Are you a traditional fantasy sports player or sports fan who feels a little behind the eight ball when it comes to DFS and wants to know more to start playing? Look no further.

How Is Daily Fantasy Sports Different From Traditional Fantasy Sports?

You likely know the feeling. It’s happened to many who’ve dabbled in traditional, season-long fantasy sports leagues. Maybe you’ve prepared long and hard for your draft. Maybe you’ve come in rather cold yet with a general idea of how you want things to go. But somewhere along the way, your draft goes sideways, and for the duration of a whole season, you’re either playing catch-up or stuck with a lemon.

That’s a brutal way to spend a few months, either trying to salvage your investment or dealing with the flack you’re catching from your buddies. 

Enter Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS), which provides an alternative that can open a world of possibilities and leave you untethered to a single sinking squad.

Each day and week brings new opportunities to outwit friends or strangers — or the vaunted “House”— and prove your acumen without having your entire season crushed by bad luck, injuries or that poor draft. Depending on the platform, DFS is available across a slew of sports, most prominently football, basketball and baseball, and it allows you, the competitor, to step out of the confines of the traditional fantasy sports experience and create more chances to become victorious.

What Is DFS?

Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) is an emerging fantasy sports format in which you select players for a daily or weekly competition rather than a full season. Instead of drafting an entire roster, you pick a handful players at a time and compete against other competitors, the house, or in a contest with thousands of participants. You win or lose based on how the players you’ve selected perform, typically whether they gain more or less than their projected statistical output in a particular game.

How Does DFS Work?

There are different ways to jump into the DFS space. One of the most recent and exciting ways to play DFS is with Pick'em style games. In Pick ‘Em-style games, you’re choosing based on player props, selecting whether you think given players will have more or less than a certain statistic. To that end, Sleeper offers Sleeper Picks, in which you select two or more players and then pick whether they will tally more or less than their projected stats. 

For this format, you’re not playing against a peer — you’re playing against Sleeper itself. The more players you include in your picks, the bigger the potential payoff. Sleeper also offers PicksVS, which is like Sleeper Picks but pits your statistical selections against those of other users. Games involving real money require a contest entry fee, which can sometimes be as low as $1.

Beyond Pick'em style games, you can also play against peers in salary cap contests, where you set lineups either daily or weekly (depending on the sport) using a pool of faux money. You make selections based on players who are valued at different prices up to a set amount by which all users must abide. 

Sleeper offers a Daily Draft platform for football as well, where for each week of the NFL season you can draft a team, as if you were conducting a more traditional snake-style fantasy draft, only you’re beholden to that group just for one week, not a whole season.  

Why You Should Play Daily Fantasy Sports

There are a number of benefits to playing DFS. There are no long and excruciating waits for payments, with games and contests settled more rapidly and with more frequency than a season-long league. You also won’t have to sweat out crippling injuries to stars, bye weeks or load management. 

There’s the social element, either getting to meet new sports fans or getting to grapple with your longtime friends, work acquaintances or whomever you choose to play with on a more regular basis. 

Finally, DFS offers a unique skill-based challenge. You get to test yourself on a more game-by-game and player-by-player level to see just how attuned to a certain sport, league or team you really are. And when you lose, you won’t have to wait until next season to run it back.

Where to Play DFS

A number of sites, apps and platforms offer DFS in various forms, including Sleeper, DraftKings, FanDuel, Yahoo! Sports, Underdog Fantasy and PrizePicks, among others. 

What sets Sleeper apart from those others is its twist on the more run-of-the-mill DFS games, its sleek design, its enhanced and customizable user experience and its engaging and interactive social aspect. 

For instance, Sleeper offers Sleeper Squads, in which you can team up with friends, make choices collaboratively and then share the spoils of victory. Chat and DMs are also a big part of the product, throwing you and your friends into the mixer to talk your smack while your picks compete on the field.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the point of daily fantasy sports?

To win, test your knowledge and bring a little more meaning to games and players you might not otherwise be paying much attention to on a daily and weekly basis. There are also the bragging rights and potential financial windfalls that come with emerging as a winner.  

DFS is not legal in all states, and its legality also depends on which kind of competition you are seeking and which platform you’re using. In general terms, traditional salary cap games are not currently legal in Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada and Washington. Pick ‘Em games are more exclusive, with 22 states not permitting that kind of action. Those states are Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Washington and West Virginia. 

For Sleeper, specifically, Sleeper Picks is available in Alaska, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington D.C., and Wisconsin; Daily Draft is available in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington D.C., West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming; PicksVS is available in Alabama, Florida, Kansas, Massachusetts, West Virginia, and Wyoming.You cannot yet utilize Sleeper in Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Washington.

Sleeper Picks is currently available in light-colored US states and Canadian provinces in the image above.

Legislation and prohibition regarding DFS, paid-entry contests and Sleeper’s availability are subject to change.

Read more: Where Is DFS Legal?

How do you succeed in daily fantasy sports?

You’ll need to beat the competition by implementing strategy, finding market inefficiencies and, ultimately, outscoring whomever you’re going up against in pools that range in size and scope. In Pick'em games, success often depends on finding hidden value and maximizing your payout multiplier. For example, finding underrated players prone for a breakout and combining high value picks to get the highest win total. Studying historical trends and analyzing data (with help from Sleeper's in-app tools) are good ways to uncover value. In salary cap games, on the other hand, building a lineup of undervalued studs can make all the difference in setting your squad apart from the rest. It doesn’t take rocket science to roster Christian McCaffrey, but spotting a cost-effective third-down back in a smash spot might be the smarter play. Regardless of which DFS game you choose, the safest strategy is to do your homework. Pinpointing trends, being on top of injury news, utilizing advanced analytics and indulging your pressing hunches are all means to vault your picks to the top; some means are more effective than others. 

A Few Final Words on DFS

DFS is fun, easy to grasp and lets you enjoy the entertainment and rush of fantasy sports without the lengthy commitment of a season-long league. It certainly involves a great deal of skill, but as with any cash-game venture that comes with an entry fee, it is not without risk. 

Join Sleeper now and get a $100 deposit match by signing up via the website or downloading the app, and from there, you can explore all of the current options available in the football and basketball spaces to kick-start your DFS journey.