NFL DFS Betting Guide

Throughout the fall and winter months, football is king. There are few things left that attract a lot of eyeballs to the tube at one time, and the NFL is one of them. The intense amount of interest in fantasy football only helps in that regard.

While playing in a season-long league with family, friends and coworkers is a lot of fun — not to mention an opportunity to earn some bragging rights — the excitement level kicks up several notches when you add daily fantasy sports (DFS) to the mix.

NFL DFS is a cottage industry in and of itself. You can play a new lineup each week and have the chance to win some eye-popping prizes while doing so. You don’t need to be an expert to play either.

Casual players can find plenty of success playing daily fantasy football and have a blast while doing so. It’s simple to get started, and building out a weekly lineup is nowhere near as intimidating as it may appear at first glance.

If you’re into fantasy football, you’re going to love NFL DFS. We’re going to walk through everything you need to know to get started, starting with where you can play.

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Where can I play NFL daily fantasy?

It’s completely legal to play NFL daily fantasy in the vast majority of the US. More than 40 states have given the green light, and they are all serviced by the top operators in the industry as a result.

For now, there are just a few outliers: Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada and Washington state. Residents in all other states are good to go.

NFL DFS was once a niche pursuit that operated in the shadows; however, that has changed dramatically through the years. For further confirmation of how far the game has come, the NFL selected the DFS operator DraftKings as its official DFS partner in 2019.

It should come as no surprise that DraftKings is one of the best places to play DFS, but there are other options for those looking for something different.

How to sign up for an account, deposit money

Signing up for an account with any of the major DFS operators is a breeze. After you click through on our exclusive links, you’ll visit a registration page. Here, you’ll enter some essential information.

Among the required items are your name, address, date of birth and email. Then, you’ll need to create a screen name and password. It’s a painless process that you can complete in no time, and your account will be created quickly.

Once that’s all set, take the time to download the iOS or Android app, depending on which mobile device you carry.

You’ll find direct links on the DraftKings and FanDuel websites after you have created your account. Follow the instructions, and you’ll be up and running on mobile as well.

You can perform all the same functions on DFS mobile as you can on the web. You can browse the lobby for games, enter contests, and add and remove funds.

The cashier function is simple. You enter the amount you wish to deposit, choose a funding method, such as credit card or PayPal, and then click submit. Funds will transfer to your account quickly.

NFL DFS vs. season-long fantasy football

If you love season-long fantasy football, the transition over to NFL DFS is an easy one. You may find that it’s better to start with NFL daily fantasy. Let’s take a look at some of the most significant differences between the two forms of daily fantasy football.

  • Season-long contest vs. one-day fantasy: As the name implies, a season-long league spans the entire season. For NFL DFS, contests can complete in a single day. It’s a form of instant gratification for fantasy football players. It can be done again and again throughout the season.
  • Roster management vs. lineup building: In a season-long league, you’re locked into your roster of players for the year. You can tweak it along the way, but those who don’t draft well can be doomed. Meanwhile, NFL DFS allows you to choose a different lineup every week from the entire pool of active players.
  • Draft vs. salary cap: A fantasy football draft is lots of fun, and also a highlight of the season. When it comes to NFL DFS, you can have the same fun every week by building out a lineup that fits underneath the salary cap while choosing whoever you want.

If you’ve never played season-long before, you’re approaching NFL DFS with a clean slate. That’s a good thing, as you won’t have to break any habits from your season-long days. While the games are similar, the perspective is different.

As for those who are branching out from season-long into NFL DFS, just know that there’s a slight learning curve. That said, it’s far from an insurmountable hurdle. If you can set your fantasy football lineup every week, then you can build one for NFL DFS, too.

What kinds of NFL DFS contests can I play?

Part of the appeal of NFL DFS is that there are several ways to play.

You can play one-on-one matchups, compete in a small league, or go for the gusto by competing in a massive tournament that offers an eyebrow-raising top prize.

