Daily fantasy sports (DFS) are still quite popular, even with the expansion of online sports betting in the US. Like with legal gambling, NFL football is the most commonly played daily fantasy sport.
Daily fantasy NFL contests allow you to participate in a fantasy football matchup where you’re able to pick a new roster every time.
Most daily fantasy sites provide plenty of options for contests. They vary in rules, the number of entries, the price of an entry, and the total prize pool.
Best daily fantasy football sites 2023
The majority of contests are similar, though. You create a roster based on the site’s specifications and compete against others playing fantasy football.
If your roster turns out to be one of the best in the contest entered, you win a portion of the cash prize.
Despite both operators running successful online sportsbooks now, DraftKings and FanDuel remain the leaders in DFS. They feature the most extensive selection of available contests, including the biggest games in the market.
Some contests involve prize pools worth well over six figures. Both DraftKings and FanDuel held Super Bowl games where the first place went home with $1 million.
How does daily fantasy for NFL work?
For the most part, NFL daily fantasy works the same as any other DFS contest. You create a team fulfilling the given roster requirements by the site. The only contingency is that you fill out a valid lineup while staying under the provided salary cap.
The team you select will then compete against others with the same roster requirements.
Depending on the contest’s rules, you could earn some money if your team scores more fantasy points than the majority of others.
Contests vary in a number of ways, but they all have similar rules. Some might only involve one game, but a lot of contests consist of an entire Sunday’s slate of action.
How to join a DFS contest
The first step is to create an account with one of the sites that provide DFS games, e.g., DraftKings or FanDuel.
After creating an account, you’ll be able to access the lobby of available contests taking place that day. By clicking on the contest you want to join and then the “Draft Team” link, you’re set to pick your players.
The two biggest brands in the DFS industry are, by far, DraftKings and FanDuel. They both showcase the most contests as well as the most users and largest prize pools.
One of the best parts about DFS is sites like DraftKings and FanDuel have settings in place so that you compete against others with the same skill level.
Both sites offer games to get new users acclimated to playing daily fantasy while not going up against those who might call themselves veterans.
FanDuel has “rookie only contests” as well as “beginners only” games that block users who have experience. It also shows a legend that labels other users as “experienced” or “highly experienced” based on how many contests they’ve entered in the past.
DraftKings features similar tools with its “beginner” and “casual” lobbies.
These contests are restricted from those who have previously participated in DFS games.
What DFS football games can I play?
DraftKings and FanDuel are the leaders in DFS because they both offer so many different options to play.
The following are the types of contests you’ll find on both daily fantasy sites for the NFL:
Guaranteed prize pools (GPPs)
These contests are probably the most popular and are always among the featured games available. They include a guaranteed prize pool of a given amount and will run regardless of how many people enter it.
GPPs typically include the largest contests offered and have a preset maximum number of entries.
It’s not uncommon for these types to have upward of 20 different contests with a payout of at least $1,000. Sometimes, these can even reach $1 million, like with the Super Bowl.
Cash games are another common way to play NFL DFS. Unlike GPPs, these are usually smaller contests with fewer entries. You’re able to join existing cash games or even create your own that others can join.
Both DraftKings and FanDuel allow you to customize settings for your created contest, including whether it’s a public or private game. This enables you to play NFL daily fantasy among your friends just as you might play standard fantasy.
The only drawback with these contests is that they are all not guaranteed to run. Depending on the entry fee, some games won’t run unless all the spots are filled.
DFS players have the option to play against just one other opponent as well. With head-to-head matchups, you only compete against one other person, and the winner takes all of the money.
This format increases the chances of winning, and you’re able to play against just one of your friends.
Another popular DFS contest for the NFL is 50/50s. These games pay out exactly the top half of the entries in each contest.
For instance, if the game consists of 10 people, the best five teams will nearly double their money while the bottom five earn nothing.
There are also a bunch of variations for all of the contests mentioned.
You can enter “classic” games that include a standard full fantasy roster. This contest style typically involves a full slate of game options for players.
Additionally, you can play a contest that only includes players from one NFL game. While you can select any game on the schedule, these are common for the primetime spots such as NFL’s Monday Night Football.
Other deviations are mostly based around how many players are required for a roster and which positions are included. DraftKings and FanDuel each offer contests with various specifications.
Also, as previously mentioned, both sites feature beginner and casual games aimed at new users who are just starting to play DFS.
How does fantasy football scoring work?
DFS fantasy scoring is similar to how a lot of standard fantasy leagues score their matchups. Players can earn points for yards, receptions and, of course, touchdowns.
