Profitability: Daily Fantasy Contests vs. Season Long Leagues

Daily fantasy sports leagues are immensely more profitable than season long leagues for a couple of reasons. The most obvious is one of simple volume. If you’re a winning player, you can play in many more daily or weekly leagues than season-long leagues. Log on to any major fantasy betting site and you’ll find hundreds of open contests any day of the week.

Season long leagues just don’t happen as often. Season-long players are limited mostly to bar leagues or whatever they can find at Yahoo or ESPN. Even then, the prizes for longer leagues rarely compete with some of the biggest weekly contests found at dedicated fantasy sites such as DraftKings.

It’s NFL season right now and both of those sites are hosting tournaments with at least six-figure prize pools every week. Seven figure payouts are becoming an almost-weekly occurrence as well. There is a lot of money moving around and it will not be slowing down any time.

However, there’s more to profitability than simple volume. Even if you could somehow play in just as many season-long contests, daily fantasy sites would still be more profitable because skill plays a bigger role in daily fantasy matchups. More information comes available as the season progresses and you can alter your drafts throughout the season in a way that you cannot in traditional leagues.

Daily fantasy leagues take some luck out of the equation and move the game more into the realm of skill. Skill definitely plays a role in both formats, but season-long games are played with less information as most of the decision-making happens before we’ve seen each player. Plus, there’s less emphasis on accounting for opposing teams because your picks end up playing against a whole variety of teams.

Whenever you reduce the amount of skill in any game, the weaker players benefit. And when weaker players benefit, profitability goes down for the skilled players. Any advantage a strong player has over the weaker players is somewhat negated when luck plays a larger role.

This is not to say season-long players are any less skilled than daily fantasy players. There are some extremely talented season long managers out there. All I’m saying is your skills have a bigger impact playing in many short-term leagues than they do in fewer season-long leagues.

If you’ve had success with traditional fantasy leagues, the next step is daily or weekly contests. You’ll want to start small because there are some subtle and not-so-subtle differences in strategy. The goal is always to get the most value for your picks, but the route to achieving that goal is unique in each format.

So, start with the smaller games and work your way up from there. Even if it’s not as exciting, you’ll get a chance to acclimatize to the different format without wasting a big chunk of money learning the ropes. Fantasy betting is completely legal so it won’t be going anywhere any time soon. Those high stakes games will still be there when you’re ready.

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