Daily fantasy takes fantasy sports from year long to week (or even day) long. Fantasy sports basically consist of "drafting" a team in hopes their combined statistics throughout the year out-pace the rivals. In daily fantasy sports, one bad draft is nullified the following week or day when a new draft is held!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
This game style is the one that will be most familiar to traditional fantasy sports participants. Like the majority of established fantasy games, these contests pit just two competitors against one another. The only real difference lies in the stakes, or more accurately the expediency of them.
Traditional fantasy games see players competing in such one-on-one matchups against various opponents throughout the course of the season, with every result contributing to an overall record that is used to either crown a champion or determine playoff positioning for a (normally) single-elimination tournament to crown a champion.
With head-to-head, one-day fantasy games, however, the only result that matters is the next one. Both players pay their entry fee, and the winner of that day’s contest takes it all (minus a small cut for the host site, of course). No cumulative records, no playoffs, and no more than one opponent.
In these types of games, users compete against two or more other players, with a specific prize pool and payout structure in place. Instead of going head-to-head, winners are determined by overall score compared to other league members.
It is worth noting that across the myriad of daily fantasy options available, these types of games typically consist of smaller entry fields compared to most of the other game modes covered in this article.
These function similarly to leagues, with one very important difference: the payout. While leagues have a pay structure that awards varying denominations to those finishing in certain places, 50/50s - also known as double-ups - reward all that win an equal amount, which is double their entry fee.
In order to win, players must simply finish in the top half of all entries. So if 20 players enter a 50/50 tournament with a £5 entry fee, the top 10 players will all walk away with £10, and the bottom 10 with nothing.
There is no difference in the reward given for finishing first or finishing 10th in that scenario, which is why it is possible for these contests to pay out to half the field, as opposed to most other game styles where a much smaller percentage of players walk away winners. As a result of the lower barrier to profit, 50/50s are frequently among the most popular one-day fantasy games available.
These are a unique type of contest in that they offer users the opportunity to win big while retaining a small entry fee, as long as they are good enough. They do this by awarding entry keys to tournaments that players might otherwise be unable to afford to enter.
While profiting off of these types of tournaments takes impressive skill across multiple competitions, those that truly excel at one-day fantasy sports can create massive profit with very little risk by stringing together a few wins and working their way up the ladder.
These are similar to 50/50 contests in that those that win can walk away with the same amount that is multiple times their entry fee, anywhere from 3x to 10x what it cost to enter the contest. However, where 50/50s reward half the field, multipliers pay out to far fewer competitors. This makes these types of contests far riskier, but also offers incredible value for those that triumph.
Freerolls (most popular in online poker tournaments) are contests that are free to enter and provide no cash winnings to the top performers, but do offer free entry to other games on the site. Much like qualifiers, these can be very lucrative to skilled players. The difference lies in the completely free nature of these events as opposed to qualifiers that require a small entry fee. These freerolls, as one would imagine, attract more competitors due to their risk-free nature.
Having reviewed the many game options, it is still wise to experiment with the different game types to find the one that gives you the best opportunity to succeed based on your skill level and play strategy.
Having reviewed the many game options listed below, it is still wise to experiment with the different game types to find the one that gives you the best opportunity to succeed based on your skill level and play strategy. Some game types provide advantages such as higher chance of return or larger player pool while others provide the most risk vs reward. When deciding on which game type to enjoy, be sure to consider all that goes into each daily fantasy game.
"Adam Kenny has spent over a decade working in the online gambling industry, across Sportsbook and Casino, and writes about some of his biggest sporting passions – NFL and horse racing."
Reviewer since February 2019