Have you tried to listen to a fantasy sports podcast and been unable to follow it because of all the jargon? If you’re new to daily fantasy sports, here’s a constantly updated list of some key terminology that you’re going to want to be familiar with in order to utilize tips from fantasy experts. As language is constantly evolving and new slang is being invented, we’ll update this page as new phrases and terms enter the DFS lexicon. Also note, that many of the words or phrases used in Daily Fantasy Sports overlap (and often their origins) in other types of wagering (such as at sportsbooks or wagering) and may or may not mean the same in regards to fantasy sports. Please let us know if we’re missing any terms or phrases not listed below.
Rake: the amount of money the fantasy site takes out of the pot for running the contest (same definition as poker). One of the reasons the fantasy sports model should be bulletproof, the website or platform doesn’t make money when users lose but when they play. Sites such as DraftKings and FanDuel make money simply by hosting and facilitating the contests by taking a percentage of the pool. The size of the rake is not consistent across websites or even on the same website. DraftKings periodically offers rake-free contests at extremely low-stakes entry levels. Generally speaking, rake sizes are typically lower at high stakes and on promotional rake-free contests. Being mindful of the rake contributes to projecting a high E.V. (see below).
Slate: the set of games that are going to be played on a particular day and be eligible for the same tournaments and head-to-head matchups. All the players playing on the same slate are eligible to be taken on your daily fantasy team. The standard Sunday slate in the NFL includes the 1:00 p.m. EST and 4:00 p.m. EST games. The Sunday night game is typically not included.
Full Slate: when every team (except those with byes) are playing. Full slates require full knowledge of all the games being played on that particular day because one player may break the slate (see below).
Breaking the slate: when a player is said to perform so well that they must be rostered in order for one’s lineup to have a chance of winning a tournament (or maybe even cashing). An example would be when Joe Mixon scored five touchdowns against the Panthers.
Cashing: to finish in the money in a daily fantasy tournament or cash game (though typically used to mean cashing in tournaments).
Single entry: Refers to a game type where users can only enter one lineup in the contest. Single-entry tournaments could be any size (dozens, hundreds, or thousands of users) but ever user must only enter one lineup.
GPP: stands for “Guaranteed Prize Pool.” These are tournaments where the prize pool, the amount you can win, is guaranteed by the site or platform you play on. These tournaments are typically large field tournaments where you are playing against thousands, usually tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands, other players. Typically, only the top 20% of the field cashes in such tournaments and the payouts are heavily weighted to the top 1% of all entries.
Cash Games: tournaments where half the field typically wins. In these games, you are looking for high-floor players and less focused on contrarian plays.
Superflex: a type of fantasy league that allows one to roster an additional quarterback in the flex position. Historically the flex position was only available to receivers, tight ends, and running backs. Read more about the superflex in fantasy football.
Two Game Slate: special slates where only team teams are playing. Examples are particular Monday Night matchups in the NFL when there are four teams (two games) playing. Two-game slates are much more common in the NBA when there is frequently a nationally televised game at 8:30 and 10:30 EST.
Correlation: a fundamental concept in daily fantasy sports, and gambling more generally, correlation is a claim about the dependent nature of one claim to another. For example, if one posits Travis Kelce to have two receiving touchdowns, it can be assumed that Patrick Mahomes will have at least two passing touchdowns. Another example is the assumption that a defense that performs well can expect to increase the value of the running back for the same team. If one team is struggling on offense, they are likely losing, and teams that have secured a lead will be more likely to run the ball.
Game Stack: When multiple players from each team are rostered on the same fantasy lineup. The reason for doing so is the belief that the game will be very high-scoring and therefore a disproportionate amount of fantasy points compared to the standard game. When projecting high scoring games one will want some way of getting exposure (see below) to the game.
Double Stack (or ‘play doubles’): to pair a quarterback on one team with two receivers (or tight ends) on the same team. When a quarterback’s name appears before a phrase “Mahomes doubles” or “Burrow doubles” it means a player is rostering or contemplating rostering, the quarterback with two of his receivers or tight ends.
Naked: to play a quarterback without pairing him with another player on the same team. The reasons for utilizing this technique may be to create a unique lineup or, more commonly, because your quarterback is a run-first quarterback (such as Lamar Jackson or Justin Fields).
(aDOT): aDOT stands for Average Depth of Target. A stat used determine how far the a player, usually a receiver, is downfield when they are targeted by the quarterback. This is valuable because it provides information about how a player is used in an offense. Read more about average depth of target.
Bring Back: when a player assumes a high-scoring game they will frequently roster players on both teams. A standard scenario would be rostering a quarterback and a receiver on one team, and then “bringing it back” with a player on the other team.
Handcuff: when a star player is limited in statistical output because their backup sees takes valuable touches away from them. An example would be a running back being replaced after a 70-yard run down to the goal line, whose backup scores the touchdown.
Thin: when a player is unlikely to produce a substantial statistical output in order to be relevant on any given slate.
Dust: when a player, defense or team in general consistently under performs both statistically and in terms of their overall performance. A dusty player is one that cannot be relied upon in any circumstance.
Ceiling: the maximum amount of points an individual player can reasonably expect to score in a given game.
Floor: the fewest amount of points a player can reasonably be expected to score. Quarterbacks and running backs typically have a high floor, wide receivers typically have a low floor but a high ceiling.
The Field: Similar to the definition used to define player props, in daily fantasy the field is all other users who entered lineups in a particular tournament or a particular slate.
