Fantasy Sports – and daily fantasy sports – is one of the biggest phenomena of the 21st century. Fantasy sports – when you join a league, build a fantasy team and compete in fantasy competitions – was conceived in the late ‘60s and enjoyed a small measure of popularity through the final decades of the 20th century. Interest exploded in the early years of the 21st century when online Vegas casino players discovered that, while playing fantasy sports, they could make sports bets which were otherwise illegal in the United States. Two companies, FanDuel and DraftKings, emerged as the fantasy sports kingpins. These sites facilitate participants’ interactive engagement, bets and payouts and other fantasy sports gaming pursuits.
If you’re a beginner, you probably want to check out these two companies before you start playing. As you aim for the top results you won’t want to make your choice until you’re clear about the differences in rosters, salary caps, spreads and rules.
If you open both sites and look at them side by side, the first thing you notice are the differences in salary cap, roster construction and scoring systems. While the basic requirements of both sites are the same -- you choose 9 players from at least 2 different NFL teams that represent at least 2 different NFL Games – many of the playing details vary.
If you’re on FanDuel, the rosters lock immediately at the start of your contest. You can’t take more than 4 players on a specific team. If you go to DraftKings you can edit your roster up until 5 minutes before game time and you won’t have any limit on how many people you can take on a specific team.
For example, on DraftKings you can edit a player even though the rest of your entry has started. At the beginning of the contest, FanDuel locks immediately for the entire entry. Many players find that that difference makes it much easier to play on DraftKings while others like the challenge of FanDuel’s player lock.
The main scoring differences between the two sites are:
- On DraftKings there’s 1 point per reception compared to 0.5 point per reception on Fanduel
- On DraftKings there’s a 3 point bonus for 300+ passing yards. There isn’t any bonus on Fanduel
- On DraftKings there’s a 3 point bonus for 100+ receiving yards. There’s no bonus on FanDuel
- On DraftKings there’s a 3 point bonus for 100+ rushing yards. There’s no bonus on FanDuel.
- On DraftKings there’s -1 point for a fumble lost. On FanDuel there’s a t0 -2 points for a fumble loss.
Salary Cap Differences
On both sites, salaries are configured on Sunday nights. Salaries determine the players’ projected points for that upcoming week. On FanDuel you have a $60,000 salary cap to draft 9 players while on DraftKings you have a $50,000 salary cap.
Fan Duel is seen as being more conservative in their approach to sports. FanDuel offers fantasy NHL, NFL, NBA, MLB, NCAAR and NCAAF. Draft Kings offers NHL, NFL, NBA, MLB, NCAAF, PGA, NCAAB, MMA and NASCAR.
Beginners may do better playing with DraftKings. DraftKings offers "Beginner" contests which are open to any competitor who has played less than 50 contests in a specific sport. This gives novices the chance to get their feet wet in fantasy sports competition by playing against other players who don’t have a wide range of experience.
Individual Site Characteristics
There are individual characteristics of both sites and specific tips for each site. They include:
- When you play on DraftKings you should be sure to utilize late swap whenever possible.
- Just because a player does well on FanDuel doesn’t mean that he will perform similarly on DraftKings and vice versa.
- Some players switch position, depending on the site – for instance, the same player might play front defense on FanDuel and play side guard on DraftKings.
- The salary cap isn’t that meaningful between the two sites, especially once you take into account the fact that FanDuel allows one more player for the extra $10,000 or that DraftKing generally has cheaper prices. Many players report that they find player value more prevalent on DraftKings.
- DraftKings team builder offers more ways to come up with a winning team. On the other hand, if you are a novice and don’t really know how to build the best team, there are more ways to lose.
- DraftKings unique scoring structure creates inflated scoring.
Some fantasy sports tips are applicable to both FanDuel and DraftKings. They include:
- Focus on growing your budget. Grab the players who are on a roll and react to trends quickly. The benefits are more pronounced for such moves.
- Plan ahead. Prepare for the fixtures that you haven’t yet reached. Review the schedule and, a month or two ahead, identify which team has the softest set of fixtures. Those are the teams whose assets you want to target.
- Try to schedule matches on home ground against middle-to-lower half teams. Home teams win at a higher rate.
- Don’t focus on reputations and don’t pick player based only on name value. Yesterday’s hot player could be at the bottom of today’s barrel.
- Be ready for the unexpected. Players get suspended, injured or simply get dropped so you have to be ready to compensate for such unforeseen events. One way to do this is to make sure that you have a full squad plus extras to fill in when you have an unexpected opening.
- Take corners so you’ll have more opportunities for assists. Keep some players on reserves for free-kick. Keep some penalty-takers around for situations that require such action.
- Read the news. You need to know about injuries or other glitches as soon as they occur. You might want to save your free weekly transfer for the last minute. That’s when team managers tend to disclose their injury lists. Be sure that you don’t miss the deadline.
- Don’t squander your transfers. Remember, you only get one free transfer a week so proceed wisely. If you make the wrong call you’ll have to use up 2 of those 38 transfers – the transfer in and the transfer out. Veteran competitors generally suggest focusing on proven commodities over gambles.
- You are given three ‘chips’ which you are invited to use to boost your points haul. It’s best to use them when the fixtures are skewed or in a gameweek when there are fewer teams playing. In a gameweek in which selected teams have extra games, pull out your ‘bench boost’ and your ‘triple captain’ so that you can capitalise on those who have two matches in one gameweek.
- Find a good resource and use it. Rotoworld is a great site to help you keep up with the latest team and injury news. Fantasy Football Scout offers a constant stream of analytical content.