Here is the exact scoring for daily fantasy football for DraftKings and FanDuel:
|25 Passing Yards|
|Rushing or Receiving TD|
|10 Rushing or Receiving Yards|
|Special Teams or |
|Interception or Fumble Recovery|
|Blocked Kick, Conversion Return,|
|Defensive Points Allowed|
|Bonus for 300+ yards passing,|
100+ yards rushing or receiving
The most notable difference between the two sites is that DraftKings offers player bonuses for hitting a yardage total.
Quarterbacks need 300 yards passing while running backs and receivers have to total 100 yards to earn a 3-point bonus.
Another major difference is the points per reception. DraftKings is formatted to give a point per catch, known as full PPR, whereas FanDuel’s scoring system is set at 0.5 points per reception.
In which states can I play NFL DFS?
The regulation and legality of daily fantasy sports are slightly more complicated than legal sports betting. Since DFS isn’t considered the same as sports gambling, the way states view daily fantasy sites varies.
The following states consider daily fantasy illegal, or most operators have left because of additional rulings:
Learn more with our daily fantasy sports tracker.
How is DFS NFL regulated?
Daily fantasy football is regulated differently throughout the country.
While some states see DFS as illegal gambling, others have passed laws making it legal. Even without legislation in place, most states allow the use of DraftKings and FanDuel.
Any state that features daily fantasy sites will have NFL contests available. There are still states that don’t offer DFS. The state’s attorney general often determines this.
DFS vs. season-long fantasy
Daily fantasy football has a lot in common with standard fantasy; however, several major differences make it a new experience.
The most significant distinction is the fact that you’re able to select new players with every DFS contest you enter.
Instead of drafting a team at the beginning of the year and being stuck with these players, daily fantasy allows you to select any player available each time.
Since each DFS contest often begins and ends on the same day, there is less commitment.
To be successful in season-long fantasy, you must be active with waiver adds and trades. Daily fantasy permits you the freedom to decide when you want to participate.
There’s also a key difference in how many teams you’re competing in. Standard fantasy usually features 10-14 players, whereas DFS lets you choose how many opponents there are. You can play against thousands of others or just one individual.
Earning money is quite dissimilar, too. Since daily fantasy only lasts one day, winners are paid out immediately. Standard fantasy players must compete the entire year with hopes that they’re one of the top finishers after the season.
What are the major NFL DFS championships?
DraftKings and FanDuel both offer exclusive contests where the winner can walk away with $1 million. Every week, users are eligible to join these massive GPP games.
The best part about some tournaments is they don’t cost an overwhelming amount of money to enter. Although there are contests that cost well over $100, a lot of these $1 million championships only cost around $20.
For this year’s Super Bowl, DraftKings showcased its $4M Super Bowl LIV Millionaire and FanDuel held its $3M Big Game Bowl. Both of these awarded $1 million to the first-place finisher.
Why should you play NFL DFS?
Part of what makes daily fantasy popular is its difference from season-long fantasy leagues.
The most significant distinction between the two is that with daily fantasy, you can select a new roster for every contest you enter.
Instead of being stuck with the players you picked in a lousy draft or having to deal with an injury to one of your best, DFS allows you to start fresh each time.
It’s much less of a commitment as well.
You don’t need to actively add players through waivers or pay attention to everything happening in your league for the duration of an entire season. With DFS, you can pick and choose when to play.
DFS also lets you decide how many people you’re playing. While most standard fantasy leagues involve about 12 people, DFS can be as small as a head-to-head matchup or as big as thousands of entries.
Winning money with daily NFL is much more immediate than with season-long fantasy too.
If you’re able to place among the top entries in a contest, you’ll receive winnings that night. Regular fantasy leagues typically only have a couple of payouts for the top teams after the entire year.
In September 2019, the NFL and DraftKings agreed on a deal to make the DFS provider the official daily fantasy partner of the league. The new partnership was the first of its kind for the NFL and gave DraftKings an exclusive NFL sponsorship in the DFS space.
DraftKings, NFL deal
The new deal between DraftKings and the NFL was an important step for DFS and the gambling industry in general.
For years, single-game betting on sports was allowed only in Nevada; however, with the expansion of legal sports wagering around the country, there are a lot more opportunities for sports leagues and teams.
Previously, DraftKings agreed to similar contracts with the NHL and MLB. FanDuel also has a partnership with the NBA.
With the NFL being the largest sport in America in terms of viewership and revenue, this was a significant move for DraftKings. Along with the exclusive deal, DraftKings also has access to NFL branding for its platforms.
At the same time, the NFL can use DraftKings in its media, including the NFL Network.
Can you play college football DFS?
After a couple years without college fantasy football, DraftKings revived the format in 2018. Users in states where college DFS contests are allowed can now play at DraftKings and FanDuel.
Additional sports: Daily Fantasy Basketball. Daily Fantasy Hockey