have just one day’s worth to get as many points as possible within your league. In this sense, daily fantasy sports–or one-day leagues–are more akin to a tournament than they are a league, but many of the same principles that make a good season-long fantasy player also make a good daily league player. There is some adjustment necessary, but it is not hard to grasp the leap necessary to be successful.
The Sports You Can Play
All of the major sports are covered in some way or another on the daily fantasy sports sites. Major League Baseball, the National Football League, National Hockey League, and the National Basketball Association are all covered. Some of the bigger sites will also have college football and college basketball. Once in a while, you will find other sports, too, such as Mixed Martial Arts, NASCAR, PGA golf, and others. There is always something for the sports fan to find that they enjoy, and this is often a welcome alternative to the commitment of a season-long league. Many sports bettors find that they also thrive in daily leagues, too, since there are many mathematical similarities between being a good sports bettor and drafting a top-quality team in a daily league.
Sites to Play
There are a few big daily fantasy sports league sites out there, but the big two are FanDuel and DraftKings. These two sites account for most of the daily fantasy play in the United States, and they are completely legal in most states if you want to play in cash games. Both sites do have free alternatives if you choose to go that route. There are opportunities to make money on these sites even if you never deposit a penny, too. By playing exceptionally well in the big free games, you can earn actual cash or points that will later convert to cash tournament entry fees, and money can be earned this way without you risking your own hard-earned cash. Test your skills and go against other people head to head. If you find a strategy that works you may be surprised with the results.
Two Approaches to a Winning Strategy
Earlier, it was mentioned that there are some small adjustments to take into account when transitioning from a season-long league to a daily league, and this is true of all the sportsbooks that are offered. The concepts are fairly simple to master, though, and can be broken down into two categories.
The first is by viewing the individual matchups. If you are drafting a team for an MLB daily fantasy league, you will be more concerned about who your star hitters are facing on the mound that day, and this is something that should play no role in drafting a regular-season league. For example, if you know that Mike Trout is facing a top rated starting pitcher that he has never hit a home run off of later that day, he is likely to underperform in that matchup, and even if he is leading the Majors in the HR category at that point in the season, he is probably not your best choice.
The second category to consider is called value, and it is quickly becoming a key approach to fantasy sports. It’s closely related to the concept of expected value in poker or blackjack, but it is much more complex in a fantasy sports setting. Most leagues have a salary cap format, meaning you cannot draft all stars, but rather you must ration your money appropriately to spread talent out and get the most out of every player in comparison to the price that the site places on them. If you were to try and create a lineup for an NFL game, drafting the quarterback that is likely to give you the highest point total isn’t always the best approach. There are often ways to spend a little bit less by getting another player, then spending the remainder on other players so that you can get a higher overall point total, thus giving you a bigger advantage over your competition. One player helps, but your end goal is to score as many points as possible after looking at all of your team, not just a couple players. The value concept will help you to accomplish this in a way that most fantasy sports players do not ever consider.
There are many other ways to fine-tune your approach to playing in single day fantasy leagues, too, but these two concepts will help you to get started in the right direction. Just remember, your end goal is to win, not just to draft for the value the best, or pick the best matchups. They are just a few of the many methods to help you achieve that end result. They are important concepts to master, but if there are other methods that you find that help you to win in a better way than those will prove to be more valuable to you in the end. These are just starting points designed to help you learn the many nuances that a successful daily fantasy sports player will be able to use to win their leagues.