How does Fantasy Sports Betting work

Playing Fantasy Sports is really easy. It’s relatively new to the scene of betting, but has flourished in popularity in recent years. There are a few reasons as to why it has grown in popularity however it’s mostly due to the advancement of the internet and the speed at which data can be used. As we delve further into how fantasy sports betting works, you will gain a better understanding as to how technology has enabled fantasy sports to evolve.

Because fantasy sports betting is relatively new, WagerDex has created a simple How-to-Guide for Fantasy Sports Betting.

What is Fantasy Sports Betting?

Fantasy Sports Betting is defined as: betting on your “fantasy” team to beat another competitor(s) fantasy team. A fantasy team is a hypothetical team comprised of current sports players selected by a bettor. Sounds simple and it actually is.

Creating your Fantasy Team

Playing Fantasy sports betting requires you to create your ideal sports team i.e. “fantasy” team. If it drives you crazy that General Managers are performing the wrong trades for their teams, well now you can prove them wrong, and put your money where your mouth is. By abiding by several criteria that the Fantasy League operators stipulate, you can create a fantasy team. All players must abide by the same criteria to ensure a level playing field among bettors. One of the most common criteria is that a salary cap is put in place. Each sports player that is available to be selected in your fantasy team is assigned a notional dollar value. As you build your fantasy team, the total notional salary of the team cannot exceed the salary cap. Naturally, the better sports players have a higher notional salary amount whilst the supporting sports players have a lower salary amount. This is meant to reflect real life, whereby, if you were a General Manager you would have to take into consideration limited capital and sports player salary variations.

The sport players that you select to be part of your fantasy team, is completely up to you. As an example, you may choose LeBron James to be on your NBA team and surround him with role players. Or you could build a team with Damian Lillard, Kristap Porzingas and other lesser known players who still pack a punch.

The fantasy team that you create will compete against other fantasy teams that are created by other fantasy sport bettors.

Sports player performance drives the success of your Fantasy Team

After creating your fantasy sport team, you can then sit back and watch how the sports players that you have selected to form your fantasy team perform in real life. The statistical performance of the sports players will determine how many points your fantasy team accumulates.

The better the statistical performance, the more points are accumulated. How many points are assigned per a sports player’s statistical performance is determined by a set of rules of the Fantasy league operators.

As an example: The more points, assists and rebounds that an NBA player achieves the more points your fantasy team will accumulate. Hypothetically, if your team had Lebron James, then his LA Laker performance may have led to an accumulation of many points, however you may have chosen Doncic who got injured resulting in no points, rebounds or assists and therefore didn’t accumulate any points.

Once all the games have concluded the results of all the Fantasy teams will determine who the winners are. Previously performing calculations, updating league tables and distributing prizes was an extremely manual process. But with today’s technology, Fantasy League Operators can deliver results extremely quickly.

Fantasy Sports Betting Formats

There are several formats to choose from. They can vary in two aspects – Duration and Play Type.


When Fantasy Sports betting first began, participants would partake in a duration that was season long. This meant an entire season would need to pass until winners would be known with prizes then distributed.

However, with the advancement of technology, Fantasy Sports Betting can be shortened to typically a day or a week. The shortened variation is commonly referred to as Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS).

Now, instead of waiting for many months to pass, only a day or a week is needed for a winner(s) to be declared. Thereafter, on conclusion, you can select a new fantasy team and play again for the next day/week.

Play Type

There are three common Play Types that can be chosen. Each play type will drive a different strategy, which we will explain in further detail. Become familiar with the play types, as each have a different risk return weighting. You may prefer a similar low chance but high return profile like lotto or high chance but low return like choosing black or red on a game of roulette.

Head to Head

This play types is a one vs one contest. Your fantasy league teams is competing against another participant’s fantasy team. Quite simply, whoever has the better performing team will win the other participants wager. This profile sees a return of just less than doubling your money. (Please note, that usually a commission or an entrance fee is required to take part).


In the 50/50 play type, you are pooled together with many other participants. Among the pool, if your fantasy team succeeds in finishing in the top half of the fantasy league table, then you win! In fact any fantasy team that finishes in the top half wins! This profile also sees a return of just less than doubling your money.

Guaranteed Prize Pool

Guaranteed Prize Pool (GPP) is very similar to pari-mutuel betting. The fantasy league operator sets a fee to join a pool that is limited to say 100 participants. The operator guarantees winnings to be 1st pirze X dollars, 2nd Y dollars, 3rd Z dollars and so on (this is irrespective of how many bettors actually partake).

As an example, only 80 bettors partake in the GPP. If you come first out of the 80 participants, you win first prize of $300, if you come second $250 and so on.

Example per below:

In the above screen shot, which is per Yahoo! Sports Fantasy League product offering, you can see that the first event is a GPP for the NBA. The entry fee is $10, and there are 10,000 places to be filled up in the pool. Over $100,000 of prizes are to be won. To the right, you can see that you can enter multiple times. However, with each entry, you will need to pay an additional $10.

The second event is for the NHL with a $12 entry fee. The prize is $100 to the 1st placed Winner, and the pool is limited to 114 participants. $1,200 worth of prizes are up for grabs.

The reward profile is therefore higher when playing GPP but your chances of winning are diminished.

3 Easy Steps to get started with Fantasy Sport Betting

Follow these 3 easy steps to get started. It’s really easy and simple and no risk is involved.

1. Choose a DFS provider

There are many to choose from. Two of the biggest are DraftKing and FanDuel, however, there is also Yahoo! Sports, DRAFT and Fantasy Aces.

2. Choose a sport

Pick a sport that you would like to participant in. Obviously, the more knowledge you have about the game, the better chance you will have of winning.

3. Pick a Free Play event

All of the providers will offer a free entry event. Join up to these events first to dip your toes into the water. After a few free play events, you’ll soon be ready to join the other Play Types.

Below is an example of a Free Play offered in Yahoo! Sports.

Fantasy Sports Betting Legality

Often Fantasy Sports Betting is argued as a game of skill. And games of skill in several countries and states is regarded as legal. Games of luck, on the other hand, is regarded as gambling and restrictions may then be put in place, in some cases completely banned.

In the US each state is permitted to dictate the laws for Fantasy Sports betting. You will therefore find that some states do not permit Fantasy Sports Betting while others do. Some states have yet to address fantasy sports betting in their laws and therefore it remains in a gray area.