Here are the main types of contests:

  • Head-to-Heads: This is similar to season-long contests. It’s just you versus another user with the top-scoring lineup winning.
  • Leagues: A league is a smaller tournament that generally has 100 players or less competing for cash prizes.
  • 50/50s and Double-Ups: The goal is to produce a lineup that scores better than up to half the field. You have the chance to win up to double your entry fee.
  • Multipliers: This is the same concept as 50/50s or double-ups, but fewer users cash-in and the prize is a multiple of the entry fee, such as 3x or 4x.
  • GPPs: These are the DFS contests that get the most attention. Guaranteed prize pool (GPP) tournaments attract lots of users who compete for massive prize pools.
  • Tiers: This is a pick’em style game in which you’re selecting players out of groups. There’s no lineups or salary caps – just pick’em and enter.
  • Qualifiers: A qualifier is a tournament-style contest in which the prize is a ticket to a larger tournament or a seat at a live final.
  • Showdown: Also known as single-game DFS, this is a more condensed version in which the action revolves around just one of the games on the slate.

For each of the above ways to play, you’ll find contests at varying buy-in points ranging from the low- to high-stakes.

Outside of head-to-heads, the number of participants can vary as well. There are contests with as few as five users up to ones that attract tens of thousands of players.

Which NFL DFS contests are best for beginners?

As with any type of contest in which there are cash prizes at stake, NFL DFS can be quite competitive. There’s a learning curve for new players as well, and it can be a little hard to get past it when competing against those who have been playing a lot longer.

However, there’s a way around that.

Both DraftKings and FanDuel have contests that are specifically for beginners. On the two platforms, until you have played 50 paid contests on the site, you are a beginner. Don’t be shy about using up your eligibility in these contests. They’re a great way to get a handle on playing NFL DFS while playing against users of a similar skill set.

Contests are labeled explicitly as a beginner on both DraftKings and FanDuel. Players who have too much experience cannot enter. You’ll find beginner 50/50s, GPPs and can even seek out head-to-heads against other newer players as opposed to playing against users with lots of NFL DFS experience.

One final note: Take advantage of the 50 contests’ rule on both sites. In a perfect world, you’ll love both of them, but you may find that one suits your style of play a little better.

How are points scored in NFL DFS?

Scoring for NFL DFS is similar on the two major platforms, but there are some distinct differences to know.

Let’s take a look at how things are scored in both spots:

Passing TD44
Rushing or Receiving TD66
25 yds Passing, 10 yards rushing or receiving11
Defense or Special Teams TD66
Interception thrown-1-1
Fumble lost-1-2
Defensive Points Allowed-4 to 10-4 to 10
Safety, Fumble Recovery, Interception, Blocked Kick22

As you can see, it’s mostly in range. The differences come in receptions — 1 point on DraftKings and 0.5 on FanDuel — and fumbles lost, it’s -1 on DraftKings and -2 on FanDuel.

Also, DraftKings awards 3-point bonuses for 300-yard passing games and 100-yard rushing or receiving yardage, while FanDuel does not.

These scoring differences may seem minor, but they can make a difference when it’s time to build lineups. For example, the 1-point per reception on DraftKings favors possession receivers, while wideouts with a nose for the end zone may make for the better play on FanDuel.

What are the differences between DraftKings and FanDuel for the NFL?

When it comes to building lineups, you’ll be filling the same slots on both DraftKings and FanDuel.

  • QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, WR, TE, Flex, DST

However, keep in mind that salaries will be different on the two sites each week. A player who may be affordable on one site may be more expensive on the other, and vice versa.

The major difference comes in scoring, which we have outlined up above. The most significant is the point-per-reception on DraftKings versus a half-point on FanDuel, followed by the scoring bonuses on the former.

In terms of adding and removing funds, the two sites are equals. Deposits are processed instantly, while payouts take some time to be approved by the operator. It generally happens pretty quickly, but just know that withdrawals don’t occur right away as deposits do.

Both of the sites invest heavily in tech, and that’s readily apparent when you check out both the web-based and app versions. The platforms are smooth, slick and user-friendly.

As for which one is better from that perspective, it comes down to your user preference.

How to optimize your NFL DFS lineups

Just like in season-long fantasy football, the goal with NFL DFS is to build the highest-scoring lineup that you can. On the season-long side, you’re building off of your roster, but in NFL DFS, you have access to the entire player pool.

It’s awesome to be able to build a lineup in this fashion as opposed to being restricted to only a few players, but it can also be tough to choose an optimal lineup with so many choices. However, you also don’t have to pull your hair out over it. You can keep it simple and still build a competitive lineup week in and week out.

