Fantasy football for beginners

Fantasy Football Encyclopedia for Beginners

Welcome, future fantasy football fans and NFL fanatics. You’re about to embark on an exhilarating journey—a synthesis of sports enthusiasm, strategic depth, and social dynamics. It’s a universe where football is not just watched, but lived out via fantasy football & fantasy sports competitions.

So grab your playbook and let’s dive in fantasy football rankings, how it all works and more.

What is Fantasy Football and How Does It Work?


Fantasy football (Gridiron) is an interactive, virtual competition in which people manage professional football players versus one another.

Video: Fantasy Football Rankings Week 2

Players Involved

  • General Manager (GM): You. You’ll draft players, make trades, set your line-up, and much more.
  • League Commissioner: This person sets the rules and resolves disputes. Think of them as the referee of your virtual football universe.
  • NFL Players: They’re the lifeblood of your fantasy team, as your success is directly tied to their performance in real-life games.

Phases of the Game

1. Preparation

In the weeks leading up to the NFL season, you’ll engage in pre-draft research. What’s the depth chart of the Miami Dolphins’ backfield? How’s the New England Patriots’ wide receiver injury situation? These are the kinds of questions you’ll find yourself absorbed in.

2. Drafting

When draft day arrives, you’ll be presented with a list of available NFL players. The draft can be:

  • Snake Draft: Participants take turns picking players, and the order reverses each round.
  • Auction Draft: You have a budget to bid on players. Tread carefully, as once your budget is up, you’re limited to bargain-bin players.

3. Regular Season

From NFL Weeks 1-13, your fantasy team competes against others in your league. Each week, you’ll set your starting line-up, trying to forecast which of your players will do best.

4. Playoffs

The real fun begins here. Usually from Weeks 14-16, the top teams compete in a knockout format to determine the league champion.

5. Championship

Win this and achieve eternal bragging rights—until next season, that is.

Why Play Fantasy Football?

The Intellectual and Social Benefits

Intellectual Stimulation

  • Strategy: There’s a deep level of strategy, both in the draft and during the season. From assessing player performance to weighing trade offers, your decision-making skills will be put to the test.
  • Data Analysis: Parsing through stats, projections, and expert opinions sharpens your analytical skills.

Social Engagement

  • Community: You’ll find that discussions aren’t limited to just draft day or game day; they last the entire season.
  • Rivalry and Camaraderie: The game fosters both competition and friendship, turning every NFL game into a social event.

Financial Rewards

  • Prizes: While not universal, many leagues offer cash prizes, adding an extra layer of excitement.

Fantasy League Types and Formats

Types of Leagues

  1. Standard Leagues: These are your bread-and-butter leagues. Points are primarily scored through touchdowns and yardage.
  2. Point Per Reception (PPR) Leagues: Each catch adds additional points to a player’s total, increasing the value of wide receivers and pass-catching running backs.
  3. IDP Leagues: Rather than a single team defense, you’ll draft individual defensive players. It’s like regular fantasy football but on hard mode.


  1. Redraft: A new draft is held each season.
  2. Keeper Leagues: Each team retains a few players from their previous roster.
  3. Dynasty Leagues: You keep your roster year-over-year, with a small rookie draft each offseason to freshen up your squad.

Special Formats

  • Two-QB Leagues: Leagues in which you start two quarterbacks rather than one.
  • Superflex Leagues: Leagues where one flex spot can be a QB, significantly increasing the value of quarterbacks.

Most Popular Fantasy Football Leagues: A Comparative Guide

Fantasy football has evolved into a complex, nuanced world with various formats and league types. Here, we’ll delve deep into the most popular types of fantasy football leagues, dissecting their intricacies, unique elements, and the thrills they offer. Fantasy Football


  • Official platform of the NFL
  • Customizable settings
  • Live draft application
  • User-friendly interface

Why Play Here?: is the most authentic platform where you can engage in official NFL fantasy football. It offers comprehensive statistics, up-to-the-minute player news, and instant video highlights.

