Fantasy Football is ubiquitous and growing fast – we’re glad you’re interested in trying it this season! Here we walk you through the basics of getting started. Once you’ve got the feel, keep reading for our ‘ways that anyone can have fun playing Fantasy Football’ article. The season starts on Thursday, September 10th so you have some time, but should start putting together a league soon if you’re interested; we recommend drafting by Labor Day at the latest.
What is Fantasy Football?
Simply put, Fantasy Football allows you to assemble a team of real NFL players and earn points based on their statistical performance. You add together the points of the team you ‘own’ and play against another owner in your league each week – whoever has the team with the most points wins.
There are, of course, many nuances. You pick the players to have on your team via a ‘draft.’ Much like a real team, you have to decide which players to have in the game each week and which to leave on the bench… and you’ll have the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat! Keep reading and we’ll prime you on why you should play, how the scoring and rosters work, and how to get started.
Why should I play?
+Connect with people – whether it’s colleagues or friends outside of work, Fantasy Football will give you new reasons to stay in touch and frequent fodder for conversation.
+Enjoy this football season more – you’ll learn lots about players in the NFL just by drafting and following your team. Fantasy also gives you a great reason to enjoy the league beyond your hometown franchise. Watching a random game becomes an entirely different experience when one of your guys is playing and earning you Fantasy points for good plays.
How do the rosters and scoring work?
Your team will have the following positions in your ‘starting lineup’ earning points for the following plays:
1 Quarterback – earns 4 points for throwing a touchdown, 6 points for a rushing touchdown (running it in), and 1 point for each time they throw for 25 yards (e.g., 50 yards = 2 points)
2 Running backs – earn 6 points for a rushing or receiving touchdown and 1 point for each time they accrue 10 rushing or receiving yards
2 Wide Receivers – same scoring as running backs but they typically catch more passes instead of running the ball
1 Tight End – same scoring as RB or WR – these guys are bigger, block more and catch less. You probably want to wait to draft a TE until you have at least 7-8 players
1 ‘Flex’ spot WR/RB/TE – many leagues have a flex spot so you can pick an additional player from any key offensive position besides quarterback
1 Defense – you draft an entire team’s Defense (for instance, you could have the Atlanta Falcons DEF) and get points based on how well they do. Draft your defense in the 2nd-to-last round.
1 Kicker – They get points for making field goals of increasing distance (3 for 30+ yards, 4 for 40+, 5 for 50+) and +1 per extra point. Draft these guys with your very last pick.
Additionally, you’ll draft ‘backups’ to fill out your team, and they can be from different positions (definitely get a backup QB, and a couple RB/WR). You put your backup players in when starters have ‘bye’ weeks (each NFL team has one ‘bye’ week when they don’t have a game) or get hurt.
How to actually get started
Form your league
This is the biggest step – but we promise it’ll be worth it. If you don’t have an existing league to join, e-mail your co-workers, friends or family and offer to set up a league. Keep it simple – go to espn.com/fantasy and create a new league. They have a standard format that allows you to invite players and schedule your draft (you’ll technically be the Commissioner, but it’s no extra work once the season starts).
Starting a league for the first time and want a little help? Contact us! We’re pretty pumped to help first-timers enjoy Fantasy, and we’ve got a special Primer prize waiting for any first-time Commissioners that run a league and tell the members about Primer Sports.
Leagues typically have 8, 10 (our favorite), or 12 teams/participating members a.k.a. ‘owners’. If you have a couple more or less, that’ll do just fine. The standard league has weekly ‘head-to-head’ match-ups between two teams in the league, so even numbers work best.
Drafting a team
This is where it gets fun. The draft is arguably the best part of Fantasy Football. It’s an excuse to get your friends together, sit in the same room and hang out/talk trash while you all build your teams.
ESPN (and other sites) have easy to use online tools that put teams in a random draft order and give each owner an opportunity to select players. The draft operates in a ‘snake’ order, so if you have the #2 pick overall in the first round, you’ll have the second-to-last pick in the 2nd round, then the second pick in the 3rd round, etc.
Drafts are a great opportunity to pick players you plan to watch or pull for! The online tools provide rankings that you can more or less think of as suggestions for who you should pick as you fill each of your positions. So worst case scenario (or you get caught up having too much fun with friends), the tool will suggest some reasonable idea of who to pick. However, don’t be afraid to pick out of order if it means it will make watching your favorite team or player more fun 🙂
Okay – that’s it for the basics. See below for the main article ‘Easy ways for anyone to have fun playing Fantasy Football.’ Have a blast this season!
Before the season kicks off – get setup
Assemble your league – obvious, right? Well, miss on this crucial step and let us know how much fun you’re having when a third of your league is scrolling through #dogsofinstagram instead of actively playing. You need members who agree to at least check their lineups weekly and provide the level of chatter that keeps any league healthy. If you’re organizing a league, we recommend using ESPN.com as it’s the most standardized and user-friendly.