How to Play Daily Fantasy Football

This article will teach you the basics of how to play daily fantasy football on DraftKings, Yahoo and FantasyBet. You will learn the rules and scoring system each site uses, as well as the different types of contests that they have on offer.

This is a free preview of my book, ‘Daily Fantasy Football: The Complete Guide on How to Play and Win Real Money’, out now on Amazon.

Where to Play Daily Fantasy Football

Why Choose to Play on DraftKings?

DraftKings is an industry leader in the daily fantasy sports market. Initially serving customers in the USA and Canada, the company launched in the UK in 2016 and has since expanded into other European countries such as Malta and Germany. There are several DFS sites open to customers in Europe, but the biggest advantage DraftKings has over UK-based competitors is that they offer a shared player-pool for all their members, meaning that UK players get the chance to compete for much larger prize-pools than any other UK-facing site currently offers. They also have great software and customer service and are always looking to upgrade their football product by offering new leagues and promotions.

If you’re not a DraftKings member yet, click here or scan the QR code below and enter your details!

Because the player-pool is shared with North America, DraftKings uses USD as its currency for all real-money contests. This means that one drawback for UK players is that they will have to use dollars when playing on the site. Fortunately, making a deposit onto DraftKings is a simple process; you select an amount in GBP, which is then converted to USD at the current exchange rate. The withdrawal process is equally straightforward, and the funds will be back in your account within five working days.

DraftKings also have a VIP rewards program. Players earn ‘frequent player points’ (FPPs) every time they enter a real-money contest, which can be redeemed later for tickets into more contests. $1 in entry fees equates to 1 FPP earned. The VIP system has five different tiers and each month they run free contests for all players depending on their status. The table below shows the current reward structure; the rewards do change so make sure to check out the player rewards page here for the latest information. Note that few players are eligible for the higher tier contests, so whilst the guarantees are sometimes lower the pay-outs to winners can be larger.

Player StatusMonthly Requirement to QualifyMonthly Reward
Bronze100 FPPs$15,000 Monthly Free Contest
Silver500 FPPs$25,000 Custom VIP Experience Monthly Free Contest
Gold2K FPPs$85,000 Monthly Free Contest
Platinum10K FPPs$85,000 Gold Monthly Free Contest + $60,000 Monthly Free Contest
Diamond25K FPPs$60,000 Platinum Monthly Free Contest + Additional $40,000 Monthly Free Contest
Black125K FPPs$40,000 Diamond Monthly Free Contest + Additional $50,000 Monthly Free Contest

DraftKings Rules and Scoring

A football lineup on DraftKings consists of eight players: one goalkeeper (GK), two defenders (D), two midfielders (M), two forwards (F) and one utility player. The utility, or ‘flex’, position can be occupied by any outfield player (D, M or F). Some players have multi-position eligibility (M/F), which means they can be used at either the midfield or forward positions. Each player has a salary associated with them and to make a valid lineup you must pick a team that doesn’t exceed the salary cap of $50,000. Your lineup must also include players from at least three different teams. Lineups can be edited up until the start of the first match in the contest, at which point they will be locked. However, if any matches haven’t kicked off yet you will still be able to edit players from those games. At the time of writing the scoring system is as follows (check the DraftKings help page here for the most up-to-date rules and additional notes):

Outfielders (D, M, F)Points
Goal+10
Assist+6
Shot+1
Shot on Target+1 (also counts as a shot, i.e. is worth a total of +2 Pts)
Crosses+0.75 (via corner kick, open play, and set pieces)
Fouls Won+1
Fouls Conceded-0.5
Tackle Won+1
Interceptions (D, M, F)+0.5
Yellow Card-1.5
2nd Yellow Card-1.5
Straight Red Card-3
Penalty Kick Miss-5
Clean Sheet (D)+3 (must play > 60 mins)
GoalkeepersPoints
Saves+2
Goal Conceded-2
Clean Sheet+5 (must play > 60 mins)
Win+5 (must play > 60 mins)
Penalty Kick Save+3 (also counts as a save, i.e. is worth a total of +5 Pts)

For example, if your player scores a goal he will get +10, as well as +1 for a shot and +1 for a shot on target, giving him a total of +12 fantasy points. A goalkeeper that saves three shots in a 1-0 win will earn 16 points. Before getting started, it is important to familiarise yourself with the scoring system so that you understand how the game works and can start to get a rough idea of the types of players that you want on your lineup.

