The 4 Steps to Becoming a Daily Fantasy Player

Daily Fantasy Logo on Left Thinking Man on Right

Daily fantasy sports, commonly referred to as “DFS,” has taken both the fantasy sports world and the handicapping world by storm over the past half-dozen years. It takes the control and decision-making component of traditional fantasy sports and allows you to choose the level of risk/reward in a way you couldn’t do otherwise.

If you’re new to the game, it can feel a bit overwhelming at first, but you can get up to speed quickly. With that being said, once you get into it you’ll likely find it’s much easier than you imagined. In this article, I’ll go over the 4 steps you need to complete to become a DFS winner.

1 – Choose a Site

More DFS are popping up on a regular basis than ever before, but there are two giants in this space that run the show. You’ve probably seen plenty of commercials during sporting events, but if you don’t know, I’m referring to DraftKings and FanDuel.

These two have their own unique sets of advantages. If you’re someone who thinks they’d use the sportsbook side of the platform as much as the DFS component, in my opinion, FanDuel has the advantage. If you already have a sportsbook that you’re comfortable using and just want somewhere to play DFS, I think DraftKings has a slight edge.

I won’t go over all the minor differences between the two because, at the end of the day, they’re both high-quality sports betting sites that you can trust to give you a good experience on a consistent basis. Both are very user-friendly, safe, and secure in terms of making sure your deposit won’t go missing for any reason, and each has reasonably competent customer support should you run into any issues.

If you’re going on a search for a lesser-known DFS site, you might run into SuperDraft, PrizePicks, Underdog Fantasy, and even Yahoo. Still, there’s not much of a reason to deviate from the tried-and-true two of FanDuel and DraftKings.

2 – Choose Your Deposit Amount

Once you’ve selected your platform, it’s time to determine how much of your sports betting bankroll that you want to put onto the site. Keep in mind that although they are very small, there can be minor withdraw fees attached. For that reason, I’d recommend depositing more than you intend to use for just one contest. If you get in the habit of depositing, playing a contest, and then withdrawing or depositing again, it can add up over time.

Another thing you should be considering is the money aspect to DFS is when you’re going to get your money off of the platform. Most of these websites – sportsbooks, DFS, or anything comparable – make money because even when players win their bets, they leave their money on the site. Simply put, even if they start off winning a bunch, they’ll play until they lose. Don’t be one of these people.

Computer Keyboard, Cup of Coffee, Phone Displaying Banking Icon

You might not want to take all of your cash off the site, but any time you win money in a contest, try to skim a little off the top. That is, take it off the site and put it back in your own bank account. The goal is that after enough wins, you’ll have recouped your initial deposit, meaning all that’s left on the site could be considered house money.

3 – Choose Your Contest

When I said that there are times when daily fantasy sports can be a little bit overwhelming for new players, this is the part of the process that came to mind. It’s not that it’s difficult to choose a DFS contest to enter – that’s the easy part. The hard part is entering the right one for your skill level, risk tolerance, and experience.

Nearly all DFS sites help you out when you enter your first few contests by offering “beginner-only” games. This means you won’t have to compete with someone who has been playing daily fantasy since it first came onto the scene. These contests don’t pay out a ton of money, but they’re also very inexpensive to enter and allow you to get familiar with how everything works.

What are the differences between contests? There are too many to list here, but the primary ways contests differ have to do with where you need to finish to win money and the type of stats that are rewarded.

For example, some NBA contests focus on the performances of the league’s big men (or at least “big man stats”) like blocks and rebounds. In this type of contest, you’d be less concerned about getting all the high-scoring guards and more concerned with players who can put up numbers that the contest requires.

In an NFL contest, you might find that some focus on receiver stats while others put more of an emphasis on the quarterback. The bottom line is that you need to check this out before you start drafting your lineup.

Finally, you can choose your risk vs. reward level. Typically, contests payout by the percentile in which you finish. For example, you might enter a contest where the top 40% gets a certain payout, the top 25% and gets a certain payout, the top 10%, and so on. The key is to simply get in a percentile where you’ll get paid, so keep that in mind when you’re deciding which contest to enter.

4 – Determine Your Draft Strategy

Daily fantasy is all about knowing how to best allocate your payroll (this is fake money) to different players when building your team. In fact, it’s just like being the general manager of your own team!

When it comes to figuring out your draft strategy, there are a number of different philosophies that regular DFS players believe in, but one thing is certain – you need to figure out how to put a team together that’s different than others you’re competing within the contest. The tricky part is differentiating yourself while not making some crazy decisions just for the sake of being different.

If you’re like most, you’re going to want to make sure you have at least a couple of top-tier talents locked up. Yes, the best players are expensive. Yes, most other players in your contest are going to draft many of the same top players as you. It might seem like a good idea to try to get more second-tier players (for example, draft four tier 2 players instead of two tier 1 players), but this strategy typically doesn’t work out. Like traditional fantasy, you want the player who has the huge game (think 125+ yards and one or two TDs).

Draft Kings Fantasy Sports Zone

Of course everyone has their own way of doing things when it comes to picking a lineup, but it’s my experience that it’s better to have a lineup that is slightly top-heavy than to have one that is well-balanced in terms of player talent.

It should be mentioned that it’s imperative you check the injury reports before drafting your team. There’s nothing worse than having a player put up a 0 spot because you didn’t do your due diligence. It takes 30 seconds to make sure each player is ready to go. Don’t throw away your money because you skipped this step.

Once you get a dozen or so contests under your belt, you’ll start to see what works and what doesn’t. Unfortunately, it’s hard to bypass that learning curve, but rest assured you’ll get there eventually.

Our Final Thoughts

If you’ve never tried out daily fantasy sports for yourself, I have only one question: Why not?! There’s something uniquely fun and interesting about the style and strategy of the game, and you’ll often have the opportunity to win money (even if it’s not a lot) without needing to at the very top of the leaderboard.

Just like anything else, the more you do it, the better you’ll get. Don’t get discouraged if you aren’t seeing the money pour in right away. Eventually, your luck will turn around. With that in mind, follow the steps on this list and get started playing DFS today.