Fantasy University: Introduction to NFL DFS

Class is back in session at Fantasy University. In the first of a three-part series, daily fantasy expert Nate Weitzer teaches you the basics of playing NFL DFS.


Welcome to the Daily Fantasy Sports section of Fantasy Football 101. As you may be aware, one-day sites such as DraftKings and FanDuel are taking over the fantasy landscape and offer huge contests every Sunday during the NFL season.

There are plenty of start-up DFS sites that offer smaller contests, and nearly every site has varying rules when it comes to scoring. However, it roughly breaks down to the standard scoring on Yahoo! Sports’ seasonal fantasy football leagues:

1 point per 25 passing yards

1 point per 10 rushing or receiving yards

1 point per reception

4 points per passing TD

6 points per rushing or receiving TD

-1 point per interception

-2 points per fumble lost

Kickers, if they still exist on your DFS site of choice, earn between 3-5 points per made field goal. DraftKings removed kickers due to their random nature. Team defenses earn fantasy points by recording turnovers and sacks. They lose FPs when they allow points.

In the first of this three-part series, we’re going to cover the basics of crafting an NFL DFS lineup.

The Salary Cap

In DFS contests, you are usually given $50,000 or $100,000 to purchase players, who will vary in price. Minimum price is often $3,000 while the most expensive options will cost you about 20 percent of your salary cap.

Quarterbacks and running backs are usually the most expensive players because they are guaranteed a certain amount of usage any given Sunday.

In order to fit the best QBs and RBs into your lineups, you will have to find suitable value plays who are near the minimum price, but we’ll get into that more in our next article, which will cover NFL DFS strategy.

The critical thing to realize when creating your first lineups is that certain positions are more important than others. For example, kicker and defense is almost always a crapshoot in terms of production. Tight ends outside the elite sphere are also somewhat interchangeable.

Choosing Contests

The most popular option for DFS beginners is often head-to-head matchups (H2H) because they resemble the setup of seasonal fantasy football leagues. Simply put, two DFS owners go head-to-head, and the team with more FPs when the dust settles is the victor.

However, there are other options on the big DFS sites that are very intriguing. The large 50-50 or Double Up pools on DraftKings and FanDuel are a type of mass H2H game where you compete against the mean with the hopes that your lineup is better than average. This reduces the element of randomness, because in H2H games, you could wind playing someone with a top score or someone with a horrendous score that allows you to win even if you miss on several picks.

The most intriguing option in DFS is the giant GPPs, or Guaranteed Prize Pools, that usually pay the top 20-25 percent of finishers in incremental fashion. These tournaments sometimes make millionaires of some lucky contestant and are always appealing if you are hoping to make a lot of money while playing DFS.

These are the basics to playing NFL DFS. Stay tuned for our next installment of Fantasy Football 101, which will break down some strategies that can help you become a big winner.