DraftKings Lineup Example

Below is an example lineup from the final day of the 2016/17 season:

Whilst you get a lot of points for goals and assists, you can see that the scoring system favours players that can cross and shoot a lot. Sigurdsson scored over twice as many points as Sane and nearly outscored Feghouli because he had 14 crosses and a couple of shots, even though Feghouli scored a goal and Sane had an assist. Tackles, interceptions and fouls are also important but to a lesser extent, and these are also harder to predict from game to game.

Why Choose to Play on Yahoo?

Yahoo isn’t as large as DraftKings, but it is still a fantastic option for DFS players. Unlike DraftKings, Yahoo have GBP contests in addition to their USD games, which means they are an excellent choice for players in the UK. The Yahoo player-pool is also shared with North America; if you do live in the UK you can still play against people from the USA or Canada on Yahoo, whilst using the currency you are already used to. Yahoo’s customer service team is great too, and they are actively growing their football product at the time of writing.

To sign up for an account, simply click here or scan the QR code below and enter your details!

Like DraftKings, Yahoo also have a rewards program. When entering contests, you will earn 1 reward point for each £1 of contest entry fees. New players currently earn 1000 Yahoo Sports Reward Points (worth £5) with their first deposit. These points can be used to enter more contests at a later date. Yahoo is also very friendly for beginners, as they have restrictions in place to limit multi-entries and offer ‘rookie only’ and ‘no veterans’ contests to make sure that new players aren’t matched up with the experienced regulars.

The overall player-pool is smaller on Yahoo than DraftKings (i.e. fewer weaker players), but it can still be very profitable to play on the site. One of the main reasons for this is that Yahoo collects a lower rake (i.e. fee) than DraftKings, so a higher percentage of your entry fee goes towards the overall prize-pool. For example, at the time of writing the rake in cash games on DraftKings is typically 9-13%. Tournament rake is higher and can be up to 16% in some GPPs. On Yahoo, the rake is approximately 9-13% across all contests, even GPPs. As you will see later, lower rake can be very beneficial in helping you to make more money playing daily fantasy football.

Yahoo Rules and Scoring

The Yahoo rules and scoring system differ significantly from DraftKings, which can be another reason to choose one site over another. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. A football lineup on Yahoo consists of 11 players; one goalkeeper (GK), three defenders (D), four midfielders (M), two forwards (F) and one utility player. As with DraftKings there is also utility position, which can be occupied by any outfield player (D, M or F). The salary cap on Yahoo is £200, and you can use a maximum of six players from a single team in any given lineup. At the time of writing the scoring system is as follows (check the Yahoo help page here for the most up-to-date rules):

Outfielders (D, M, F)Yahoo Points Reward
Goal+8 Pts
Assist+4 Pts
Shot (not blocked)+0.5 Pts
Shot on Target+2 Pts
Successful Pass+0.05 Pts
Successful Cross+0.5 Pts
Corner Won+0.5 Pts
Fouls Won+0.5 Pts
Fouls Conceded-0.5 Pts
Tackle Won+0.5 Pts
Interception+0.5 Pts
Block+1 Pt
Yellow Card-2 Pts
2nd Yellow Card-3 Pts
Straight Red Card-5 Pts
Penalty Kick Conceded-1 Pts
Penalty Kick Miss-4 Pts
Own Goal-4 Pts
Clean Sheet (D only)+3 Pts (must play > 90 minutes)
GoalkeepersYahoo Points Reward
Save+1.5 Pts
Goal Conceded-2 Pts
Clean Sheet+6 Pts (must play > 90 minutes)
Win+4 Pts
Draw+2 Pts
Penalty Kick Save+3 Pts
Own Goal-2 Pts
Yellow Card-2 Pts
2nd Yellow Card-3 Pts
Straight Red Card-5 Pts

The image above shows an example of a Yahoo fantasy lineup. Goals and assists are very important but, like DraftKings, peripheral stats are a much more reliable source of fantasy points. For instance, it can be seen from the picture that on this slate David Silva outscored both Leroy Sane and Mesut Ozil even though he didn’t have an assist.

