Fantasy sports betting – An introduction
If you’ve ever wondered ‘how do fantasy sports work?’, then this guide is for you. Every week, thousands of different sporting events take place around the country. Lots of them are team games that are made up of different players with varying strengths and weaknesses. The team’s manager has to decide who to play and when to mix things up and bring in someone new.
Now imagine that you’re the boss. But rather than choosing a starting roster from just your team, instead, you get to pick the lineup from all the players in the league.
Sounds easy, right? Not so fast. You can’t just pick the most expensive players in the league and start rubbing your hands together. Everyone would do that and there would be no winners or losers. There is a handicap in place – player wages. Each of the players has a salary, and you have a limit to the amount you can spend. So as much as you’d like all the top paid stars in your squad, you simply can’t afford it. This is where you need to put your skills and stats to the test and come up with a viable alternative.
The result of the fantasy match-up is based on a points system. Each of the players gains points for various actions during a match where they are involved. These all add up to determine which fantasy team is the winner over the course of a season or a head-to-head daily game.
Is betting on fantasy sports legal?
Well, that’s the million-dollar question. And the answer is yes and no. It all depends on where you live and what fantasy sports company you want to use.
The main issue surrounding the most popular fantasy sports was the question of is fantasy sports gambling or a game of skill.
This went off in various directions over the years with court cases trying to decide one way or another. But all of this was only relevant because of a federal ban on sports betting in all states. Apart from those like Nevada that benefited from grandfather clauses. But that’s a whole other story.
In 2015, this blanket sports betting ban was ruled unconstitutional and it was left up to the individual state to make its own laws.
So now you have some states that allow sports betting and don’t really care if fantasy sports bets are skill-based or gambling. And then you have others that still don’t permit sports gambling and the argument over skill and luck still rolls on.
And just to make it less clear, some states allow some fantasy providers to operate and not others.
The only way you’ll know is to check the laws in your state before you play. There would be little point in giving you a list of states and rules right now as they would probably be out of date in the morning!
Fantasy sports leagues to bet on
You can get involved with loads of top sports events. And it’s not just US sports either. There are plenty of other huge leagues in the world that each provide a ton of action at fantasy sports betting sites.
Some are naturally more popular than others. So let’s take a look at 4 sports with the biggest fantasy following.
Fantasy NFL (Football)
The NFL is the biggest and best national football league in the world. It was formed in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association and renamed just 2 seasons later. It’s 1 of the big 4 North American leagues along with the MLB, NFL and NHL.
32 teams compete in the league in 2 separate conferences. The National Football Conference and the American Football Conference. The 16 teams in each conference are split into 4 divisions – North, East, South and West.
Each team in the regional division plays each other twice during The NFL’s eighteen-week season, which plays out from September to January. On top of their standard 6 division games, they have 11 more matches to play. These games are set by the NFL and depend on the previous year’s division standings and other factors.
The 4 division champions and 3 wild cards go through to the playoffs. This knockout tournament eventually produces a conference champion for the AFC and one for the NFC. And on the first Sunday in February, the 2 champions go head-to-head in the Super Bowl.
Fantasy NHL (Ice Hockey)
The National Hockey League was originally an all Canadian affair called the National Hockey Association It began in 1910 and featured 7 teams from in and around Quebec and Ontario.
A dispute between team owners led to the suspension of the league 7 years later and the creation of the NHL in its place. Over the years, the league has expanded and now contains 32 teams from both the US and Canada. The league is split into 4 conferences with 8 teams in each.
The season runs from October to April with each team facing a gruelling 82 games. Half of them played at home and the other half away. The matches take place within the team’s division and against other divisions as well.
Between April and June, teams battle it out in a series of best-of-7 games which result in a knockout for one team as the other advances. The winner of the final match goes home with the Stanley Cup.
Fantasy NBA (Basketball)
The National Basketball league was officially born in 1949 when the Basketball Association of America and the National Basketball League decided to join forces and produce what is now the largest basketball league on the planet. Other countries have a big interest in the sport. But none come close to the NBL. On average, the players in this league are regarded as the highest earners in any sport around the world.
The NBA league comprises 30 teams with 29 of them coming from the states and 1 from Canada. The league is divided into an Eastern and Western Conference. And those conferences are split into 3 divisions with 5 teams in each.
The regular season runs from October to April with 82 games being played. And half of these games are at home with the other half on the road. Matches are played within the team’s own division, against other divisions in the same conference and also teams from the other conference as well.
Playoffs begin in April after the regular season has finished. The top 8 teams from each conference go up against each other in a knockout tournament to decide the Conference Champion. The two champions then battle it out in the final match to take home the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.
Fantasy Premier League (Soccer)
Every year between August and May, the top 40 teams in England and Wales provide some of the finest soccer action in the world. The league is the largest of its kind with revenues putting it just behind the big 4 sports leagues in the US.
It’s generally considered to be the toughest and most competitive of all the soccer leagues on the planet. And big-name stars are eager to take part.
The majority of teams have received enormous cash injections from wealthy companies around the world. And huge stadiums and massive wages are now commonplace.
