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Fantasy 101: Daily Fantasy Tips for Beginners

Michael Rathburn

Michael Rathburn

Known as “Rath” in the Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) community, he has helped run operations for two prominent daily fantasy sports startups. Michael has taken his insider knowledge and expertise in daily fantasy sports to the content side. He was also nominated by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association for Best Baseball Series in 2011.


If you listen to Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio and/or follow Twitter for daily fantasy sports, you probably heard about some concerns that were brought to light this week. Some of the hosts brought to task what the daily fantasy sports sites are doing to help new players. I have always tried to write my articles with this emphasis in mind. I give you data and information about the sites to help you learn and hopefully win. This week, I dig into each site and point out some of the things they do for beginner players, while identifying things you need to look for.

DraftKings


Late Game Swap

DraftKings allows you to swap out players right up until the start time of each game, instead of locking lineups at the start time of the first game of the night. This is a great feature if you find out that your starting pitcher was scratched, a game gets rained out, or one of your players is not in the lineup.

Starting Lineup Notifications

In the upper right hand corner on the lobby, there is a bell icon. This is the notifications area, and if you have a player in your lineup that has been ruled out, DraftKings will alert you to change your lineup.

Depth Charts

In the roster composition section, you can click on a game and under each box there is a link for depth charts. This is a nice feature because it also gives you the handedness of a pitcher or hitter.

Beginner Contests

DraftKings offers “Beginner” contests, which are only for players who have played in less than 50 contests for that given sport. This gives you plenty of opportunity to play against equal level competition before you step up.

$0.25 Arcade Tournaments

DraftKings offers $0.25 tournaments. This is a great way to get your feet wet with tournaments without going broke. Tournament strategy is a different way to play versus “cash” games, as you’re looking for the highest ceiling players possible in a given night. With cash games (head-to-head, double ups/50-50) you’re looking for the best “floor” players (safest) that give you the most consistency.

Blocking Users

In your “My account” section, you are allowed to block a maximum of three players from joining your public or private Head-to-Head Challenges within an entry fee of $215 or less. This will also block Head-to-Head Challenge requests and you’ll never be auto-matched with these users in Head-to-Head Challenges at that entry range.

DraftStreet

Multi-Matchup Blocker

Under your “My DraftStreet” settings, there’s a feature for multi-matchup blocker. You definitely want to have this checked off. No user will be able to join a head-to-head league against you if you already have a head-to-head matchup against that user for the same sport, draft style and scoring period. This will prevent sharks from scooping up all of your head-to-head games.

DraftStreet limits users to 5-10 entries on the majority of their guaranteed prize pool tournaments that are not DSBC qualifiers.

Snake Drafts

You can play in snake drafts, which are pick'em contests with no salary cap. These are two-man, three -man, and six-man contests. Snake drafts are a great way to play daily baseball and enjoy the thrill of drafting.

Pick ‘Em Contests

No Salary cap to worry about, just pick players from each tier. Much like snake drafts, this is a great way to play daily fantasy baseball because you can make a team in a few minutes.

Starting Lineup Notifications

When you’re building rosters on DraftStreet, there will either be an “S” next to the players name if they’re in the starting lineup or there will be an exclamation point (!) with a hazard sign around it if the player is ruled out for the day.


FanDuel

Salary/Roster Settings

FanDuel only requires one starting pitcher and their salary structure is setup to be easier for newer players.

Contest Limits

During the NBA season, FanDuel started limiting players to 250 contests per night per sport to limit high-volume players from scooping all of the lower stakes action. This allows for more diversification in opponents.

FanDuel used to have a limit on the number of $1 games you could play in a day, but those limits have been lifted in conjunction with the 250 contests daily limit.

Single Entry Contests

All of the double ups are single entry, and there are a few single entry guaranteed prize pool tournaments. Look for contests that do not have an orange “M” icon next to them in the lobby.

Other Tips for Beginners

-- Know the scoring system and roster setup for each site and identify the differences.

-- Stay in lower entry contests between $0.25-$5 until you feel comfortable spending more.

-- Don't play the same team in your cash games and tournaments.

-- Try to play in lower field contests (20 or less) until you feel comfortable.

-- Use the sites chat features to ask customer service all the questions you have before making a deposit.

-- Play in beginner contests if the site offers them; if not then try snake drafts and pick ‘em games first.

-- Always check the weather and if there is a 40-percent chance of rain or more, then stay away from the players in that game.

-- Never take hitters on a team that your starting pitcher is opposing.

-- Never take a left-handed hitter versus a left-handed pitcher

-- Do not be afraid to spend on your pitching. Pitchers are more consistent than hitters in the daily format.

-- Lean towards starting pitchers at home versus the road (unless it’s a Rockies pitcher on the road)