DraftKings is a large daily fantasy sports site that ranks second only to FanDuel in terms of player pool, contest selection and total prizes paid out to date. Recently, DraftKings.com has received major cash infusions from investors which have given it the budget to go on a media blitz. With commercials running almost non-stop in traditional media and online, DraftKings is slowly but surely closing the gap between itself and its biggest competitor.
Free contest entry
DraftKings is a large daily fantasy website that covers more sports than anyone else. Whether it's fantasy football, MMA or any other major sport you're after, you'll find it at DraftKings. Million dollar top prizes are a regular occurrence here.
- Massive guaranteed prize pools
- Best lineup of promotions / live events
- Best sports coverage among the big DFS sites
- High level of competition in bigger events
- Phone support is not open 24 hours
- Mediocre welcome bonus
For those unfamiliar with daily fantasy leagues, let me explain the DraftKings product. What the site offers is a form of fantasy sports betting compressed into a single day or week of action. You don’t have to wait all season long to get your results and be paid. DraftKings leagues last just a week at the longest. You’re not stuck with the same team the entire season and you can participate in as many leagues as you want every week and season.
All contests at DraftKings are hosted as salary cap drafts. This means you and each of your opponents begin with a virtual salary of $50,000. Players cost anywhere from about $3,000 to around $11,000 depending on their perceived value which is based on recent performances and expectations for future games. Your job is to draft a team of players while remaining within the confines of your salary cap.
When the league begins, DraftKings.com monitors all games and updates the stats of every real world player. Your fantasy team earns points as your players rack up stats in the real world. At the end of the league, contestants are ranked according to their total fantasy points earned. If you end up near the top, you get paid.
- Established: 2012
- Headquarters: Boston
- Sports Leagues Covered: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, CFB, CBB, PGA, MMA, EPL, UCL and eSports
- Contest Buyins: $0.25 to $10,600
- Deposit Options: credit card, debit card and PayPal
Accepted and Restricted States
Online fantasy betting is legal at the federal level in the United States thanks to exemptions for fantasy sports written into anti-gambling legislation. Most state laws are also fine with fantasy betting but there are a few states in which the legality is questionable.
DraftKings accepts customers from 40 US states, the UK and most of Canada. Customers from the following states are not allowed to play for real money at this time:
Playing at DraftKings.com
The majority of your time at DraftKings will be spent in the contest lobby, drafting area and live scoring update section. Let’s take a look at each one of these to explain how they work and what you can expect as a customer.
This is where every day at DraftKings begins. The lobby shows a list of all open contests and other vital information such as the prize pool, entry fee, number of entrants and start time. If you see a little M inside a box next to the number of entries, that means you can enter the contest multiple times with multiple teams. Hover your mouse over the M to see the max number of entries per person. And yes, you do have to pay for each entry.
Click on the name of any contest to see more details about that particular contest. The summary area provides a quick recap of what this tournament is all about plus any additional information that you may need. You can see the prize structure, names of the entrants, how many times each person has entered the contest and how many FPPs you will earn if you enter this contest.
The drafting area is where all the magic happens. Every dollar you win or lose at DraftKings will come as a result of this one screen. This is where you go to draft players from around the league and build your lineups. You can enter the drafting area by clicking on “enter” within any contest.
Alternatively, you can click on “create a lineup” from the main lobby without choosing a specific contest. This option is handy because you can go in, create multiple lineups, save them and quickly enter them into different contests.
Players in the drafting area are sorted by their position and ranked according to price. Click on the green “+” sign to add any player to your lineup. Over on the right side, the software automatically updates how much salary you have remaining how that breaks down per player (on average) for your remaining picks.
You can click on any player’s name to see a detailed view of that player’s stats, recent news and how he matches up against his next opponent. One thing that I really like about DraftKings is it shows the ranking of each player’s opponent in that defensive category. For example, you can see how Andrew Luck’s next opposing team ranks in pass and rush defense.
Live Scoring Area
And finally, the live scoring area is where you can watch the progress of your team in real time. Stats are updated automatically to show you how many points you’ve earned, where you rank against the opposition and how much playtime remains for your active players. You can also use the live scoring area to check in on the competition and see their lineups.
One of the advantages of playing at a large site like DraftKings is the ability to participate in large fantasy leagues with massive prizes. DraftKings has been doing good work in this area over the past couple years. There are now major events hosted for every major sport. Some of these events even come up with million dollar prizes for the winners.
- NFL Fantasy Football Millionaire: $5.55 million guaranteed prizes with $1 million first place prize
- Perfect Lineup: Free to enter each week: draft a lineup and if you build the mathematically perfect lineup for that week (i.e. no other lineup could have possibly scored more fantasy points), DraftKings will pay you $1 billion. Yes, that is billion with a B.
- Annual NFL Championship: Each season, DraftKings holds an end-of-the-season world championship contest with qualifier contests hosted online. The winners of those are flown to New York City or another top-notch destination to play in a huge event. Last year’s event had $10 million up for grabs with the winner taking home $2 million and the other 180 finalists taking home no less than $15,000.