ESPN Fantasy Football


  • Wide variety of league formats
  • Free and paid options
  • In-depth analysis and news

Why Play Here?:
ESPN is one of the pioneers in fantasy sports. Their ESPN fantasy football platform is replete with customizable options and provides an extensive library of analytical tools and articles.

Yahoo Fantasy Football


  • Classic platform with decades of history
  • Custom leagues and Pro leagues
  • Extensive player research resources

Why Play Here?:
Yahoo Fantasy Football League is perfect for both newcomers and experienced players. Its easy-to-use interface makes it ideal for beginners, while its customizable features offer depth for more advanced players.

CBS Sports Fantasy Football


  • Comprehensive draft kits
  • Player news and expert analysis
  • Premium leagues with cash prizes

Why Play Here?:
CBS Sports offers a more premium CBS Fantasy Football experience and is often chosen for its deep analytics and expert advice. They offer both free and premium leagues, the latter of which can have cash prizes.



  • Modern, clean interface
  • Real-time game alerts
  • Unique league formats like “Empire” and “Guillotine”

Why Play Here?:
Sleeper is a newer platform that focuses on a social, engaging experience. It offers unique formats and is often lauded for its user-friendly design.

MyFantasyLeague (MFL)


  • Highly customizable
  • Dynasty and keeper league focus
  • Complex, feature-rich platform

Why Play Here?:
MFL is often considered the go-to platform for dynasty formats. It offers an unparalleled level of customization but might be intimidating for beginners.



  • Multi-sport platform
  • Salary cap leagues
  • Advanced statistical categories

Why Play Here?:
Fantrax is lauded for its customization options and is particularly popular among those who want to dig deep into advanced statistics and unique scoring settings.

Each of these platforms brings its own flavor to the fantasy football landscape. The choice often boils down to personal preferences: Are you a purist who enjoys the NFL’s official platform? Or perhaps a statistical maven who finds solace in Fantrax’s deep analytics? Maybe you’re a social butterfly, making Sleeper your go-to arena. Your decision will sculpt your fantasy experience, adding yet another layer of strategy and excitement to this intricate, engrossing pastime.

The Fantasy Football Draft

The Importance

The draft is where championships are won or lost. It’s the nerve center of the fantasy season, laying the groundwork for your team’s identity.

Pre-draft Research

  • Player Rankings: Available from various sports websites, these rankings provide a general idea of a player’s value.
  • Average Draft Position (ADP): This metric shows where players are typically being drafted, helping you gauge when a player might be available.

Draft Strategies

  1. Zero-RB: Focus on drafting elite wide receivers and tight ends early and stockpile running backs later.
  2. Best Player Available: Choose the highest-rated player on your draft board, regardless of position.

Draft Tips

  • Be Adaptive: Your strategy should be fluid, adapting to the draft as it unfolds.
  • Don’t Overthink: If you’re torn between two players, it’s generally best to stick to your pre-draft rankings unless news has emerged that significantly impacts a player’s value.
  • Monitor Bye Weeks: Make sure your key players don’t all have the same bye week, or you’ll find yourself in a pinch when that week rolls around.
  • Target High-Upside Players Late: In the later rounds, don’t be afraid to take risks on players who could become stars. The potential reward outweighs the risk at that point.

Scoring Systems

Standard Scoring

  • Touchdowns: 6 points
  • Passing Yards: 1 point per 25 yards
  • Rushing/Receiving Yards: 1 point per 10 yards
  • Interceptions and Fumbles: -2 points

PPR Scoring

Everything in standard scoring plus:

Per Reception: 1 point

Custom Scoring

Some leagues have their own bespoke scoring systems, which might assign point values for things like:

  • Sacks
  • Tackles
  • Kick and punt return yards

Managing Your Team

Weekly Lineups

Each week, you’ll set your lineup, choosing which players to start and which to bench. Generally, it’s wise to start your studs—your best players—regardless of their matchups, but the decision can get tricky when dealing with mid-tier talent.