Why Choose to Play on FantasyBet?

FantasyBet are a small operator serving UK customers. Unlike DraftKings and Yahoo, FantasyBet don’t have an international player-pool as a result of focusing on the UK market, but they do havesome advantages over their competitors. As you will see below the scoring system is identical to the official fantasy Premier League (FPL) game, making it very easy for season-long fantasy players to transition to daily fantasy. Although the focus of the site is on daily formats, it’s also possible to play contests lasting multiple weeks or even an entire season, so FantasyBet is a great option for those who want to play a multi-week league for real money using the same scoring as FPL. In addition, FantasyBet regularly have contests for niche leagues like the English Championship and Norwegian Eliteserian, which you will rarely see on other sites. To sign up for an account, simply click here or scan the QR code below and enter your details!

FantasyBet Rules and Scoring

The FantasyBet scoring system is identical to the FPL season-long game enjoyed by millions worldwide. At the time of writing, the scoring system for classic mode is as follows (check the FantasyBet help page here for the most up to date rules):

ActionFantasyBet Points Reward
<60 Mins Played1
>60 Mins Played2
Goals (GK & D)6
Goals (M)5
Goals (F)4
Assists3
Clean Sheet (GK & D, must play >60 mins)4
Clean Sheet (M)1
Every 3 Saves (GK)1
Penalty Saves5
Penalty Missed-2
Every 2 Goals Conceded (GK & D)-1
Yellow Card-1
Red Card-3
Own Goal-2

Like FPL, players will also receive bonus points. The best performing player in the match earns 3 bonus points, with the 2nd best earning 2 points and the 3rd best earning a single point. To calculate how bonus points are awarded, FantasyBet use the following scoring system:

ActionFantasyBet Points Reward
<60 Mins Played3
>60 Mins Played6
Goals (GK & D)12
Goals (M)18
Goals (F)24
Assists9
Clean Sheet (GK & D)12
Penalty Save15
Save2
Open Play cross1
Big Chance Created3
Successful Dribble1
Every 2 Clearances, Blocks & Interceptions1
Every 3 Recoveries1
Successful Pass Percentage (> 30 passes)>90% = 6, >80% = 4, >70% = 2
Key Pass1
Net Successful Tackles (successful - unsuccessful, but never negative)2
Penalty Conceded-3
Penalty Missed-6
Yellow Card-3
Red Card-9
Own Goal-6
Big Chance Missed-3
Error Leading to Goal-3
Error Leading to Shot-1
Dispossessed-1
Foul Condeded-1
Offside-1
Shot-1

One final rule to remember is that FantasyBet contests will lock 5 minutes before the start of the first match on the slate. This is slightly different to DraftKings and Yahoo, where lineups can be edited all the way up until kick-off.

Types of DFS Contest

In DFS there are several different game types to choose from. Contests that pay out roughly 50% of entries are commonly referred to as ‘cash games’; examples include ‘head to head’, ‘50/50’ and ‘double-up’. All cash game contests must fill up fully to run, otherwise the entry fees are refunded. Tournaments and leagues that pay out roughly 20% of entries are commonly known as ‘GPPs’ (short for ‘guaranteed prize-pools’). A guarantee means that the prize-pool is fixed before the contest starts, regardless of how many players enter. GPPs will always run even if they don’t fill up to the maximum entry limit.

Contests take place over a set of games, commonly known as a ‘slate’. Slates usually take place over a short period of time, for example if there are five matches being played that day then the contests will consist of players from those matches, and your aim is to create the highest scoring lineup from that group of players. The different types of contest are discussed in further detail below. The DraftKings FAQ also gives a brief description of each type of contest here.

