The Beginner’s Guide to Fantasy Football: Don’t Get Left Behind

Aaron Eldredge | Aug 27, 2013

Fantasy Football 2013

Are you sick of constantly hearing your friends and colleagues talk about their fantasy football teams, making you to feel left out? Wondering what all the fuss is about? Give it a try this season and find out. It’s free, it’s fun, and it will add excitement to otherwise lackluster games.

The basis of fantasy football is individual on-field performance equals points. There are many different systems of point or scoring variations, so you will have to look at your league’s scoring breakdown to get the details. Basically, a player earns points by gaining yards and scoring touchdowns.

The leagues we will be discussing all involve drafting a team at the start of every season. More advanced fantasy players might choose “keeper” or “dynasty” leagues, where players are retained from year to year. I strongly advise starting out with draft or re-draft leagues before jumping into a league where you are stuck with the players you draft for years to come.

Fantasy football comes in all different levels of engagement and difficulty; ranging from very beginner-friendly leagues, to expert leagues where you had better be able to devote hours and hours of each week to your team. We will be focusing on the easier-to-approach, beginner-type leagues here.

There are 3 types of leagues you should consider:

  1. Standard Draft (Total Points)- These leagues keep a running tally of points accumulated over the season, the teams with the highest point total at the end of the season move on to the playoffs.
  2. Standard Draft (Head to Head)- These leagues are more popular than the total points leagues. Each week you face a different team in your league, with the team that scores the most points getting a win. At the end of the season, the teams with the best win-loss records move on to the playoffs.
  3. Auction Draft- In these leagues you are given a certain amount of play money at the beginning of the draft, you then bid on players, carefully managing your total budget throughout the entire draft. While these leagues give you the freedom to get your hands on any player in the draft, it is also easy to get yourself into financial trouble and leave your roster full of holes.

The standard roster for a fantasy football team has: 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 PK, 1 ST/Defense. Some leagues allow the 3rd WR slot to be a flex spot, meaning you can play a WR, RB, or TE in that slot.

Does defense come into play?

Yes, but it is not weighed anywhere close to the offensive side of the ball. There are some more advanced leagues that draft individual defensive players, but standard leagues just incorporate an NFL team’s entire defense. So, say you draft the Baltimore Raven’s defense, that means your fantasy team earns points every time they cause a turnover, and for holding an offense to a certain number of yards and points. Defensive scoring breakdowns vary, so check your leagues point breakdown to get specifics. And don’t jump the gun on drafting a great defense, they will still be there in the later rounds.

Strategy:

While there are many strategies at play in drafts around the country, the most important thing to remember is – it’s your team, go with whatever strategy you want. That said, the prevailing thought out there is that running backs score points. Plain and simple, if Adrian Peterson is available, you take him. Wide receivers can get lost in the game plan, or doubled all game. Quarterbacks can throw a few picks, or just struggle getting the ball past the goal line. A good starting running back is going to get carries every week, and hopefully a couple shots at the end zone.

However, handle your roster how you see fit. If you want to stockpile receivers and tight ends, go for it. If you want to hold off on quarterbacks until the late rounds and take a chance on an unproven youngster, it’s you choice. Fantasy football is all about having fun, and possibly winning some bragging points, so don’t be afraid to assemble your team however you see fit.

Injuries and free agency-

Injuries are part of the game, from the season-ending type to the practices-all-week-just-to-sit-on-gameday-and-ruin-your-week variety. Keep up on the injury reports and rotate your starters accordingly. Also look for injuries on the opposing team that you can capitalize on, like a shutdown corner with a bad ankle that is going up against your second or third receiver.

As the season moves along, keep your eye on the free agency market to see if you can steal a gem. Maybe a rookie that makes the most of his opportunity, or a backup that is ready when the guy ahead of him goes down. These players can be the difference between making the playoffs and ending your season.

There are many free and fun leagues out there, put a team together and start living the fantasy life.

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