If you're new to Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS), it can be intimidating trying to dive right in. However, DFS can be picked up relatively fast, especially if you're an experienced fantasy player already.
What is DFS?
Traditional fantasy sports go on for a full season, with a draft to determine who owns which players. There are many different formats, but that general principle remains the same. Along with that comes in-season moves, such as trades, waiver wire acquisitions and moving players to Injured Reserve.
In DFS, a salary system is implemented rather than a draft, with the player pool limited to those participating in games that day. And, unlike year-long fantasy, both you and I can have the same player(s) on our respective rosters. As a result, the team you have today probably won't be the one you have tomorrow. Overall, it's less of a commitment.
What does this look like?
On DraftKings, you're allotted $50,000 to create a six-player team of two guards, three forwards and one utility. As expected, better players are more expensive. For example, if you want someone of EuroLeague MVP Luka Doncic's caliber, you'll have to shell out a significant chunk of your $50,000 salary, in turn sacrificing depth. On the other hand, it can be a viable strategy to build a more balanced team, which often comes with less risk.
The scoring works as follows:
Points: 1 fantasy point
Made three-pointer: 0.5 fantasy points
Assists: 1.5 fantasy points
Rebounds: 1.25 fantasy points
Blocks and steals: 2 fantasy points
Turnovers: -0.5 fantasy points
Double-Double:1.5 fantasy points
Triple-Double: 3 fantasy points
Some basic strategy
I often start my team-building process by noting if there are any key injuries on the slate. DraftKings does not change players' prices once they are set, so a backup can end up outplaying his expected value if he ends up starting. For instance, if Edy Tavares ends up spraining his ankle during pregame warmups, Gustavo Ayon could draw the start. But he would still be at his normal reserve price, giving him expanded upside.
Pace is also something to consider. A faster pace results in more possessions, which equals more stats. Generally, it's safer to avoid players who are on a slow-paced team. However, if they playing a fast-paced team, they have a greater chance of outpacing their averages and returning good value relative to their price. The opposite goes for players on fast teams facing off against slow teams – it's not as likely they'll reach their averages. Obviously, there are nuances based on matchups. Pace isn't the be-all end-all in player selection. But looking at pace can help be a deciding factor if you're trying to choose between multiple players for one roster spot.
On the topic of matchups, exploiting teams' weaknesses is also important in DFS. Don't be afraid to dig a bit into the some team stats to find an upper-hand. It doesn't take long to discover that Brose Bamberg was the worst rebounding team in the EuroLeague during 2017-18. Knowing that, it could make sense to deploy the opposing team's center.
What kind of contests are out there?
There are two primary types of DFS contests: Tournaments and 50/50s. Tournaments have fewer winners, but those with higher scores are rewarded with more money. Taking first place in a tournament, while very rare, can net you massive return on investment.
Conversely, 50/50s reward the top half of scores with double their entry fee. However, the highest scorers don't net any additional reward. Tournaments and 50/50s are often referred to as GPPs (Grand Prize Pools) and Cash Games, respectively.
Experienced DFS players often build different lineups based on contest. Theoretically, you'll want to build a safer lineup with a higher floor for 50/50s, while taking a chance with a riskier lineup in GPPs, hoping for a massive payout.
Ultimately, beginners should explore all the various types of contests to find something that fits their preferences. The safest way to go about things is to get your feet wet with some low-cost 50/50s to minimize risk and get used to DFS.