Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) Glossary of Terms

If you’re new to daily fantasy sports, the first thing I’m going to tell you is that “daily fantasy sports” is a pain to type over and over, so we call it “DFS”. If that was a revelation, this glossary is for you. If you have no idea what “fading Calvin Johnson in GPPs is a great contrarian play” means, you’d better read on.

DFS introduces a whole new set of terms that you just won’t come across if you’ve only played in traditional fantasy football leagues. Understanding some of these terms can even be crucial to your DFS success. Many of these terms will pop up throughout the year in our weekly strategy guides, so feel free to refer back to it at any time.

$/Point

Dollars per point; the number of dollars each projected point costs. For example, if a player is priced at $10,000 and is projected for 20 points, you would divide $10,000 by 20 to get $500/point. The lower this number, the better, as you want to pay the least amount of salary possible for each point. The inverse of points/$ (points per dollar).

50/50

A league type where the top 50 percent of entrants are paid out the same amount (generally a little less than double the entry fee). These are considered “cash games”. They are riskier than head to heads if you only play one lineup, because in a bad week you will lose all of your entry fees, unlike head to heads where even a bad score can still win some matchups.

Action

Refers to the amount of contests or money in play on a given site, i.e. “I have a lot of action on FanDuel this week”.

Bankroll

The amount of money you have available to invest in daily fantasy sports.

Buy-in

The amount of money required to enter a particular contest. Same as “entry fee”.

Cash Games

Generally safe games where you have roughly a 50 percent chance at winning. Head to heads, 50/50s, and double up league types are all considered cash games. These types of contests are generally the backbone of a bankroll-building strategy for “grinders”. Tournaments are the opposite of cash games.

Ceiling

The best possible outcome for a player, team, or lineup. For example, Jamaal Charles scored 4 TDs in a game in 2013, which would be his ceiling. The opposite of floor. See also: upside.

Contrarian

Going against the grain with a selection, in hopes that the player will not be highly used, thus making the selection more valuable in tournaments where your score needs to beat a large majority of entries. Using a stud in a tough matchup is a common contrarian strategy.

CV

Coefficient of Variation; the standard deviation of a data set divided by its mean. In DFS, can be used as a measure of consistency. For example, if Jimmy Graham averages 16 fantasy points points per game with a standard deviation of 8 points per game, the CV is 50%. In a given week, Graham can be expected to score 50 percent more or 50 percent less than his average. The lower this number, the more consistent a player is.

Deposit Bonus

The percentage of money you deposit to a daily fantasy site that the site matches. For example, a 100 percent deposit bonus means if you deposit $1,000, you’ll get $2,000 total. These bonuses typically unlock over time as you play more games, so in the example above, you would start with $1,000 in your account and the $1,000 bonus would slowly be transferred over as you play in contests.

DFS

Abbreviation for Daily Fantasy Sports.

Donk

Short for “donkey.” A poor DFS player who seemingly enjoys throwing away money.

Double-Up

A contest where winners double their entry fee. Even though you have to finish in roughly the top 40 percent of entries, this is considered a cash game.

Entry Fee

The amount of money required to enter a particular league. Same as “buy-in”.

Exposure

The amount of money or percentage of bankroll you have invested in a player. For example, if you put Tom Brady in every one of your lineups, you have 100 percent exposure to him. The more exposure you have to a player, the riskier.

Fade

To avoid a certain player or players. This is generally done either because you expect the player to be heavily owned and want to have a contrarian lineup, or because you think the player is simply a bad value proposition.

Fish

An inexperienced or poor DFS player. Usually preyed on by “sharks”.

Flex

A lineup slot that can be occupied by a RB, WR, or TE.

Floor

The expected worst possible outcome for a player, team, or lineup, in terms of points scored. For example, if the worst Drew Brees ever does even in a bad game is 250 yards and 2 TDs, that would be considered his floor. The opposite of ceiling.

FPPG

It is simply the average amount of fantasy points (on that particular site) that a given player scores in one game. (See What is FPPG for more info)

Freeroll

A league that costs nothing to enter but has cash prizes. Sites usually hold freerolls to reward loyal customers to their site, or to attract new customers, etc.

Full-PPR

A daily fantasy scoring system that awards one point per reception. DraftKings is a popular full PPR site.

Grinder

A daily fantasy player who treats it as an investment, placing the majority of their money in play in safe cash games with the aim of turning out gradual profits over time.

GPP

Guaranteed Prize Pool; a contest in which the prizes are guaranteed, no matter if it completely fills or not. These are usually where a small number of entrants (typically ~10 percent) get paid, and winners receive a substantially greater share of the prize money. The term “GPP” is generally used interchangeably with “tournament”, although some “cash games” also have guaranteed prize pools.

Half-PPR (0.5-PPR)

A daily fantasy scoring system that awards 0.5 points per reception.

Handcuff

A popular strategy in football where you pick a QB and WR from the same team.

Head-to-Head

A contest where you square off against another daily fantasy player for a prize (typically just under double your entry fee minus the site’s rake). Head-to-heads are the safest “cash game”; even if you do poorly you still have the chance to win matchups versus those who did even worse.

Hedge

Actions and strategies deployed to reduce the overall risk (usually resulting in the reduction of potential reward as well) of losing a large portion of your bankroll. For example, you can hedge your main lineup with a second lineup with completely different players.

