How to play Daily Fantasy Football

Use our guide for getting started when playing daily fantasy football.

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What is fantasy football?

Fantasy football and its new cousin, daily fantasy football, are ways for fans to feel closer to the action and get involved during the season by managing their own football teams. The beauty of fantasy football is that you get to pick from any player in the NFL.

In classic fantasy football, you draft players for each position from any team, this is like the NFL draft, in that you get to pick a player each round until you have a full team and alternates.

These are players who you think will score you the most points each week as you go head to head against other managers from your league. Use some fantasy football tips when facing off to edge out your competitors.

How can you play fantasy football?

There are several options to play fantasy football. In classic fantasy football, you can join a league with friends, find leagues in your city, or join free leagues off sites such as CBS Sports or YahooSports.

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This type of league is like the real NFL and usually awards a prize at the end of the season to the manager with the winningest record. “The League” on FX channel and also streaming on Netflix is a funny, but all too realistic sitcom on things that can happen during a classic fantasy football season.

The newest form of fantasy football is called daily fantasy football, available on websites or apps. In this brand of fantasy football, you buy in with a credit card and put money into an account. From that account, you can enter tournaments, head to head competitions or 50/50 games which allow you to pit your best lineup from that week against other player’s lineups.

The excitement comes from the fact that every person can have access to the same players and it is your goal to find a player who will outperform others but no one else has taken for their team. In order to be successful at this type of contest, you must learn to research and analyze star players that no one else sees.

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What is a fantasy football scoring calculator?

One of the tools you will find indispensable for the classic fantasy football draft is the scoring calculator. This device can help you determine who to draft and how well they will do during the season.

Along with the scoring calculator, most sites will offer you mock draft options to help maximize your draft. You just put in the player’s name and it calculates what their scoring potential is for the upcoming season and then offers advice on where to draft them.

Unfortunately, if all the players in your league are using the scoring calculator, then the benefit is muted, but it is still one of the best tools in your research arsenal.

What is daily fantasy football?

As I explained above, daily fantasy football is a new form of fantasy sports that allows you not be tied down by a specific team each season. The daily fantasy football games available on FanDuel DFS, for example, allow you build a new team each week.

The goal with these matchups is to field the best team that week against several hundred to several thousand other players. There are several options with daily fantasy football. You can play in multiple entry tournaments, head to head games which are more like classic fantasy football, 50/50 games, which award you money if you are in the top 50% of the leading scorers that week.

Free vs. money fantasy football

As I mentioned before you can enter contests of leagues for free. These sites and leagues usually don’t have a huge prize at the end of the season, but in classic fantasy football, you can win smaller prizes and some money.

CBS Sports offers several options for fantasy football enthusiasts, including a free league, a paid league and several one-day game options. Another option is the fee-based league. We discussed earlier the classic league scenario in which you pay an entrance fee and then get a cash prize at the end of the season. Daily fantasy football offers cash prizes based on your standings at the end of the week.

Regarding the payment methods, these guys accept all credit cards, debit cards, and PayPal payments to sign up. Winnings are paid back to your account and can be withdrawn through the same card or account in which you signed up.

Most important tips on how to play and win

The following advice is just that, advice. I make no guarantees that you will win one million dollars your first time out of the gate. I have to stress that these tips will give you an edge to winning and will put you ahead of 80% of the players who participate on Fanduel.

The biggest indicator of your success will be your own ability to pick players who others have passed over, but you feel will score big for that week.

Research, Research, Research

There is no shortage of information available for your perusal on the internet as it pertains to daily fantasy football. The key is to find information that will benefit you as opposed to just interesting information.

The best way to learn this is to watch what the winners do. This site offers you statistics, matchups, possible sleepers and even sportsbook betting lines. Al of which will help you make informed decisions on who to pick up and who to pass over.

Many people new to the daily fantasy football sites will pick based on who they like, or worse will look at the top players for the previous week, the ones that cost the most and pick them. The way fantasy football works are you are given a spending cap, usually $65000.00.

You have to pick a player or two for each position and stay under that cap. A lot of players will see Peyton Manning as the number one quarterback for that week and pick him up. That’s fine if the research says he will have a stellar game that week against whoever he is playing. A better route would be to find a quarterback that doesn’t cost as much but is slated to have a huge game.

Stack Players Carefully

If you believe Peyton Manning is going to have that huge number game, then it only makes sense to pick up the people that will be on the receiving end. Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders or even a sleeper from the receiving core would be a welcome addition to your roster for that week.

Accordingly, you wouldn’t want to pick up CJ Anderson or use the defense that is going against Denver that week. This is just a simple example of information you will need to make winning lineups each week.

Don’t Miss Undervalued Players

An undervalued player is someone you believe will have an awesome game that week or is slated to come in for an injured player that you can get for cheap against your salary cap, but you believe will score a ton of points.

These are the players who will win you the money each week, because not very many people are going to know about them. These are the hidden gems you need to mine each week with your research. Follow your gut on these players and watch the experts. They will usually have a sense of these guys before they ever break out.


In order to be successful at either type of fantasy football, you will be required to make some sacrifice. The fun of either type is in the fact that you feel more connected to your players because you have spent the time and effort to research them each week.

It raises the stakes for you and can amplify the intensity of each game. Some people can get carried away and will spend too much money, time and effort trying to win in these leagues. Make sure you don’t ignore the other aspects of your life for fantasy football. Fantasy football should be fun and if the fun goes, then get out.

That being said, remember why you are playing. Entertainment should always be the first goal. If you want to win money, then follow the above advice and learn to research and analyze players and maximize your schedule for the best chance to win.

The above sites are all available on the computer and through apps on your smartphone. Take some time before the season begins and learn to navigate them. Learn how the leagues and games are scored and then go to work.

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