DFS Strategy: Using Multiple Sites & Multiple Lineups
One way to approach daily fantasy sports is to sign up at a single site and specialize there. That's what a lot of people did when they used to play poker.
But it's a mistake that can cost money.
Many players also tend to set up what they think is the best lineup possible and play it multiple times. After all, that's what they've determined to be the optimal set of players given the salary cap. So why wouldn't they play that lineup in all the contests they participate in?
As it turns out, that's also a mistake that can cost money.
This page explains why you should use multiple sites and submit multiple lineups.
Why Use Multiple Sites?
Everyone who's interested in actually making money at daily fantasy sports should be involved in more than one site.
The main reasons for this are as follows.
- Different sites offer different sports.
- You want as much signup bonus money as you can get.
- The level of competition varies by site.
- You want as many overlays as you can find.
- Your scoring preferences for different games might matter.
Let's take a look at each of these reasons in some additional detail.
The two big daily fantasy sports sites that we usually mention are FanDuel and DraftKings. You should have an account at each of them, for sure. FanDuel offers a more limited selection of sports, but does have other advantages.
Both sites offer college and pro football, college and pro basketball, hockey, and baseball. But DraftKings also offers a big selection of other games. Since most people are getting involved in these other games on a lark, you can often find profitable situations—if you're better informed about that sport.
The additional sports available at DraftKings include all of the following.
- Professional golf (the PGA)
- Auto racing (NASCAR)
- Mixed martial arts
Expect to find more variety and more profitable situations at other sites, too. There's no reason to limit yourself to just one or two sites.
There are currently four daily fantasy sites that we recommend as being the best to use. There are the two large ones just referred to, and also StarsDraft and DraftDay. You can read our reviews of these sites on the following pages.
One of the more compelling reasons to sign up at multiple daily fantasy sports sites is to take advantage of the signup bonuses that are available. Assuming you're a winning player, these signup bonuses are pure positive expectation.
- DraftKings offers a signup bonus of $600 when you deposit $600.
- FanDuel offers a signup bonus of $200 when you deposit $200.
Let's say someone only has a $1,000 bankroll to commit to fantasy football this year, and they put all of it into FanDuel. They still only get a $200 bonus. They've left $600 lying on the table.
Even if they sign up for just DraftKings, they're leaving $200 on the table.
But those aren't the only two sites in the industry. StarsDraft (formerly Victiv) offers a 100% bonus of up to $1,000 on your first deposit, too. DraftDay also offers a 100% signup bonus of up to $200. By signing up for 4 sites, and if you have a bankroll of $2,000, you can get $2,000 for free just by signing up for all 4 instead of just one.
Even if none of the other reasons for signing up for multiple sites apply, this one factor should be enough to encourage you to sign up at multiple sites.
We do have one caveat about signup bonuses, though. They're not released all at once. In fact, at most sites, they're released based on how much money you put into action. The more you play, the more of your bonus gets unlocked. This is a safeguard the sites had to put in place to avoid player abuse.
How much do you have to put into action before being able to access your entire bonus? It depends on the site, but it's similar from one site to the other. One common methodology involves releasing 4% of your total entry fees.
Here's how that would work.
A player signs up at FanDuel and deposits $200. He gets a $200 bonus. He puts his entire $200 into action the first week. $8 of the bonus is unlocked.
Let's say they're really talented, and they win 58% of their contests. (We're assuming they're playing in cash games.) They're up to $208.80 because of their winnings for the week, but they also get to add that $8 bonus money, for a total of $216.80.
Rinse and repeat every day until they've released their entire bonus. If they play every day, and if they're consistently winning, it should probably take them less than a month to earn their entire bonus.
It's hard to make a prediction about the level of competition. But we do know one thing for sure.
Daily fantasy sports are a lot like poker. One of those similarities is where the money comes from for the winning players.
It comes from the losing players.
Your goal is to find the site with the weakest competition.
The only way to achieve that goal is to play at the various sites and look at how your results stack up against the competition.
If you sign up for four sites, you might find that one or two of them have the weakest competition. Those are the two you'll focus on more once you've cashed in your signup bonuses.
But keep something else in mind, too. The level of competition doesn't just vary based on which site you're playing at. It also varies based on the buy-ins.
In other words, the competition in the lower stakes games at FanDuel might be much weaker than the competition in the lower stakes games at DraftKings.
