You probably don’t need any more proof that fantasy football is popular, but former Denver Broncos tight end Nate Jackson has some for you anyway: “I heard that during one game last year, Baltimore Ravens tight end Ben Watson was having a good day on the field, and one of the guys he was playing against congratulated him,” Jackson says. “The other guy had Watson on his fantasy squad that day.”
That pro baller was one of almost 60 million people in the U.S. and Canada who’ve plunged into what’s known as Daily Fantasy Sports, commonly called DFS. You’ve seen the ads, too: competing boasts of millionaire minting from two archrival startups, New York–based FanDuel and Boston-based DraftKings. Both run on the same premise—gamers compile a team within a certain salary budget, then pony up a few bucks to enter an online contest.
With DFS, though, gamers can break out of their sleepy office pool and test their skill against as many as hundreds or thousands of other lineups in one hypercompetitive (and potentially lucrative) fantasy free-for-all. Here’s how to start indulging your inner Bill Belichick—no cut-off sweatshirts required.