Welcome to FantasySites.com. This website is the result of a joint effort between two guys who love fantasy sports. We each got our first taste of real money fantasy leagues like many of you did: by playing in traditional leagues with our friends and coworkers. Back then, the only major problem was one of volume; it could be tough to organize more than one or two leagues in a season.
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Top Ranked Fantasy Sites in 2017:
In 2009, the internet finally merged successfully with fantasy sports and a new industry was born. Online leagues provide the key ingredients that were always missing. Instant updates, automated stat-tracking and most importantly, volume. Now all you have to do is fire up the computer to find hundreds of leagues running at any given time at a wide range of buyins. We now have head-to-head leagues, large tournaments with million dollar cash prizes and everything in between.
It was just a couple years ago that you had exactly two realistic options: FanDuel.com and DraftKings.com. In just the last couple years, more than a dozen major operators have come online and established themselves as serious contenders. There are plenty of options these days and while most are decent places to play, it pays to pick the fantasy site that works best for your specific needs.
That leads us to the purpose of this website. Our primary mission here is to give you honest and useful information about the top fantasy sites. We aim to accomplish this mission with reviews, comparisons, industry updates and information about the latest fantasy promotions.
How Daily Fantasy Sports Works
Fantasy sports leagues put you in the manager’s position by giving you the power to draft your own team of players from around the league. Your goal is to create the ultimate team capable of defeating the teams drafted by your opponents in real money contests. The person whose team accumulates the most stats wins the contest and a cash prize.
- Join a contest
- Draft a team
- Accumulate points to win the league
- Get paid
Online fantasy leagues come in all different shapes and sizes. You can try a heads-up contest against one other person or aim for the bigger prizes in a multi-person tournament. Every fantasy betting site has a main lobby area that shows a list of all open contests. Just choose a contest and pay the entry fee to get started.
Most online leagues handle the draft with a salary cap. You and all your opposing managers are each given a fixed amount of virtual cash that you use to draft players. Each player comes with a price that counts against your total available salary. You only have so much spending power, so the real skill comes in being able to draft a cost-effective team capable of racking up more stats than the competition.
Let’s use fantasy football as an example. At FanDuel, you might start with a salary cap of $60,000 that will be used to fill 9 key positions: quarterback, running back, wide receiver and so on. The top players in each position cost upwards of $10,000. Thus, it is impossible to draft a team composed entirely of stars. This is where it gets tricky.
Do you spend $10,000 on the star quarterback and then use the remainder to draft mid-level supporting players? Or perhaps you opt to spend less on the QB and instead dump cash into your wide receivers. The options are endless and it’s all up to you to decide how you spend your cash to get the most bang for your buck.
Seasonal Leagues vs. Daily Fantasy: What’s the Difference?
Season-long leagues were the gold standard before online fantasy came along. As the name indicates, season-long leagues lock you in for the entire season. Once you draft your team, that’s it for the rest of the season. You might get a chance to make trades or substitutions if you’re lucky but for the most part, you’re stuck with one team all season long.
Daily fantasy leagues last for just a day, a weekend or a whole week depending on the league and contest format. NFL leagues typically last from Thursday through Monday, Sunday only or Sunday and Monday. You can pick a new team every week and adjust your strategy as the season passes and more information about each player becomes available.
In one way, daily or weekly leagues allow for greater use of strategy. New information comes out each week and you constantly have to monitor the league, keep up to date and make adjustments every time you draft a team. Season-long leagues hold the draft before anyone has even spent a minute on the field. There’s less information to work with and therefor a greater reliance on luck in seasonal leagues.
There’s a whole lot more volume in the daily fantasy format. With new leagues forming every day, there’s never a lack of action. There will always be a glut of supply at the biggest fantasy sites. There is no way you could ever play at a site like FanDuel and be unable to find enough open contests to quench your thirst for fantasy action.
The vast majority of daily fantasy leagues are hosted in the salary cap format as opposed to the traditional draft format used in season-long leagues. In a daily contest, you can pick whoever you want as long as you stay within your salary cap. It doesn’t matter if someone else already picked the player you want; if you wall want the same quarterback and can afford him, that’s fine.
Snake drafts are more common in offline seasonal leagues. You and the other contestants take turns drafting players and once a player is drafted, that player becomes unavailable to everyone else. It would be fair to say this drafting format requires greater strategy. In creating a balanced team, you are forced to take into account how your opponents will draft and what that means for your own drafting options.
Is Online Fantasy Betting Legal?
Yes! Unlike online poker or casino gambling, fantasy betting is unquestionably legal. A piece of federal legislation called the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) included a carve-out specifically for fantasy sports. This carve-out explained that fantasy betting is not considered gambling and that the anti-gambling provisions included in the UIGEA do not apply to fantasy sports.
Section 101 of the UIGEA explains that fantasy sports are not classified as “bets” or “wagers” as long as the contests make it known how much can be won before the league begins and that no outcome is based on the score, point spread, performance of a single player or outcome of a single game.
What this means is you can play at US-based fantasy sites without fear of the feds stepping in and shutting down your favorite site. You can play at sites hosted right here in the United States, make deposits via PayPal and focus on having fun rather than on what will happen if the legal situation suddenly takes a turn for the worse.
However, each state in the Union is free to determine its own laws regarding fantasy sports on the state level. This means that not all sites work for customers of all states. You can see a list of up-to-date fantasy site state restrictions here.
Main DFS Contenders
I mentioned above that there are more than a dozen fantasy sports sites in operation right now. However, the industry is still dominated by two big names. FanDuel and DraftKings are both considered the main contenders in online fantasy. These sites have the most members and biggest tournament prizes in the industry.
FanDuel: FanDuel was started in 2009 and became the first mainstream fantasy site in the world. The site grew quickly and is now known for paying out roughly $400 million in prizes last year alone. If you had to pick just one site to try today, I would recommend FanDuel as a great starting point.
DraftKings: DraftKings is the big challenger to FanDuel today. DraftKings has scored millions of dollars in capital funding lately and has blitzed the internet, TV and radio with ads. High quality software and million dollar tournaments make DraftKings a very solid alternative to FanDuel.
Choosing the Best DFS Site for You
Choosing the best fantasy site isn’t a terribly difficult decision. Sure, there are a few things to consider but it’s hard to get it completely wrong as long as you stick with the well-known names in the industry. If all else fails, it’s always a safe bet to just go with DraftKings or FanDuel. You won’t go wrong with either of those sites.
On the other hand, it never hurts to take your time and find the perfect fantasy website for your needs. Let’s take a look at a few things worth considering when looking for a new place to play.
Big Vs. Small
You can broadly categorize today’s fantasy betting sites as either “big” or “small.” Big sites include the likes of FanDuel and DraftKings. These sites have the largest user bases, greatest selection of leagues and the largest cash prizes. It’s always worth at least keeping an account open at one of the big sites because you’ll always have a large selection of leagues to choose from.
One of the primary advantages offered by big sites apart from volume is the chance to win life-changing amounts of money. For example, last year the two biggest sites each hosted multiple contests that awarded $1,000,000+ prizes to the grand champions. If you manage to pick the perfect team for a major contest, you can actually become a millionaire on the spot. That’s an opportunity that simply isn’t found at smaller sites.
Larger sites provide the largest potential reward for your dollar. The tournaments at major fantasy sites can attract thousands of entrants and potentially return five-figure payouts in tournaments with buyins under $20. Yes, it’s harder to win in large tournaments but big sites also host smaller contests with limited numbers of entrants.
Smaller fantasy sites do have their own advantages though. Here’s something you might not know – federal legislation requires all prizes to be made known before the tournament begins. Furthermore, prizes must not be determined by the number of entrants in a contest. This means every single contest you compete in has a guaranteed prize pool.
The advantage here is that smaller sites sometimes host tournaments in which the total sum of buyins is less than the guaranteed prize pool. All you former poker players out there will recognize this as an “overlay.” It means you’re playing for a bigger prize than what the number of entrants can justify. This results in increased value for your dollar.
