It is estimated that over nineteen million people play in either public or private fantasy football leagues. Odds are if you are any type of football fan then you are in a fantasy football league of some kind.
Television and radio stations dedicate shows specifically to fantasy sports and it’s a phenomenon that isn’t going away any time soon.
Nevertheless, the way people play fantasy football is evolving to the point where there are those whose sole income is based off it. This is because of Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS).
What exactly is Daily Fantasy Sports?
Daily Fantasy Sports is a relatively new fantasy sports format and started roughly four years ago. The original concept was to make players analogous to a stock where the players value increased or decreased based on their game performance. People would be able to buy shares of a certain player and if they played well and there was demand for that players stock, it would rise in value. You could then sell that player’s stock for a profit. This concept never took off or became popular, but the idea of daily fantasy sports was created based on a similar model.
Most DFS starts by allowing you to draft your team each week or every day depending on the sport. For the sake of this article we are talking about football, so contests are held weekly. Every site differs a little from each other, but they all allow a certain salary cap to build your team. Let’s say you have $50,000 and you have to fill your roster. Players are now like stocks where the better they play, the higher their price will be and vice versa. So if you take your favorite quarterback and he is the best player in the league, he could cost ten thousand dollars and you are now left with forty thousand dollars to purchase the rest of your team. There is definitely strategy involved as to how you build your team each week within the salary cap format.
This makes playing fantasy football more exciting because you can have different players on your team for each contest each week. In a typical season long league, you draft your team and are basically stuck with the players you drafted for the entire season. Granted, you can add free agents and make trades with other members in your league, but for the most part you are stuck with whoever you drafted. Seasons are often cut short for people when their top player suffers a season long injury or just isn’t playing to the expectations you had for them.
Why Daily Fantasy is Better
In daily fantasy football you don’t need to worry about season long injuries. Playing in a typical season long league can be a commitment for the casual fan and sometimes life can get in the way. Often you are busy with other aspects of life and you don’t have time (or forget) to check your team.
The daily leagues are great for people who are busy because you only play when you want. If you have a family reunion and need to travel across the country, you don’t have to play fantasy football that week and will not need to worry about making roster changes.
The Prizes Can Be Phenomenal
The other reason people are picking up on DFS football is because of the money! FanDuel alone is paying $400 million dollars this year in prizes!
It’s no wonder people are quitting their day jobs to focus on fantasy sports.
Another popular site, DraftKings, turned more people into millionaires this football season from many different contests!
How is This Legal?
Fantasy sports is exempt from the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) because they have classified DFS a game of skill. The other guideline daily fantasy sites need to be in compliance with is setting the prize pool prior to the start of the contest. So the prize cannot be determined by the number of entries. This puts some risk on the sites running the contests and makes them less of a “casino” where the house wins every time. This is great news to players because you benefit when contests do not fill due to the increased odds of winning this “overlay” creates.
There are some similarities to online poker in the early 2000’s. Online poker became an international sensation and people were playing online poker with hundreds of thousands of dollars. Then the FBI seized all the major online poker sites and there were poker players who lost thousands of dollars as a result. DFS took a note from the poker mistakes and made sure to do everything by the book. The biggest difference between DFS sites and Poker sites is the DFS sites are all located in the U.S.A. If you win over $600 in a calendar year you will have to pay taxes and file a 1099. DFS is completely legal while online poker is not.
Daily Fantasy Sports is More Skillful than Season Long Leagues
There is a lot more skill involved in the daily games compared to season long leagues as well because you have the ability to choose any player at any time. In a season long league, if you have a running back playing the best defensive team in the league, it’s too bad for you. There is nothing you can do about it but hope he does okay. In the daily leagues you can simply choose someone else who has a better match up.
The people who play DFS for a living do little more than wake up at noon, crack open a beer, and turn on ESPN for an hour or two. But they do put a lot of work into their research and treat this seriously. Many make player projections based on algorithms and mathematical models to help predict which players have the best chance to out-produce the price they were assigned that week.
There is a lot of statistical analysis involved and it isn’t surprising that many of the most successful professional players are former poker participants and day traders. DFS is similar to poker because you have to pay to enter contests like you would for a poker tournament. There are thousands of contests each day and you can join many for as little as 25 cents. There are also some contests with ten thousand dollar entry fees as well. So it really comes down to what you are willing to risk and what you hope to gain.
Daily Fantasy Provides a Wealth of Pure Entertainment Value Also
While there are people playing with the professional mindset, there are also guys like my brother Brian. Brian likes the Broncos and he likes to make a ten dollar entry fee lineup on Sunday morning. He really doesn’t put too much time into researching all the players and games, but rather chooses the players he likes. From the time he signs into his account to the time he creates his team is about ten minutes. I think the most he has ever won was a hundred dollars, but I know the most he has ever lost was ten dollars.
My brother plays for fun and has a good time doing it. He knows he isn’t going to get rich playing DFS but he isn’t going to go broke either. It’s just another platform for guys like him to enjoy the games. Professional sports teams are starting to pick up on this trend too, and are all for it.
Daily Fantasy is Different From Sports Betting
Daily fantasy is very different than wagering on games. While people are still making a lot of money doing wagers, there isn’t any chance of corruption in daily fantasy to alter the result of the game like there is with sports betting. Your fantasy results are based on a players outcome rather than a single teams score. The NBA just recently lifted their ban on DFS and allow sites like FanDuel to advertise at their games! The NFL did the same thing because if daily fantasy gets people like my brother more involved, then their ratings go up and the sport makes more money. The last time I checked, these professional sports leagues are a business, and making more money is the ultimate goal of their organizations.
As an example, MLB recently has had the most subscribers to their extra innings package and most MLB.com subscriptions in the history of their existence. A lot of this is because of people (like me) who play fantasy sports. Also, the NFL just signed a new deal with Direct TV’s NFL Sunday Ticket for twelve billion dollars over the next eight years. Fans aren’t just watching the games to watch their favorite teams anymore. They are watching because they are involved, and fantasy sports is the front runner of all fan involvement!
Is Daily Fantasy Sports Here to Stay?
I see the trend continuing and while season long leagues will still play its role, daily fantasy will be what people focus on more and more on a weekly basis.
There is too much instant excitement and gratification compared to the season long leagues.
This will continue to be the major draw to DFS.