What is Fantasy Football?
If you are brand new to the world of fantasy football, welcome! You are joining over 30 million people across America in one of the fastest growing entertainment industries in the country. Fantasy Football is played weekly from September to January by men, women and even kids. It’s fun and exciting. It’s thrilling and even frustrating at times due to its unpredictable nature. This article is fantasy football for beginners. It aims to provide a high level overview describing what is fantasy football.
How do you play fantasy football? Let’s start with some football basics, specifically NFL football. Fantasy football is a simulation of an NFL league where everyday people play the role of an NFL owner and general manager by selecting players in a draft prior to the start of the season and then earn points based on the NFL player’s real-life performance. Anyone can play fantasy football. No experience required, however, it helps to have some basic knowledge of how the real NFL game works. I suggest learning the NFL scoring system, rosters, positions and general terminology. For more detailed information on rules, check out http://www.nfl.com/rulebook.
Let’s talk fantasy football terminology.
Draft – The draft is one of the most exciting times during the season. A group of 10-14 people (owners) will take turns selecting players until they have filled their roster. Most drafts are called snake drafts because teams select 1-12 and then 13-24 select in reverse order and so on. Auction-style drafts are gaining popularity, however. In this format, owners have an allotted amount of fake money in which to bid of players of their choice.
The draft requires a little bit of research, but fear not, there’s tons of information available known as fantasy football rankings, where analysts provide lists of top players and the order in which they should be chosen.
Rosters – Rosters are composed of 12 to 20 players, selected during pre-season, composed of various positions.
Positions – QB-quarterback, RB-running back, WR-Wide Receiver, TE-Tight End, PK-Placekicker, and DST-Defense/Special Teams
Starting lineups – Each team will typically own 12-20 players, however, as the owner, you must select a handful of players to start each week. A normal starting lineup will consist of 1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 PK, 1 DST and 1 Flex, which can be a RB, WR or TE. These players will acquire points for your team.
Trades– The goal is to have the best team, score the most points and win the most games. Throughout the season, owners may negotiate mutually agreed up trades between two teams, in an attempt to better ones team.
Free Agents-This is where strategy and some luck come into play. Throughout the season, owners can remove poor-performing or injured players from their team and select a player that is not currently on a roster. There are custom league rules around this process. Sometimes free agents can be acquired on a first come first serve basis, sometimes the teams can select new players in reverse order of record, and my favorite method is a blind-bidding method where owners can spend a predetermined pool of money to acquire new players by bidding just like an auction. Highest bid wins.
Entry Fee – The entry fee usually ranges from $25 for more relaxed leagues to $100 or more for more competitive football leagues. Entry fee money is put into a jackpot where the top three or four teams split a percentage of the prize money.
Formats vary greatly across leagues. Fantasy football leagues are normally categorized as standard or PPR. Standard formats award points primarily on touchdowns and some yardage. PPR (point per reception) formats award a one point bonus for each pass caught.
Most leagues use a head to head format. In this style, your team plays head to head against another team. The team with the most fantasy points wins the game for the week. Standings are based on wins and losses.
Some leagues base standings on “most points”. In this format, the teams with the most points qualify for a post-season playoff, regardless of their win-loss record. I personally do not prefer this method, but it rewards teams who perform consistently throughout the season without penalty for losing a close contest in the head-to-head format.
All-Play. The style of this league counts wins and losses as if your team was playing head to head against all teams within the league each week. It’s similar to the most points style. For example, in a 12 team league, your weekly record could be 11-0 or 0 and 11 and possibly anything in between.
One style that’s gaining popularity in the past couple of years is called a daily league. In this format, participants choose a different starting lineup each week. There’s no preseason draft and rosters reset each week. The entry fee varies from free to hundreds of dollars.
There are many more types of leagues, but these are the most common.
Scoring systems are customized across leagues and websites vary to the degree of customizations allowed. Most scoring systems grant your team 6 points if a player scores a touchdown, 1 point for every 20 yards passing, 1 point for every 5 rushing yards, 1 point for every 10 receiving yards, 3 points for every field goal and usually bonus points for length of touchdowns as well as achieving game stat milestones such as 300 + yards passing. Each leagues scoring system will be quite different. Knowing your league’s scoring system is a key to success!
Forming a League
Contact 11 of your friends (for a standard 12 team league) , select a website to automatically generate stats and results, and choose a date to hold the draft. It’s that simple. Ideally, you want to have owners of similar skill and knowledge level to make the league as competitive as possible.
What is the best fantasy football site
There are a number of great fantasy football websites available. Look for one that provides many features such as online drafting, real-time stat updates, customized league settings, custom scoring options, online free agent acquisitions and overall ease of use.
The most popular sites include CBS Fantasy Football, ESPN, Yahoo and MyFantasyLeague, which is the fantasy commissioner website that I recommend.
I’ve been personally using MyFantasyLeague.com with great satisfaction as commissioner for the past 13 seasons. Start your league today at MyfantasyLeague.com and receive an instant $10 discount.
Regardless of which one you choose. All of the above mentioned sites will provide a great list of comparable features. (Disclaimer: The site costs are an approximation at the time of this writing. Some of these sites may offer a limited free version or change pricing prior to the start of the season. Please shop around.)
If you would like to read a hilarious book on fantasy football, check out fantasy expert Matthew Berry’s book, Fantasy Life: The outrageous, uplifting, and Heartbreaking World of Fantasy Sports from the Guy Who’s Lived it.