Here are some tips that can help get you off on the right foot:

  1. Examine the weekly NFL schedule: Each week of the NFL season, some games are projected to be high-scoring, some look low-scoring and others in the middle. Make the potentially high-scoring affairs part one of your research.
  2. Consider the matchups: Some teams defend certain positions well and struggle against others. There are even teams who have defenses that resemble Swiss cheese against everyone. Dedicate some time to find the players with the most appealing matchups of the week.
  3. Budget wisely: While you can build your lineup out of the entire player pool, you won’t be able to field a veritable all-star team. You’re going to have to make sacrifices in some spots. Find the high-priced players you can’t live without and budget around them.
  4. Value shop: To fit in as many stud players as possible, you’re going to need to find some value. Review the players in the bottom levels of the salary tier as well. Often, there are some hidden gems in there which can set your lineup apart.

There are plenty of ways to build an NFL DFS lineup, but it’s best to start with the basics. Master the above four steps, and you’ll be ready to take your play to a whole new level in no time.

Single entry vs. multiple entry NFL DFS

When it comes to GPP tournaments, there are two types to consider: single-entry and multi-entry. Both styles have their advocates, and there are plenty of players who play in both. However, some users have a distinct preference for one over the other.

There’s no right or wrong answer here. Once again, it comes down to your user preference. When starting, it makes sense to try both styles to see which one — or if both — work for your style of gameplay.

On the single-entry side, you’re looking to build out one optimal lineup which can go toe-to-toe with other lineups in a quest to take down the top prize. For multi-entry, you’re firing off numerous lineups in a bid to hit on combinations that take off.

Playing one style over the other is no guarantee of success. Some users find the idea of just building out the best single lineup they can to be more appealing. Others enjoy the challenge of building out numerous lineups in hopes of hitting on the perfect one. For the biggest GPPs, multi-entry allows users to enter up to 150 lineups.

There are also smaller multi-entry tournaments that cap the number of lineups that one user can have. Naturally, you can try out tourneys of each shape and size to zero in on the ones that work best for you.

NFL DFS World Championships

DraftKings and FanDuel host signature events during NFL season, which are the gold standard for tournaments. These are live finals that users must qualify for to attend. Competition is fierce to win a spot, but the effort is well worth it.

Here are the details from the two most recent live finals in 2019:

DraftKings Fantasy Football World Championships

FanDuel World Fantasy Football Championships

A fantasy football event in an exotic locale is tough to beat, and both operators go all out to make sure that it’s quite an experience for qualifiers and their guests. Qualifying tournaments aren’t easy to win, but they are certainly worth attempting.

Beginner DFS tips for NFL

One of the great things about NFL daily fantasy is that you can dive right in and play whenever you want. There’s no need to worry about setting up a league or reminding your friends to set their lineups. You simply log in and play, and that’s it. That part is easy, but consistently building competitive lineups can take some adjustments.

Here are some tips you can employ to cut down on the learning curve:

1. Trust your instincts

Opinions aren’t tough to come by when it comes to fantasy football. Some are right, and others are way off the mark. Don’t let the thinking of others sway your own too much. If you’re seeing a good play that others are missing, don’t be afraid to use it.

2. Follow momentum

Athletes and teams will go on good swings and bad swings. Optimally, you’ll catch them on the way up and avoid them on the way down.  To increase your odds of catching them at the right time, pay close attention to recent performance, such as how they have done over the last three or five games.

3. Lean on sources you trust

It can be easy to get lost down the rabbit hole of research. Also, few have lots of time to devote to building out lineups. Thankfully, there’s a whole host of information out there that you can lean on. Find some sources that do a great job of breaking down matchups and analyzing stats.

You can still make the final lineup choices, but sources such as these can narrow down your targets quickly.

4. Play at your comfort level

There is absolutely no reason to jump into the deep end of the pool before you are ready. This fact is true for players of all skill levels. NFL DFS isn’t going anywhere. There will be plenty of time to increase stakes as your skills permit. Start with beginner contests and a budget that makes you feel comfortable.

5. Keep it simple

There are a lot of statistics out there for you to research. Some are quite useful, while others are so complex that they do little more than leave your head spinning. Fantasy football isn’t rocket science. Focus on the stats that move the needle and develop a process that allows you to quickly and comfortably build a lineup.

How to win at fantasy football

Season-long fantasy football aficionados and DFS NFL players share something in common: They all want to win. How to get there is the conundrum that players on both sides are trying to solve.

For NFL DFS, it takes patience, practice, preparation and a little bit of luck. It’s important to understand that you’re not going to win all the time; it’s simply not possible. Anyone who claims to win at DFS every time they play isn’t being truthful.

