It’s here! The start of the 2015 NFL season. By this time you probably already have a good idea of how your season long leagues are doing. Maybe things aren’t looking good for your team this year and you are looking to play this new daily fantasy sports thing that everyone is talking about.
Editors Note: This guide has been updated as recently as February 2016 to provide you the best information on where to play daily fantasy football this season.
If this is your first season playing daily fantasy football, you may be wondering where is the best place to play. If you have played daily fantasy sports before, chances are you will play at the same sites as last year. But if you haven’t noticed, many DFS sites are aggressively courting new players (read: large guaranteed tournaments, large freerolls), so now is a great time to examine your options and test the waters with another provider that supplements your existing DFS play. Who knows — maybe you’ll even find something in a DFS site that makes them your new “go to” DFS site this year.
Hopefully we can help you discover what is available in our report of the top daily fantasy football choices for the 2015 NFL season.
Before we potentially lose you, below is a handy chart with the largest DFS sites with attributes that are often the most important to players:
Daily Fantasy Sports Sites Offering NFL DFS Contests 2015 – Larger DFS Sites
|Traffic||Very High||Very High||High||Medium||Medium|
|Top Guaranteed (Updated Week 4)||$7 Million||$6 Million||$1 Million||$250,000||$150,000|
|Guaranteeds Over $250k (Updated Week 4)||13||13||1||1||None|
|Guaranteeds Over $100k (Updated Week 4)||41||27||2||2||1|
|Double Ups, 50/50||Yes||Yes||2x, 3x||Yes||Yes|
|Multipliers||2x, 3x, 5x, 10x, 40x||2x, 3x, 5x||2x||2x, 3x||2x|
|Bonus||100% up to $600||75% up to $150||200% up to $500||100% up to $600||100% up to $250|
|VIP Program||Yes, Points||Yes, Points||None||None||Yes, Tiered|
|Payments||Paypal, Visa, MC, Amex, Discover||Paypal, Visa, MC, Discover||Paypal, Visa, MC, Amex, Discover||Paypal, CC||Paypal, Visa, MC, Amex, Discover|
|Customer Service||Contact form, Email, Mail||Contact form, Email, Live Chat||Twitter, FB, Community||Contact form|
|Banned States||AZ, IA, LA, MT, NV, WA||AZ, IA, LA, MT, NV, NY, WA||AZ, FL, IA, LA, MT, NV, WA||AZ, FL, HI, IA, LA, MT, NV, NY, TX, VT, WA||ONLY: KA, MA, MD, NJ|
|Fee Sample (on a $10)||10%||10%||10%||10%||8.50%|
*DFS site has a note stating maximum deposits can be increased by contacting customer support.
Daily Fantasy Sports Sites Offering NFL DFS Contests 2015 – Smaller DFS Sites
|DraftPot||FantasyFeud||DraftOps||DraftDay||Star Fantasy Leagues|
|Top Guaranteed (Week 4)||$100,000||$40,000||$50,000||$10,000||$6,000|
|Guaranteeds Over $250k (Updated Week 4)||1||None||None||None||None|
|Guaranteeds Over $100k (Updated Week 4)||1||None||None||N/A||N/A|
|Double Ups, 50/50||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Multipliers||2x, 3x||2x||2x||2x, 3x||2x, 3x|
|Bonus||100% up to $1,000||25% up to $250||60% Instant||100% up to $600||100% up to $1,000|
|VIP Program||None||None||Yes, Points||Yes, Tiered||Yes, Points|
|Payments||Paypal, Visa, MC, Discover||Paypal, Visa, MC, Amex, Discover||Paypal, Visa, MC, Amex, Discover||Paypal, Visa, MC, Amex||Paypal, Visa, MC, Amex, Discover, Skrill (non US)|
|Customer Service||Live chat, email||Contact form, Phone||Email, Twitter, FB||Contact form|
|Min/Max Deposits||$10 min||$10 min||$10/$10,000||$10/$5,000||$10/$500|
|Banned States||AZ, IA, LA, MT, NV, WA||AZ, IA, LA, MT, NV, VT, WA||AZ, FL, IA, LA, MT, NV, NY, WA||AZ, IA, IL, LA, MT, NV, WA||AL, AZ, AK, AR, DE, FL, HI, IA, IL, KY, LA, MI, MO, MS, MT, NE, NM, NV, NY, OK, OR, SC, SD, TN, TX, VT, WA|
|Fee Sample (on a $10)||9.10%||9.10%||10%||9.10%||9.10%|
*DFS site has a note stating maximum deposits can be increased by contacting customer support.
