Draft season for fantasy hockey is always full of hopeful anticipation… until the unthinkable happens. It may be an injury to your top draft pick or just lackadaisical performances from all your mid-level players. There eventually comes a point where you realize your season is most likely shot. Oh well, there’s always next year, right?
Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. Daily fantasy hockey sites take the same concept of traditional leagues but compress the entire season into a day of games. You still draft your players and hope they perform well, but you’re not locked in all year. If your players let you down, there’s always next week. That, my friends, is why daily fantasy is the only way to go with hockey.
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The meteoric rise in popularity of daily fantasy sports is no accident. I don’t want to generalize too much here, but I think most of us can get behind the idea of taking more than one shot a year at fantasy hockey. Why limit yourself to a single draft when you can play in new contests every week and adjust your lineups with new information? Besides, your traditional league will always be there waiting if you don’t want to completely abandon your buddies.
The purpose of this page is to introduce you to the best fantasy hockey sites and provide a general overview of the whole idea. If you’re not sold on the idea quite yet, let me explain. Daily fantasy hockey is cheap, fast and easy to play. At the very least, it’s worth a look. Let’s get to it.
Where to Play Fantasy Hockey Online
The trick to finding a good place to play real money fantasy hockey is to look for sites that have volume. Hockey is a fairly niche sport in an industry that focuses mostly on football, baseball and basketball. Your best bet for hockey is to sign up at the sites with the most active players.
Smaller fantasy sites have their charm but it’s tough to find games at sites that don’t have loads of customers. The simple fact of the matter is that hockey just doesn’t have much of a following compared to other sports. The news is not all bad, though. There are two sites in particular that are capable of giving you all the action you can handle.
FanDuel and DraftKings have been all over the news lately so you may have heard of them. If not, you probably will any day now. These are the two largest fantasy sites and they are flush with advertising cash. These are the sites I recommend because they are safe, established and chock full of fantasy hockey leagues at a wide range of buyins.
|Hockey Leagues Covered||NHL||NHL|
|Contest Buyins||$1 to $5,300||$0.25 to $530|
|Noteworthy Contests||$15,000 Guarantee||$5,000 Guarantee|
|First Deposit Bonus||75% up to $1,000||Free Contest Entry|
Both FanDuel and DraftKings will treat you well. At the lower levels, it really doesn’t make a big difference either way. Both sites have plenty of games at the $1 to $200ish levels, but FanDuel starts to pull away with the victory once we start talking high stakes leagues. FanDuel.com regularly hosts hockey contests with $5,300 entry fees and large prize pools. DraftKings doesn’t yet host anything above $530.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean FanDuel is the best choice for you. Some of it depends on how much you plan to deposit. If you only have $100 or less to deposit, DraftKings might actually be the better choice because you’ll get a better match rate on your initial deposit. You could grind out your bonus at DraftKings first, and then move your bankroll over to FanDuel later to get a better overall value on your first deposit bonuses.
You won’t go wrong at either site though. FanDuel and DraftKings are the two largest fantasy hockey sites by a long shot. Both are growing quickly and the games will surely grow in both number and size of the prize pool over time.
Scoring Rules Comparison
FanDuel and DraftKings score fantasy hockey leagues a bit differently from one another. Both sites have you draft 9 players. You get a $55,000 salary cap at FanDuel and $50,000 at DraftKings.
At FanDuel, you draft players for the following positions: LW, LW, RW, RW, C, C, D, D, G
At DraftKings, you draft players for the following positions: W, W, W, C, C, D, D, UTIL, G
Here’s how they compare in awarding points to fantasy teams:
|Forwards and Defense|
|Goals||3 points||3 points|
|Assists||2 points||2 points|
|Penalty Minutes||0.25 points||N/A|
|Powerplay Shots||0.5 points||N/A|
|Shots on Goal||0.4 points||0.5 points|
|Shorthanded Points Bonus (Goal/Assist)||N/A||1 point|
|Blocked Shot||N/A||0.5 points|
|Hat Trick Bonus||N/A||1.5 points|
|Shootout Goal||N/A||0.2 points|
|Win||3 points||3 points|
|Goals Against||-1 point||-1 point|
|Saves||0.2 points||0.2 points|
|Shutouts||2 points||2 points|
A Basic Overview of Fantasy Hockey
Hockey fantasy leagues are somewhat rare in the real world so if you have no previous experience, don’t feel left out. A lot of people start online hockey leagues without any experience. The basic idea of daily fantasy NHL is to draft a team of virtual players choosing from real world players.
Daily fantasy games give you a salary cap to choose your players. Each player comes with a cost that is calculated based on his perceived strength. Players who are viewed as likely to amass stats generally cost more than players who are perceived as “weaker” in the league. The challenge for you is to draft a whole lineup while remaining within your salary cap.
For example, let’s take a look at the drafting area in a typical hockey contest at FanDuel:
Over on the left side is a complete list of available players. This list includes only the players who will be participating in that day’s games. As you add players, your lineup is updated over on the right side. In this contest, you started with a salary of $55,000 but now have $38,300 remaining after drafting two high value players.
The drafting area depicted in the screenshot above is where you will spend the majority of your time at any fantasy betting site. After you draft your team, your fantasy site will monitor the game and update the stats for each of your players in real time. If one of your guys scores a goal in the real world, your fantasy team is awarded 3 points. As all of your players accumulate stats in the real world, your team is awarded corresponding points.
Winning a Contest
The ultimate goal in daily fantasy hockey is to draft a team capable of racking up lots of fantasy points. If your team ends up with more points than opposing teams drafted by other people, you win the contest and real money.
Most daily fantasy leagues are hosted tournament-style. This means you buy in to the tournament and compete against hundreds of other people. At the conclusion of the day’s games, fantasy teams are ranked in order according to the total number of points accumulate by each team. If you place high enough, you’ll be paid a cash reward. Tournaments pay big money to the top finishers, smaller prizes to other high finishers and nothing to those who don’t rank anywhere near the top.
Another popular format for fantasy hockey is the head-to-head contest. In this contest, you buy in and compete against exactly one other person. You both draft your teams and then earn points like normal. The person whose team ends up with the most fantasy points wins the whole pot.
In all contests, judicial use of your limited salary is the key to winning. Your salary will never be large enough to draft a team comprised solely of superstars. You need to look for undervalued players who fit your budget and are capable for scoring points for your team.