Waiver Wire

The waiver wire is a system for acquiring players who are not currently on a team in your league. Savvy waiver wire moves can make or break your season.


Don’t be afraid to propose trades to improve your team. Just ensure that the trades are fair and beneficial to both parties to maintain league integrity.

Injuries and Suspensions

Keep an eye on player statuses. If a player is out, move them to your bench or drop them for a healthy player.

Fantasy Football Strategies and Tips

  • Streaming: Continually replacing poor-performing or injured players.
  • Handcuffing: Drafting the backup to one of your star players as an insurance policy.
  • Balanced Roster: Ensuring you have solid depth at each position.
  • Play the Matchups: Start players with easier matchups to maximize points.

Glossary of Terms

  • ADP (Average Draft Position): Where a player is typically being drafted.
  • Bust: A player who performs worse than expected.
  • Sleeper: A player who performs better than expected.
fantasy football

Fantasy Football for Money

Fantasy football isn’t just for bragging rights; for some, it’s a lucrative endeavor. Many platforms offer paid leagues with varying entry fees and prize structures. Always play responsibly and know the laws in your jurisdiction.

How Many Teams Do You Need for Fantasy Football?

The most common league sizes range from 8 to 16 teams. The fewer the teams, the more talent available; conversely, larger leagues require deeper knowledge and strategy.

Do You Get Paid from Fantasy Football Leagues?

In leagues with entry fees, it’s common for the top 3 teams to get payouts. The amounts and distribution vary by league.

Is Fantasy Football Like Gambling?

The line between fantasy football and gambling is a gray area and often the subject of legal and ethical debates. Unlike traditional gambling, skill and strategy are substantial components, although luck is still a significant factor.

How Many Players Do You Need for Fantasy Football?

A standard fantasy football team consists of 1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 FLEX (WR/RB/TE), 1 Kicker, and 1 Defense/Special Teams unit. In addition, you’ll have a bench, which commonly holds 6-7 additional players, making your total roster size around 15-16 players.

In this labyrinthine landscape of fantasy football, your keen intellect and intuitive strategy are your guideposts. Embark on the journey, and may you earn both bragging rights and perhaps some cash along the way.

Fantasy Football Rankings: The Epitome of Draft Science

As you embark on your journey into the labyrinthine world of fantasy football, one term you’ll hear echoing in the corridors is “rankings.” This seemingly straightforward yet immensely nuanced list serves as the spine of your draft strategy and a constant companion throughout your season.

What Are Fantasy Football Rankings?

Fantasy football rankings are ordered lists that rank NFL players based on their projected statistical output for the upcoming season. They can be generalized or tailored to specific formats such as PPR (Points Per Reception), Standard, or Half-PPR leagues. While many rankings are designed to guide you through the draft, others focus on week-to-week performances, injuries, or other dynamics that evolve as the season progresses.

The Importance of Fantasy Football Rankings

Why are rankings so critical? They’re more than just a list; they are the distillation of countless hours of analysis, breaking down game film, studying player metrics, understanding team schemes, and factoring in variables like injury risks and team changes. A well-crafted ranking list acts as a compass, guiding you through the turbulent waters of your draft and helping you make informed decisions that could make or break your season.

Types of Rankings

  • Overall Rankings: A broad view that ranks players irrespective of their positions.
  • Positional Rankings: More focused lists that categorize players based on their specific roles—Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Wide Receivers, etc.
  • Rookie Rankings: These rank the new entrants from the NFL draft.
  • Dynasty Rankings: Focuses on long-term value in dynasty leagues.
  • Weekly Rankings: Updated rankings each week to help with roster decisions based on matchups, injuries, and other situational factors.

Where to Find Reliable Rankings

  1. Expert Websites: ESPN, Yahoo, and often employ analysts who produce in-depth rankings.
  2. Fantasy Football Podcasts: Some podcasts specialize in creating rankings and explaining the rationale behind them.
  3. Social Media: Twitter and Reddit can be useful for finding crowd-sourced rankings or less conventional perspectives.

