Fantasy Sports: Draft Your Dream Team

Fantasy sports have been around in some form or another for decades. Season-long fantasy leagues are a long standing form of entertainment for sports fans across the world. Lately, a new trend has emerged as daily fantasy sports has grown in popularity. This article will help explain a little bit more about each of these types of fantasy sports.

So what exactly are fantasy sports? It’s a game where people put together “virtual” teams of real players from a professional or collegiate sport. As these real players compile statistics throughout the season (or a set of games), those are converted into “fantasy points”.

Each fantasy team within a league or contest then totals up their fantasy points from each player they have on their roster. In season-long leagues, they compete against other “managers” throughout an entire season. Points are gained using the stats from their players. In daily fantasy contests, managers compete against other teams for a single day only.

Both forms of fantasy sports are fun and exciting. Continue reading on to get a bit of background on both season-long and daily fantasy sports.

History of Fantasy Sports

Fantasy sports were initially played offline. Commissioners would start season-long leagues of 6-10 teams. These teams would draft their players and keep track of the stats and results all by hand.

As the technology was developed, online fantasy sports became the next big thing. Sites like Yahoo and ESPN started offering season-long leagues. Same concept, but now all of the stats and standings were done automatically online. Making it much simpler for leagues to form and for players to compete.

Over the past five years, daily fantasy sports have become the latest craze. New sites such as FanDuel and DraftKings have made “DFS” a huge industry. Instead of drafting rosters for an entire season, you simply draft players for one day or one weekend of games. Contests are then run for one day only, and winners are announced that night. This gives managers INSTANT satisfaction compared to the season-long leagues.

We are going to take a deeper look into season-long fantasy sports, daily fantasy sports, and what sports offer fantasy contests.

In-Depth Look at Season-Long Fantasy Sports

The season-long fantasy league is where it all started. You draft a team of players that you “own” for the entire season. You can trade, add, and drop players as the season goes on. Your team accumulates points as the players you have drafted play games throughout the entire season.

The Draft

A season-long fantasy league always starts with a draft of some sort. Some leagues like to have live sports drafts, where the managers meet up at a local place and choose their teams. This provides a social element that makes fantasy sports extremely popular. Other fantasy drafts take place 100% online via a draft room. This is becoming more and more popular as fantasy leagues are being formed with players from all over the world.

There are two common types of draft formats in season-long fantasy leagues.

  • Snake Drafts - a snake draft is when you get assigned a draft position and select a player each time it’s your turn. For instance, if there are ten teams in your league, each team will get assigned a number 1 through 10. Teams will then take turns selecting a player (in order from #1 to #10). Once #10 selects a player, the draft “snakes” back to the beginning. Meaning the 10th team will make selection #10 and #11, and it will go back in reverse order.
  • Auction - auction drafts are becoming more popular with experienced fantasy sports managers. This type of draft offers another level of complexity. There is no “order” to the draft. Each team in the league gets some assigned budget with which to work. Players then get announced one by one and each team in the league can now “bid” on that player. It truly works like an auction. The team that bids the highest for the player, drafts that player. Teams must stay within their budget to fill all the available roster spots for the given league.

League Types

  • Rotisserie - a rotisserie league is common for season-long fantasy baseball or basketball leagues. With this format (sometimes referred to as roto), there are defined statistical categories. As your team gathers statistics, you are ranked within each of these stat categories. The team with the best composite rankings across each stat category wins.
  • Head to Head - a head to head league is just as it sounds and is the most popular in fantasy football leagues. You draft a team and put together a starting lineup to compete head to head each week against a different team. You then get “wins and losses” as the season goes on. The teams with the most wins then advance into the playoffs at the end of the season where they compete for the championship.

There are many different variations of season-long fantasy leagues. Scoring rules can differ from league to league. We’ve touched on some of the main kinds of drafts and league types above. As start playing season-long fantasy football, study your specific league rules and scoring layout.

Now that we’ve found out a bit about the draft and league types, let’s take a closer look at the websites offering season-long fantasy sports.

