So, you’ve heard about the craze of fantasy football, but you’ve never actually played it?
Fantasy football is a rapidly growing industry, almost doubling in players since 2010. FSTA.org states that
59.3 million people participated in some sort of fantasy football games whether it be traditional or daily
fantasy sports (for this article we’ll be focusing on traditional).
Men and women both play fantasy sports (70% and 30% respectively).
Hopefully, after this article, you’ll be able to draft and play with confidence heading into the 2018-2019
Fantasy football is a fantasy sport based on the performance of NFL players.
Fantasy football is playable on a multitude of platforms, popular platforms are ESPN, Yahoo Sports, CBS,
NFL.com and upcoming platforms that offer more customization such as Fantrax and MyFantasyLeague.
It’s played mainly with two different scoring formats.
The first format is the easier to understand standard scoring format, which gives flat non-cumulative
points for yardage (1 point for every 10 yards) and doesn’t use decimal scoring.
The second format (the one which we use on WinColumnSports articles and my personal leagues) is the
PPR (point per reception) format, which gives 1 fantasy point for an RB/WR/TE reception as well as using
cumulative decimal scoring for yardage (for example, 55 yards would be 5.5 points).
Everything else between the two scoring formats is virtually the same.
Fantasy football is better played with friends & co-workers, there’s a good chance your workplace has
running fantasy football leagues that may be accepting new members. However, if you can’t find a
league to participate in, platforms such as ESPN & Yahoo host public leagues online that you can join at
will and get into the action.
So, you’ve joined a league
Once you have picked the scoring format you’d like to play with and joined a league online or with
friends, it’s time to select your team and start playing.
I won’t get into drafting strategies as there simply isn’t a “best strategy fits all” scenario. ESPN and
Yahoo draft rooms have players listed by consensus ranking and for your first time, basing your picks off
that might be the best idea.
However, if you’d like my opinion, you can look at my current mock draft here.
Just as there are two popular scoring formats, there are also two popular drafting formats.
The most common draft format is the “snake draft”, draft picks will be usually randomized, and teams
will start drafting NFL players from picks 1-12 then reverse order 12-1 until rosters are filled and the
draft is finished. NFL players who did not get drafted will be placed into the league’s free agency.
The other draft format is called an “auction draft” where teams are given an allotted amount of money
to purchase players in the draft, unlike the snake draft format which has a fixated position for team
picks. Auction draft format shows players one by one and teams will bid money until bidding stops. Once
bidding has stopped the highest bid will receive the player shown.
Once rosters have been completed and the draft has been finalized, players who were not purchased
will be put into the free agency pool.
Improving your team
Just like how NFL managers and coaches must evaluate performance and maneuver around injuries.
Fantasy football owners must as well, whether it’s an injury, poor performance or even simply a bye
week. Paying attention and making changes to your roster will go a long way towards winning the
There are two main ways to improve your team and that’s through the waiver wire and trades.
The waiver wire opens on Tuesday (the day after the NFL week concludes). Every team in the league will
be looking to improve their team from the following week. In most leagues the waiver wire isn’t just a
free for all, teams will be put into a waiver order based on their current standings. For example, if you
are in the last place in the league, chances are you’ll have waiver order priority 1 going into the next week of
The waiver wire is where you should go to replace underperforming or injured players on your roster,
within reason. If one of your top picks such as Le’Veon Bell is out for two weeks with an injury, it would
not be smart to drop him to pick up somebody else. Simply put him on the bench until he’s healthy.
Other common uses of the waiver wire are “streaming” quarterbacks and defenses. Some draft
strategies teams use is to load up on skilled positions such as WR and RB, in doing so they sacrifice being
able to acquire a top QB or defense. Those teams will often use the waiver wire to add/drop week by
week to get the best matchups available for that position.
The other way to improve your team is by trading with other teams in the league. However, this can be
difficult due to having to make both parties happy. As well as most leagues having a trade veto process,
which is in place to vote against trades that are deemed unfair or in speculation of collusion.
That’s pretty much the rundown of the basics of fantasy football. Remember the most important part
of playing fantasy football, have fun. For most people fantasy football is just a way to engage
themselves more within the sport. I never watched an NFL game besides the Super Bowl until I got into
fantasy football. Fantasy football can be casual and fun, but it can also be competitive and serious with
some leagues having entry fees over $1,000.
Never gamble what you aren’t willing to lose.
As always, if you want to get into fantasy football and have some questions or want advice. Contact me
on twitter @KrauseArik.
For more in-depth analysis and coverage of the NFL & Fantasy Football. Check out my other articles on