The Pitfalls of Daily Leagues

Daily leagues are, at least for many people, quite the rush. If you have ever played in a group fantasy league, what the daily league essentially offers is a sped up version. Instead of waiting for the whole game week or season, the daily league offers you (the chance at) a quick pay out. They are well marketed too. All sports fans remember at least the one time they have heard about someone winning thousands from a tens or five dollar bet. There is little wrong with this though, people do win, and win big from incredibly small stakes. However, anyone with a keen eye will tell you that there are fundamental flaws in the daily leagues, flaws that will likely see you lose money.

The Logistics

Here is how daily leagues work. It is essentially betting, and involves an individual pang an entry fee to join a single contest on a site. For those familiar with fantasy football, the next step is pretty straightforward. After entering a contest, one chooses professional athletes onto their team. You get to assemble a team filled with your favourite players and have them play against other teams assembled by other participants. The catch is that every participant in the contests has a salary cap, and the more high profile players you chose, the more to get to use up your salary cap. You therefore have in most cases to balance the superstar players with the less known players who have an outside chance of earning you points. Simple enough, right? Well on deeper thought, there are some serious issues with daily leagues.

Entry Fees

Experts have rightly stated that these daily leagues are fundamentally flawed from a game design perspective. That they have entry fees is not unusual in and of itself. Participating in daily leagues is essentially betting, and this is what makes them fun. However, it is this feature that makes them unfair in many ways. First, the statistics show that the top 1 percent of players paid about 40 percent of the entry fees and reaped up to 91 percent of the profits. Compare this with the bottom 80% of the league that paid almost $50 in entry fees but ended up losing almost half of that. It is important to note that majority of the players in these leagues, about 80%, are relative newbies. Further, these games thrive on the newbies being repeat players and joining new contests whether they lose or win. It is curious that with such a setup, the setup is such that it is the established ‘sharks’ that reap the most. The biggest players, most of whom do this for a living, will normally enter hundreds of games ever day, spending thousands of dollars in buy-ins and reaping in hundreds of thousands in profits. Most daily leagues are open too, and this means the chances of meeting with an experienced shark as a newbie is quite high. The established players love newbies too, as they know that with them, they have the chance to score big. Some fantasy league websites stand out from the competition in this regard though. For instance, at, when one signs in they instantly get a 25 dollar contest cash award. This way, regardless of the difference in skills and experience, there is nothing much to lose for a newbie. Such sites bring back the fun and competition factor, which is the essence of fantasy leagues.


Daily leagues in most cases area hotbed of software designed to give individuals the upper hand. In fact, these is one of the reasons why some people can easily participate in hundreds of contests at the same time. These software are the fantasy football equivalent of performance enhancing drugs. The algorithms help players find automated scripts, find the best matches, set up different combinations of line ups and better their odd. These algorithms, most of the time publicly shared, can collect large amounts of information on layers and different contests, giving thoughts on how to bet. Some go as far as helping the established players identify newbies. Sites crack down on these programs, but there are specific ones that are permitted as they increase the chances of the league websites earning more money.


Daily leagues are vastly different from your run of the mill office league. In the office, the stakes are not too high, and you can likely win with a passable strategy. In the daily leagues, players only win if they are at the very top. Picking those favourite superstar players gets you points, but with the salary caps, you can only choose so many of them. To truly stand out in a competitive environment like the daily leagues, you are going to have to pick the underrated players and hope they perform well and surprise everyone. There have been stories of employees and industry insiders using information about National Football League players like how often they had been chosen for line ups, to get ahead. Such information can be immensely valuable in such a game and damaging to the chances of the average player, especially considering many websites are only just waking up to the fact that their employees have been using insider information to play. The folks at have a way around this. Here, you know everyone you are playing against. The site is connected to one’s Yahoo Fantasy League, with the players’ points, stats and team used to play against other participants on the contests. Here, the player picks the contest and their opponents from their own league, and the duration over which they will play.

Fantasy football is supposed to be fun, and this is what daily leagues, at least in their purest form, aimed to achieve. The way they are set up today, though, is nothing but fun. New players are especially at a disadvantage in a system that cares more about the bottom line than the players. There is hope though, a new generation of league websites is plugging some of the most obvious gaps in the system.