Fantasy sports revolve around the performance of athletes in real-life situations. Athletes are human, much like the rest of us. They’re going to have their share of bad days, and some of them will come when you least expect it.

It can be pretty frustrating when your lock of the day goes out and has a performance to forget, but that’s all part of the game. The best you can do is make the most educated decisions based on the situation at hand, and then understand that it’s out of your hands from there.

All that said, you can enhance your chances of winning. For those just starting, take advantage of beginner contests and sharpen your skills with players of a similar skill set.

While doing so, lay the foundation of a research routine that works best for you. Start with the basics and work your way out. Begin by understanding the weekly matchups, which defenses can be exposed, and learning the importance of salary cap value.

After you have a good handle on those concepts, you can begin getting more advanced in your research. You can continue to keep it simple and gradually add new pieces to the puzzle, or you can go all-in with advanced data.

There are plenty of different approaches to take with DFS. Some highly advanced players build out their spreadsheets and algorithms to analyze reams of data in a quest for perfection. There are also plenty of users who lean on the research of others but make their own lineup decisions.

Naturally, there are plenty of other variations to both approaches, as well as ones that are entirely different. The most important thing is to find the method that works best for you and the amount of time you have at your disposal.

NFL DFS vs. NFL sports betting

There’s a natural crossover appeal between NFL DFS and how to bet on the NFL. Many users partake in both activities, and there are some similarities they can lean on. However, there are also some distinct differences to keep in mind.

At the top of the list, it’s a matter of individual versus team performance. For DFS, the focus is on the fantasy output of players in the game. In sports betting, the main focus is on which side will win.

The two sides correlate quite well when it comes to prop betting. A prop bet is essentially a side wager on something that may happen during a game, such as whether or not a QB will pass for a certain amount of yards.

DFS NFL players are projecting performances anyway, so taking a stab at prop bets along these lines can make sense. In fact, they can do so by playing on Monkey Knife Fight, which is essentially a combination of DFS and prop betting.

As always, success in one of these endeavors is no guarantee you’ll do well in the other. However, those who are successful in one can adapt quite well to the other once you conquer the learning curve.

If you have excellent research skills and a knack for finding value, then you can quickly get up to speed in both areas.

Explanation of NFL DFS terms

There are several terms that you’ll come across quite often in your DFS research. Here are some of the most common:

  • AVFP: Average fantasy points a player scores per game.
  • OPRK: Opponents rank for defending against that position.
  • Chalk: A player who looks like a great play and is expected to be heavily owned as a result.
  • Contrarian: A player who is flying under the radar but could be in line for a great day.
  • Fade: This is when you are staying away from one of the week’s consensus top picks to differentiate your lineup.
  • Value: A value play is a player who has an exceptional chance of exceeding his expected output in relation to his salary.

As your NFL DFS experience grows, you’ll be quite surprised to see that these terms — and many others — become second nature and part of your weekly thought process.


For offensive players, it’s total TDs accounted for, yardage produced, and targets and touches.

While there are plenty of advanced stats out there to analyze, fantasy scoring for offensive players can be boiled down to these four facets.

Players who find the end zone often and rack up yardage are desirable. For skill position players, those who see the most targets and touches will have the most opportunities to produce.

The answer to this question varies on a week-to-week basis.

It’s all about the matchups, as well as the way a game projects to play out. Players in line to play against a defense that has trouble defending their position can be great plays, as can players from potentially high-scoring games.

That said, there are no guarantees that those players will ultimately be the best plays of the week.

A good place to start is by taking a look at the games that project to be lower scoring. From there, look for vulnerable offenses that have trouble hanging onto the football. If you can find an aggressive defense facing off with a weak offense, that can be a great place to pounce.

Digging even deeper, look for offensive players who give up a lot of sacks and are facing teams who get to the QB often.

Ownership projections attempt to tell the story of which way the winds are blowing each week. When players look like fantastic plays, there’s a good chance that many others will be on to him.

As such, that player could wind up being heavily owned. Ownership projections attempt to zero in on exactly how much they’ll be owned based on a percentage of all users playing.

A core lineup can be part of a multi-lineup strategy for NFL DFS. For example, let’s say that you are locked in on a pair of RBs and two wide receivers as optimal plays. You can build around these four players and switch things up at the other positions.

If you’re right about your core plays — and the other spots in your lineup go off as well — you could be in line for a nice day.

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