DFS or Daily Fantasy Sports has been around now for about 12 yrs, but it only has been in the last 5 years or so that it has really taken off. A lot of interest has come from recent news over this time period, debating the legality of sites like Fanduel and Draftkings and whether they should fall under the category of gambling or, games of luck. Fortunately for us, they are designated as games of luck and we can continue to enjoy this wonderful spin on traditional season long sport contests.
DFS – What is it Exactly?
You might remember back to your office or friendly draft tournaments, especially during football season. You would take turns picking players and adding them into your lineups and then play for nothing, except being crowned the winner or more likely, there is a friendly wager between parties which is combined for a winner takes all or top 3 or 4.
Enter Daily Fantasy Sports, effectively based on the same concept played by millions every year, sites like Draftkings com, Fanduel com, Yahoo and FantasyDraft let you choose a roster of players for a given game, slate or tournament, you compile points based around different actions like scoring, tackles, steals, strikeouts (based on the game of course) and the player with most points wins. The difference here is that unlike traditional draft tournaments you may have played in your office, DFS is played and won on the day, maybe a little longer if it is golf as an example, as golf it typically played over the course of four days or NFL lineups, which are played over the course of a week.
Strength in Numbers
Of course the two major differences between your office pool and running an Draftkings NFL lineup, to use the example, is that instead of playing a season long tournament with 20 people in your office, you are likely going to playing against hundreds of thousands in DFS.
Money, Money, Money
The other difference is the money. The office pool, if there even is money involved, is likely a small buy-in. With DFS, you are going to be playing for thousands, and at times millions of dollars, depending on the popularity and headcount of the tournament you join.
Best DFS Sites
Draftkings and Fanduel are the major players in the DFS industry, holding a majority stake of the market share. Whilst Fanduel was around before Draftkings, Draft kings has taken a hold of the top spot. There was talk of the two companies merging, but after the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) stepped in to oppose the merger because combined, they would control over 90% of the market, talks broke down and that was the end of the creation of a DFS behemoth.
Outside of DK and FD, you have Yahoo Daily Fantasy and FantasyDraft looking to take their slice of the DFS pie and battling it out for third place. As of writing this, there are a handful of other DFS sites with their own spin on gameplay, and a lot of other companies that are taking a different path and opting to provide lineup optimizers, software that takes statistics, player profiles, ballparks and arenas, weather conditions and Vegas Lines into account, among a host of other variables, to give subscribers access to lineup generators that give players an edge over the competition.
DFS Gameplay Variants
The gameplay scene has changed a lot in recent years, even just in the past 12 months. Your typical and most popular form of DFS is the straightforward, “Classic” salary cap lineup. Every player has the same salary cap that they need to fit a group of players under. Each player is assigned an individual salary cap, based on statistics and past performance. Recent performance can change that players salary cap up or down.
A more recent game on Draftkings is “Captain Showdown”, where the same salary cap rules apply, except that you choose one player to be “captain”, and that player will get 1.5 points for each scoring action, as opposed to the standard points scoring for all other players. So, in an NFL Draftkings lineup as an example, a passing touchdown if +4 points, but for a captain, the score is +6.
Another variation would be the “tiered” version, where there is no salary cap, and entrants just choose one player from each of the available tiers. It is a quicker way to get you in the game.
Once your lineup is locked in, all that you need to do know is sit back and wait for your game slate to begin, watch your players score, beat out the competition and take home a cash prize.
Your cash prize will be dependent on the entry fee, It probably goes without saying that the higher your entry fee, the higher the payouts. But again, it can really depend on the format you are entering. Some games are free, with others starting as low as 10c. Even the 10c games have a Guaranteed Prize Pool (GPP).
GPP games or Guaranteed Prize Pools: These games have a set entry fee and there is a fixed pool of prize money. The GPPs will always run, even if they don’t fill up with the maximum allowed entrants for that tournament.
Cash Games: These games are smaller than GPPs and if they don’t fill up, unlike a GPP, they may not run. You either create a league or join an existing one, play against a smaller pool of players and of course, best fantasy team wins.