Arguably the most important component in choosing a daily fantasy sites is a plentiful number of games being available and large prize pools. And if you care about having plentiful games available — which you should — there is going to be no better choice than FanDuel and DraftKings, the two undisputed kings of daily fantasy sports. Last year, FanDuel held the crown for daily fantasy football contests, but DraftKings has gained a ton of ground in the last year. There have been numerous signals of DraftKing’s taking the number one spot from FanDuel over the last few months and now there seems to be little doubt who is number one in the early weeks of the NFL season.
For this reason, if you want to keep things simple for your play NFL DFS play this season, there really is no reason NOT to have an account at both FanDuel and DraftKings. Both of these sites are on top for a reason — they are good at what they do. And if you choose to stop at these two sites, you will be just fine. Fortunately for DFS players, there are nearly a dozen other sites battling for your attention and by searching around (or following this guide) you can find some things you like elsewhere.
After FanDuel and DraftKings, we see a group of DFS sits with repectable traffic. This DFS site popularity resource has Yahoo holding the number three spot, followed by a cluster of a group that includes such sites as FantasyDraft, DraftPot, FantasyFeud and StarsDraft (the old Victiv, which PokerStars acquired last month). Many of the other DFS sites offering daily fantasy football — such as StarFantasy — are a tier or two below these rooms.
DraftKings 100% Deposit Bonus
We can tell a lot about the quality and size of a room by their traffic, but the guaranteed contests that sites are offering before the start of the season give a good picture of what they expect traffic to be like for the rest of the season (if they are wrong, expect some overlays!). If you want to look at one metric to see who may be gaining or losing ground, look at how guaranteed prize pools fluctuate over the season.
In early August, we went over DraftKings and FanDuel guaranteed prize pools and DraftKings and had the edge. A month later, DraftKings is pulling even further away from the pack and went into the NFL season with a ton of momentum,although FanDuel is holding their own
After DraftKings and FanDuel, the only other site offering guaranteed prizes over $1 million is from DFS newcomer Yahoo. StarsDraft and FantasyDraft are each offering $150,000 and $250,000 guaranteed tournaments, respectively. After that, things drop off with DraftPot at $100k, DraftOps with $50k, FantasyFeud at $40k, DraftDay at $10k, Star Fantasy Leagues at $2k and FantasyUp at $1k. Sportsline does not currently have any guaranteed events available at this time.
The games available to daily fantasy players are remarkable similar across the board. Virtually every site offers some form of guaranteed tournaments, head to head contests, double-ups or 50/50 contests (where half the field wins a prize) and almost all offer some form of one day league type of contests, which usually award a prize pool to the top 30% or so of finishers).
Aside from guaranteed prize pool size, DFS sites don’t really deviate a whole lot on standard game types until you get to multiplier contests, which pay top finishers a multiple of their buy-in. Every site offers 2x contests (which are also known as 50/50 and double-ups). DraftKings, FanDuel, FantasyDraft, DraftPot, SportsLine, DraftDay and StarFantasy Leagues each offer triple up contests. Five times contests also run at at the bigger sites — DraftKings, FanDuel and SportsLine. DraftKings even offers 10x and 40x contests, not available anywhere else.
In addition to the contests types that are expected from a daily fantasy website in 2015, some sites are using their game offerings to differentiate themselves from others. Traditional leagues are how some are choosing to stand out. DraftDay, StarFantasyLeagues and FantasyFeud are a few of the small to medium sites that are offering traditional leagues for 2015. Of course, Yahoo is still arguably one of the best season long providers out there, now offering real money leagues.
Although bonuses size can vary significantly from provider to provider, bonuses will probably be a secondary consideration when choosing a daily fantasy sports site (size of the site and games offered are arguably much more important). Still, bonuses can be important when choosing between two providers or using as an excuse to try a new provider.
