Daily Fantasy Sports: Glossary of Terms

It's relatively easy to get started with daily fantasy sports, as most of what's involved is quite straightforward. As you're learning, though, you're likely to come across a few words and phrases that you might not immediately understand in the context of daily fantasy sports.

That's why we've put together this glossary of daily fantasy sports terms. We explain all the jargon you're likely to encounter when you start playing.


50/50: A 50/50 is a type of daily fantasy sports contest where half the entrants win. The other half lose. These can be safe, but if you're using the same lineup in multiple contests, you're increasing risk.


Action is the amount of money you're putting on the line.


The total amount of money you have set aside to play with in daily fantasy sports contests.


Bearish is a synonym for pessimistic. You can be bearish on players or teams.


Bullish is a synonym for optimistic. It's the opposite of bearish.

Buy In:

The cost of entering a daily fantasy sports contest.

Cash Games:

A category of daily fantasy contest. Head to head contests, 50/50s, and double up leagues are all considered cash games because there is roughly a 50% chance of winning. Grinders stick with these kinds of contests.


The most you can expect from a particular player, team, or roster. Ceiling is the opposite of floor.

Coefficient of Variation:

When you divide the standard deviation of a data set by its mean, you've calculated the CV, or coefficient of variation. This number is used to compare how consistent a particular player is.


The commission is the percentage of the entry fee that the site keeps in exchange for hosting the league. Commission is also sometimes called rake or vig. Example: You and one other player are playing in a heads up league. You each pay $10 to play. The prize for winning is $18, even though the total entry fees were $20. The $2 that the site kept is the commission.


A contrarian does the opposite of what most people are doing. For example, a contrarian may hope to create value by using a player that a lot of other players might not be using.


See Coefficient of Variation.

Deposit Bonus:

When you make your first deposit at a daily fantasy sports site, the website will offer a percentage of that deposit as bonus money. This is called a deposit bonus. Example: You sign up for a site which offers a 100% deposit bonus of up to $300. You deposit $300, and get a $300 deposit bonus.


DFS is an acronym for daily fantasy sports.

Dollars per Point ($/Point):

Dollars per point is how much of the salary cap is spent for each point a player scores. The fewer dollars spent per point, the better.


A donk, or donkey, is someone who plays badly. The expression is borrowed from poker, where players who are just throwing away money are called donks.

Double Up:

A double up is a contest where the winners get back twice their entry fee. You have to finish in the top 40% to double up, but it's still considered a cash game rather than a tournament.

Entry Fee:

How much it costs to enter a particular league.


See Expected Value.

Expected Value:

Often abbreviated to EV. The amount of money you expect to win or lose on a particular bet. The idea is to look for positive expected value, or +EV, situations.


The amount of bankroll invested in a player is the exposure. It's expressed as a percentage. Example: You've entered 100 contests this week. Your quarterback in all of them is Tony Romo. You have 100% exposure to Tony Romo. As a general rule, you take on more risk by having more exposure on a particular player.


Avoiding a particular player is said to be fading that player. There might be different reasons to fade a player, such as expecting them to perform poorly in their upcoming game or expecting a lot of opponents to have them in their lineup.


A fish is a new player in fantasy sports, or a player who's not very good. It's an expression borrowed from poker. The opposite of a fish is a shark.


A lineup slot in your roster that can be filled with players of multiple positions is a flex slot. Usually there'll be a flex player in a fantasy football league, and that spot can be filled with a running back, a tight end, or a wide receiver.


The floor is the worst possible result that can be expected from a player or team. It's the opposite of the ceiling.


A fantasy sports contest where the entry fee is $0 but there's still cash prizes available. Daily fantasy sites offer freerolls to incentivize their customers.


See Guaranteed Prize Pool.

Guaranteed Prize Pool:

A fantasy sports contest with guaranteed minimum cash prizes. Usually the cash prizes in a tournament are based on a percentage of the total entry fees, but a guaranteed prize pool has minimum prizes for placing in the tournament. If you can find a GPP tournament with fewer entries than the prizes would warrant, you can put yourself in a positive expectation (+EV) situation. This situation is called an Overlay.


A grinder is a player who sticks with cash games. A grinder tries to make gradual profits over longer periods of time.

Heads Up:

See Head to Head.

Head to Head:

A head to head contest is one where you have a single opponent. These are the safest cash games in which you can participate. Also known as HTH or Heads Up.


Any strategy which is meant to reduce the overall risk is a hedge. The word is also often used as a verb, to "hedge" your bets. Example: You put together a great lineup and enter 50 cash games with that lineup. You then put together a second lineup and enter 50 cash games with that lineup. You're hedging, because you're reducing the amount of risk involved if one of the lineups performs poorly.

High Stakes:

High stakes contests are those with high entry fees. For example, most people would think that a contest with a $10,000 entry fee is a high stakes contest.


See Head to Head.

Late Swap:

Some sites offer a feature where you can swap a player out of a lineup as long as his game hasn't actually started. Other sites lock lineups as soon as the first games start.


