How to Play Fantasy Football

Fantasy football is a game based on the statistics from real football games, usually from the National Football League. Anybody who is a fan of football can play… Heck, you don’t even have to be a fan if you can understand the statistics! A fantasy football player chooses NFL players to be on his fantasy team. The NFL player earns points for his fantasy “owner” according to his performance in the real games. The winner is whoever accumulates the most points. Ready to get started? Let’s teach you how to play fantasy football!

Fantasy Football Leagues

In a fantasy football league, each player has his own fantasy team and they all compete against one another. There is no limit on the number of fantasy players in a league. Each league will decide its own rules. Many variations are possible.

A league can have its fantasy players compete against one other player each week and keep a won-loss record for the NFL season. When the NFL regular season ends the fantasy players with the best records will advance to a playoff just like in the NFL. This is called a head-to-head league.

A total points league will keep a running score throughout the season by adding the points scored every week by a fantasy player’s team. The winner at the end of the NFL season is the fantasy player who’s team accrued the most points over the course of the season.

An informal league among friends can last a full NFL season and continue over multiple seasons with fantasy players retaining their NFL players across the years. Websites will often run weekly leagues that start fresh every week of the NFL season – every week has its own draft and winners.

Fantasy Football Drafting

Fantasy players fill the roster of their fantasy teams through a draft. The number of players on a fantasy team is decided upon beforehand. Commonly, a league among friends or co-workers will decide to have about a 16-man roster with half of that number active to score points on game day. A fantasy team is comprised of NFL players from any NFL team. In a small league, an NFL player can only be drafted once. An online league with thousands of players will not have that restriction.

In a snake draft, the fantasy players in a league will take turns picking an NFL player to be on his fantasy team. The initial order will be by luck of the draw. Each round will reverse the pick order from the previous round. The first, third, fifth and all odd-numbered rounds will have the same pick order. Even-numbered rounds will have the order reversed from the odd-numbered rounds. This is also called a serpentine draft.

To address the inherent unfairness of a snake draft, the auction draft was created. The fantasy players are given the same amount of imaginary money to bid on NFL players for their teams. The fantasy league will put an NFL player up for bid and the highest bidder will have that NFL player on his fantasy team. Typically, the best NFL players are placed at the top of a bid list and the auction proceeds sequentially down the list. This requires more thought and planning by the fantasy player on how to divide his budget on NFL players, much like NFL executives have to compete for free agents and fill out their rosters according to the rules of a salary cap.

A combination of the two kinds of drafts can be used where a few NFL players are auctioned and a snake draft is used to fill out the rosters. After a season starts, leagues will allow trades and other player transactions such as cutting players and signing free agents.

Scoring Fantasy Football Games

The fantasy player will declare a set number of “starters” from his roster to be eligible to score fantasy points. Fantasy points are earned by the NFL players according to the rules of the league.

In a typical scenario, a quarterback’s passing yards will score a fantasy point for every certain amount of yards, often 1 point for every 25 yards. Rushing yards and receiving yards could be 1 fantasy point for every 10 yards. A touchdown would be worth 6 fantasy points and a field goal, 3 points. Fantasy points can also be subtracted if a player loses a fumble or throws an interception. Defensive players can score points from sacks, fumble recoveries, safeties or blocked kicks.

An effort is made by fantasy leagues to weigh the value of points so no particular position dominates the scoring, although running backs are ususally considered the most valuable.

Some leagues only count points scored and others only count the yards gained instead of a mix of both. A league may give points for the number of pass receptions instead of the amount of receiving yards so NFL players who run short passing routes will not be penalized. Many such variations exist to emphasize different aspects of football.

The popularity of informal fantasy football leagues among friends and colleagues has transferred to the online world where a smart fantasy player can earn cash, not just for football with its weekly games, but also baseball and basketball where a fantasy player can play everyday. Form a new team each morning and win cash and prizes at the end of the day’s games.