Fantasy Football Basics - Fantasy football has gone from an increasingly popular online game to an absolute must for NFL fans. Like most new things, fantasy football can be difficult to break into. There are new terms like PPR and sleepers and point values for stats and the guy from work won't trade you Chris Johnson – it can all get very overwhelming. Luckily, we here at Fantasy Alarm have broken down the fantasy football basics into a succinct introduction to the wonderful game of Fantasy Football.
Types of Leagues - Most fantasy leagues have somewhere from 8 to 16 teams but the way they function can be entirely different. The types of existing fantasy leagues can be summed up into these four categories:
Points - In a points league, teams are ranked by the total number of points that their players have scored. No win-loss standings necessary, the team with the most productive players wins the league. A rotisserie league may try to mitigate the difference between good and bad teams by assigning points to a team based on their ranking in an individual category. For example, if your team is fourth out of twelve in pass yards in your league you will receiver 9 points while someone who is last would receive 1 point and so on for each category.
Head-to-Head - Head-to-Head leagues function like the NFL. Teams face off against randomly predetermined opponents each week and the only thing that matters in the standings is your won-loss record. Unlike a points league, you have to outdo just your opponent that week, not every team in the league. At the end, you enter a playoffs against the top ranked teams in your league and face off until the championship week, usually the last week of the regular NFL season.
Dynasty/Keeper - A dynasty or keeper league is a long-term, multi-year league that functions just like the NFL. Teams hold on to their players until they are done with them, no annual fantasy draft. These leagues do have a draft but usually only for new rookies coming into the league. Dynasty leagues are usually head-to-head leagues.
Auction/Salary Cap - A salary cap league could be head-to-head or points scoring but the difference is you are financially limited in which players you can get. Each player is assigned a points value and your league starts with an auction draft where every team bids on each player that comes up. Watch out though, your points are limited and you don't want to blow half your payroll on Arian Foster when you have 15 positions to fill. Waivers work the same way, you can only add the players your team can afford.
League Structure and Rules - Leagues also differ based on the players that make up the roster and the way the scoring works.
PPR - A PPR league is a points-per-reception league which credits points to running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends for each reception. This kind of league favors position players over quarterbacks, running backs who make 40-50+ receptions a year above all.
Flex - A flex league is a league that allows you a flex position on your roster. This is usually seen as RB/WR/TE or something to that extent on your roster. This is advantageous to teams that have more players than they can start at a position.
IDP - While most leagues use a team's entire defense (sometimes special teams as well) on your roster, IDP or independent player leagues allow you to draft individual defensive players. Usually you will have to draft players for each position: D-line, linebacker, and secondary.
Drafting - Some leagues allow you to rank your players and have an off-line draft but those are no fun. Your rankings should only come into play as a guide during the draft or if you can't make the draft for some reason. Live drafts allow you the same experience as the NFL amateur draft. Some drafts go 1-12 or however many teams you have each round while most snake around, meaning the team that drafted last in the previous round drafts first in the next.
Preparing Your Strategy - It is best to come to the draft prepared. If you have not ranked your players in the order that you favor them, at least have a strategy on how you are going to draft. Will you focus on getting the best available players or filling the positions you need to fill? Will you go running back or receiver at the top or quarterback? Will you bid a ton on a good running back or moderate how much you bid per player and spread the talent around with less elite players.
Draft Process - During the draft you will need to change strategy and adapt. As players go off the board, it will be tougher and tougher to find good fits for your positions. Have some sleepers like veterans coming off of injury or a bad year or rookies that you can pick up in the later rounds. Consider how football works, these players are always getting hurt so it is important to get good reserve players as well. Remember the bye week – you don't want half your team to be off at the same time.
Making Good Decisions - Drafting is all about making good long-term decisions. Are you taking a reliable or promising player or an overhyped, inconsistent, or injury-prone one? Is your player a sure starter or someone who may not even win the job? Will your player be splitting a lot of time with someone else? Will the new coach's system stifle this players yards? Take the 60-90 seconds that you have not just reviewing the available players but considering all of the variables.
Setting Your Line-Up - Once your line up is set, it is important to check in and update regularly.
Keep track of injuries - In the NFL, a slew of injuries hits the league every week. Keep tabs to make sure that your starters are actually going to be starting. Fantasy Alarm's player alarm service is the perfect tool for this as it informs you of any players in your lineup that are going to be out of the real world line up that week. Keep track of bye weeks as well and plan ahead to avoid having an empty lineup spot.
Keep track of your players Are they doing well? Are they on a cold streak? Has a new young running back or receiver come out and taken a lot of their touches? Is an injury hampering their play? Keep tabs on your players to avoid being out of the loop.
Trades, Waivers, and Free Agents - Throughout the season you will be able to trade and pick up and drop players. When trading, make sure you are getting equal value back. Most trades have to go through a commissioner or a league vote for approval. When picking up players off waivers, you have to drop someone off your lineup. If more than one team put a waiver claim on a player, the team with the highest waiver priority (based originally on draft rank, then on previous waiver claims) will get that player.
Tips On How To Win Fantasy Football
-Don't draft favorite players- We all have players we love but when it comes to building your team it is important to focus on getting the best possible player at every position. Ask yourself if you are getting the player just for the hell of it or if he really is the best you can get.
-Stay on top of your team- If you don't stay on top of your team and keep tabs on news and injuries you will not be able to put a full lineup out each week. Using Fantasy Alarm's service is a fantastic way to avoid starting players who are out.
-Watch for trends: If your players are hot, cold, or banged up, take that into consideration. Why start a good player who has been struggling when a less acclaimed rookie is red hot?
-Don't over trade/change your players but don't just stay put either - everything in moderation : Some teams are constantly trading away their player, some are always playing the waiver wire, and some refuse to budge from their original lineup. None of these are the way to go. It is important to utilize trades and the waiver wire but only when the situation calls for it. Players with a revolving door policy will struggle to maintain their success throughout the year while teams who stay put will always struggle with injuries and cold streaks because of their unwillingness to mix it up.