Playing Daily Football Fantasy

Scoring at FanDuel in 2016Fantasy football is by far the most popular of the fantasy sports in the U.S., and that’s particularly true when it comes to daily fantasy sports. The NFL has excitement weekend after weekend when in season, and although it’s exciting to play in a fantasy league, a season long league can become a drag after a while when it comes to maintaining your lineup effectively. One day fantasy leagues avoid this by allowing you to spend just the amount of time you want to spend. You can take a weekend off whenever you want without being penalized and enjoy the game the way that you want to.

We’ll take a look at the basics of what you need to know to be successful in single day fantasy play when it comes to football. Let’s start with which sites to pay attention to, which concepts you need to master to start winning some money, and how to keep getting better season after season by getting the most points out of your lineup.

Where to Play

The two biggest daily fantasy league sites are FanDuel and DraftKings. They’re both great, highly reputable, completely legal in most of the U.S., and easy to use. Which site is best for you? That depends. FanDuel is noticeably bigger than DraftKings, so they do offer more contests. That’s a good thing for those looking for a little variety every week.
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Because of the smaller size, DraftKings tends to have more specialized players. However, because they offer more sports than FanDuel, some players just stay here for additional sports and play once in a while during NFL season action. You will mostly find this at just the smallest entry levels, though. As you move up in entry fee, you will find that DraftKings has tougher competition than FanDuel.

FanDuel is best for the casual player looking for a variety of different games. If you are a higher stakes fantasy manager, though, FanDuel will typically have easier games to beat. DraftKings is best for the more serious player that knows exactly what they want. FanDuel does have the added bonus of offering a wider variety of games to choose from, many of which DraftKings does not have.

If you are unsure of which site is best for you, both do have free tournaments that you can enter in each weekend. Both also have bonus structures that reward you for your first deposit. They have these in most sports, and not just NFL play. Also, there’s nothing stopping you from creating a cash account at each site, if you wish.
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Top 5 Things to Look For

5: Point Scorers This is the most basic part of the game. You want to draft players that will score your points, not just your favorite athletes. Aaron Rodgers is a great player, but if you can get a different quarterback on your team that will outperform Rodgers, then that’s something you need to do.

4: Balance You could draft the most expensive QB in the league and then just pick a bunch of cheap, no-name players and make it under your salary cap. Or, you could try to spread out the point potential so that even if no one has an exceptional day, you’re still in the running for a cash prize at the end of the night.

3: Baseline The baseline is a metric used to determine what you should expect from a player. Some sites will measure this for you in terms of how many average points that player contributes per game. If you know that you can expect 20 points from Dez Bryant against the average competitor, that’s his baseline. It’s a good tool to use when determining value.

2: Value Once you master getting points and balancing those points, then you need to move up to the next level of play. That’s finding value. You need to start doing some math here, but don’t worry, it’s pretty easy still. Basically, with each player that you draft, you want to make sure that for every dollar of their salary that you are getting as many fantasy points as possible. If you have a salary cap of $50,000 to use, and 12 players to draft, you have a total of $4,166 to use per player. You would expect to get an average total score if you chose 12 players each worth that amount. Average doesn’t win ever tournaments, though, and it certainly doesn’t win you any money. Value, then, is the art of stretching that dollar amount so that not only are you above average, but in contention for cash prizes.

1: Variance Once you have the baseline, account for the specific situation with value and then add competition. This is variance. It’s what you think is realistic to expect from a player in a given situation. Cam Newton is a highly mobile QB, but if he’s up against a tough defensive line with good penetration, then you know that you should expect a below-baseline number from him. This would impact his value negatively, so that you know to stay away from him in this instance.
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How to Max Out Your Fantasy Points

Each site has slightly different criteria for awarding fantasy points, but the basic premise is the same everywhere. Almost every play has some sort of point value assigned to it. The big one is the touchdown, but points are awarded for other things like field goals, rushing yards, passing yards, tackles, sacks, turnovers, and so on. By evaluating all of these criteria, and then weighing it against any negative criteria, such as yard losses, fumbles, and so on, you try to select the strongest player in each roster slot that you are given. Now, look at the salary you’re provided with, and stretch each dollar as far as you can by paying for all of your players. Prices are assigned by talent levels and, to a degree, popularity. The more fantasy points a player scores, the more you would expect to pay for them, but since this isn’t always the case, and because of some of the factors discussed above, you can sometimes find players priced at less than what they are actually worth. The trick is to find these players so that you can make your money go further and buy better talent in other positions.

The money isn’t what gives you wins. It’s how you use that money to generate points. So, in many cases, it’s okay to pay for top talent if they are going to provide for you. But, if you can get more points out of buying a second rate quarterback and get two top players elsewhere, then that’s the right move. Each weekend, and each game within each weekend provides a different scenario, and these all need to be looked at separately. The more you practice, the better you will get at it.

It’s possible to make a lot of money playing in daily NFL fantasy leagues. It’s also a lot of fun. If you’ve never played before, but you’ve played season long leagues, you will find that there are different things to look for when drafting players, but the nuances are easy to figure out. Spend some time and try out a couple free games before you commit to a site, and when you are ready, use these concepts to ensure that you have the best chance of winning as possible.
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