Some daily fantasy sports contests allow entrants to enter multiple times. These are called multi-entry tournaments. The larger the tournament is, the more likely it is to accept multiple entries.


A multiplier is a daily fantasy sports contest where the prize is a multiple of the entry fee. Example: You pay $10 to play in a fantasy sports contest where the winner or winners get $100. This is a 10X multiplier. These contests offer a higher risk compared to cash games.


An overlay is a situation that comes up when a daily fantasy sports site holds a tournament with a guaranteed prize pool (GPP) that doesn't have enough entrants to warrant the size of the prizes. The term overlay also refers to the extra money that the site is contributing to the tournament. Example: A site holds a GPP with a $50,000 prize pool and a $50 entry fee. Only 800 people enter the contest, which means the site collected $40,000 in entry fee money. The extra $10,000 in prize money is the overlay.

Pay Up:

Spending more salary on a position than usual is known as paying up.

Player Prop Bet:

A player prop bet is a bet available at an online or Las Vegas sportsbook on an individual player's performance. The availability of these kinds of bets can help inform your lineup choices. Example: The sportsbooks have a player prop bet available on Tony Romo based on how many yards he'll throw. Know that the people who set the lines in Vegas are usually right, you can use that bet as a way to project how many points Romo is likely to earn for a fantasy lineup.

Points per Dollar (Points/$):

Points per dollar (Points/$) is a way to project how much value you're getting for your lineup. It's the number of points made per dollar of the salary cap spent. A higher points/$ is better than a lower points/$. When making projections, you can use this number to measure how much value one lineup offers over another.

Points per Reception:

A Points per Reception contest is one in which points are awarded every time someone catches the ball. Wide receivers become more valuable in such a league, which changes the optimal draft strategy. Often abbreviated to PPR.


See Points Per Reception.


In a daily fantasy sports contest, punting is when you're spending close to the minimum salary on a position. You might do this because that position is unpredictable, or because the position doesn't traditionally score much. Fantasy managers often punt with kickers, for example. Punting allows for more money to be spent on other positions, but they need to perform proportionally better in order to make this a good strategy decision.


A qualifier is a daily fantasy sports tournament where the prize is an entry into another, larger fantasy sports tournament.


An expression borrowed from poker. In a poker game conducted in a cardroom, online or off, the cardroom supports itself by taking a percentage of each pot—usually 5%. In a daily fantasy sports contest, the rake is usually 10% of the entry fees. Example: Two opponents each pay $10 to play in a head-to-head tournament. The prize for winning the tournament is $18. The other $2 is the rake.


To add a low value player to a lineup. A player with a high dollar cost per projected point is a low value player. If an entire lineup consists of low value players, it will probably lose.

Referral Program:

A referral program is an incentive program where daily fantasy sports sites pay a reward to players who refer new players to the site. This reward is often a percentage of the amount of rake that the player pays.

Return on Investment:

Return on investment refers to the percentage return on your entry fees. Often abbreviated to ROI. Example: You enter 100 head-to-head cash games at $10 each, so you've put $1000 into play one week. You win 70 of those contests at $18 each, for a total win of $1260. Your profit is $260, which is 26% of the $1000 you invested in the entry fees. Daily fantasy sports players also sometimes use the expression to refer to how much a player scores versus his salary.


A term borrowed from poker, a shark is an experienced player who preys on the fish at a site. Most sharks focus on cash games, especially head-to-head contests.

Single Entry:

The opposite of a multi-entry contest is a single-entry contest. Single entry contests can only be entered once.


Lining up players from the same team. This can increase or decrease the volatility of a team, depending on which positions are stacked. Example: You stack the quarterback and the wide receiver from a particular team. This increases your lineup's volatility, because if the team has a good week, you get extra points from both players. But if the team has a bad week, your performance suffers proportionally.

Studs and Scrubs:

A studs and scrubs lineup is also sometimes called a high-low lineup. It's a roster that consists of a combination of inexpensive players and expensive players. Survivor Tournament: A survivor tournament is one where you have to achieve a minimum score in order to continue to the next stage of the contest the following week.


A player who is tilting is making bad decisions because he's frustrated or mad about bad luck.


A category of daily fantasy sports contests. Tournaments have multiple entrants, but only the top 20% or top 10% of the players get prize money. The rest of the field gets nothing. Risk is higher in a tournament, but the potential reward is also higher. The strategy for tournaments differs from the strategy for cash games.


When you enter the same lineup in multiple contests, you've created a train.

Triple Up:

A fantasy sports contest where you can win triple your entry fee.


The potential for a player to perform better than you'd expect him to based on his salary. Upside is also used to refer to how much money you can win versus your entry fee.


A player has value based on how much he scores relative to his salary. A player who gets a lot of points relative to his salary provides good value, but a player who generates few points relative to his salary provides poor value. Value is usually measured in points/$.

Vegas Line:

The Vegas line refers to the predictions that Vegas sportsbooks have made regarding upcoming games. This can refer to the point spread or the over/under. You can use the Vegas line to inform your lineup decisions.


A lineup choice that is expected to provide value is considered viable.

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