Head to Head: This particular contest is just for two players, who want to battle it out against each other for a winner takes all prize.
50/50: As the name suggests, you enter these contests to effectively double your entry fee. These tournaments will pay out... you guessed it, the top 50%.
These are some of the more common forms to play but if you move away from Draftkings and Fanduelmodels, you may come across other variants. The common theme though is that they will always be based on player statistics. Both sites have their own news and content sections as well, known as Draftkings Playbook and Fanduel Playbook.
Daily Fantasy Sports
These are the most common sports lineups that you will find on the best DFS sites:
· NFL lineups (Football in the US, Europe call Soccer, Football)
· NBA Lineups (Basketball)
· MLB Lineups (Baseball)
· NHL Lineups (Ice Hockey)
If you are playing Draftkings and/or Fanduel, you will find additional sports:
· College sports like football & basketball
· DFS Golf (PGA DFS and Euro Tour)
· CFL or Canadian Football League
· Soccer (Football in Europe)
· MMA or Mixed Martial Arts
Because football drafts have been part of office culture for such a long time, Fantasy Football has always reigned king when it comes to Daily Fantasy Sports. The prizes are huge and regular, with the classic Draftkings NFL weekly tournament worth $2 million, or the captain showdown for the first NFL game of 2019, worth $2.5 million, of which the winner take home $1 million.
Where you might see other sports start to become more popular, are those like NBA and MLB where there are games every night to get your DFS fix.
So, fantasy football might be king, but fantasy basketball is becoming hugely popular simply because there is access to more games, more regularly.
NBA lineups and tournaments are very much like NFL lineups. You have a certain amount of roster spots to fill, you choose the days elite, high scoring players, and you build the best optimal lineup that you can from the selection available. Points will then come from scoring, blocks, assists, steals etc.
Because games are played every night, ultimately there would be more prizes that would be paid out over the course of a season, compared with NFL.
What is the Legitimacy of Daily Fantasy Sports?
This was a big deal about 12-24 months ago as of the date of this writing, especially in New York. Back in October 2018, the supreme court ruled that daily fantasy sport contests violated the states gambling ban. The major players countered that DFS was a game of chance and not gambling but, unfortunately at the time, that didn’t fly.
A month later, the NY state gaming commission filed a notice of appeal and until the appeal is decided, sites like Draftkings and Fanduel could continue operations.
From the ashes of that controversy though, came a wave of support for lifting the ban on sports gambling, with states aiming to take away Nevada’s grip on controlling all the sport betting in the US.
Which State’s Have Legal Sports Betting?
· Nevada sports betting
· Delaware sports betting
· New Jersey sports betting
· Mississippi sports betting
· West Virginia sports betting
· Pennsylvania sports betting
· Rhode Island sports betting
· Arkansas sports betting
· New York sports betting
Which States have Bills to Legalize Sports Betting?
· Iowa (Legal now)
· New Hampshire (Legal now)
· North Carolina (Legal now)
· Illinois (Legal now)
· Indiana (Legal now)
· Maine (The Bill has passed; further action in 2020)
· Montana (Legal now)
· Tennessee (Legal now)
State Where it is Illegal to Play DFS
· Louisiana (Should be legal by the 2019 NFL Season)
Ever since New Jersey became the first state outside of Nevada to legalize sports gambling, a vast range of sites are popping up to join in on the billion-dollar industry with their own online sportsbook. Most people may not know, but Draftkings is one of the sites where you can now legally gamble on sports through the Draftkings Sportsbook app.
Currently, you can only bet through the site if you are within the borders of the state, but you do not need to be a resident for NJ sports betting.
Fanduel Sportsbook is relatively the same as the DK version, but they have very recently just announced that along with New Jersey, Philadelphia is also now allowed to use the site to bet on sports.
There is also word that West Virginia is not far behind legalizing sports betting.
What is the View of Professional Leagues and DFS?
Individually, the NBA, MLB and NHL have some kind of stake with either Draftkings or Fanduel and are vocally supportive of the industry. The NFL has no affiliation with either, but the individual franchises themselves do have deals with either DK or FD.