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Daily Fantasy Football 101

The “horseshoes & hand grenades” of fantasy sports.

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Indianapolis Colts Training Camp Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

I can’t possibly tell how you much more frustrating, time-consuming and absolutely exactly like betting horse racing I find Daily Fantasy Football. However, because of its relatively low possible cost of entry (there are tons of free DFS games and options under $1 if you’re just getting started or prefer to slowly bleed out instead), potential for payout and low learning curve (seriously, buy lottery tickets. The odds are better.), Daily Fantasy is rising in popularity much like the cast of Jersey Shore did back in the day. Some say DFS is the next UFC. I was sent this insanely detailed infographic on DFS/Fantasy Sports. The data alone is intriguing enough to pique my interest and if there’s money to be made doing something I’m basically already doing anyway, why not check it out?

DFS is a weekly version of fantasy football. The scoring is basically the same, except you don’t have to deal with the absolute heartbreak of an injury-riddle league roster and try to salvage your way to some entertaining wins. No more! DFS lets you tinker with a one-week roster all the way up to game time. You get a budget (think auction league fantasy football) and have to allocate your “funds” to put a player on your roster. In general, the goal is to have a complete roster as opposed to a top-heavy roster. If everyone scores 20 points, you win, basically. You’ll need some 3rd-4th string WR to go off or an outstanding night out of your DEF to win any kind of money. You can’t just win a DFS contest with household names. You’re going to have to dig deeper. Seasoned fantasy football players that can just about tell you every skill player on every team ought to find their lane in DFS. The more you know, right?

I’m not going to lie to you all and say “I’ve made a ton of money playing DFS”. I haven’t. I also haven’t staked much money in it either. I play the free or up to $5/entry DFS games and most of the DFS I’ve played has been with colleagues. I might have turned a profit, but we’re talking I’ve staked less than $200 and have basically drawn even (check that, I’ve made less than $500 profit after looking back on cashing out and that’s after taxes paid). It’s interesting enough to keep me coming back, but without hitting that big payout, here we are chatting about it on Stampede Blue instead.

Again, I would not sit around and research this all day. I’m going to try to make this really easy for you. The trick is to know the scoring rules for the event you’re playing in and to place your bet about 10 minutes before the entries are frozen due to games starting and it prevents you from getting cold feet (I can’t tell you how much worse my lineups are if I sit and tinker with them for hours on end). I have talked to colleagues that spend 10 hours or more a week researching their lineup. There is no advantage to doing so, you’re just driving yourself crazy. The reality is that if you play giant fantasy football leagues (think 16 or more people), then you are set up for DFS. People who play in giant FF leagues and have success should be able to transition smoothly to DFS purely because you will see more players during your draft and your waiver wire should be a bare cupboard.

There are only a handful of “sure things” in the NFL. This year, Saquon Barkley is going to get fed, Patrick Mahomes going nuclear is the only chance Kansas City has and if you take Davante Adams over DeAndre Hopkins at any point, I’m afraid I can’t help you anymore.

All that said, you basically get one of these players a week. If you try to put too many big names on your team, your team is going to be weak or you won’t have the money to fill out your roster. DFS is a top-to-bottom, perfect roster building game meant to test not just your depth of knowledge, but also your breadth. You may know everything about which Colts 5th WR is going to go off this week, but unless you can duplicate that for a different team 3-4 more times per entry, you’re not winning. The key is to spread it around like Cool Whip in terms of the money spent per player. I’d take a sure thing and then use the rest of the money to build around said sure thing.

Again, setting your roster too early in the week just means you’re susceptible to game time decisions, practice injuries, last minute personnel changes and even trades. The advantage to DFS is that you don’t have to spend money until right before you need to submit your entry.

There are 3 major sites to play DFS. There’s FanDuel, DraftKings and Fantasy Draft. FanDuel and DraftKings are the kings of DFS, but the Fantasy Draft app has a free $4 entry. Most of the time, you can find $1 for $1 million DFS games, but both FanDuel and DraftKings require a minimum deposit. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty positive Fantasy Draft is offering a $4 entry with registration prior to purchase. There are also lots of reviews of Fantasy Draft that say its referral program is out-of-this-world good. Additionally, in 2014, Colts fan-favorite WR T.Y. Hilton was announced as a partner with Fantasy Draft. So there’s that.

In my next article, we’ll dive deeper into DFS strategy. For now, you’ve got the idea of what we’re doing here. I show you what it is, where to do it, you decide where to do it, and we’ll work on putting together a weekly DFS article for our audience here to talk week-to-week observations. Savvy?