- Annual MLB Championship: DraftKings hosts a similar contest for the MLB each year. Last year’s MLB World Championship awarded $4 million in prizes with $500,000 going to first place at the live final hosted in downtown Denver.
- Annual NBA Championship: Similar deal here: Live final hosted in Miami with $4 million guaranteed. Last year’s winner took home $1 million and the other 100 finalists took home no less than $15,000.
- Annual Hockey Championship: The 2017 World Hockey Championship was hosted in Miami with 40 players winning a seat at the live final online. Every finalist was flown to Florida and won no less than $4,000. First place took home $100,000.
This is just a look at a few of the bigger events hosted in 2016 and 2017. DraftKings.com is still growing quickly and it’s a sure bet they will host even more events with more prize money going forward.
Contest selection is one of the major positive points of DraftKings. Every day, you’ll find hundreds of contests hosted in a variety of formats. They host daily fantasy leagues for professional football, baseball, basketball, golf, hockey, college football, college basketball and European soccer. Buyins range from just a few cents to thousands of dollars.
DraftKings hosts large tournaments with big prizes, smaller leagues with fewer players, head-to-head contests, 50/50 contests which pay double the buyin fee to the top half of the field, 3x to 10x multipliers, steps that allow you to work your way up through the levels for bigger prizes and qualifiers that award free entry to flagship events.
Every league hosted at DraftKings has a guaranteed prize pool which awards at least X amount of money no matter how many people join the contest. Guarantees range in size from a few hundred dollars at the low end to several million dollars at the high end. Some of the largest guarantees to date have awarded $1,000,000 to the winner.
DraftKings introduced pick’em style games in 2017 as a form of daily fantasy designed to be easier and faster for casual players. Unlike every other fantasy contest hosted by DraftKings up to that point, pick’em contests do away with the salary cap altogether.
In a pick’em contest, you are presented with tiers of players and are asked to pick one player from each tier. Each tier consists of 8-10 players and you simply pick one player from the first tier and then move on to the next. Rather than researching every possible player and trying to build a team within the constraints of a salary cap, you choose one player from each tier.
What makes pick’em games faster and easier is there are no salary considerations whatsoever. Rather than spend all that time trying to build an effective team within your salary limitations, you simply pick one player from each tier and move on. After your lineup has been built, the contest proceeds as normal using regular scoring rules.
You can read more about pick’em games here.
DraftKings Mobile App
In addition to an official app on the iTunes store, the DraftKings website supports smartphone and tablet users. I use the mobile app on occasion and have always found it intuitive and easy to use. You can use the app or mobile website to view contests, draft teams and watch live scoring just like you would on the desktop.
You can sign up for an account through the app or mobile website but I found it easier to use my computer the first time around. Once you have an account, you can log in from any mobile device to view your contests, make deposits and manage your teams.
If you have an Android device, you can still access DraftKings by pointing the browser to www.draftkings.com like you normally would at the computer. The mobile website works just as well as the actual app in my experience.
DraftKings.com unveiled a significant new feature in 2016 simply called “Leagues.” This feature takes a page from the season-long leagues of years past in allowing you to create your own private league with your friends, choose a commissioner and establish a leaderboard for your league.
Leagues work using the same daily fantasy scoring rules as regular DFS games on DraftKings, but the difference is you can flick a “recurring” option for your league so new contests automatically start each week for everyone in your league. Your private leaderboard will track and rank everyone in your league across the entire season so you can find who gets bragging rights for a season well-played.
For example, you might decide to invite five friends to join you for the next NFL season. All you would have to do is log in to your DraftKings account (online or via the mobile app) and create a league. If your friends already have a DraftKings account, they’ll get a notification that you have invited them. You can also invite friends who don’t have an account by inputting their e-mail addresses when you create the league. If you’re mobile when you make the league, you can also send invitations via text, Twitter and Facebook.
I tested the feature myself with a few friends of mine and setting up the league was easy. You can also set the buyins and payout structures for each week’s contest. For example, I had a total of five people in my league and I didn’t want to scare anyone away (my friends aren’t big fantasy people), so I set the buyin at $1 for a total prize pool of $5 and the top two getting paid. I could have also gone with payouts for the top-3 or winner-take-all.
DraftKings leagues can last for an entire season, but they are not exactly the same as the traditional season-long leagues you may have played in the past. You won’t be holding a draft, dealing with injuries or trying to trade players around. Each contest is hosted in the daily-fantasy format. This means you pick an entirely new roster each week rather than keep the same players all year long.
Also, prizes are paid out every week, not at the end of the season. Your league will have a season-long leaderboard, but that’s just for bragging rights for now. The real money is won and lost each week during the actual contests.
You can fund your account via credit card, debit card and PayPal. Each of these deposit methods is free. The minimum deposit is set at $5 with no maximum. However, you may need to contact customer support in order to make a larger-than-usual deposit.
Withdrawals are deposited back via the same method used to deposit in the first place. If you use a credit or debit card, DraftKings will refund the original deposit amount and then pay back any winnings via PayPal or paper check. There is no maximum withdrawal limit.
All fantasy teams at DraftKings earn points based on how their real-world counterparts perform on game day. Below is a list of the scoring rules for each league taken straight from the DraftKings website.
eSports (League of Legends)