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What Should You Know About Daily Fantasy?

Fantasy sports have been around for decades, tracing its roots back to 1980 when the original fantasy league started around America’s pastime, baseball. From that early league, known as the Rotisserie Baseball League after the restaurant where the players would gather to compete, fantasy sports have grown to encompass a huge variety of sports.

Whether it is something as popular as football or more niche like America’s NASCAR circuit, fans can find fantasy leagues to compete in. While players enjoyed being able to indulge their desire to own and manage their own teams, occasionally the format left something to be desired due to the lengthy time commitment it requires. Enter the newest innovation in fantasy sports: daily fantasy leagues.

What is Daily Fantasy?

In essence, daily fantasy is just that, a fantasy competition held daily or weekly as opposed to the entire length of a season. So, in order to discuss the origins of daily fantasy, traditional fantasy sports must be explored. Fantasy sports basically consists of "drafting" a team of professional athletes in hopes their combined statistics throughout the year out-pace those of the rival teams drafted.

Daily fantasy is just a variant of fantasy sports that limits the time of competition from year long to week (or even day) long. The movement behind daily fantasy sports originated from players' discontent with the length of traditional fantasy seasons. If you draft what you think is the best player in any given league and he is then injured or eliminated for some reason, your whole season might seem lost.

In daily fantasy, one bad draft is nullified the following week when a new draft is held. The idea of quick turnaround combined with the fun and excitement of fantasy sports is what pushed daily fantasy sports from a just a innovative feature to a full blown industry, one that is taking the United States as well of the rest of the world by storm.

How Does Daily Fantasy Work?

Here's an example of how daily fantasy sports works: if one were to engage in a one-day EPL game a player like Diego Costa could eat up as much as 20% of the team budget (maybe even more if he is on form or going against a weak opponent), meaning that sacrifices will need to be made in terms of quality elsewhere on the squad to fit the Chelsea star into the lineup.

For this reason, being able to budget resources as well as having knowledge of some lesser-known players are very important factors when seeking daily fantasy success. As with traditional fantasy sports, real-world on-field performance determines fantasy scoring. It is recommended that players carefully review the specific settings before entering a contest.

What's the Difference Between Fantasy Sports vs Daily Fantasy Sports?

In traditional fantasy sports, players draft a team before their chosen season starts and then create lineups using those players for the entirety of the season (with the option of trading players and picking up free agents along the way). In such a format, a winner does not emerge for months, and if a player isn’t lucky or skilled enough to have one of the better teams in their league, those months can feel even longer.

Daily fantasy is just what the name implies; fantasy sports games that can be played start-to-finish in a single day. They are designed to avoid the malaise that accompanies a lengthy fantasy season by focusing on a single day or week of competition at a time. Punters choose the top lineup for that weekend or day which can vary depending on the timing, unlike season-long sports where you draft for longevity.

Is Daily Fantasy Safe?

When asked about the safety concerns of daily fantasy, most early experts in the industry would turn to issues regarding fair-play. Although the actual financial safety of daily fantasy sites is not in question thanks to advanced security technologies, some critiques did have concerns early about how fair this industry was to the everyday player.

Thankfully, this all seems to be relatively behind us thanks to increased regulation and adjusted game formats. More experienced players, those who seemed to benefit the most from the early expansion of daily fantasy, are now clearly marked as to not fool newer players, while the overall structure of the games has adjusted to favor the everyday player.

Are Daily Fantasy Sports Legal and Regulated?

Daily fantasy and fantasy sports in general have rarely seen legal opposition. Thanks to their unique formats and the fact that no direct wagering is going on, daily fantasy has found a way to stay out of the regulation spotlight since it's creation and popularity growth. Even in the US, where almost all forms of online gambling are illegal, daily fantasy has been met with a willingness to regulate and legalise.

This section is mostly for players in the United States, where the legal status of daily fantasy has become a hot topic. To that end, we have compiled a massive article and map that tracks the legal status of these games throughout the country. That link will be regularly updated to reflect the rapidly changing legal landscape. For those outside the States, you'd be hard-pressed to find legal opposition to daily fantasy.

What are the Most Popular Daily Fantasy Contest Styles and Formats?

Players can also choose the style of contest they want to compete in. Most sites offer a wide variety of play types and entry costs. Some of the most common games are:

  • Head-to-Head | Simple winner-takes-all contests against another user.
  • Leagues | Compete against two or more opponents for a set prize pool. Smaller entry fields compared to most other game types.
  • 50/50 | Finishing in the top half of registered entrants is all that is required to win cash in these contests.
  • Qualifiers | Larger contests with small entry fees where free entry to larger stakes contests is up for grabs.
  • Multipliers | Games where it is possible for the top finishers to win up to 10 times their initial entry fee.
  • Freerolls | Free entry games where entry tickets to other games on the site are on the line instead of cash.

What Sports Does Daily Fantasy Cover?

Due to its strong US-ties, daily fantasy sports mostly lean towards America's favorite pastimes like American football, baseball and basketball as opposed to football or cricket, sports not as popular across the pond. If you visit the largest daily fantasy sites, most of which are based in the States, players will find a wealth of options for all the top leagues each week including the NBA, NFL, and MLB.

Fortunately, most daily fantasy sites based outside the US cover all the favourite sports of that jurisdiction so rugby and cricket can certainly be found within the top sites as long as you go looking for a bit. US-based sites, like FanDuel, have actually turned to more global markets offering daily EPL fantasy games, a first for a US-facing site.

Outside of the main sports that seem to hold international weight, like baseball, football, and basetkball, daily fantasy does delve into the more obscure sports depending on the jurisdiction. One of the top daily fantasy sports in the US is actually NASCAR, a sport not covered much outside of the States thanks to F1's popularity.

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