Cash Games

Head to Head (H2H)

In a H2H contest you will compete directly against one other user. If your lineup outscores your opponent, you will win the contest and receive the prize money. The rake for these contests is typically 10% at lower buy-in levels; this decreases at the higher buy-in levels ($109 and above). To give an example, if you enter a $1 H2H both you and your opponent will contribute $1 to the prize-pool. The site will take 10% from each player as a fee, leaving a total prize-pool of $1.80 to be won by one of the players.

50/50s

50/50s are similar in structure to H2H, but you will be competing against multiple opponents instead. If your lineup beats 50% of the entries in the contest you will win 2x your entry fee, minus the rake. For example, if you enter a $1 50/50 with 10 players, everyone will contribute $1 to the prize-pool and the site will take 10% (typically) of that as rake, leaving $9. Each player that finishes 1st-5th will win $1.80, and the players in 6th-10th will get $0.

Double-Ups

Double-ups are like 50/50s, but you will win 2x your entry fee instead. However, the site will of course still take a fee from each player, which means less than 50% of the field will get paid out. Double-ups have a higher rake than 50/50s, typically 11-13% at the lower buy-in levels. As an example, a $1, 23 player double-up pays out $2 to the players that finish 1st-10th, which means that the site takes approximately 13% in rake.

Triple-Ups

These are identical to double-ups, however approximately 30% of the field will win 3x the entry fee. If you enter a $1, 31 player triple-up, for example, the top 9 players will win $3. These are more of a hybrid between cash games and GPPs, but I personally will almost always use the same strategy as the one I am using for a double-up.

3-Player and 5-Player Contests

In a 3-player contest the person who finishes first will win 3x their entry fee, minus rake. For example, in a $1, 3-player, first place will win $2.70 whereas second and third will get $0. In a 5-player contest, first place will receive 3x their entry fee and second place will win 1.5x their entry fee. I use a similar strategy to the other cash game formats in these contests.

Tournaments

GPPs

In a guaranteed prize-pool, or ‘GPP’, tournament the players will compete for a share of the prize-pool, with typically around 20-25% of the field being paid out. It is common for tournaments to have thousands of entries with a ‘top-heavy’ structure, meaning that a large share of the prize-pool money is paid out to the first few positions. GPPs offer the potential to pay a small entry fee and win thousands of dollars; however, they are difficult to beat consistently and can quickly lead to large losses without correct bankroll management (more on this later). The rake for GPPs can often be higher than cash games, around 15-16% on DraftKings at the lower buy-in levels. Many GPPs allow you to enter more than once, so you can build several different teams to try to take down the top prize.

Satellites and Qualifiers

Satellites and Qualifiers are a unique type of tournament where instead of winning money you will have a chance to earn a ticket into another tournament. Typically, only the first couple of players will receive tickets, so these are very hard to win. However, they do offer a cheap way to access more expensive tournaments that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford to enter. There are also sometimes special tournaments that you can only enter if you have won a ticket through a qualifier.

Boosters

These contests are like triple-ups, but with a larger multiplier and a smaller number of players getting paid out. One example is a 10x booster, where the top 3 players out of 35 entrants win 10x their entry fee. The rake is often over 14% at the lower buy-in levels and you have to beat almost everyone to win money, so I personally recommend avoiding these contests in general and focusing on the other types of tournaments instead.

Beginner and Free Contests

As a new user on DraftKings, you will be able to enter beginner contests. I strongly recommend playing these when first starting out; this will allow you to avoid the more experienced players and compete with other new players whilst you find your feet. These contests are blocked once you have played more than fifty of them, so take advantage while you can! DraftKings also offer free contests, which are a risk-free way to practice without having to pay an entry fee. It is worth remembering that the standard of play is going to be weaker than normal in these contests, so try not to get overconfident if things go well initially.

Summary

All of the sites mentioned in this article are excellent choices for daily fantasy football players. Ultimately each site has its pros and cons, and the decision on where to play is up to you. Once you get more experienced you will probably want to play on multiple sites, but when starting out, the important thing is just to pick one and get playing!

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