Fantasy Football 101: A Beginner’s Guide

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Congratulations! You recently decided to start playing fantasy football which is a significant life event. Now you need to know what this game of fantasy football is all about. The first season I ever played fantasy football, I had no idea what I was doing. I wish I would have had some sort of manual to help me navigate the waters of this fake football game.

If you will be participating in your first league soon and have questions, this is the spot for you. Here are some of the common questions asked by fantasy newbies and a fantasy football terminology guide. I take a peek at these FFFAQs (Fantasy Football Frequently Asked Questions, anyone?) to try and assist you on your quest to win a championship.

Should I start out playing in a redraft or a dynasty league?

There is no right or wrong answer here, but most people begin by playing in a redraft league. A redraft league is a league where you do a new draft each season. A dynasty league involves managers keeping their players as it rolls over into the next season. Redraft leagues are ideal leagues to learn how to play. Once you get started playing redraft, often you’ll want to dip your toes into dynasty football.

How do I find a league?

Many people start in the fantasy football space by competing in leagues with friends, family members, and co-workers. Others find leagues via #FootClan Leagues and additional online resources. Fantasy platforms usually have public leagues available to join as well. You can even create your own league if you cannot find one you want to join.

What do I need to know about my league?

An important thing to do before your league’s draft is to understand the rules and settings. Fantasy platforms have default settings, but they also let commissioners customize settings. Your league’s format could be PPR (point per reception), standard scoring, or a recipe of various settings. You will additionally want to know your league’s size, roster size, and what kind of draft they hold.

What should I do to prepare for my draft?

The initial piece of advice my first commissioner ever gave me was to mock draft. He didn’t say this so I could learn more about average draft position and roster formation (although it is helpful with that as well). He said this to me so that I would comprehend how to use the website or app. It is true; the first time I logged into my league, I was confused as to how drafting was supposed to happen. Joining a few mock drafts got me more comfortable with the fantasy platform I was using.

How do I figure out what players to draft?

There is not a set-in-stone strategy for how to draft. You should do your research and figure out who you like and don’t like. The Fantasy Footballers Ultimate Draft Kit will help you with this immensely. There are also plenty of resources out there to aid in your evaluation of players, such as the 2021 Fantasy Football Rookie Profiles, Fantasy Football 101, and Fantasy Football Strategy.

The Fantasy Footballers publish rankings you can view to help guide you in the right direction. Oh, and their podcast is rather informative as well (but you already knew that, or you wouldn’t be here). This team is your team, so make sure you are doing the research and taking notes to make it as strong as possible.

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Getty Images / Streeter Lecka

Do I have to keep the same players all season long?

No. It is solely up to you how you choose to manage your team in-season. You can drop, add, and trade players during the season. Additionally, you can trade with other managers in your league. Keep an eye on the waivers and your roster, and make moves accordingly.

How do I set a lineup?

Check your league’s settings to see what the roster settings are. You want to make sure to fill out your starting roster each week. Players have bye weeks and get injured, so paying attention to your lineup is of significant importance. If you forget to set your lineup, you will receive a goose egg for whatever player does not play. Your league-mates (especially the commissioner) will not be happy if you continuously fail to set a lineup. Stay active and pay attention.

Fantasy Football Terms

2QB: The league requires two starting quarterbacks in an active lineup.

ADP (Average Draft Position): Tells you where players are being drafted, on average, based on the platform.

Commissioner: The person in charge of the fantasy football league – roles include collecting fees and setting up the draft.

Flex: A spot on your starting roster that an RB/WR/TE can fill. If the league is Superflex, you can also put a QB in that spot.

Mock Draft: A practice draft. It gives you a feel for how the draft could go.

PPR (Point Per Reception): Player receives one point each time they catch a pass, no matter the result of that play.

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Salary Cap Draft: As fantasy platforms and websites move away from terms like Auction Draft, the term Salary Cap Draft is becoming more popular. These leagues have a set amount of funds available to submit offers to fill out your roster.

Sleeper: Players that look to be “under the radar.” A late-round player who has the potential to outperform his ADP.

Snake Draft: Managers draft one round in a set order, then pick in reverse order in the next round. This continues until the draft is complete. The draft will resemble the shape of a slithering snake.

Standard Scoring: One point per 10-yards rushing, one point per 10-yards receiving, and six points for touchdowns are common standard scoring rules. It does not have the receiving advantage PPR leagues have.

Streamer: Starting a player picked up off of waivers or free agency that looks to be in a good position for fantasy points that week. You are “streaming” that player for the week.

Waivers: A vital part of your fantasy football experience. These are players you can pick up to add to your team throughout the season. Non-rostered players make up this group. You will need to drop a player if you do not have enough roster spots to add a new player. Review your league for its waiver wire settings.

There are many more questions and terminologies out there, but these are good stepping stones for beginners. The best way to learn how to play fantasy football is actually to play fantasy football. You will grow more comfortable and have more fun as the season progresses, so enjoy the ride.

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