Major sports leagues are covered by all major fantasy betting sites. The NFL, MLB and NBA are the big-three that are covered almost universally. If your primary focus will be on one of the major professional North American leagues, you ca play pretty much anywhere you want.
Other leagues might require more looking around. For example, the PGA is covered by DraftKings but not by FanDuel. NASCAR, MMA and other leagues are sometimes covered by smaller sites trying to carve out their own little niche in the already-competitive daily fantasy market. You can check out any of our reviews to see which site covers which leagues or refer to the chart below.
|Star Fantasy Leagues||X||X||X||X|
|Yahoo Season Fantasy||X||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Yahoo Daily Fantasy||X||X||X||X||X|
***=NFL and CFL
Reputation is always something to consider when looking for a place to participate in real money leagues. Although most daily fantasy sites are legitimate places to play, it never hurts to do a little research and see what you can dig up. The industry is not regulated and no licenses are issued by any sort of official governing body.
This is one of the reasons I tend to stick with bigger sites for my fantasy needs. Large sites didn’t get large by accident. They got there by giving players a fair game and paying winners quickly. Plus, larger sites are more likely to be financially stable than smaller sites that are just getting started.
It’s amazing what you can find about a site with a few well-executed Google searches. You can also check out our fantasy reviews to read up on what we think about all the major names in online fantasy. We don’t recommend sites that we wouldn’t play at with our own money.
Types of Contests
The vast majority of online fantasy leagues are hosted as salary cap drafts. This is the first type of contest you should familiarize yourself with because it’s that prevalent. All the biggest tournaments with the biggest cash prizes use this format as well. Anyone just getting started in fantasy betting should start with this type of contest.
The following chart shows which fantasy sites offer which contests. Below that you will find explanations of each contest type.
|50/50s||Salary Cap Leagues||Snake Drafts||Season Long||Survivor|
|Star Fantasy Leagues|
Salary Cap Leagues: Each person in the contest is given a virtual salary that is used to purchase players for the draft. You can pick any active player from the league as long as you have enough remaining salary to draft him.
This format works the best for large tournaments because players do not disappear from the pool when drafted. If 300 people pick Peyton Manning as their QB, then 300 people get him. The only thing you have to worry about is managing your limited salary to pick an effective team.
Salary cap leagues are also offered in multiple sub-formats. For example, you’ll find head-to-head matchups, 50/50 leagues in which half the participants win double the entry fee, triple-up leagues in which the top third of the field wins triple the entry fee and so on. The one thing these different sub-formats have in common is they all begin with a salary draft.
Snake Drafts: Snake drafts are pretty rare in the online world but you will see them sometimes. In a snake draft (or s-draft), each person takes turns drafting one player. This draft has no salary cap so you can pick whoever you want. However, once a player is drafted, that player becomes unavailable to everyone else.
The order of picks is reversed every round. For example, if you are #1 in the draft order, you get to pick first in the first round, last in the second round, first in the third round and so on.
Salary-Snake Draft: Take snake draft league, add a salary cap to each contestant and you get salary-snake drafts. You still take turns drafting players, but you also have a salary cap. This format adds a layer of strategy to the game because the stars of the league don’t necessarily get picked up by the first person each round. The players with the most value are the ones who go first. Choose wisely.
Achievement Goals and Predictions: This is an interesting fantasy format in which there is no salary cap. You can pick anyone in the league for every position. If you want to get a lineup full of all-stars, that’s your prerogative.
The goal isn’t just to rack up points. You set goals for each position and earn points only if your drafts reach those goals. For example, if you pick Peyton Manning and choose a goal of 3 touchdown passes, he better reach that goal. The loftier the goal, the more points you earn. Players who fall short earn zero points.
Predictions work a little differently. At DailyMVP, there are a few variations in which you draft, say 3 quarterbacks from the league who must outscore their projected points for the day. You win when your picks over-deliver on those predictions.
