Strategies to Turn DFS into a Side Hustle

Want to take your DFS game to the next level and start bringing in some real cash? Here's how you can turn your DFS hobby into a blooming side hustle!

Matt Brown
By Matt BrownPublished: May 10, 2024
Strategies to Turn DFS into a Side Hustle

Daily fantasy sports can be more than simply a hobby for sports enthusiasts. With the right strategies and a bit of dedication, it can transform into a decent little side hustle. If you go even further, it can even be your main source of income.

The appeal of DFS as a side hustle lies in its flexibility, potential for massive earnings, and the thrill of using your sports knowledge to compete against others.

However, turning DFS into a consistent source of income requires more than just luck; it demands smart strategies, particularly in bankroll management and drafting effective lineups. If you can crush it in both of those areas, then you can easily make DFS a lucrative side hustle to supplement your income.

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Why DFS is an Ideal Side Hustle

DFS offers a unique blend of entertainment and potential income that sets it apart from other side hustles. We're not saying it'll be less work, but it definitely won't be as grueling as perhaps landscaping or washing cars as a side hustle.

Unlike seasonal fantasy sports, DFS contests are short-term—often daily or weekly, depending on the platform — which allows players to see quick returns on their investments. These immediate returns can be highly satisfying and financially rewarding.

Think of it like this. Let's say your bankroll is capped at $1,000. That's how much you would pump into a DFS platform and use as playing cash (of course, don't forget to leverage a bonus offer as well). Now, let's say you only play in $10 contests, and throughout the course of a month, you play in 100 contests ($10 x 100 = $1,000). Even if you barely get ahead at a 55% win rate, that's $1,045 at the end of the month or a 4.5% increase. When you look at that over a year (the same way interest is calculated), that's a 54% increase in your cash! The stock market can't even do that good!

On top of that, DFS is scalable; players can start small and increase their stakes as they become more experienced. The skills you develop in DFS, such as statistical analysis and strategic planning, are valuable and transferrable to many professional environments. 

Essential Strategies for Bankroll Management

Effective bankroll management is crucial for anyone looking to make a consistent profit in DFS.

Here are a few bankroll strategies to think about if you're looking to get a solid stream of income from DFS.

Set a Budget and Stick to It

The golden rule of any form of gambling is never to bet more than you can afford to lose, and DFS is no different.

Determine how much of your disposable income you can allocate to DFS without impacting your financial stability. This will be a one-time investment, so be sure to consider that. If you have to keep making deposits, then it means you're chasing losses, and that's not good.

Of course, this amount will be different from person to person. For some, it may be $100, and for others, it might be $1000. 

Determine Your Unit Amount

Once you have your budget set, now you have to determine how much you want to wager per contest. We typically call this a unit. 

A common approach is to use a fixed percentage of your bankroll for each contest, typically between 1% and 5%. This method helps mitigate risk and extend your play duration.

For example, if your bankroll is $1,000 and your unit size is 5%, then you would stick to contests that are $50 or less. That's pretty easy to find.

It's tempting to create a solid lineup and go all in as you try to max out with a big win, but remember that we're playing the long game here. We're not after big wins, but instead, we want a constant stream of small and easy wins.

Utilize Diversified Contest Entries

To balance risk and reward, diversify your contest entries across different types (e.g., head-to-head, 50/50s, large field tournaments, etc.).

While tournaments offer higher payouts, they are also more volatile and more difficult to cash in on.

On the other hand, cash games provide more consistent, albeit smaller, wins.

You want to balance the types of games you play to mitigate risk to your bankroll. We recommend around 70-80% of your bankroll be allocated to cash games with around 20% allocated to tournaments.

Understand Variance and Stay Consistent

Variance in DFS is inevitable. You will undoubtedly go through ebbs and flows with your bankroll. Even the most skilled players will face periods of losses.

The key is consistency in your approach and adherence to your strategy, even during downswings.

Adjusting your strategy based on short-term outcomes can lead to bigger losses. So, avoid changing up your strategy and stick with it, even if you're on a sour losing streak. You will eventually crawl out of it and be better off once you're through it.

