What is DFS? How to play Daily Fantasy Sports

The basic information and background of Daily Fantasy Sports

While fantasy football has always been a staple of NFL fandom, the popular game saw an exponential increase in its relevance and usage in the 2000s with the rise of smartphones. Along with the increasing demand for fantasy sports came the introduction and subsequent success of Daily Fantasy Sports, or DFS.

Fantasy football is always an enjoyable way for fans to interact with the NFL but it can often be time-consuming. Fantasy matchups are only once a week but managing the waiver wire, making trades and setting your lineup are all processes that make a season-long or dynasty league too much for some. DFS, however, has no commitment beyond a single game or day.

Since its inception, DFS has increased in popularity and usage each year. With the ever-growing sports betting industry, DFS has been innovated several times to expand its reach and buyer persona.

What is DFS?

DFS, or Daily Fantasy Sports, is a subset of fantasy football that caters more to hardcore fans and users. Following the same rule set as traditional fantasy, the general premise of DFS is to draft a team of players that will collectively outscore your opponent's squad.

Like season-long and dynasty leagues, the positional lineups in DFS leagues usually mimic that of a conventional football team. The player's impact on the score depends on their fantasy score, or "real life" performance.

However, unlike traditional fantasy sports, DFS is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of having a season-long team, managers are to select a new team each day without committing to the roster for the duration of the NFL season. The rules can vary, but generally, players are given a salary cap to draft a team by "buying" players to add to their lineup.

Much like in the NFL, the price of a player will increase or decrease depending on their projected impact on the game. Patrick Mahomes will have a significantly larger cost than Jauan Jennings, forcing managers to make timely decisions of salary management.

More often than not, success in DFS depends on accurately identifying contrarian plays within the game. Contrarian plays are those of players not categorized as stars but have a high chance of succeeding in the game to exceed expectations and thus, their price tag.

What is DFS Pick 'Em?

Legalized sports betting continues to grow annually in the United States and has often crossed paths with the fantasy industry. The primary product of the parallel markets has been DFS pick 'em, which has been popularized by apps like PrizePicks, Underdog, Betr and Sleeper.

DFS Pick 'Em essentially combines the two worlds of sports betting and fantasy sports. Powered by player props from the gambling market, DFS pick 'em apps allow users to predict "over" or "under" the player's projected total and place money on the bet.

Where to play DFS

As each new season rolls around, there seems to be a new DFS app available on the market. Several of them have made a lasting impact, but the original platforms are still the most used.

The two leaders of the modern sports betting industry, DraftKings and Fanduel, are still common sites among DFS players. Both offer traditional salary cap leagues with DraftKings additionally having a Best Ball server and a recently-launched Pick 'Em app.

Underdog Fantasy, one of the original DFS Pick 'Em sites, is probably the most unique DFS site on the market. They don't offer salary cap leagues but for lovers of the fantasy football draft, their site contains a myriad of head-to-head daily draft games. In these, players can choose to either play against one, two or three other users and participate in a fantasy draft of the players in the relevant game(s), in a winner-take-all contest.

With the field continuously changing, expect more DFS options to pop up within the next few years. Until then, become one of the millions of fantasy players and sports bettors who engage in a new draft each week.