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Understanding the Rules: Playing A Different Game

In order to have success at any game, the most important thing is to fully understand the rules. The rules in DFS entail two main things which have an underlying effect on every decision:

  1. How much salary you are allowed to use to fill out your lineup  
  2. How do you accumulate fantasy points

Everyone knows DFS is a game of math on a basic level: accumulate the most fantasy points to win. However, as noted in the introduction, the math changes when you change the rules, and FanDuel has some big differences in both their salary structures and scoring settings.  Here are the main differences:

  • Salary
    • FanDuel has a larger salary cap ($60,000) than DraftKings ($50,000)
    • Minimum prices for each position are different on each site
  • Scoring:
    • DraftKings is 1 point-per-reception scoring, while FanDuel only awards 0.5 points-per-reception.
    • DraftKings gives bonuses to players for reaching the following marks:
      • 300 yards passing
      • 100 yards rushing
      • 100 yards receiving

To understand how crucial salary and scoring are to making decisions, we must think about the math on a slightly deeper level, however. Here are the basic equations we should use to start our thinking about this, from the perspective of the two rules listed above:

  • Roster Salary: Maximum allowed Salary minus Minimum Salary to be used 
    • MaxSal – MinSal = available salary
  • Scoring: Statistic multiplied by designated fantasy points
    • Example: Passing TD’s are worth 4 points, so the equation is: 
      • Passing TD’s times 4 equals points from Passing TD’s, or:
      • PaTD * 4 = ptsPaTD

That information may seem very obvious, but it is critical information to fully understand the differences in playing on different sites. Let’s first dive into the salary equation:

Salary Structure

Everyone knows or is quickly made aware of, the maximum salaries allowed on each site when they go to make a DFS roster. As you are making a lineup, it says right on the screen how much total salary you have remaining as well as how much salary you have remaining per open slot on the roster. On DraftKings, the maximum salary for a lineup is $50,000, while on FanDuel the maximum salary is $60,000. What no one ever talks about, however, is the *minimum* salary that can be used. This is important because the way DFS salaries are presented on the sites and the way we think about money alter our psychology when making lineups. 

The reality is that you don’t have that amount of salary to use however you see fit. For example, if you were to go to the grocery store with $50 you could spend it however you want – you could buy one thing for $50, two things for $25 each, five things for $10, or any combination of things and spend as much or as little of your $50 as you see fit. In that scenario, you can pass on buying things from certain areas if you would like. In DFS, however, you have specific roster requirements to fill and each of those things has a minimum price that it will cost you. You have a set amount of things you must purchase and each of those things has a minimum price

DraftKings minimum salary:

  • QB: $4,000 
  • RB: $8,000 ($4,000 per spot, start 2 RB’s)
  • WR: $9,000 ($3,000 per spot, start 3 WR’s)
  • TE: $2,500 
  • Flex: $3,000 (assuming you wouldn’t use two min-priced TE’s)
  • DEF: $2,000

This brings us to a minimum salary of $28,500 for each lineup. This is critical information because it also provides some context to how much salary you have available to use. With a maximum salary of $50,000, the true salary we have available to spend is $21,500 in “salary above minimum” (SAM). So, what that means is that on DraftKings a $6,000 QB’s true “cost” is $2,000 above minimum and you would then have $19,500 SAM remaining for the other 8 spots on your roster. 

FanDuel minimum salary:

  • QB: $6,000 
  • RB: $9,000 ($4,500 per spot, start 2 RB’s)
  • WR: $13,500 ($4,500 per spot, start 3 WR’s)
  • TE: $4,000 
  • Flex: $4,500 (assuming you wouldn’t use two min-priced TE’s)
  • DEF: $3,000

This brings us to a minimum salary of $40,000 for each lineup. With a maximum salary of $60,000, the true salary we have available to spend is $20,000 in “salary above minimum” (SAM). So, what that means is that on FanDuel a $7,000 QB’s true “cost” is $1,000 above minimum, and you would then have $19,000 SAM remaining for the other 8 spots on your roster. 

While these amounts may seem very similar ($21.5k on DK, $20k on FD), there are some big differences in how the use of salary differs, and things about the scoring that we can leverage into how we use that “SAM” correctly. We will expand on the ways that we can exploit these edges in the remainder of this course.

Now, let’s dive into the scoring differences….

Scoring

The difference in scoring across the sites means there are more variables at play on DraftKings, which leads to higher scoring. From a scoring perspective, the effect of fewer variables is that the remaining variables all have much greater importance. So, if receptions are worth less, and games with heavy yardage totals are not rewarded as much, then what is the only scoring variable that remains unchanged when comparing scoring between DraftKings and FanDuel? Touchdowns. There are no bonuses for going over certain thresholds, which means that a productive game where a player doesn’t score a TD doesn’t help you nearly as much on FanDuel as it can on DraftKings. We will dive deeper into this concept in our next lesson.

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