Survivor: These are multi-day or multi-week leagues in which you draft a new team every day/week. The lowest-scoring team is eliminated every day/week until only one person remains standing. Some survivor leagues grant immunity to the top-scoring team, which means that team is immune from being cut during the next round of eliminations.
Pro Pick ‘Em: Pro pick ‘em is a newbie-friendly format that utilizes no salary cap or snake-draft style of alternating picks. In this format, you are presented with 8 or 9 groups of players who share position and have a similar perceived value. You pick exactly one player from each group who you think is capable of scoring the most points and your team is formed. That’s all there is to it. It’s quick and very easy for casual fans.
Pick ‘Em: Not to be confused with “pro pick ‘em,” this format is a whole different ballgame. Here, you are presented with 10 fantasy team matchups. You pick one team in each matchup to earn more fantasy points than the other team. This is a contest between you and the other contestants to get the most predictions correct.
Pick 5: Pick 5 contests really dance around the line between fantasy sports and straight-up betting. In a Pick 5 contest, the site presents you with five different player-vs-player matchups. For example, a site might show you five different matchups between different NFL quarterbacks. You run down the list and choose one quarterback in each matchup to earn more fantasy points.
You can place a wager on getting all 5 matchups correct for a bigger payout or on getting 3 out of 5 matchups correct for a more modest payout. In either case, your objective in each matchup is to choose the player who will accumulate the most fantasy points.
Season Long Leagues: A few fantasy sites still host traditional season-long leagues. This is the format to choose if you miss the good ole days in which draft day was loaded with significance. You prepare all you can, do your research and then make an entire season’s worth of picks all at once. Come hell or high water, that’s your team for the rest of the year.
Trading Contests: Trading contests are intense, action-packed prediction markets. You and the other contestants are given a virtual salary which you can use to buy and sell shares in fantasy teams and players. It’s a lot like commodity trading except you are buying and selling pieces of fantasy players. The value of each player and team increases and decreases based on the market reaction to news and events.
For example, let’s say Alex Smith throws two touchdowns in the first quarter of a Chiefs-Rams game. His value will probably surge because it looks like he’s going to earn a bunch of fantasy points this game. Anyone already holding shares in Alex Smith will earn a profit as his value goes up. The goal in each trading contest is to increase your virtual account balance as much as possible during the contest. You win real money if you end up with the most virtual money in your trading account.
Salary Pro: This is a very cool format that begins each player with a standard salary cap. However, you get bonus fantasy points if you spend less than your budget. Do you have a knack for spotting undervalued talent? This is the way to go.
On the flip side, you can also spend more than your budget if you’re willing to lose fantasy points off the top and work from a disadvantage. You can get more big performers this way, but they better perform very well indeed.
Quick 3 and Gimme 5: Don’t have time to sit around researching stats all day? Quick 3 and Gimme 5 contests have you pick just three or five players respectively. You still have a salary cap but teams are much smaller. The goal remains the same as always – score more points than your opponents.
Best Ball: Best Ball fantasy leagues are all about the draft. In this season-long format, you make your picks at the beginning of the year and then wait and see. Each week, your top-scoring player is recorded for each position. If you have two quarterbacks, for example, only the QB who earns the most points is recorded for the quarterback position in your lineup that week.
Getting Started with Real Money DFS
There will eventually come a time in which you decide it’s time to play for real money. Free fantasy leagues are interesting and all, but nothing compares to putting actual money on the line with the possibility of winning a payout.
Once you have an account at a fantasy website, you can fund your account at any time through a variety of deposit methods. Two of the most common are credit cards and PayPal. Both options are free to use and work instantly. And remember – you’re not “paying” for anything when you make a deposit. All you’re doing is funding your account. You can withdraw the full balance at any time.
If you win a real money contest, your account balance will be credited with the funds, however much they may be. That money is yours to do with as you choose. You can use it to enter more contests or you can withdraw it straight to the bank with an electronic bank transfer, credit the money to your PayPal account or have them send you a check in the mail.
You can read more about individual deposit methods on our banking page.