High-Stakes

Contests where the entry fees are on the high end of the spectrum.

Late Swap

A site feature where a player may be swapped out of a lineup for another player until his actual game has started, as opposed to lineups locking completely when the first game starts.

Multi-Entry

A contest where multiple entries are allowed. Large GPP tournaments and qualifiers typically allow multiple entries.

Overlay

The result of a GPP not completely filling. The prizes will still be allocated out as if the contest filled, but entrants have to beat less players. A daily fantasy site loses money on these.

Amount of overlay can be calculated by subtracting (entry fees * entrants) from prizes guaranteed. For example, a contest with a $1 entry fee and $100 guaranteed in prizes would have a $50 overlay if only 50 contestants entered.

Pay Up

Spending a premium amount of salary on a player or position, i.e. “there isn’t much value at TE, so I’m going to pay up for Jimmy Graham.”

Player Prop Bet

Refers to a line set by Vegas sports books on the occurrence or non-occurrence during a game of an event not directly affecting the game’s final outcome. For example, Vegas will have a prop bet on how many receiving yards Calvin Johnson will get. These can be used to make lineup decisions.

Points/$

Points per dollar; the number of projected points per each dollar of salary. If you have a player projected to score 16 points with a salary of $8,000, that’s good for $0.02 points per dollar. The higher this number, the better, as you want to maximize projected points for every dollar you spend. The inverse of $/Point (dollars per point).

Punt

Spending minimum or near-minimum salary on a position, usually because a position is very unpredictable or low-scoring, or because you want to fit other high-priced players in your lineup. Spending a small amount of salary reduces the impact of a bad selection, but puts more stress on the rest of your lineup to exceed value.

Qualifier

A tournament in which the grand prize or prizes is free entry into another league, usually one with a large prize pool. Many qualifiers pay out non-ticket winnings entrants in the same structure as tournaments, but some only award tickets to other contests and no cash prizes.

Rake

The amount of commission the site takes off each entry fee. The industry standard rake is 9-10 %, but can be less in higher-stakes games.

Rakeback Program

A program by which you receive a portion of your rake back as you play more and more on a site, typically awarded to users who play a large amount of money on a site.

Referral Program

A program by which you get incentives, usually in the form of cash or free entry into games, for referring first-time users to a daily fantasy site. Most sites have a referral link that you can share.
Regression to the Mean

A phenomenon that if a variable is extreme on its first measurement, it will tend to be closer to the average on its second measurement—and, paradoxically, if it is extreme on its second measurement, it will tend to have been closer to the average on its first.

Typically if a player posts a very good or bad score in the previous week or weeks, DFS players may want to account for some natural regression to the mean occurring.

ROI

Return on investment. Can apply to how many points a player returns relative to his salary, or how much profit you make relative to money in play.

Shark

A skilled DFS player who preys on poor or inexperienced players (“fish”), especially in head-to-head matchups.

Single-Entry

A contest where only one entry is allowed.

Stack/Stacking

A pairing of multiple players from the same team or in the same game. This can be done to increase lineup volatility or decrease lineup volatility.

To increase volatility, you would stack multiple players from the same team that are dependent on one another. The most common stack is a QB with at least one of his receivers; if the QB goes off, it’s likely his receivers will as well and vice versa.

To decrease volatility, you can stack players that cannibalize each other’s value, such as a QB and RB on the same team. It’s unlikely both will go off, but it’s a safe bet that you’ll get credit for all of that teams yardage and TDs that day.

Studs-and-Scrubs

A type of lineup where you combine a bunch of very cheap players with a bunch of the most expensive players.

Survivor Tournament

A type of tournament where you need to finish above a scoring certain cut-off to advance to the next week.

Tilt

Poor lineup or bankroll decision making, typically caused by frustration and sometimes exacerbated by alcohol.

Tournament

A high-risk, high-reward contest where a small number of entrants (typically 10-20 percent) share the prize money, with a higher allocation of prize money going to the top finishers. Tournaments are also referred to as “GPPs”.

Train

The same lineup being entered multiple times into a multi-entry tournament.

Triple-Up

A contest where winners triple their entry fee.

Upside

The existence of potential favorable outcomes that would result in a player outperforming his salary. For example, a minimum priced player who is slated to get a starter’s workload is said to have a lot of upside (ability to outperform current salary). An expensive player like Calvin Johnson can also have upside because he is always liable to go for 100+ yards and multiple TDs. See also: ceiling.

Upside can also refer to how much prize money you can win relative to your entry fees. For example, if you put all your money in play into tournaments, you have more upside than if you put all of it into safer “cash games”.

Value

The amount of points a player is projected to score relative to his salary. This amount is usually calculated by dividing a player’s projected points by (salary/1,000).

For example, if LeSean McCoy costs $9,000 and is projected for 18 points, 18 / ($9,000/1,000) = 18 / 9 = 2.

The higher a player’s value, the more attractive that player is. Value is similar to “$/point” and “points/$”

Vegas Line

Refers to the spread, money line, or over/under total of Vegas sportsbooks for a given game or slate of games. These are useful to determine likely game outcomes and make lineup decisions based off those outcomes.

Viable

Used to describe a selection that can be reasonably expected to return value at his current price, i.e. “Larry Donnell at $5,000 is a viable option”.

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