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Jayson Werra | Archive | Email |  
Staff Writer

Getting Started with Daily Fantasy Football

Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) is not a new concept, but it might be new to you. By now, you have probably heard the advertisements from the bigger daily sites trying to draw you in with the promise of fun options, easy pools or stories of people who hit a big payout the first time out. You have decided you want to give it a shot but do not know the best approach to get started. Here are some things you should consider before making your first deposit.

What options are you looking for in a daily site?

Leagues - It is probably safe to assume since you are at this website you are looking to play in an NFL league. But what if you also want to dabble in NCAA basketball, PGA Tour golf and even a World Cup soccer league? Check out which leagues your potential daily site has to offer. Additionally, if you have a group of people looking to join the site so you can play against each other every week, be sure your site offers private league options.

Draft Style –The common draft style in the daily and weekly fantasy space is a salary-cap league. Like season-long leagues, though, there are other options and rules out there. If you want to be in a pick ‘ em league or a snake-draft league, be sure those options are offered on the site you choose.

Rules – The rules will vary from site to site and contest to contest. Be sure to check out salary caps, player pools, roster requirements and scoring formats. These parameters also will help you develop a strategy for game play.

Financials – How much do you want to pay per league? All sites have options to play for a couple of dollars. If you are looking to play some mid-range to high stakes, be sure your site offers those limits and has enough like-minded players who want that level of action. Before joining and making your first deposit, look around for bonuses and promo codes or get a referral from a friend. This is a good way to get free money or a free shot at a real-money prize pool. Be aware of the deposit and withdrawal requirements and options before funding your account, as well. For example, look for deposit bonuses requirements or frequency of withdrawal restrictions.

Testing – Once you have it narrowed down to a couple of sites, check out the software and how the leagues run. Most sites have a daily free roll league that can help you get used to the software and formats without risking your money. Some of them also have a real-money payout if you do well enough in the contest.

Before you put your money at risk...

Now you think you are ready to go and have decided to make a deposit on one or a couple of sites. FanDuel and DraftKings are two of the biggest in the space. You know the basics and have a slight understanding of what to do next. Here are a few items to keep in mind to help improve your experience.

Bankroll management – A quick Internet search of “bankroll management” will produce many results and recommendations. Most of these are related to poker, gambling or investing, but the same premise applies. Be consistent with your entry amounts. The quickest way to blow through your money is to win a couple of contests and up your ante just to have a bad week, leaving your account balance on life support. Depending on how conservative or aggressive you are, you should look to put no more than 10 to 25 percent of your funds in play in any given day/week. Also, you want to avoid having any more than 1 to 10 percent of your bankroll at risk in any one contest, depending on the type of match.

Game selection – There are a variety of different contests available. Depending on your goals, you will want to select the right one(s) to reach those objectives.

Tournaments – These are high-risk and high-reward battles. Often there will be thousands or tens of thousands of contestants. Obviously, with all of the competitors, your chance of winning is much smaller in this format. For this reason you will want to allocate the smallest percentage of your bankroll to this format. Typically a 2 percent or less stake is what you want to spend. If this is your preferred game style, take a look at the guaranteed prize pools (GPP) as some may provide an overlay to your entry. This means the site is paying out more in this contest than the amount it is collecting.

Leagues – This is like your typical seasonal league where you are fighting for a week high score. You will typically compete against about 10 competitors. Your expected winning percentage is much higher than the tournament format, and you can risk a higher amount. A 2 to 5 percent stake would be reasonable.

50/50 or Double-Ups –This is the easiest type of league out there and a good one for beginners and veterans alike. You will not hit the big payday on these types of events, but they are good ways to steadily increase your bankroll. In this format you only need to beat half of the competition to double your entry (minus site fees). Typically, the larger the contestant pool the easier it is to place in the top half of the contest. Based on average score and variance factors, being in the top 50 of 100 is easier than being in the top five of 10 contestants.

Head-to-Head – This is self-explanatory. It is you versus the villain. This is nice if you have a buddy you want to play against, but be careful picking random head-to-heads as they are often highly skilled, high-volume players with a lot of experience. Head-to-heads closely resemble your seasonal league with the same positives and negatives of the contest. You could have a great week only to be outscored by a guy who does just a bit better. Unlike your seasonal league, though, you may have some of the same players on your rosters, which can reduce the excitement of the match.

In closing, remember the bottom line is to have fun. If you are not having fun with daily fantasy sports, you should find a different hobby. Start with the smaller amounts (even free contests) to get used to the sites, the players and what it takes to win. It is not recommended to chase the big payouts in the beginning, as it is similar to playing the lottery. In the next article, I will discuss filling out your rosters for particular contests and how they should vary (and they should) based on the type of game. In the meantime, enjoy getting started!