clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NFL Rookie - Lesson 01 - Welcome to Daily Fantasy Football

Many of the best daily fantasy football players on DraftKings are current or former season-long owners who were able to parlay their traditional fantasy football skillset into success in the daily realm. If you’ve had success in season-long fantasy football, you can absolutely make money playing…

Many of the best daily fantasy football players on DraftKings are current or former season-long owners who were able to parlay their traditional fantasy football skillset into success in the daily realm. If you’ve had success in season-long fantasy football, you can absolutely make money playing daily fantasy football; many of the core components are the same.

There are differences between the two games of which you need to be aware, too. This introductory training camp lesson will break down the most obvious similarities and differences between season-long and daily fantasy football to put you on the right track to success.”

For up-to-the-minute news, analysis and lineups, download the DK Live app, as news, injury reports and betting lines can change throughout the day. Value also unexpectedly can open up due to late lineup changes and late injury news, making it important to stay up to the minute with the DK Live app or DK Live desktop until lineups lock.



One of the most important aspects of season-long fantasy football drafts is player consistency; owners are always concerned with the year-to-year (and sometimes week-to-week) consistency of particular players and positions.

That same idea of consistency applies in daily fantasy football, though we only care about it on the game level. Still, the most consistent position is quarterback, just like in season-long leagues. Interestingly, running back isn’t far behind in terms of week-to-week consistency, which might be a tad different than in season-long fantasy football because injuries are a much larger concern for the position.


Scarcity is important in daily fantasy football, too. We’re always looking for value, but sometimes it’s okay to forgo a little bit of value to obtain either consistency (as in paying up for elite quarterbacks) or scarcity. Rob Gronkowski can be “overpriced” and still offer usable value because you can’t replace his expected production elsewhere.


Season-long fantasy football is a marketplace in which owners attempt to buy low (draft or trade for) or sell high (not draft or trade) players with changing prices. Daily fantasy football is the same; players have prices that change from week to week and your job is to identify those whose expected production exceeds their cost. There are all kinds of ways to do that, but season-long owners are in a good position to realize that a fundamental component of player value is price, and that value is fluid in such a marketplace as production and cost change.


Salary Cap

The primary way that daily fantasy football differs from season-long, in addition to condensing an entire “season” into just a week, is the means of picking players; daily fantasy players can select any player they’d like, but must construct a team using a fake salary cap of $50,000. Each player has a salary, which differs from season-long fantasy football in which a player’s “cost” is the draft pick needed to select him.

In a season-long fantasy draft, your selections are limited a bit by which draft choice you hold. That’s not the case in daily fantasy football, which is much more like a fantasy auction. If you’re okay with the salary, any player can be yours.


Fantasy football owners already have experience breaking down weekly matchups, but daily fantasy football takes it to an entirely new level. Remember, you can choose any single player you’d like in any given week. That means assessing matchups is absolutely crucial to your success. Whereas season-long fantasy owners need to make just one or two important decisions each week, daily fantasy players need to make dozens.

The way you assess matchups and choose players is also league-dependent in daily fantasy football. Because you can choose any player, there are a lot of decisions to make when it comes to taking on risk or playing it safe. Certain players in specific matchups can be a lot safer or offer a much higher ceiling than others, and that level of matchup evaluation is very exciting and unique to daily fantasy football.

Game Theory

Finally, note that daily fantasy football allows you to play in large-field tournaments against a number of other users; that’s how it’s possible to turn $20 into $1 million. Most season-long fantasy leagues use a head-to-head scoring system.

When you’re playing against a very large field, it is critical to think about public psychology and why the masses pick the players they do. In tournaments, value isn’t the only thing that matters. This is a very unique idea because week-to-week decisions in season-long leagues are really just about “Who is the better play?” In daily fantasy football tournaments, it’s a combination of value and finding underrated players who the public might be overlooking.


Before moving on to the next lesson, here’s a simple five-step guide to help you in your transition to playing daily fantasy football on DraftKings.

1. Play freerolls.

DraftKings offers a number of freerolls that cost nothing to enter and pay out real-money prizes. Take advantage of these not only as a way to grow your bankroll, but also just to learn the game with no risk. The best way to become educated in daily fantasy football is to build lineups. You can read as much advice as you’d like, but nothing beats the act of working with a salary cap to build the best possible lineup.

2. Study the rules and scoring.

Just like in season-long fantasy football, the scoring system and starting requirements matter a lot. DraftKings uses a point-per-reception scoring system for football, which means that pass-catching running backs offer more value, as do high-volume receivers. You can’t find success in any version of fantasy football unless you can figure out a way to gain an edge, which requires in-depth understanding of the rules.

3. Bring your expertise from another field.

If you are an experienced season-long owner, take what you know about fantasy football from that and apply it to daily fantasy football when applicable.

4. Think about where you have an edge.

When I first started playing daily fantasy football, my main goal was to figure out what most people were doing wrong and try to capitalize on it. I settled on the flex position; I thought (and still think) many players approach the flex inappropriately on DraftKings, so I often build lineups with the idea that I want to gain an edge in that area. Maybe you are awesome at selecting tight ends or running backs; figure out where there’s an inefficiency or potential edge for you to exploit and then build your lineups in a way that allows you to realize that edge.

5. Track your results and make adjustments.

One of the coolest aspects of daily fantasy football is that we get immediate feedback. It’s easy to track how you’re performing, make small adjustments, and improve as a player. The key is to be conscious of why you’re making specific decisions or creating particular lineups so that, if it doesn’t work, you can make the necessary changes.

I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is bales) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.