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Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) is a version of fantasy that lets you play in daily or weekly competitions instead of season-long leagues like traditional fantasy.
In DFS competitions, users create virtual lineups of real players in a variety of sports. Athletes on that roster receive points based on their statistical performance in real-life games. In the end, users with the most points win a portion of the prize pool.
Many DFS sites even allow you to play against the house and bet on player props, similar to prop betting at legal sportsbooks.
Most DFS contests are paid with entry fees ranging from a few bucks to hundreds of dollars. However, there are ways you can play without depositing and many DFS sites offer free rolls, which are just contests that are free to play with lower payouts.
FanDuel, DraftKings, and a number of other DFS sites offer ways you can play for free. The payouts are much smaller than in paid competitions, but, hey, free is free.
This guide outlines how to play at FanDuel and DraftKings for free and what other DFS sites offer free contests.
FanDuel Free DFS Contests
FanDuel DFS is a platform that needs no introduction among sports fans. For a decade or so, it held a duopoly with DraftKings in the daily fantasy sports market.
Newcomers like Underdog Fantasy and OwnersBox have been challenging their dominance as of late, but they still remain the top dogs.
The free contests on FanDuel's DFS platform get a lot of traction. As the name suggests, players don't have to spend a dime to join them. You only need to sign up for an account to enter the free contest. The game's description and prize money will appear when you opt-in.
Prize pools for free contests are usually much smaller than those for paid ones. On the other hand, the number of entries is higher, often exceeding 10,000, so there is little room for errors. Still, free contests are a great way to experiment with the platform and DFS games in general.
Free contests differ in format and prize money. Here are a few examples of free contests FanDuel has held to help you get an idea of how it all works:
- Fanatics Free Rolls: Traditional draft-style contest that gives entrants a 25% off coupon for their next Fanatics order. Players that finish in the top 25 also receive a $25 gift card to Fanatics.
- GMC Sierra Mountain Climber Pick'Em: During this pop quiz, players need to answer a series of questions about the upcoming NFL round. The more accurate your answers, the higher your ranking. There was a $10k prize pool and at least that many participants in the past.
- NFL Hi-Lo: This player prop game challenges the contestants to determine which players or teams will perform better against a specific statistical benchmark. The prize pool was $10k, and there were around 25k entries.
- Perfect Picks: These daily free contests have a $1,000 prize pool. The challenge entails answering several questions about NBA players. If you get all the answers right, you will be eligible for the prize that day.
DraftKings Free Contests
Like FanDuel, DraftKings DFS runs free contests every once in a while. The concept is the same—simply register and opt-in for the game without having to pay anything.
Here are a few examples of free contests DK has offered in the past:
- NHL Free 200-Player: The free-to-join game is open to 200 entrants. In this draft-based game, players must assemble their perfect roster without exceeding the preset salary cap.
- NBA Free 200-Player: This contest is the same as above, but with the NBA. The athletes from users’ virtual lineups receive points based on how they fare statistically in real life. For instance, a three-point shot is worth 0.5 pts, while a rebound is equivalent to 1.5 pts.
- NFL $10K NFL Playoffs Free Contests: Create a roster and win points based on how its real-life counterparts perform in actual NFL playoffs. While assembling your team, you need to assign one player to be the captain. They will receive bonus points for certain statistical achievements.
Other DFS Sites With Free Contests
Aside from DraftKings and FanDuel, several other DFS sites offer free games or no deposit bonuses, which amounts to the same thing—you can play without committing financially. Here’s the scoop on some of them.
ParlayPlay is a decent DFS platform that offers a free $5 join bonus on sign-up. There are two types of games on the site: More/Less and Hit It. The former is a player props prediction contest where you need to estimate the stat totals of athletes across different sports. Unlike More/Less, Hit It involves predicting the range in which a particular player is likely to fall based on a specific stat.
ParlayPlay also offers Free2Play contests where you can join free and win bonus funds for your account if you win the contest. For example, as of the time of this writing, ParlayPlay is offering an NBA contest that pays out $150 to the winner.
>> Join ParlayPlay & receive a 100% deposit match up to $100 + a $5 entry here
First-time users get $5 when they sign up at VividPicks.
The site offers parlay games against the house in which users select up to five athletes and can win up to a 17x payout if they hit all picks.
VividPicks features a variety of sports, including major leagues, niche sports, and several esports. One of the unique aspects of the platform is its social component, allowing entrants to see each other's picks and interact.
>> Join Vivid Picks & receive a 100% deposit match up to $100
OwnersBox just started offering free rolls in 2023 and they’re a great way to figure out if you like the platform and want to invest real money into it.
OwnersBox also offers a sizable no-deposit bonus—a free $10 Superflex DFS entry and a free $10 LightningLineups entry. On top of this, first-time depositors can claim a 100% bonus of up to $500 and become part of the rewards program.
>> Join OwnersBox & receive 2 free $10 entries + a 100% deposit match up to $500
Benefits of Playing Free DFS Contests
Participating in free DFS contests has several notable benefits for rookies and seasoned players alike:
- Learn to play: Partaking in free contests is a risk-free way for a rookie to get their feet wet. After brushing up on your skills, you can jump into the real money DFS games with larger pools.
- Play without risking money: Entry fees for some DFS contests can be quite costly, especially for high-volume players. Free contests will help you preserve your bankroll and extend gameplay.
- Test your strategies: By participating in a free contest, you can try out a high-risk strategy you’ve been reluctant to implement otherwise because of financial concerns.
- Check if you even like DFS: Taking part in free contests can help you gain an understanding of the whole system and determine whether you enjoy this form of gaming at all.