By Anna Paone
Playing daily fantasy sports is great, but before you put time and money into games, you want to make sure you’re choosing the site that will be most enjoyable and give you the most bang for your buck. I’m a relative beginner, so I’ll walk with you on this tough decision!
I know that getting started, I was wary about how much money to deposit. Currently, DraftKings is offering a free entry into a fantasy sports contest with your first deposit (a free $3 ticket for a $3 contest on a deposit of $5 or more). But as soon as I signed up for my DraftKings account, I was prompted to deposit money, and it was unclear which were the initial free games I could start with. DraftKings does offer a wide array of these free games, such as free fantasy football, but I felt the interface and calls to make a deposit, while it makes sense in the long run, isn’t quite as beginner-friendly as FanDuel.
Speaking of, when I signed up with FanDuel, they offered me the chance to use a voucher to play a free entry every night until I win cash. I also can get a 20% bonus on my first deposit of $10 or more–up to $100. You’ll want to calculate what you can afford that will get you the most benefit, bonus-wise. I liked how these offers were spelled out clearly in my welcome email. I’m always looking for a deal, and this helped.
As a baseball fan, I liked how the free Home Run Challenge appeared clearly on FanDuel’s home page. And the rules seemed simple enough–”pick three players every night and get points for every home run they hit.” The leaderboard was also readily available–a fun perk for trivia and contest-obsessed me. While I don’t think I’ll be on any leaderboards right away, it appealed to my HQ-loving self to have a free game and rankings close at hand. (It’s also thought-provoking from a fantasy standpoint to track the increase of home runs in general, and which players are getting them in particular.) On the app, FanDuel also prompted me to enter beginner contests, which felt like a welcoming way to start.
But if you’re already thinking about playing daily fantasy sports, you’re probably not just looking for one-off games. You’ll want to learn about the cash games–50/50 or head-to-head games–or GPPs (guaranteed prize pools) and tournaments. In 50/50s, half the entrants win; in head-to-heads, as you can guess by the name, just one person of two wins. I personally would get started with one of these, since it seems less risky, but GPPs/tournaments can have a higher payoff. The former is about building a consistent team, while the latter is about making gambles.
But how does this help you choose which site? An experienced player to whom I spoke mentioned that DraftKings pays out more money. However, a consistent criticism I’ve heard is that DraftKings’ GPPs were “top-heavy”–first place receiving considerably more money than the other winners.
I’m going to start out with cash games, keep my eye on the fantasy prognosis, build my teams, and see where I go from there.
When it comes to building teams–for the NFL, for example–you’ll have to stay within a salary cap on both sites. FanDuel has a salary cap of $60,000 for the NFL, and DraftKings $50,000. That’s a good point in favor of FanDuel. But remember you won’t necessarily want to go for the high-priced, big-name players whom everyone will choose, since those will cancel each other out. That’s a more complex question of strategy, though, which is ultimately up to each individual player.
Both sites have an array of sports–including the PGA and Nascar. But I found FanDuel’s interface slightly more pleasing to the eye and easier to navigate. When you’re already spending so much brain power on best lineups and matchups, this helps.