Types of Daily Fantasy Leagues

Tournaments, Leagues, H2H and 50/50’s – A Beginners Guide

Fantasy sports is a huge business that’s growing fast. With all the different options out there – fantasy football, baseball, hockey, basketball and more, we’re going to stick with what we love – fantasy basketball. Specifically daily leagues, which are fun because every day is a new challenge and everyone has a blank slate. Besides, it can be a great way to earn some side money, if you apply the right strategies*.

To get started, if you’re new to daily fantasy basketball, the first thing you’ll need to do is understand your options – the only real differences between the different types of fantasy sports competitions are:

  1. Number of participants
  2. Payout structure
  3. Multiple entries

As a rule of thumb (and this isn’t always true), the larger the league – the larger the payout and the harder it is to win (in other words – you’ll have to score within a higher percentile to see a return). The above factors therefore have a substantial impact on choosing the right players and investment strategy, but we’ll get into them in a separate post. Meanwhile here’s an overview of different types of daily fantasy basketball competitions:

Fantasy Tournaments

Fantasy basketball tournaments hold the largest number of participants, ranging from several hundred to several thousand participants (sometimes tens and even hundreds of thousands in the larger fantasy basketball sites), usually allow multiple entries per user, and payoffs are accordingly large. Payout structure is usually top heavy, meaning the vast majority of participants don’t see any return, but if you’re lucky (and skillful) enough to be one of the lucky few at the top, you can earn a month’s salary in one night.

Example –  for a standard Fanduel $1 daily fantasy tournament with 86,206 participants, payout structure is as follows:

  • 1st: $6000
  • 2nd: $3000
  • 3rd: $2000
  • 4th: $1000
  • 5th: $750
  • 6th: $500
  • 7th: $400
  • 8th: $300
  • 9th-10th: $250
  • 11th-12th: $200
  • 13th-15th: $150
  • 16th-20th: $100
  • 21st-30th: $75
  • 31st-45th: $50
  • 46th-65th: $40
  • 66th-100th: $30
  • 101st-150th: $25
  • 151st-220th: $20
  • 221st-300th: $15
  • 301st-500th: $10
  • 501st-1000th: $7
  • 1001st-3000th: $5
  • 3001st-8000th: $3
  • 8001st-16600th: $2.50

As you can see from the breakdown above, the top 4 players take home a total of $12,000. That’s almost 20% of the pot, going to 0.005% of the total participants. Only the top 19% of participants see any return at all, and it’s not much…

In many ways, participating in daily fantasy tournaments is like buying a lottery ticket – the odds are against you because there are simply too many combinations and factors to make it pay off. And even if you do, winning consistently in tournaments is something very few people can boast about.

Fantasy Leagues

Fantasy basketball leagues usually range from ten to a few hundred participants. Winning these leagues is definitely doable using the right strategies but again – the more participants in your league, the higher the payout and the lower your odds of winning

Example – for a standard Fanduel $1 daily fantasy league with 100 participants, payout structure is as follows:fantasy basketball for beginners

  • 1st:$25.00
  • 2nd:$15.00
  • 3rd:$10.00
  • 4th:$8.00
  • 5th:$6.00
  • 6th:$5.00
  • 7th – 9th:$4.00
  • 10th – 12th:$3.00

In this league the top 4 (or 4% as it may be) participants take home 55% of the pot, and only the top 12% see any return at all. The odds aren’t in your favor. Even so, if you’re feeling confident that in at least 1 out of every 3 competitions you’ll rank within the top 12% ($1 for at least a $3 return) – you might see a nice return over time.

Fantasy 50/50’s

50/50 fantasy basketball leagues are the equivalent of gambling red or black at the roulette table – it’s all or nothing. 50% of participants go home with 50% of the pot (minus what the house takes).

Example – for a standard Fanduel $1 daily fantasy league with 80 participants, payout structure is as follows:

  • 1st – 40th:$3.60

That’s it. It’s all or nothing. You don’t need to hit the ball out of the park in these leagues, because payout will be the same if you rank first and if you rank 40th. This obviously has a great impact on your strategy, choosing consistency over upside.

Fantasy Head to Head (H2H)

Fantasy H2H are very simple – it’s your team against another persons team. Winner takes the pot. You can’t see your rival’s team until editing is locked and games start – then it’s just a race of you against him.

Example – for a standard Fanduel $1 daily fantasy H2H, payout structure is as follows:

  • 1st:$1.80

As in 50/50 leagues, winning is binary – either you earn 80% on your investment, or you go home with nothing, except here it’s the entire pot. Despite the similarities between H2H’s and 50/50’s, you’ll apply different strategies for each, mostly to do with variance in your team, but again – we’ll get into that in a future post.

Easy enough?

To be fair, the above examples are for $1 fantasy competitions, meaning your risk is pretty low. We always advise practicing with free or $1 competitions (we would advise free first, but keep in mind that when money isn’t involved people aren’t as motivation to try). The higher your entry fee (and risk), the higher the potential payout.

Some things to remember: No matter what fantasy basketball competition you’re joining,  the house always wins. They typically keep 10% of the pot and payout all the rest. This means that over time, on average, you’ll need to be at least 10% better than half of all the other participants in order to consistently make money – and that’s no easy feat. Remember, the people you’re playing against are good. They know what the fuck they’re doing! Some of them are professional fantasy sports gamblers, meaning they have the right tools, experience and know how to give them an edge.

Stay tuned though, because we’re going to teach you the secrets for dominating your fantasy basketball league! Sign up to our mailing list for notifications.


*Disclaimer: BBB is a Fanduel Partner. Fantasy basketball is a form of gambling. Please gamble responsibly and within the law. Bestbasketballball is an opinion blog and doesn’t advocate for gambling nor take responsibility for implementation of our thoughts and recommendations. Take them at your own risk.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *