Which DFS Contest Types are Right for You? (Fantasy Football)

by Zachary Hanshew | @ZaktheMonster | Featured Writer
May 10, 2019

DFS beginners can get started in cash contests such as double ups.

DFS contests are an awesome way to extend your fantasy football play beyond season-long leagues. There are plenty of different contests for players of all skill levels but today, we’ll take a look at which contests are best for newcomers. Which games should beginners target to get their feet wet and get accustomed to daily contests? Let’s dive in!

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Two Basic Game Types

DFS contests consist of two basic game types — cash games and GPPs. Let’s take a look at each of them.

Cash Games
Cash games offer the safest experience for new players for a number of reasons. Here are some key points in regard to these types of contests:

  • Single entry – You can normally submit just one lineup for these contests.
  • Flat payout structure – Prizes are paid out equally to all winning entries.
  • Smaller contest sizes – These contests usually take fewer entries than GPPs, leading to less competition.

“Head-t0-head” (H2H) and “Experienced Players Excluded” (EPE) contests are two of the best games beginners can play. In H2H contests, you can play against as little as just one opponent, greatly maximizing your odds of cashing. EPE contests allow beginner and intermediate users only, leveling the playing field for newcomers and eliminating the risk of playing against DFS veterans. Double-ups are another form of cash games that are a good choice for beginners. These contests pay out double your entry fee to approximately the top 45 percent of entrants.

Guaranteed Prize Pools (GPPs)
Sometimes referred to as tournaments, GPPs have the highest payout but the lowest floor. Only the best of the best entries win big money in these contests.

  • Multiple entries – Multiple entries means a lot of competition from experienced DFS veterans who know how to stack the deck.
  • Tiered payout structure – You can hit a huge payout, or you can go home with a few bucks. Those are the breaks in GPPs, which pay out the most money to the top-scoring entries.
  • Larger contest sizes – Generally, GPPs allow more entries than cash games.
  • More experienced players – Bigger prizes mean more attention from experienced players.

Based on the key points of the game types listed here, players who are new to DFS should look to play cash games early to maximize their chances of winning money and gain some valuable experience. There is generally less competition in cash games because experts and seasoned users can win more money playing GPPs. Winning even a little bit of money early can encourage beginners to keep playing and getting better, so it’s important to first play in some safe contests to build confidence and not get discouraged. Cash game strategy requires users to focus on safe floors rather than GPP strategy, which involves taking some calculated risks. Beginners will have an easier time identifying safer plays than identifying high-upside players who carry some risk. Strategically, it makes sense to start with cash games.

Private Contests and H2Hs with Friends
Playing against friends is a perfect way for beginners to get used to DFS contests. You can play against friends by creating your own H2H against one opponent or creating a private contest or league against multiple opponents. Comfort level can’t be overlooked as an important factor in selecting the right DFS contest, and playing with friends creates a comfortable atmosphere. You can play for money immediately if you want, but playing solely for bragging rights is a great no-pressure way to get the hang of daily fantasy sports.

Roster Types

In the world of DFS, there are two basic roster types you’ll encounter — full-roster and single-game. Both require a different approach and strategy, though full-roster is the better choice for beginners. This is because there is a lot less variance and risk across multiple games compared to the potential outlier performances that can occur in single games.

Full Roster
Full-roster contests comprise an entire lineup of required positional players to be filled, similar to season-long formats. Rosters almost always include QB, WR, RB, TE, and D/ST with one or more flex spots and multiple RB and WR spots to fill. These contests encompass multiple games across a given slate. For example, some full-roster contests include the 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. games, while some include just the 1 p.m. games.

Single Game
Single-game contests are usually comprised of just flex positions. Every player on both squads is assigned a point value, and rosters must be constructed to fit within the salary cap. You aren’t bound by positional requirements here, and you can play whoever you like as long as you have the budget.

Which Site is Right for Me?

For DFS beginners, the best advice I can offer is to check out multiple sites to figure out which ones you like the best. The two largest sites, FanDuel and DraftKings, have vastly different interfaces and some variance in roster construction, prizes, salary cap, player pricing, and contests offered. FantasyDraft and Yahoo! offer some quality DFS play as well, and as long as new players understand different contest types and which will be most beneficial to them, it’s not a bad idea to play on multiple sites. Check out a variety of options, and figure out which site suits you.

Which Contest Type is Right for Me?

Beginners should be more inclined to play cash games because of the safe floor and lower risk factors involved in those games. DFS experts and veterans are more heavily involved in GPPs because of the amount of money they can win. If you know what you’re doing, GPPs can be extremely profitable. Cash games pay out an equal prize to all players, capping the earning potential but making the games far less competitive and more friendly to rookies.

Beginners should also stick to full-roster games until they become comfortable with single-game strategy and nuance. If you’re new to DFS, the best way to get good at it is to go play. Give daily games a try right now, and remember to target some of the contest types mentioned here as you get accustomed to DFS play. Good luck!

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Zachary Hanshew is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Zachary, check out his archive and follow him @zakthemonster.

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