It makes up the top tier of the English football league and is a straightforward league competition from start to finish. There is also a League Cup and FA Cup up for grabs throughout the season. In addition, the top four finishers entering the Champions League.
Step-by-step guide to fantasy sports betting
The layout of fantasy sports betting sites can cause a little confusion for newbies. It’s not as straightforward as perhaps a regular sports bet. But getting up and running is still pretty simple. And the longer you play, the easier it all gets.
The hardest part is keeping your eye on all the news and reports to get a good idea of which players to choose. It’s a game for true fans that love every aspect of their favourite sports.
- Firstly, you need a place to play. All this action is only possible thanks to the top fantasy sports websites out there. And we’ve listed a great selection of them right here. See which one you prefer and what free fantasy sports deals they have available
- Next, you need to create a new account. This shouldn’t take long and only involves filling out a registration form
- Focus on which sport you think you could do best at and find the section of the site dedicated to that niche
- Choose the games on offer at the fantasy sports betting sites you wish to take part in
- Select your team according to the rules of that site
- Keep an eye on your team. If you’re competing in a season-long league, then don’t forget to make any necessary changes throughout the year
- Collect your winnings if you can beat the rest of the players
Biggest DFS betting sites
There are two main fantasy football betting sites competing in this arena with several smaller ones vying for the rest of the market. The industry is worth billions of US dollars so it’s no surprise that more and more brands are looking for their share of the spoils.
As we mentioned earlier, the laws for fantasy sports betting sites in the US is challenging. And it’s not always clear which states have or will be legalizing various types of gambling. The site where you choose to play should be able to tell you straight away if they are allowed to accept players from your state.
DraftKings is one of the 2 big names in the industry. They started back in 2012 as a baseball competition site where fans could have a fantasy bet selection on the opening day of the MLB season. Just under 2 years later, they were already handing out over $50 million in winnings to their customers.
They now have markets in all the major sports leagues and this includes daily, weekly and season-long challenges. They have expanded the original operation to now include sports betting and casino games as well. You can sign up for an account with them and they usually have a top bonus available as well.
This smaller outfit started out in 2014 and is part of Ruckus Gaming, which is now owned by Amaya Gaming that runs top websites such as Pokerstars.
StarsDraft has daily fantasy leagues for all the top leagues including NHL, NFL, MLB, PGA, college basketball and NBA. They have a huge selection of markets to choose from which guarantees that there is always something to keep you entertained any day of the week.
They introduced a no deposit deal opportunity to give newbies a chance to build up their bankroll from scratch. This means that anyone with a decent amount of specialist team knowledge can regularly access the action for free.
FanDuel is the second of the big 2 that brought the fantasy industry to where it is today. They also run sports betting and casino services much like their main competitor, DraftKings. This is all thanks to changing laws in the states that have made it easier to offer more gambling entertainment. They are now part of Flutter Entertainment that controls several big sports betting and casino brands in the UK.
FanDuel offers all the major fantasy markets and has a range of daily and season-long games to take part in. They also have various freebies and promos up for grabs.
MonkeyKnifeFight offers a top range of fantasy betting for major sports leagues as well as esports as well. They are one of the top 10 fantasy sports sites and focus on the daily battles to keep things fast-moving and exciting for the fans. It’s possible to sign up for loads of mainstream and smaller matches in an instant. And this always makes following your favourite sports extra interesting with daily fantasy football sites.
It’s quick and easy to sign up and you could be playing in a matter of minutes.
Want to join a Fantasy sports league? Here’s how you do it.
So you’ve decided that you want to give online fantasy sports a try. That’s fantastic! Now you need to know where to play and how to get your account open. The majority of brands make it really easy to get started and your account should be up and running in no time.
Use our reviews to find a suitable bookmaker
By far the most fail-safe way to find yourself a top site is to check out the reviews on this page. Our team of experts has painstakingly gone through every available brand to bring you the very best in the business. If they’re not up to scratch, then they simply do not make it onto this page.
The fantasy gambling market is certainly growing year on year. And new brands are entering the fray all the time. So come back regularly to find out who is breaking onto the scene and if they are worthy of your attention.
Make use of bonuses available
And when you sign up for a new account, it is always a good idea to grab yourself a top welcome bonus. The majority of fantasy sports websites now offer these awesome deals for new customers. They can be anything from a free game up to hundreds of pounds worth of bonus credit.
Some of these bonuses will require you to spend a little money first. And this means making a deposit into your account. However, there are others that will come your way for simply creating a new customer account.
Check out our other betting sites bonuses here!
Open your account
Getting your account open takes nothing more than entering a few details. When you click on the registration button, you will be presented with a sign-up form. This will include entering details such as your name, address and contact details. You will also need to choose a username and password so that you can log in each time you wish to use your account.
Select a sport that you are familiar with
With fantasy sports betting, like all sports betting, it’s always good advice to stick to what you know. At least in the beginning. It can take a while to build up specialist knowledge to make your team selection effective in this niche.
