Legal Sports Report

Daily Fantasy Football

Daily fantasy sports grew into an activity where billions of dollars started changing hands annually in recent years.

But much like season-long fantasy sports, the year for DFS is mainly focused around the NFL season.

Here are some questions and answers about playing daily fantasy football:

Best Daily Fantasy Football Sites

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How does daily fantasy for NFL work?

At most DFS sites, daily fantasy football works a lot like season-long fantasy football.

From a pool of players contest participants select a roster of players constrained by an artificial salary cap. That roster will usually include a quarterback, running backs, wide receivers, a tight end, a defense, and sometimes a kicker.

Each football player is assigned a salary value. Users may select any player they wish, as long as their entire roster fits under the salary cap, and they construct their roster according to contest rules.

There are several versions of how to play daily fantasy football, but the salary-cap model is by far the most common iteration.

From there, DFS sites offer a wide range of contests based on this idea.

What kind of daily fantasy NFL contests are there?

At core, all daily fantasy football contests are the same. You pay an entry fee in the hopes of winning a cash prize.

From there, sites offer several different types of contests

  • Guaranteed prize pools (GPPs): A fixed prize pool is offered by a site with a maximum number of entries, sometimes in the millions of dollars at the largest sites. They run regardless of whether they fill up or not.
  • “Cash games”: Players can either join an existing contest or create their own. These are smaller than GPPs and not guaranteed to run.
  • Head-to-Head: A contest that pits two players against one another; the winner receives the entire prize pool.
  • 50/50: The top half of the field nearly doubles their investment; the other half of the field receives nothing.

Who offers daily fantasy football?

The simple answer: Just about everyone.

The two biggest sites are DraftKings and FanDuel. They feature the most users, the biggest variety of contests, and the most money up for grabs.

Here is a look at sites that offer fantasy football:

SiteBiggest Week 1 NFL contest
FanDuel$2 million prize pool, $25 entry
DraftKings$5 million prize pool, $3 entry
Yahoo$500,000 prize pool, $10 entry
Fantasy Aces$100,000 prize pool, $55 entry
FantasyDraft$100,000 prize pool, $25 entry
RealTime Daily$1,800 prize pool, $20 entry
Fantasy FeudNA
Star Fantasy LeaguesNA

Each site takes a different legal approach to differing state laws; check here for a snapshot.

There are some European- or rest-of-world-facing sites that focus on soccer and other sports. But if a site is serving the US market, it is offering DFS involving the NFL.

What happened in the 2015 season for daily fantasy football?

Last year saw a rapid increase in interest in daily fantasy football. That was due in part to organic growth of the industry from 2014.

But advertising blitzes by DraftKings and FanDuel and promises of massive prize pools attracted new users in droves.

A story involving a data leak at DraftKings set off a domino effect for the DFS industry, however, resulting in a pull-back in advertising and government officials questioning its legality.

That resulted in fewer users and smaller prize pools later in the NFL season.

What’s in store for 2016 in daily fantasy football?

Despite the problems the industry encountered late in 2015 and early in 2016, FanDuel and DraftKings will still be offering huge prize payouts this NFL season.

The biggest contests this season will still pay winnings in the millions of dollars, and hundreds of thousands of DFS players will flock back to DFS sites.

Football fans are unlikely to be bombarded by DFS commercials this season, like they were in 2015.

Can you play college football DFS?

Some sites will still offer DFS based on college football games this season.

But DraftKings and FanDuel reached an agreement with the NCAA to stop offering college football. And some states that have passed laws this year have banned fantasy contests based on college events.