If you’re thinking about joining a fantasy football team but you’ve never played before, you’ve come to the right place to find out how. We’ve written this guide to fantasy football, aimed at beginners, to give you an overview of how to play, and more importantly, how to try and win.
Ready for the whistle to blow? It’s game time.
What is Fantasy Football?
Essentially, fantasy football is a game that relies on your mathematical and strategizing skills, in which you draft a team from a selection of around 15 real-life NFL players.
Every week, you will need to choose your players and their starting positions based on your league settings. Typically, this involves a quarterback (QB), two running backs (RB), two wide receivers (WR), a tight end (TE), a kicker (K), a defense (D/ST), and a FLEX.
Whatever statistics your players rack up in a week contributes to their total points scores, and your weekly score is made up of the totals of each player in your starting lineup. You will also have players on your “bench”, although their points don’t count towards your score.
The aim of the game is to end the week with a higher total score than the other members in the league you’re playing in. In order to ensure you’re making an informed decision, it’s usually a good idea to check out the latest NFL odds before you pick the starting players.
Fantasy football leagues usually last for 14 or 15 weeks, and those teams that have the best win-loss records move on to play in the fantasy playoffs. The winner of these remaining games wins the title of league champion, but check the rules for different leagues.
What Happens in Week 1
So, know you understand the basic principles of fantasy football, but there’s still a lot more that you need to know.
At least five minutes before the kickoff of the first game in your league, select your lineup. After this point, your rosters will be “locked-in” and cannot be changed until the games of that week are all complete, which will be after Thursday Night Football.
Make sure to check in with your lineup every Thursday so you don’t get stung for the week.
When you reach week two, the waiver wire comes into play. This is the name given to a process whereby you make a play for players you don’t currently have on your roster.
Each person is able to try and “claim” any free agents in the league, but if two members are going after the same player, the person with the highest rank has the priority claim. Just remember that in order to gain someone new, you’ll need to cut one of your existing players.
Fantasy managers will submit waiver claims on Tuesdays in order for them to be processed on Wednesdays and you should check if your league has set a budget for waiver wires.
A “bye week” is given to every team in the NFL and this is basically a week where there are no games scheduled allowing them to take some time to rest and recover.
Bye weeks are important in fantasy football because you may need to add players to field a full starting roster. This is when putting in for a waiver wire may come in handy, so it’s wise to think about the long game and plan for a bye week coming up for any players on your team.
Once the original draft is over, the only way to add players to your roster is to trade with other league members. You can trade one or multiple players provided both parties agree.
It will probably take you some time to master the art of trading, as it can be tricky to know when to keep your cards (or in this case, your players) close and knowing when it’s a good time to give something up in return for something that you want.
We hope that now you’ve reached the end of this article, you’re feeling confident that you know more about fantasy football leagues and how to play in one. Before we wrap it up, there’s one more thing we’d like to leave you with, which is to remember to have fun!
At the end of the day, that’s what fantasy football is supposed to be about. Select your weekly lineup, manage your trades and waiver wires, and don’t get caught out by a bye week, and you’ll have a great time playing fantasy football this season. If you are looking for engaging alternatives, consider a survivor pool, NFL Pick’em, or the emerging NFL Play Money Pool.