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The emergence of non-football fantasy sports

Fantasy sports has typically focused on a handful of sports over the last 20 years as it has exploded in popularity. However, fantasy sports date back much further than the late 1990s. In fact, many cite Wilfred Winkenbach’s 1963 NFL fantasy league as the first ever fantasy sports league. Since then, baseball, NBA basketball and NHL ice hockey have become popular fantasy sports.


In the United Kingdom, association football has become a major player in fantasy games, whether it be daily fantasy sports, long format leagues or a variation of the two, like Sky Sports’ Six-a-Side.

What about those other sports that sit outside the usual suspects? There are a host of emerging fantasy sports and formats currently, and more are being developed. As fantasy sports continues to grow, so should their popularity with online players.

Fantasy golf

Although many cite NFL and baseball as the first sports to be played by fantasy fans, golf was actually the very first. Before he devised fantasy NFL, Wickenbach had his finger on the fantasy golf world, creating the game with friends in Oakland, California.

Golf is one of the newer daily fantasy sports games and is one that is growing leaps and bounds. Compared to football, basketball or NFL daily fantasy sports, many players are just finding it.

It seems daily fantasy golf is very similar to that original game that Wickenbach and company created. Although the points scoring is more complex, players must draft a team of six golfers. Those selections must be made under the restrictions of a salary cap, however.

The points scoring system will vary slightly depending on the daily fantasy sports website you play with. The main fantasy websites offer fantasy golf that corresponds with the major PGA golf tournaments during the year; giving you the perfect chance to win some real money.

Fantasy cricket

Another of the emerging daily fantasy sports games is cricket. There are two types of fantasy cricket that players can choose from. The first is rounds, which takes place over multiple days, giving players the chance to score points over a longer period.

Daily cricket is the other option players can choose, and players selected for daily cricket must be playing on that specific day. Daily cricket gives fantasy cricket managers the chance to enjoy shorter games, cashing in after the conclusion of a match or set of matches.

Once you have selected your game, the rules are pretty straight forward. Managers must select a team of 11 with three substitutes. You can adjust your batting line-up and bowlers the way you see fit.

From there, scoring is similar to a real cricket match. To win, your team of batsmen must score more runs than your bowlers give up. If you can do this, you will take home top-prize.

Fantasy MMA

Not all fantasy daily sports websites offer MMA, but it is catching on. Fantasy MMA players must draft a team of six fighters. Most of the major UFC events will be featured on daily fantasy sports, so you need to pay attention to your favourite fantasy website and see who is fighting.

The six fighters must be chosen within a specified salary cap. Each fighter will earn your team points based on their time in the octagon. The UFC fantasy games only last the duration of one of the organisation’s events, so you won’t be playing this over a long period. Scoring is based on a variety of things, such as punches, takedowns and wins.

Fantasy MMA is a fun, face-paced game that can leave you with quite a large fight purse and it won’t leave you with any black eyes.

If you are looking for something new in the daily fantasy sports world, try one of these games. Playing one of them could make things far more interesting the next time you sit down to watch sports.

About the author

Drew Farmer

Drew Farmer is a football journalist and former English teacher, with years of experience writing for websites such as Forza Italian Football, World Soccer Talk, MLSGB, Bleacher Report and more. Drew's first book, Soccer Travels, was released in April 2016.