Fantasy football is a competitive game that combines football fandom with math-based skills and creates the opportunity for everyone to try their skills as an NFL team owner. The more people understand about how the game works, the better their shot at winning. Whether you’re a first-time player who’s been roped into a game with colleagues, family or friends, or an experienced NFL fantasy football player just looking to improve your game, this guide should help you formulate your plan of attack for the upcoming season. Fantasy NFL is a hugely popular source of entertainment – In 2017 alone, more than 59 million people played fantasy sport of some description and eight out of ten of those chose fantasy football.
Just as in the real NFL, players are selected through a draft at the start of the season. While there are opportunities throughout the season for trades and picking up free agents, this is where most of the team you will be playing with is assembled, so making intelligent choices is vital for success. There are free fantasy mock drafts available online to help work out who and where to pick when it comes to the real thing. There are two main types of draft that may begin your NFL fantasy league. An auction draft gives each participant a budget with which to bid on players, while a serpentine draft is often seen as fairer as players take turns to make their selections.
Playing for Position
One mistake many rookie fantasy football players make is selecting their favorite players immediately and moving straight on to other positions. This can mean that, for example, when it comes to choosing a back-up quarterback, there are limited options left and participants can end up with no-one to fall back on in important positions. One good tip is to concentrate on getting the best running backs and wide receivers while other players are still focusing on quarterbacks. There are multiple good choices for quarterback, but only a few top running backs and wide receivers, so getting those choices in in the earlier rounds can help build a stronger team.
Setting the Line-Up
Setting the line-up in week one is all about creating the strongest team possible from the players available to you following the draft. All starting positions need to be filled with the best potential players – strong choices will be revealed over the first few weeks of play. Be aware of when games are due to be played – it can hurt the total score if you are unaware some of your team are scheduled to play on a Thursday night, for example. Line-ups should be edited and finalized well in advance of game time.
Picking Up Free Agents
As the season progresses, it will become clear which players you selected during the draft are studs and which are underperforming. There will be opportunities each week to pick up free agents and replace underperforming players with those who have a better shot of earning points for your team. Current players can be benched and replaced with free agents to hopefully gain a higher score. Free agents are players who have been dropped by another team or who were not selected in the initial draft.
Making Trades and Transfers
In addition to being able to pick up free agents, there are also opportunities for various trades and transfers throughout the NFL season. Transfers let you substitute players from your own bench into your line-up. Most fantasy football games will have a maximum transfer allocation, which sets a limit on how many transfers you can make within the season. There may also be restrictions called transfer windows, which establish time boundaries for making transfers. Fantasy football team owners can also trade players with other team owners according to the rules established at the start of play. Some leagues require all team owners to vote to determine whether a trade can take place.
Dropping and Benching
Just as there are opportunities to bring new blood into a fantasy team to improve it, there are also an opportunity to drop poorly performing players or bench those that are not doing so well right now. This is where having solid back-ups comes in handy – if a player you thought was going to be a star is having a bad run for some reason, you might want to bench him and give other players a shotto earn you some points.
Weekly Team Selection
Some fantasy leagues require participants to select a number of “starters” who they must choose for every game. There may also be certain players who have to be benched for specific games. Outside of these restrictions, players can only be chosen if they are “active”, meaning if they are available to play. Players whose teams are on the bye or who are out due to injury cannot be selected. Selecting players successfully requires looking at the odds each of their real-life NFL teams have of winning that week and their individual odds for scoring fantasy points.
Back-Ups for Byes
Hopefully, during the draft you ensured that you had strong back-ups for your key fantasy players. During bye weeks, this becomes more important than ever. Structuring teams when you have everyone at your disposal may be relatively easy but structuring a back-up team when half your players are on bye weeks can be a nightmare. Plan ahead and be aware of when each team will be on bye weeks so you know exactly when you will need to use your back-ups and who you have available.
Once your team selections have been made each week, it is simply a case of sitting back and seeing how many points you have racked up. At the end of the fantasy season, the player with the most points overall is declared the winner.