How to Use Rankings

You may wonder, “Do I strictly follow rankings or improvise?” The answer lies in a nuanced approach. While rankings provide a strong foundation, factors like your drafting position, previous picks, and gut instinct should influence your decisions. A ranking list can’t account for the unique dynamics of each draft, but it can certainly illuminate the path.

The Perils of Overreliance

Be wary of treating rankings as scripture. The NFL season is a volatile landscape where rookies rise, stars fade, and injuries wreak havoc. Your ability to adapt and react to this ever-changing environment often proves just as important as your initial draft.

In essence, rankings are both a tool and a touchstone, a confluence of data and intuition. Mastering their use is like mastering the art of conversation: easy to start, difficult to perfect, but incredibly rewarding for those who invest the time to understand their intricate layers. So, the next time you find yourself staring at a list of names, remember—this is no mere list. It’s a dynamic framework sculpted from the clay of data, experience, and human judgment, waiting for you to breathe life into it through your decisions.

Fantasy Football FAQs

Fantasy Football FAQs

Here’s an in-depth Q&A list of eight questions designed to illuminate the various nuances of the fantasy football world:

Q1: What Exactly Is Fantasy Football and How Does the Game Operate?

Answer: Fantasy football is a game where participants act as general managers of virtual football teams, drafting real-life NFL players to their squads. The performance of these players in real-life games determines your fantasy points. You compete head-to-head with other managers in your league, aiming to have the most points each week.

Q2: How is Scoring Handled in Fantasy Football?

Answer: Scoring depends on the league’s specific rules, but common scoring formats include Standard and Points Per Reception (PPR). For example, in standard leagues, you get 6 points for a touchdown, 1 point for every 10 rushing or receiving yards, and 1 point for every 25 passing yards. PPR leagues give you an additional point for each reception.

Q3: What Strategies Lead to Victory in Fantasy Football?

Answer: Winning often requires a combination of skill and luck. Strategies may include drafting a balanced team, active management of your roster, understanding matchups, and making smart waiver wire acquisitions. A keen eye for emerging talent and an understanding of player statistics can also give you an edge.

Q4: What Varieties of Fantasy Football Leagues Exist?

Answer: There are several types of leagues:

  • Redraft: You draft a new team each year.
  • Keeper: You keep some players from year to year.
  • Dynasty: You keep all players indefinitely.
  • Best Ball: Your best performers are automatically selected each week.

Q5: How Many Athletes Comprise a Fantasy Football Roster?

Answer: Standard rosters usually include 1 Quarterback (QB), 2 Running Backs (RBs), 2 Wide Receivers (WRs), 1 Tight End (TE), 1 Flex (RB/WR/TE), 1 Kicker (K), and 1 Defense/Special Teams (D/ST). Bench sizes vary but are often around 6-7 players.

Q6: Is It Possible to Earn Monetary Rewards from Fantasy Football?

Answer: Yes, many leagues require an entry fee and distribute cash prizes at the end of the season. The prize structure varies, but it’s common for the top 2 or 3 teams to earn payouts. Always make sure to follow the legal regulations of your jurisdiction when playing for money.

Q7: Does Participation in Fantasy Football Constitute Gambling?

Answer: The categorization varies by jurisdiction. In the United States, for example, fantasy football is generally considered a game of skill, distinguishing it from gambling. However, this is a gray area, and legal perspectives can differ.

Q8: How Do Trades and Waiver Wire Transactions Work?

Answer: Trades involve swapping players between teams and usually require agreement from both parties. The waiver wire is a system where unowned players can be added to teams. Waiver priority often determines who gets a player, and it’s usually based on a rotating system or inverse order of standings.

These FAQs aim to serve as a comprehensive guide to fantasy football, addressing key questions while also touching on complexities that you may encounter as you dive into this intriguing virtual arena.