But it's possible that when you get into the higher buy-in contests, the reverse is true—DraftKings might have tougher competition. With experience, one might even be able to draw some generalities. Maybe new sites have softer competition. Maybe older, more established sites have tougher competition.
One thing is true, though. You can't determine any of this unless you play at multiple sites.
We've explained overlays on almost every page about daily fantasy sports on this site. But we're going to explain it again here, because it's that pertinent and important.
An overlay is a guaranteed prize pool contest where there are too few players to justify the prize pool.
Here's an example.
- FanDuel is offering a contest called the $350k Sunday Bomb.
- The entry fee is $25.
- They need 16,091 entrants to cover the $350,000 prize money and the commissions.
- As this is being written, they only have 418 entrants.
- If no one else entered the contest at this point, there would be a huge overlay.
- 418 contestants at $25 each is only $10,450.
- The site would make up the other $340k in an overlay.
In this particular contest, the top 3,135 players get paid, so you'd be guaranteed a payout—even if you scored only 1 point for the contest.
Of course, an overlay that large never happens, but it's illustrative of why an overlay is so powerful mathematically.
And indeed, that's the trouble with overlays. They're hard to find. You want to enter as many overlay situations as possible in order to maximize your expected return.
The only way to do that is to look for overlays at every site you can.
Newer sites are more likely to offer overlay situations. They have fewer players, and they want to attract new players. They're willing to eat those overlays in order to get new signups. Take advantage of that. Your bankroll will grow.
Finally, one other reason you might prefer to join multiple daily fantasy sports sites is to take advantage of a scoring system you prefer. Most of the sites have similar scoring rubrics, but they all have differences. Some of these might be more to your taste.
Some players hate scoring systems which have negative point ratings for interceptions—or for anything else. They claim that fantasy sports are less fun when you can lose points when a player screws up. We disagree.
But we can see why this would cause such players to sign up for additional sites. They might find the rules they like for football at one site and baseball at another.
Why Use Multiple Lineups?
Why would you start a different lineup than your best estimate of who will score the most points?
The answer is simple. You want to protect your bankroll and reduce the effect of variance. Diversification is a good way to do this.
Investors live by a concept called diversification. The idea is to spread your investments around in such a way that you don't go broke if one of your investments goes sour.
Here's an example.
- You buy stock in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
- It loses 90% of its value over the course of a year.
- If you've invested all your money in that stock, you've almost gone broke.
- If you've only invested 5% of your money in that stock, you've only lost 4.5%.
- The rest of your money is in other stocks, which presumably didn't fare so poorly.
The same basic concept applies to daily fantasy sports.
A friend of ours once explained to us that on any given Sunday, anything can happen. Suppose you have a great lineup, and you've stacked the #1 quarterback with his #1 wide receiver. In the first play of the game, your wide receiver gets injured and has to sit out the entire game. Then in the 2nd play of the game, the quarterback gets injured, too.
How many points are you going to score after that kind of fluke?
It won't matter that your lineup was the optimal lineup of all. It only matters that you used that same lineup in a hundred different head to head contests. You're going to lose all of them now.
But let's look at another example. Let's say you come up with an optimal lineup, but you also come up with 3 more lineups, each of which is only slightly less ideal than your favorite. You're confident that each of those lineups will score well above average.
So you put each lineup into 25% of your head to head contests for the week. If one of your lineups does surprisingly bad, your exposure to their loss is minimized.
You can even use multiple lineups on multiple sites, but it's not necessary. By just using 4 or 5 lineups, you're protecting yourself from risk of ruin.
You have, in effect, diversified your investment.
Avoid one thing, though. Don't get so focused on diversifying that your results suffer. Submit some lineups which are less than optimal. Make sure they're not TOO sub-optimal. Have a floor beyond which you don't play a lineup.
Do you prefer to focus on one thing? That can be a mistake in daily fantasy sports. Having multiple accounts at multiple sites is a good move for several reasons.
Additional bonus amounts are gravy. Extra opportunities to find overlays make playing at multiple sites desirable, too. And the variety in terms of games and scoring structures might also matter.
But diversifying the sites at which you sign up is only one aspect of this topic. Think about how you can launch multiple lineups in each week in order to protect your bankroll.
Author: Brad Johnson
Updated: November 2015
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