If there is a standard baseline, it’s the 100% match bonus, which matches your deposit up to a designated amount. At DraftKings, FantasyDraft and DraftDay this maximum is $600. Smaller sites increase the match a bit more, such as Star Fantasy Leagues, which offers a $1,000 match. Yahoo increases the match but lowers the maximum bonus with their 250% up to $500 first deposit bonus. FanDuel is comparatively stingy with a 100% up to $200 offer, which they may want to reconsider increasing if DraftKings continues to pull away this NFL season.
100% up to $200 Bonus at FanDuel
Daily fantasy sports legal position in the United States, save for a few states is very good (read UIGEA). This means easy processing with some of the most common credit card and payment processors in the United States. Simply put, depositing is not really an issue for daily fantasy sports players. Every DFS site offers Visa and Mastercard and most offer either Discover, American Express or a combination of both. In addition, most also offer Paypal as well, which give players a chance to use many of these options through this option or though their bank.
Many new players to the DFS game will like the fact that at most sites you can deposit with as little as $5 or $10 at a time. A small deposit is not advised if you may be interested in maximizing a first deposit bonus, although we suspect an email to most customer service departments could give you the remainder of your bonus on a subsequent deposit.
On the high end, most sites offer posted maximums of $2,000 or more. If you are concerned about a low maximum, don’t worry. Many sites expressly state that deposit limits can be raised upon request, especially for established customers. And even if they don’t, it doesn’t hurt to contact them to see if your limits can be raised, at the very least when you become a loyal customer.
Most DFS providers generate most of their revenue by charging fees or rake, which they take from the prize pool of each real money contest held on the site. Generally these fees are around 9%-10% and go down as you move to the higher stakes. Head to head contests also tend to go down even more when you reach the higher stakes versus leagues and guaranteed prize pools.
In our quick analysis of $10 league games (we’ll post a larger rake analysis at a later date), most providers came in at around a 10% rake, with a few of the smaller sites offering a slightly lower 9%. Sportsline and FantasyUp are going into the 2015 NFL season charging NO rake.
Be sure to pay attention to the fees being taken from your favorite games, as favorable fees can be the difference between profitability and unprofitably. Be aware that lower rake games tend to attract more seasoned players, so certainly don’t let lower rake be the only thing that you look at. A good resource to compare some of the top sites is the real time lobby provided by Super Lobby.
Despite the UIGEA being signed into U.S. federal law in 2006, which was the catalyst for the growth of the industry we see today, there are a handful of state laws that make daily fantasy sports sites leery about offering DFS games to players in those jurisdictions. Unlucky players located in Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada and Washington state are out of luck for signing up to almost any daily fantasy sports site.
DraftDay and FantasyFeud adds Vermont to the prohibited list, while Star Fantasy Leagues is liberal in their banned list adding Arkansas, Delaware, Kansas, Michigan and Tennessee to the list. Star Fantasy Legaues, Yahoo, and Draft Ops also recently added Florida to their list of restricted states due to recent legal concerns.
The New York Attorney General in November took action against the industry, which has led to FanDuel, FantasyDraft and DraftOps to leave the state.
StarsDraft has recently left all but four states, which is the most aggressive action to date in the wake of the data leak scandal.
The start of the football season is a truly exciting time of the year for any fan of football, as we think of the hopeful possibility this is the year our favorite team or fantasy team takes down. The beauty of this (relatively) new daily fantasy invention is that the slate is wiped clean from week to week or contest to contest, providing the potential of every week feeling like Week 1.
There are many legitimate reasons to choose one DFS site over another. Chances are that traffic, game quality and game availability are at the top of the list. But maybe bonuses, the quality of a VIP program or payment options are significant factors for you. Or maybe you just want to play at DraftKings or FanDuel because that’s where your friends are. That’s completely fine and we wont blame you for doing so, but we encourage you to try some other DFS sites and we think you might find something you like from the others.
Either way, we hope we have helped make your decision a bit easier or maybe given you inspiration to explore a DFS site you wouldn’t have otherwise considered. Good luck and have a great season.