Touchdown dependent: a touchdown-dependent fantasy player is one that is employed only in goalline situations and rarely elsewhere (oftentimes a fullback or a tight end). Depending on the scoring system of the league or the website, touchdown-dependent options are inherently risky and provide little upside (though they may provide leverage).
Donkey: an amateur fantasy player who seems to have little to no idea what they are doing. They are known to build uncorrelated lineups and roster players based on name recognition alone.
E.V.: stands for “Expected Value.” With origins in probability theory and frequently used in the field of finance, Expected Value is what is the likely return on a particular investment. In short, fantasy players are always looking to get positive E.V. (which means the investment will have a positive return) and want to avoid plays that are negative E.V. (or plays that have a negative financial return).
Tilt: refers to the psychological result of a player causing them distress and impacting one’s ability to play logically. Fans of poker will be familiar with this term as to be put on Tilt in poker is much more common as one may suffer a terrible beat on a single hand and be forced to play another hand immediately. Often players in such situations will play more aggressively in an attempt to “get the money back” that they just lost. Bettors, as the famous line goes, wager more on the Monday Night Football than any other NFL game that week as an attempt to recoup their losses. Setting a budget and pre-determining which contests’ one is going to enter going into the weekend can limit the financial damage that can occur from going on Tilt.
Bankroll: The amount of money either a user a) has in their fantasy account or b) has set aside to play for that particular game. The name dates back to poker where one’s “bankroll” was “all the cash” one had on them.
Collusion: Collusion refers to when two or more players collaborate to break the rules as to the maximum number of lineups one is allowed to enter. In large field tournaments, users can enter up to 150 lineups, by adding another conspirator two people can now enter 300 lineups. Sites such as Draftkings and Fanduels take the threat of collusion seriously as it would jeopardize the integrity of the game. A famous 2020 incident involving a star on the show bachelorette and his wife illustrated the difficulty in regulating (and likely frequency) with which these incidents take place.
MME: MME stands for Mass Multi-Entry. MME’s are fantasy tournaments where users can enter up to 150 different lineups into the same tournament thereby increasing their chances of winning. There are many lineup optimizers available online (either free or paid) that allow users to auto-generate lineups.
Chalk: A chalky play is one likely to be popular on the field and therefore is likely to be owned by a large number of players in the field. Frequently paired with “good chalk” (players that are likely to be highly owned but for good reason) and “bad chalk” (players that will be highly owned but a good idea to fade). If one fades a chalk player who breaks the slate, they will likely not be able to cash in the contest.
Fade: To fade a player in a fantasy contest is to not roster that particular player. On any given slate, there are likely a handful of players whom the public is targeting as being in a great position. Therefore the decision of whether to roster them or fade this group could be the difference in a successful slate.
Late Swap: One of the more advanced strategies used by fantasy players who are looking for a chance to win their contests, late swapping involves changing the players they have rostered in a later slate. Players often do this because they either a) owned too many chalky players in the 1:00 time or b) had underperforming players in the early slate and are trying to target high-ceiling or lower-owned players in the later slate. In smaller contests, such as head-to-head, this strategy is essential to master as one can infer from their opponents’ lineup who their opponent has rostered in the later slate.
Optimizer: An optimizer (or a “lineup optimizer”, or “DFS lineup optimizer”) is a computational tool used by fantasy players to intelligently create up to 150 tournament lineups that properly correlate themselves.
Steam: “Steam” is a term used in daily fantasy sports when a player is highly discussed or touted as a good value play for a given slate as the slate approaches. While it can be positive, indicating consensus on a player’s value, it’s crucial to consider when building lineups due to potential high ownership projections. Remember that fantasy sports are a consistent tug and pull between avoiding highly owned players and rostering players that project the best.
Punt: To punt on a roster position is to play someone who is very cheap which then allows the user to play more expensive players elsewhere. This is an intriguing strategy at positions where there’s no clear statistical outlier and a player only needs one touchdown or big play to justify their rostering. As such, punting on defense is also common in the hopes of getting one touchdown on a strip sack or fumble recovery but beware: punting is a high-risk, medium-high return strategy and should be utilized with caution.
Exposure: exposure is used in two ways in fantasy football. 1) For players entering many different lineups on a particular slate, exposure relates to how common is a single player across all any given user’s lineup. For example, if one enters 100 lineups and has Tyreek HIll in 10 lineups, their exposure would be 10% to Tyreek Hill. 2) Exposure is also used to describe whether one has rostered players from a particular game or not. Ex. “I rostered Isiah Pacheco to get some exposure to the Chiefs vs. Bills game.”
Contrarian: A play that an extremely small percentage of the field is likely to play. As always, contrarian plays need to be wary of the overall floor and ceiling a particular play has. While low ownership is desirable over high ownership, what matters is that your lineup (or lineups) are above the cash line. Seeing a player is low-owned is exciting because of potential but does not guarantee a successful outcome.
Game Script: The game script is the expected game plan a team is going to employ for any given game. Trying to guess the game script is a difficult, but necessary, part of fantasy life, particularly in showdown games. If a team is expected to have their offense play with a high, up-tempo pace they will likely have more snaps, more yards, and, theoretically, more points. However, so will their opponents (see bring back).
Leverage: When a user fades a player is expected to be highly owned and rosters the beneficiary. For example, if a player fades a Jalen Hurts (quarterback, Philadelphia Eagles) and rosters Miles Sanders (running back, Philadelphia Eagles) with the belief that the Eagles will score but the hope that the scoring is done by their running back and not the highly owned quarterback. Finding leverage over the field is crucial to winning large tournaments.