4 Things You Should Know Before Playing Daily Fantasy Sports

Fantasy Sports With Man Thinking

Daily fantasy sports, or DFS, takes all the fun of your months-long fantasy season and boils it down to one single daily contest. Though the idea might sound overwhelming in theory, it’s actually much easier to play than you’d expect in practice.

The real question is, what’s the potential for making money?

In that regard, there’s good news. Plenty of players are able to turn a profit in DFS. And in many ways, it’s easier than traditional sports betting. If you’ve never played, it’s best to get some background before jumping in. I’ll explain the four things you should know before you get started.

1. Build Your Strategy in the Beginning

When you first start out playing daily fantasy, it’s as easy as it’s ever going to be. Much like online gambling platforms which offer free play or bonus money when you first sign up, so too do most DFS sites. As a side note, when I refer to “various” platforms, only two really dominate the space:

DraftKings and FanDuel.

Once you make you create your account and make your initial deposit, it’s time to start putting your lineup together. For your first few games, stick to a sport you know well. In my opinion, DFS lends itself the best to NBA contests, but that could just be my personal bias as a fan of the league.

Please Note:
The reason I started this section by mentioning that your first days playing daily fantasy are going to be your easiest is because FanDuel and DraftKings offer more forgiving contests for new players. That means you don’t necessarily have to finish at the top or anywhere near the top of the leaderboard in order to win money.

When you win, you want to continue playing. If you come out of the gates and lose all your money in the first week, it’s much less likely you’ll make a second deposit. Both Draft Kings and FanDuel are well aware of this fact. Don’t get too confident if you’re able to make a few dollars early; work on building your strategy and learning the ins and outs of the daily fantasy process.

Every player has a different philosophy when it comes to the way they draft their team.

Because there’s no “right” or “wrong” way to do it, you have to get familiar with the way the games work to find out what strategies you’ll implement throughout your time as a DFS player. The best time to do this is when the stakes are low, meaning immediately after you sign up.

And don’t make the mistake of doing what everyone else seems to be doing. The masses are losing, so you need to change things up a bit if you want to win.

2. Money Management Is Important to Long-Term Success

If you’re just looking to make a quick buck or two over the weekend, proper money management might not exactly be a priority for you, and that’s totally fine.

However, if you think you’ll be playing DFS contests regularly for a long period of time, learning how to manage your bankroll can make all the difference between winning money and losing money in the long-run.

First things first, any time the word “bankroll” is involved, rule number one is to mention that the most important thing is that you actually have one.

If you’re not familiar with what it is:
Your bankroll is the amount of money you’ve set aside specifically for betting purposes. Though your goal should be to grow this number, it should be an amount of money that you can afford to lose.

Once you have this number established, which will almost certainly be whatever amount you deposit onto the DFS platform of your choice, the next step would be to determine how much you’ll wager on any given contest. I would recommend betting no more than 10% of your overall bankroll on any single play, but you can adjust this number as necessary.

I know it sounds a little bit exaggerated and overly serious, but the best way to give yourself a chance at being profitable is by running your betting strategy like a business. This means always keeping an eye on:

  • Your Budget (bankroll)
  • Income (wins)
  • Expenses (losses)

3. Different Draft Strategies Can Be Successful

When it comes to drafting the best daily fantasy roster, there are three main philosophies that players use to beat the competition. Option one, which is probably the most common, is to divide your payroll between star players, mid-level guys, then try to pick a cheap player who nobody is expecting to have a big game.

Another fairly common philosophy is to get as many stars as possible and simply fill out the rest of your roster in any way you can with the remaining dollars. In the NBA, this can be a viable strategy.

However, it’s important to consider the fact that if you’re choosing as many stars as possible, you’re going to need to hit on some of your lower-tier players in order to win. This is because the majority of other players are going to also have the same star players.

The third option, which I wouldn’t recommend for NBA DFS contests, but would recommend for MLB or NFL contests, is taking fewer stars and more good tier-two players. These are the guys who aren’t the best players on their team, but can still put up huge numbers, albeit on a less consistent basis.

Some daily fantasy players believe that the recipe for success involves taking players that others in the contest won’t choose. While this can be true sometimes, it’s probably not the best idea to pass up on star players who you know are going to put up big numbers.

Please Note:
Just like real sports, as a DFS GM, you need to begin with a solid core, then add pieces around those consistent performers.

4. Explore Different Contest Options

Whether you’re the type who wants to go after the big win, or a more conservative player who just wants to make some type of a profit, there’s a daily fantasy option that fits your preference. And yes, these impact the way you draft.

For Example:
One of the most common types of contest is the 50/50 model. The number of entrants into these contests can vary, but regardless of how many people are playing, all you need to do is finish in the top half of the field and you’ll win cash. Keep in mind that the higher you finish, the more cash you’ll win. But as long as you’re in the 51st percentile and above, you’ll be in the green.

If you’re looking for a bigger payout, you might be interested in checking out a tournament option. These usually will have a significantly higher number of players, but that just means the prize pool is that much more enticing.

The downside of tournaments is that in most cases, if you don’t finish in the top 20% you won’t win any money.

If you are able to finish near the top, payouts are tiered (typically) so that the closer you finish to the top, the more money you’ll win.

My advice would be to start with the lower-stakes games until you feel comfortable.

Once you have your strategy down, then you can start playing for more money.


A lot of traditional sports bettors might be hesitant to give daily fantasy a try. Personally, I didn’t think I would like it very much, but I was quickly proved wrong. Not only does it make watching sports more entertaining when you have a rooting interest in several of the day’s games, but there is good money-making potential as well.

Like anything else, the more you do it, the better you’ll get.

Take advantage of the first few contests, which are more forgiving, and learn the strategies that can carry you to success.

Rex Hoffman / Author

Rex Hoffman is a passionate sports writer, with over five years of experience covering sports journalism in line with the Vegas betting landscape. His favorite subjects include football, basketball, and baseball. As a Las Vegas resident, he enjoys finding an edge against the local sportsbooks and aims to share his extensive knowledge with both beginners and experienced bettors. Rex also dabbles in horse racing wagering and enjoys typical casino fare like blackjack and poker in his spare time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.