Who Offers Season Long Fantasy Sports

There are too many websites that offer season long fantasy sports contests to list them all. But the major players in this space are:

These sites all offer fantasy baseball, basketball, football and hockey season-long leagues.

So that’s a quick look into season-long fantasy sports and how those leagues work. Now let’s shift gears a bit and take a deeper look into daily fantasy sports.

In-Depth Look at Daily Fantasy Sports

So the latest and greatest type of fantasy sports is, “daily fantasy sports” or DFS. How does DFS work? With daily fantasy sports, instead of drafting a team for an entire season, you are drafting a team for one day (or one smaller slate) of games.

For instance, in daily fantasy football you would draft a team for all the games played on Sunday/Monday of a given week. Or for baseball you would be drafting a team from the games played on one specific day.

Websites have any number of free or paid contests available that allow you to match your team against others. Your team then accumulates points based on how those players do, for that day only. At the end of that day you know if you won your fantasy contest.

This type of fantasy sports is increasing in popularity. We are in a “I want it now” society, and with daily fantasy sports you get instant satisfaction. You can enter a $25 contest and win from $25 up to $1,000,000 the very next day.

So that is the general idea behind daily fantasy sports. Now let’s take a look at the different game types that are available on DFS sites.

Game Types

There are four types of DFS game types we are going to talk about today. These are standard across most of the daily fantasy websites.

Guaranteed Prize Pools (GPP) - The most popular type of DFS contest is the guaranteed prize pool, or GPP. With this kind of contest, you are drafting a team and putting it up against several other teams. You may be up playing 100, 10,000, or in some cases 500,000 other players. These competitions offer massive payouts for a small risk.

For instance, the DraftKings Millionaire Maker events cost $20 to enter. If you can beat 500,000 other entries, you can win the $1,000,000 prize. These prize pools are guaranteed, meaning no matter how many people sign up, the website will pay out the advertised amount of money. Sometimes this creates “overlay” where the website pays out more money than it gets in. This creates some significant value for a daily fantasy player.

GPP’s are tough to win. But if you do win, it can be a life-changing amount of money.

  • Head to Head - Playing head to head in daily fantasy sports can be fun as well. You draft a team for that day's games, but instead of playing against thousands of others, you play against one other lineup. You can choose the amount of money you would like to play for. If you beat your opponent, you win that money (minus the rake). If you lose your game against that opponent, you lose that amount of money.
  • 50/50 - A 50/50 sometimes called “Double Up” daily fantasy contest is simple to understand. Your team is competing to finish in the top half. If you finish in the top half, you double your money. If you don’t, you lose.
  • Qualifiers - Many of the big daily fantasy sports sites have “live final” events that you can qualify for. Many times they create “World Championship” events at the end of a season. These events are often held at luxurious locations such as Las Vegas, the Playboy Mansion, or a remote beach resort. By drafting a team and entering it into a “qualifier” event, you can win a trip to one of these events. FanDuel and DraftKings are known for their live final events in football, basketball, and baseball.

There are some other types of contests that sites offer, but these are the main four. Let’s now take a quick look at a few tips and strategies that you can use when playing daily fantasy sports.

Strategies for DFS

When playing daily fantasy sports, there are several strategies and tips that you should keep in mind. We won’t go into great detail on these in this article, but will give you an idea of the things you should think about.

  • Percentage Owned Matters
  • Watch the Weather
  • Injury Report and Rest Days
  • Sometimes Being Contrarian Pays

Again, we just listed some of the tips that you should keep in mind above. There are dozens of other strategies and tips for playing daily fantasy sports that we can’t fit into this overview but may touch on in the future.

Continue reading and we’ll talk about where you can play daily fantasy sports.

