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Brief Overview of Fantasy Sports
The origin of fantasy sports can be traced back to 1980 with the start of Rotisserie League Baseball. Virtual baseball teams were formed with the use of actual professional players.
These virtual teams would compete against one another using a point-based system for scoring. Points related directly to a player’s actual performance in a particular game. The rotisserie baseball team accumulating the most points was declared the winner.
Fantasy sports grew rapidly with the expansion of the internet. While baseball remained the primary fantasy sport, football soon became the biggest fantasy game played in the US.
DFS sites such as FanDuel and DraftKings created daily fantasy sports competitions through the use of one-day leagues. Competitors would form their team based on specific dollar value for each player within a set salary cap.
The competitor whose team accumulated the most performance points in a set daily competition was declared the winner. Host DFS sites would offer cash prizes tied to daily league play.
In today’s marketplace, fantasy sports and DFS leagues have become extremely popular with sports fans and sports bettors.
While FanDuel and DraftKings still lead the way as far as commercial sites, there are a number of ways to participate in DSF competitions online.
Fantasy sports in general is played by millions of sports fans on a regular basis. Football has become the biggest sport for fantasy games. However, baseball along with basketball and golf also have wide-scale appeal.
Best Fantasy Sports Sites
Commercial DFS sites set up general competitions where all participants compete against one another. Cash prizes or other rewards are given to the top finishers based on total performance points earned.
Fantasy league sites facilitate the play of various league sports such as football or baseball. A private group of participants form their own fantasy league. They use a set fantasy league site as the means to compete against one another in that particular fantasy sport.
As far as commercial DFS sites, FanDuel and DraftKings continue to lead the way with 95% of the market. Both sites have expanded into legal US sportsbooks as the main driving force behind their popularity with sports fans. Another solid pick for a DFS platform is Monkey Knife Fight; all three are offering promotions and daily contests to some great reviews.
If you've even heard of fantasy sports, it's more than likely that you've seen an ad for DraftKings DFS. Also offering sports betting in legal states, DraftKings basically established the best model for daily fantasy sports in the country. The platform is available in most places, so check your state's eligibility on their website and get signed up today.
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Monkey Knife Fight DFS
If you think the name is fun, wait until you try the platform. Monkey Knife Fight offers a nice variety of DFS contests and a customer-focused way of doing things. You'll be pleasantly surprised that an app with such a silly name takes user experience so seriously. Check out the platform if your state has legal DFS and make sure to check the promotions page for some bonuses.
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FanDuel is in the other corner contending for "best DFS platform", and they're not pulling any punches. New users can get online with a $500 bonus when they make their first deposit, which is a great way to get started on this solid fantasy platform. It's worth mentioning that FanDuel was the first provider to offer DFS in the US, and they're continuing to be an industry leader.
States Where Fantasy Sports is Legal
Fantasy sports are legal to play anywhere in the US when it comes to private group play. Legal issues arise when it comes to Daily Fantasy Sports sites offering cash prizes as part of the competition.
In recent years, individual states have addressed the matter from a legal standpoint. This goes back to a 2018 US Supreme Court decision. This decision gave states the right to govern and regulate sports betting within their individual borders.
Many of the states that legalized sports betting also added language in the laws addressing DFS. Yet, DFS sites such as FanDuel and DraftKings still face legal restrictions in certain states.
The easiest way to answer the question of legality is to list the states where DFS providers currently do not accept customers.
This list includes:
Alabama users must be 19 and older, and Massachusetts users must be 21 and older. Oregon has a complicated situation, where FanDuel DFS is allowed but DraftKings DFS is not, due to partnership agreements.
FanDuel does not accept fantasy players in Texas.
Given that legality is always a fluid issue, this list is always subject to change. For example, Louisiana has legalized DFS as part of its recent sports betting legislation. However, this state has yet to finalize those plans.
How to Play Fantasy Sports in the US
It has never been easier to play fantasy sports these days. You can play in a couple of simple steps.
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There are daily fantasy games where players compete against one another for cash and prizes. There are fantasy games sites where players can form their own private competitions through league play.
As a general tip, most fantasy players tend to focus on DFS competitions for the sports they know, follow and understand the most.
Fantasy football starts with Week 1 of the new NFL regular season. Fantasy golf is available almost year round as it is tied directly to weekly professional tournaments.
Using fantasy football as a guide, the first step in the process is drafting your team. Daily leagues assign a dollar value to each available player. That team must be assembled within the salary cap set by the DFS site to keep the playing field level across all participants.
After all the games on that week’s NFL schedule have been played, the points earned by each NFL player are totaled to come up with a cumulative score for each participant. Prize amounts and the total number of payouts are also determined by the DFS site.
Fantasy games that are part of a private fantasy league offer season-long competition. Participants compete against one another on a weekly basis through head-to-head matchups.
In most fantasy football leagues, a participant’s win-loss record determines their place in the overall standings. Just like the NFL, private fantasy football leagues stage playoffs and a championship game to determine the overall winner.
What Are the Available Sports?
As mentioned this is the biggest fantasy sports played in the US. The top DFS sites offer weekly competitions where participants compete against one another. There are also millions of private fantasy leagues in play all across the country.
The starting point for both commercial DFS sites and private leagues is the fantasy draft. This is done on a weekly basis for DFS competition.
Private fantasy football leagues stage a draft before the season gets underway. Players are then dropped, picked up on waivers or traded between participants as the NFL season wears on.
Fantasy games started with the sport of baseball tied to MLB daily games. This sets the stage for daily competitions at commercial sites. There are also ways to play fantasy baseball through private leagues on a season-long basis.
The premise is still the same with points awarded for a MLB player’s performance in each individual game. Fantasy baseball is the most hands-on fantasy game played due to an extended 162-game regular season.
Fantasy basketball in the US is tied to the NBA season. Competition in this fantasy sport closely resembles football on a season-long basis. However, due to the fact that games are played throughout the week, there are daily opportunities to play as well.
Fantasy soccer is not as popular in the US and it is on an international level. However, it follows the same basic format as football. Fantasy leagues are tied to actual soccer leagues. Examples would be MLS in the US and the Premier League in the UK.
Golf could be one of the fastest growing fantasy sports in the US at daily fantasy sites. Participants can form a set team of players based on their individual dollar values. Each golfer’s performance in that week’s four-round tournament determines a participant’s total score.
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Can I win actual cash prizes playing daily fantasy sports?
Most of the money spent on entry fees playing DFS is returned to the actual winning players in the form of cash prizes.
Can fantasy games be played on mobile devices?
All of today’s major DFS and fantasy league sites offer mobile capabilities for any handheld device with internet access.
Are daily fantasy sports winning subject to federal and state tax?
Similar to any money that is earned or won, cash won from playing DFS leagues would be subject to federal and state tax. Commercial DFS sites will issue a 1099 tax form for annual winnings of $600 or more.
Fantasy Sports Final Thoughts
Fantasy sports provide an excellent outlet for fans that are looking to enhance their favorite pro leagues. Daily fantasy sports can test your skills as a pro scout. Season-long fantasy leagues can test your ability as a team owner.
The main reason why fantasy games are so popular is the immersion factor they can create with anyone’s favorite sports.