Written by: George Haraktsis, @Blitzalytics
Have you been pressured to join a fantasy football league? Are your co-workers making you participate in an upcoming draft, but you have no idea what you’re doing? Look no further!
The fantasy football community is growing every single year. People from all walks of life, from dozens upon dozens of countries around the world, play fantasy football. Some are in competitive leagues where large sums of money are involved, and others are in casual leagues for which the only purpose is to secure bragging rights and have fun. Fantasy football is becoming a part everyday life as the sport gains popularity. As it grows, so do the beginners who play! This article will give those who are just getting into fantasy a guide on all things fantasy football related and help you win those leagues!
Before we start I’d advise you to check out the Fantasy Football Glossaryand get yourself acclimated to the language!*
What is Fantasy Football?
The Cambridge Dictionary defines fantasy football as:
“a game in which you choose a team of real football players from different teams and win points according to how well the players play each week”
George’s definition of fantasy football is a bit different.
“A game where NFL players are chosen by participants in leagues who bet on their future outcomes based on statistics and unfounded blind confidence. The owners in the leagues strive to beat one another in order to gain “bragging rights” and potential monetary compensation.”
In the end, there are always going to be two definitions of fantasy football for someone. The dictionary definition, and your very own interpretation. It means many different things to many different people, and that will never change. This guide is the first step to finding out what it means to you.
What kind of League is it?
Fantasy football leagues are like snowflakes: every single one is different. Well, not really, but there are a lot of different rules and regulations per league. Things like the number and types of positions, the amount of teams, the scoring formats, the draft style, player retention and acquisition style, the website platform, and schedules vary league by league.
The answer to what kind of league you’re in can be answered by going to your league’s web page, like ESPN.com or Yahoo.com, and parsing through the settings. If you’re adverse to technology, just ask a friend in the league to explain your league’s format to you, I’m sure they’ll be more than willing to help!
Understanding your league is the first and most necessary step in understanding fantasy football. It sets up how you research, draft, approach trades, among many other things. The more you understand, the more likely you are to win your championship!
Now that you’ve done the research on your league format, it’s time to start preparing and doing the deep digging on this year’s crop of players. It is time to start preparing for that upcoming draft! Whether that draft is an Auction, Snake, Dynasty, etc. preparation is key. There are a number of ways to get prepared.
Find a resource you trust.
You can’t just depend on your league platform’s rankings; everyone in your league can see those rankings and it will give you little to no upper-hand, so avoid the ESPNs and Yahoos. You need to find a trustworthy source whose rankings you can rely on week after week. I enjoy FantasyPros rankings as well as a few others. It has worked for me over the years, and they provide their rankings in a variety of scoring formats which makes it easy for those in multiple leagues. Just scour the web and eventually you’ll find something you trust.
The best way to get better at drafting is by doing it. Most platforms provide mock draft lobbies that you can use. This is where you can pick your draft position, format, and league size, and then begin choosing players in a simulated draft against real people or a computer. The more mock drafts you do, the better you will get. Practice makes perfect.
These mocks give you a better idea of which players will be going in what rounds, and will help you develop a strategy to landing the players you want and building out a perfect roster
The best and most popular form of fantasy consumption is website articles. The players who consistently read and research separate themselves from the good to the great. As with anything in life, reading enough about a topic make you better at the subject, and fantasy is no different. Read as early and as often as you can about fantasy football, and you’ll see yourself getting better in no time.
If you’re not a big reader, try the podcasts! They are the easiest way to consume information and a great way to stay current on the latest news in the fantasy football world. One I dabble with at times is the Fantasy Football Today podcast by CBS. These folks give you up to date rankings and strategies, and really know what they’re talking about!
Draft Day Strategy
Always stick to your plan, but always be willing to change it up.
Sounds a little contradictory, but that’s because it is. This is the day you’ve been waiting and preparing for, for quite some time now, and you have built out a strategy based on other team’s preferences, the players you want, and when you’re going to take them. So when the sh**% hits the fan don’t change your game plan last minute, but just like with anything in life, things will not always go as planned. Owners might do unexpected things, and a player who you never thought would get to you might land in your lap. You don’t have to go RB RB WR WR just because that’s what you consistently did in your mock draft. The top WRs might fall to you and force your hand. Adapt, and always draft the best player available.
Do not REACH.
Having a positional strategy before your draft is a death sentence, and saying things like I’m going WR RB WR RB will most certainly doom you. Like I mentioned before, you should always draft the best player available, not the position you “need” to fill. If you take a quarterback because that’s what you “need” but you let a stud running back — of which there are so few of compared to stud quarterbacks — get past you, then you wasted that pick. Every single pick is about maximizing value.
DO NOT DRAFT DEFENSES AND KICKERS BEFORE THE FINAL TWO ROUNDS. This is just a rule of thumb. These are the two least impactful positions on any fantasy roster and provide minimal value. If your fellow owners are scooping these guys up early, stay your course and draft those sleepers!
Remember, your team will look very different come playoffs
Fantasy Football isn’t won and lost at the draft. Every year, players that fantasy pundits overlooked make it and win owners their leagues. These players are acquired as free agents at any point during the year and are welcomed surprises. You will trade, you will add, and you will drop numerous players throughout the year, and all of these small moves may or may not lead to a fantasy championship. But if you stay consistent and engaged on a week to week basis, you will give yourself a better chance of making those correct moves.
Fantasy Football is about the connections you make with the people in your league. Yes, there is often money involved, and yes, the bragging rights you get after winning a championship are awesome, but if you’re doing it for the money, you’re not doing it for the right reasons. It is a continuously growing community of people who share a similar interest and are always welcoming those who share that love. Don’t let winning or losing get in the way of you having fun. Remember in the end that it’s fantasy football; it’s not real, so don’t ever get too worked up. Have fun, and make some friends while doing it