Drafting Winning Lineups: Strategies to Consider

With a solid bankroll strategy in play, it's time to put together your lineups. Crafting successful DFS lineups is both an art and a science.

Research and Use Reliable Data

Success in DFS heavily relies on research and data analysis. This is true with any type of sports betting or pick'ems.

Utilize a variety of sources to gather information on player performance, game conditions, and matchups. If you rely too much on a single source, you could end up getting burned. 

Advanced metrics, such as player usage rates and matchup strength, can provide an edge over the competition. It will seem daunting at first, but after a few weeks of thorough analysis, you'll begin to pick up speed and be able to craft winning lineups in no time.

Emphasize Value Over Star Power

While it might be tempting to fill your lineup with star players, they'll surely eat up your salary cap. The key to DFS success often lies in identifying undervalued players who can outperform their cost.

This strategy allows you to allocate more resources to other positions and maximize overall lineup potential.

We like to use the fantasy points to salary ratio. This helps us calculate the overall "value" of the player.

To get a better idea of the value of a player, let's compare two players on FanDuel.

  • Jared Jones | Pitcher | Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Salary: $10,200
  • FPPG: 38.7

At first, that sounds great. After all, he's averaging 38.7 points per game. But that $10,200 will surely eat up a lot of salary cap space.

So now let's look at another player.

Cole Irvin | Pitcher | Baltimore Orioles

Salary: $8,100

FPPG: 27.8

That's a lot fewer fantasy points, but the salary is more palatable. 

To compare the two pitchers, we're going to calculate the value of each.

  • Jared Jones — 38.7 / 10200 = 0.0038
  • Cole Irvin — 27.8 / 8100 = 0.0034

In our example, Jones is expected to get 0.0038 points per every salary cap dollar you spend on him. Irvin, on the other hand, is expected to rack up 0.0034 points for each dollar spent. The obvious player with the better value is Jared Jones even though you'll eat up more cap space on him.

Pay Attention to Game Scripts

This strategy takes a bit more understanding of the game and how each team plays. Anticipate how a game is likely to unfold based on matchups and team strategies.

For example, a running back might be more valuable in a game where his team is favored and likely to be running the clock out. The last 2 minutes or so of the game will be on the ground if they're trying to run out the clock so the QB and WRs won't get much points if any.

On the flip side, a quarterback and his receivers might be preferable in a matchup where their team is expected to be trailing and throwing frequently. They'll be trying to get the quick yards to get into the end zone before time expires.

Leverage Late Swap Where Applicable

In platforms that allow for late swaps (i.e. DraftKings), keep an eye on last-minute lineup changes or weather conditions that could impact player performance.

This flexibility can be a significant advantage. However, not all DFS platforms allow late swaps.

And just because a DFS app allows late swaps doesn't mean you need to swap out at the last minute all the time. This is only if you notice late trends or changes that could affect the game. This is more of an "as needed" strategy to constructing your lineup.

Stay Informed on Player News and Updates

Last-minute injuries or changes in player status can drastically alter the DFS market if you're quick to respond, which could allow you to exploit opportunities that other players may overlook.

This is a good use-case for the late swap. If you see a player is listed as "out" at game time and you make the move fast enough, you could swap that player out for another that will at least bring in some fantasy points. An injured player, after all, will bring in exactly zero points if they never make it on the field.

Practice and Patience is the Key to a DFS Side Hustle

Transforming your DFS plays into a profitable side hustle isn't something that happens overnight. It's a slow process that will inevitably get bigger and faster as you improve your skills in managing your bankroll and building your lineups.

DFS requires practice, patience, and continual learning. By employing these effective bankroll management strategies and becoming adept at drafting competitive lineups, you can turn your sports knowledge into a rewarding financial venture.

Just like any investment, the key is to start small, learn through experience, and gradually increase your involvement as your skills improve.

Matt Brown

Matt Brown

Head of DFS

Matt's deep-rooted enthusiasm for sports betting and daily fantasy sports infuses the EatWatchDraft team with valuable expertise in football, hockey, and baseball. His forward-thinking perspectives are grounded in a solid academic foundation, including a B.S. in Aeronautical Computer Science and an M.S. in Project Management. This combination of sports passion and technical knowledge fuels Matt's innovative input to the platform.