Daily Fantasy Sports Sites to Play On

  • FanDuel - Daily Fantasy Sports got its start with FanDuel, launched back in 2009. They introduced the concept of daily fantasy sports to the world. Since then, their prize pools have grown significantly, and they have become a force in fantasy sports. You can’t go an hour without seeing a FanDuel advertisement on one of the major sports networks. Their product and site are well run, and they have a great team behind them.
  • DraftKings - DraftKings is the second major DFS out there today. They have joined forces with ESPN and many of the major professional sports teams to give them an extra boost. They have been gaining new players, and their prize pools are growing increasingly bigger. DraftKings is best known for their “Millionaire Maker” events where they give away $1,000,000 to the winner. This past NFL season they gave away a record-breaking, $2,000,000 to the first place winner in week one.
  • Yahoo / CBS - These two companies are newcomers to the daily fantasy sports scene. They have been players on the season-long side of things for years, but now they are tapping into DFS. They do have the users and player base to continue to grow. Converting those players from season-long to daily players is the goal of both Yahoo and CBS. Their products are similar to that of FanDuel and DraftKings, just with a smaller user base and prize pools.
  • Fantasy Aces, FantasyDraft - These two DFS sites are considered 2nd tier sites. They aren’t quite as big as FanDuel and DraftKings and are all fighting for that #3 spot in the market. They each offer some unique items that help differentiate them from the competition. Fantasy Aces has competitive pricing models for their players. They also have lineup flexibility that some sites don’t have. FantasyDraft has a unique 6 tier referral program allowing its players to build their own network and make money on those players. They also limit the number of entries a single player can have in any given contest.
  • The rest - there are more? Yes… Every day another DFS site is popping up. DraftPot, FantasyUp, FantasyHub, DraftDay, DraftTeam and more. These smaller sites are everywhere, and all are trying to make a splash in this giant industry.

As you can see, the list of daily fantasy sports sites is large and growing daily. We’d now like to give you a brief overview of what sports are currently offered in both season-long and daily fantasy sports.

What Sports have “Fantasy” Leagues

Nearly every sport imaginable now has a “fantasy league” surrounding it. Some have been around since season-long fantasy sports have been going. And some are specific only to daily fantasy sports. Let’s take a look at each of these sports a little further:

  • Fantasy Football - The main fantasy sport today is definitely football. Fantasy NFL has grown in popularity. Players are involved in both season long leagues and daily fantasy contests across the globe.
  • Fantasy Baseball - Fantasy baseball is also available for season-long leagues and DFS sites. For season-long leagues, roto type leagues are very popular. If you play daily fantasy baseball during the MLB season you can find a contest every day for nearly 200 days.
  • Fantasy Basketball - Fantasy NBA and college hoops are available on the bigger daily fantasy sites. Season-long fantasy basketball isn’t as big as it once was, but it can be played at both Yahoo and ESPN. Be sure to keep an eye on your roster close to game times as the NBA is notorious for late scratched players.
  • Fantasy NHL - For hockey fans, there are season-long leagues and daily fantasy contests for the NHL. Daily fantasy hockey is growing in popularity, but season-long leagues seem to be for hockey diehards only.
  • Fantasy PGA - Golf fantasy contests exploded this year in the DFS space. DraftKings even held a couple Millionaire Maker events around PGA golf. FanDuel has yet to follow suit and offer golf, but they may shortly.
  • Fantasy Soccer - Sites like Mondogoal have jumped into the fantasy soccer area. DraftKings also offers some fantasy soccer contests. This hasn’t gone mainstream in Europe or other countries, but US soccer fans can enjoy these games.
  • Fantasy MMA - Daily fantasy MMA is also available on certain sites. DraftKings offers contests and specialty sites such as Kounterstrike also offer games surrounding MMA. It’s not a season-long sport, DFS only.
  • Fantasy eSports - The latest craze is around fantasy eSports. Sites like Vulcan and AlphaDraft are leading the way in this space. But DraftKings has also recently added daily fantasy eSports contests.

These are just some of the sports that you can enjoy if you are a fantasy sports player.

Fantasy Sports are Here to Stay

As you can see, fantasy sports have really evolved over the years. From doing statistics offline, to online season-long leagues with high paying daily contests, and immediate results. The fantasy sports industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that provides entertainment to sports fans worldwide. It’s safe to say that fantasy sports are here to stay.