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The Ultimate Guide to Fantasy Football for New Players

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The Ultimate Guide to Fantasy Football for New Players

(Photo : Riley McCullough via Unsplash)

For college students and people of any age, fantasy football is more than just a hobby. Fantasy football is a game of strategy and statistics. It's a good way to share experiences with friends and get more deeply involved in a game you already love. 

If you're a student at a football-focused school, you may love watching the players move onto the NFL and use some of what you know about their college performance to guide your fantasy decisions. 

If you're totally new to fantasy football, it can feel complex and overwhelming. Once you get the hang of it, if you're like a lot of players, it can become somewhat addictive, but to get to that point, you need a grasp of the basics. 

The following is a guide to what you should know about playing fantasy football if you haven't done so before. 

An Overview

Fantasy football lets you be a GM, owner, and coach of a football team. You compete against friends, making up a team of NFL players you draft. Then, based on their performance on the field each week, you score points. 

You add up all of your points and then the team with the most as the NFL week ends is the winner. 

It sounds simple, but it's decidedly not. 

Many leagues draft at the beginning of the season, but there are auction leagues too. 

Most teams compete in leagues with 10 or 12 total teams, and you go head-to-head every week with a different team.

In most circumstances, if you have a player who's not performing the way you'd like him to, you can release him. You also have chances to trade with other teams, and there's a waiver wire which lets you add someone to your roster if no one else has them on their team. 

Leagues have a post-season too. Fantasy playoffs are usually from Weeks 14 through 16. In the final week, a champion is named. Some leagues play for fun, and others for money. 

Types of Leagues

Some of the types of leagues in fantasy football include:

  • Redraft-this is the most common type of league, and it means that every year, you draft a new team. 

  • Keeper-a keeper league contrasts with a redraft league because the owners stay together and play with one another every season. Every owner will keep a particular number of players from their roster the year before. 

  • Dynasty-a dynasty league is similar to a keeper league because owners have been in it for years. The difference between a keeper and a dynasty league is that in dynasty leagues, you keep your entire team. Your younger players may be the most valuable to you because they have the potential to play more years than a veteran player would. 

League formats include:

  • Head-to-head-in this league, two owners go against each other every week. Whatever team has the highest score wins. As the regular fantasy football season ends, the teams with the best records go onto the playoffs. 

  • Best ball-every week, rather than making decisions about who to start and who to put on your bench, your score is optimized. The highest scores at every position are automatically put in. This is a minimal effort league. There aren't usually waivers and trades. You just draft and see how the season plays out. 

  • Rotisserie-also known as roto, leagues create statistical categories used as a scoring system. It's rare to see this in fantasy football. It's more common in fantasy baseball. 

  • Points-only-in this scoring format, the team's overall point total is all that's relevant. The team that gets the most points at the end of the season becomes the champion, and it's a rarely used option in fantasy football. 

The Draft Formats

Some of the potential draft formats your league could follow in fantasy football are:

  • Snake or serpentine-this draft format is also known as the standard. In a snake draft, each draft has multiple rounds. The order of the draft might be randomly selected or decided on beforehand. Every team will take turns choosing players for their roster. 

  • Auction-the auction draft format has each team begin with a budget of "money" to bid on players. Owners will announce a player being auctioned, and in the draft format, any owner can bid any time as long as they have the money to cover the winning bid. 

Variations on Scoring

In a standard scoring format, there is a point for 25 passing yards and four points for a passing touchdown. There's one point for ten rushing or receiving yards, six points for rushing or receiving touchdown, and a loss of two points for an interception or lost fumble. 

An extra point earns one point. For a 0-39-yard field goal, scoring awards three points. That goes up to four points for 40-49-yard field goals and five points for a 50-plus-yard field goal. 

A variation on standard scoring is a point per reception or PPR. 

This is similar to standard scoring, with the exception that one reception earns one point. This type of scoring league makes receivers and tight-ends more valuable. Some leagues are half-PPR, so they award ½ point per catch. 

In a league that assigns bonus points, you get a certain number for any milestones a player reaches. 

Fantasy teams can also score points with a basis on defense performance. In some leagues, you draft defenses, and then points are assigned based on the number of interceptions, sacks, and fumbles the defense gets. 

In an individual defensive player or IDP league, you draft IDs from different teams in the NFL. 

Preparing for Week 1

If you're going to play fantasy football, you'll need to have your lineup set at least a few minutes before the kickoff of that game. 

The players on your roster from the teams playing are locked wherever you have them five minutes before kickoff of the game. Whether you have a player as part of your starting lineup or on your bench, you can't move them until all the games for the week end. 

Besides that guideline, you can make changes to your lineup all the way through to the games on Sunday. 

After the end of Week 1, concluding with Monday Night Football, you start to plan for Week 2. Week 2 means you're going to turn your attention to managing the waiver wire. 

A waiver wire is a process that lets you get players who aren't currently on a roster into your league.

The waiver wire helps you, if you're a smart GM, to fix the mistakes you might have made in your draft. 

At the end of each week, GMs make changes to their team for the week coming up. When a player is dropped, they go to the waiver wire. General managers from other teams can then request to sign a dropped player. 

If multiple people want to draft that dropped player, it can get tricker. 

The waiver order is what decides the team who's going to get the player. 

Waiver orders at the start of the season are based on the draft order. If you're the last pick in the draft, you get the first chance to acquire a player in the waiver wire. 

After a GM gets a player from waivers, they're then at the back of the order. 

League managers can determine certain times and times for their waiver wire to process. Most leagues, however, use a standardized time. 

What's a Bye Week?

Every NFL team has a bye week that's part of their season. The week is meant as a time the team doesn't have a scheduled game, and players can recover. 

You might need to add players to have a full starting roster, based on bye week schedules. 

You have to figure out when your players have byes, and you should then have depth on your bench. You might also opt to find replacements on the waiver wire. 

Making Trades

The only other option to add a player to the roster after the draft is when you trade with someone else in your league. You don't have to make trades on a player-for-player basis. You can make trades involving multiple players. 

For example, if there's an elite producer you want, you might trade a few players to get them. 

Basically, what it comes down to is that you find a league to join, and then once you do that, you scout and draft your players. You compete against other owners. 

You can join a public league or a private league where you need an invitation to play. 

Scouting your players is a big part of doing well in fantasy football. You need to do in-depth research to pre-rank players, and you also need to have a solid understanding of your league's system of scoring and roster setup. 

The draft day is a big one in fantasy football, and a lot of leagues get together in person for this.

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