The daily fantasy sports landscape is littered with penniless, seasonal league converts. Minnows routinely lose big bucks to players with deep pockets, statistical savvy, and superior DFS tools.
So how does a daily fantasy novice become profitable on a platform filled with hungry sharks?
Today I detail eleven strategies that any DFS player can implement to increase their chances for success on one of the premier daily fantasy sites online: FanDuel. While applying these tips won’t guarantee big jackpots, it will undoubtedly increase your chances of success.
1. Familiarize Yourself with only the Most Common Contest Types
Although Steve Jobs was a bit of a kook, he knew a little something about success. Why be average at many things when you can become a master at one?
“Do not try to do everything. Do one thing well.” –Steve Jobs
FanDuel has seven contest types and five-game styles for the NFL alone. As a DFS novice, you need to familiarize yourself with the most standard contest types (in this order):
These three styles will be your bread and butter as you build the confidence to increase your weekly contest volume. Once you master one of these and become consistently profitable, start experimenting with another.
2. Use Proven DFS Tools to Gain an Edge
Fantasy sharks don’t pour over single rosters, making minor updates as they perform manual research. They use the best DFS tools for quickly creating and managing multiple lineups across many contests.
You shouldn’t start competing in a large volume of contests, but you can still use daily fantasy software tools to gain an edge from week to week. For instance, lineup optimizers and roster management tools can help you choose the perfect lineup for your chosen contest type.
Considering factors like weather, match-ups, and historical performance, they do all of the heavy-lifting so you can focus on identifying lucrative contests.
3. Consume DFS Content From Proven Authorities
DFS tools are great, but you need to stay informed on the latest player news and trends to maintain an advantage over the competition. Follow one or two daily fantasy new sites that you can reference if you need to dig into analytics or make a last-second judgment call.
But not all daily fantasy news sites are created equal. The best DFS research sites have skins on the wall and a proven track record of success.
Sites like The Fantasy Footballers and FantasyPros produce top-notch daily fantasy content. I use both when prepping for my daily contests.
4. Learn How Contest Types Affect Roster Schemes
To be a profitable FanDuel player, you need to understand the best strategy for each contest. In other words, you’ll need to adjust your playing style based on contest types.
But how does contest type affect strategy? Shouldn’t you want to start the best possible roster, no matter what?
Not exactly. The fact is, every player has a projected floor and ceiling each week. These numbers represent the lowest and highest projected point output for each player.
For instance, in large tournament contests, you have to maximize your potential point output. So for these contests, you should select players with the highest ceilings, even if they also have very low floors. In other words, it makes sense to target boom-or-bust players.
On the other hand, in head-to-head contests, you want players with high floors (even if their ceiling isn’t much higher). You want consistent players who you can count on to give a solid performance.
5. Take Advantage of Beginner-Only Contests
Most DFS hosts support some beginner-only contests. These contests only allow players who have played in a limited number of contests, ensuring you won’t have to contend with sharks as you learn the ropes.
Note: FanDuel beginner contests are currently limited to players who have competed in fifty or fewer contests. Additionally, users have to verify their identity when signing up, so you can be assured that your opponents are indeed new FanDuel players.
You should absolutely take advantage of beginner-only contests to gain experience as a new FanDuel user. It’s a great way to build your bankroll against lesser competition while you get accustomed to the platform.
6. Gain Confidence by Competing in Free and Inexpensive Contests
There is no substitute for experience when it comes to competing in DFS. Especially as a novice, you should take advantage of free and cheap contests to hone your skills.
FanDuel offers free contests for just about every major sports league. Although most of these are massive freeroll competitions, they are still a great place to test your tournament chops.
Fanduel doesn’t offer many free, non-tournament contests anymore. But luckily, these free contests have been replaced by practically free games.
If you adjust the entry-fee filter in the FanDuel lobby, you’ll see that there are many dollar and sub-dollar contests available. These games are the best place to build confidence before you enter more competitive contests.
7. Play in FanDuel Tournaments Only Sparingly
It’s easy to get drawn in by the marketing of big jackpot tournaments. Who wouldn’t want to take down a million-dollar grand prize?
Regardless of the hype, it’s doubtful that you will ever win a tournament with a seven, six, or even five-figure payout. But that’s ok because the ultra-successful FanDuel players don’t spend a significant portion of their bankroll on tournaments.
The sharks at FanDuel (or any DFS host for that matter) make their money by playing in winnable contests. And they play in many, many contests every week.
If you’re going to become a consistent winner at FanDuel, dedicate only a small portion of your weekly bankroll to tournaments. The vast majority of your contests should be against limited (and preferably, inexperienced) competition.
8. Scale-Up Only When You Start to Win Consistently
So how do the top earners at FanDuel make so much money? Simple: they scale up. And they do so on a fantastic scale.
One study found that the top 1% of DFS players earned 91% of the prize money. They do this by leveraging sophisticated software that allows them to enter and manage many concurrent contests.
Once you start to win consistently at a specific entry-fee level, enter more contests at that same price point. But be careful to manage all of your contests well, as late scratches could make it challenging to update all of your rosters.
9. Improve Your Bankroll Management Skills
As your contest volume increases, you’ll need to boost the time you use monitoring your contest metrics. How will you know where to focus your efforts if you can’t quantify your contest performance?
To make more money, you need to understand your strengths and weaknesses. This is where bankroll management can play an important role.
Sites like Daily Fantasy Nerd offer tools to track your bankroll, so you’ll know how well you perform across various types of contests. In addition to FanDuel, they have tools for FanDuel, Yahoo, and FantasyDraft.
Once you understand your strengths, you can increase your winnings by focusing on those contests where you’ve had proven successes.
10. Learn to Spot Overlays For Increased Odds
The odds of winning a Guaranteed Prize Pool tournament are always poor. But if you’re going to spend a portion of your bankroll on tournaments, you might also pick contests that have slightly better odds.
An overlay is the result of a GPP that moves forward with unfilled seats. Because the prizes are guaranteed, that means the same amount of money is split among fewer than projected entrants.
Granted, this won’t increase your odds of winning drastically. But you need to gain an edge whenever you can.
You can monitor the FanDuel lobby for overlays by watching the number of open seats before a tournament. Or, simply follow the @FanDuel Twitter account for overlay notifications.
11. Leverage Seasonal Coupons and Bonuses to Stretch Your Bankroll
In seasonal money leagues, you stretch your one-time fee over the entire fantasy season. Conversely, DFS requires that you pay closer attention to your bankroll as you’ll need money every week to compete.
Because daily fantasy has reached maturity, you simply don’t see many sites offering significant sign-up bonuses. Those that do usually implement complicated bonus structures that leave you guessing if you’ll ever really get the cash you expect.
With that said, every little bit helps when you’re just starting. Sporadically over the last year, FanDuel has started offering true (albeit small) sign-up bonuses to attract new users. You could also check sites that aggregate the best fantasy sports coupons to see the top deals.
So if you’re just starting (and don’t already have an account), it’s a no-brainer to take advantage of these sign-up offers. Even a small bonus is more money you’ll have to learn the ropes.
When it comes to being a successful FanDuel player, there is no silver bullet. To be a contender, you’ll need to improve your game in multiple areas.
Invest in proven tools, hone your contest strategies, learn better money management, and replicate your successes. Only then can you be a profitable fish in a sea of sharks.