Start with teams and players that you know well. Perhaps ones that you have followed for many years. It will be much easier for you to draft a team when you know a little bit about the people involved.
It’s also a good idea to keep your ear to the ground at fantasy sports websites. Know who is performing well and what may be coming up in the future that could change the fortunes of a particular player or team.
Select which contest you want
You need to select your contests wisely. If you’re the kind of person that likes to select a team and do nothing else, then you might want to stick to daily battles.
But some people are in it for the long haul. There are fans out there who like to tinker with their team over the course of a season. These long-term contests can generate some of the biggest winnings available.
Time to draft your team
When it comes to selecting your team, you can’t always choose the MVP. Team selections have a salary cap so your choices will be limited.
The best option is always to go with the statistical approach. Look at the figures that show which players are likely to get you good results in several areas. Some middle-of-the-road players can prove to be extremely valuable despite the lower price tag.
You are good to go
And that’s pretty much it! Now it’s time to sit back and watch the action. If you are playing daily battles, then you will be able to see the results instantly after the match. And generally, your winnings will be paid out straight away.
Bonuses for fantasy sports betting
There are loads of great bonuses up for grabs. All of the fantasy sports websites are keen to get new players on board. And the best way they can do this is to attract customers with a little extra playing cash.
Bonuses can be pretty large and can mean loads of extra games for free. But you should always read the terms and conditions carefully as these can drastically affect the value of a bonus deal.
Bonuses that require no deposit
Some bonuses are freely available for anyone to collect. All you need to do is register your details and the fantasy sports website will release the freebies.
These types of deals are very simple to collect. Although you should be aware that they will not be the largest value offers. If a customer is not required to spend any money, then it can be quite risky for the fantasy bet site. There’s a chance that you may simply play the bonus cash and then walk away.
Bonuses that require a deposit
A slightly safer reward for the site is to offer bonuses linked to a deposit. Spending your own cash means that you will stay and spend some of it while you are there.
If you have a win while using bonus cash, then you may still spend some of your own on other games as well. This helps even things out for the site.
These bonuses can be very high-value indeed. It could be a few hundred dollars coming your way when you make a sizable deposit.
Recruit your friends and get rewarded
Some fantasy sports websites will also offer you a bonus for bringing friends and family along. And these can be pretty decent too. If you know anyone that would be interested in fantasy sports betting entertainment, then recommend them to the site and collect your reward.
DFS or Season fantasy sports?
As we said before, some players like to get involved over a long duration while others prefer to have a quick battle and see who wins. Everyone is different and both types are catered for by these top fantasy sports websites listed here on this page.
DFS (Daily fantasy sports)
Daily fantasy sports is fast-paced. And not for the faint of heart. You don’t get long to make your selection if kick-off or tip-off is drawing close.
You need to know your stuff and be able to think on your feet. If you can draw on your experience of being a fan of your chosen sport, then you may have what it takes to get involved with this awesome type of fantasy entertainment.
Firstly, battles at daily fantasy sports sites are over quickly. And this means that winners can get their hands on any cash they’re owed straight away.
And if you are not a particularly patient fantasy gambler, then you don’t have to worry. You will be able to change games and draft teams for different kinds of sports whenever you fancy it.
The action is fast-paced and you will never be bored. And you may even get to know some other people that you regularly play against. This kind of rivalry can add a fantastic edge to your daily fantasy play.
The biggest downside to this type of play is that the winnings may not be as large as a season-long game.
In general, you will play against another person and both put in a set amount as a wager. Whoever wins the battle will keep the majority with a small percentage going to the website.
To win big, you will need to play big stakes games. And with this type of play, you run the risk of losing a lot of money if it does not go your way.
Season Fantasy Sports
Season-long fantasy battles are the most coveted type of fantasy bets for some players. It shows that you are able to be patient and make changes during the season to help your team. You need a much more rounded knowledge of your chosen sport. And following all the news and details about sports in the media is essential.
Season-long games are fantastic if you like to take your time over what you do. There is no pressure to make quick changes and substitutions can be done at your leisure.
You do not need to watch every game during the season. You can get hold of these statistics and the info you need from fantasy sport sites. So in general, it is a much more relaxed affair.
And playing this way, usually allows you to wager small stakes. But the winnings on offer can be enormous. Many of the best fantasy sports sites will offer up a guaranteed huge prize for the winner and runners-up.
The biggest downside to this type of game is that it takes an entire season for you to see the results. And this means you have to wait a long time to get your hands on any cash if you are the winner.
You need to truly invest in the competition. You will find that it takes over a lot of your time thinking about your team and wondering what changes to make throughout the season.
And the other downside is that the difference in winnings for the victor and second and third place is usually quite great. You may have had a fantastic season but if you miss out just slightly on first place then you will see your rewards disappear.
If you need any more info regarding US fantasy sports entertainment, then you might catch it below in our frequently asked questions.
What's the biggest fantasy sport today?
Is it legal to bet on fantasy sports in the US?
What's the best way to draft a DFS team?
Are fantasy sports betting sites safe?
Do I pay tax on my DFS winnings?
Is fantasy sports big in the UK?