Are You Ready for Some Fantasy Football?


Tyler Davidson

Fantasy football is a game where you choose players and compete against other teams through a scoring system based off statistics (Photo courtesy of Tyler Davidson).

Imagine having Saquon Barkley, DeAndre Hopkins, Aaron Rodgers, or any of the NFL superstars all on the same team. There are only two realistic ways to have this: play Madden or assemble a fantasy football team. But, what exactly is fantasy football? 

[Fantasy football is] 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” as defined by the Cambridge Dictionary.

Each fantasy football team is normally made up of fifteen players. Managers of each team must choose from the players they drafted to determine which players they will have on their starting roster. In the traditional format, each team must start a quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end, one kicker, and one NFL defense. These players will score points based on the statistics they earn in real life NFL games. At the end of the week, the points will be tallied together and the team with the most points wins. The players who do not start will stay on your bench. Throughout the season, you can switch your players from your bench to your starting roster and you can add and drop or trade players. But, how do you get a team? 

In the normal format, players are drafted in a schoolyard pick draft with the first team getting the first pick, the second team getting the second pick, and so on. The draft is one of the most important parts of the season because it can make or break the outcome of the season. This is where you choose the players you will have to compete with for the season. Going into the draft, it is helpful to print out a fantasy football rankings sheet. This will be your best friend during your draft because it will advise you when to take what players. Also, before your draft, you should review the rules of your league. Understanding your league rules will help you understand how your league scoring works. Okay, so now you are ready for your draft. How should you draft? 

“You can’t win your league in the first round, but you can lose it. In other words, this is NOT the place to get cute. You want safe, you want reliable, you want as close to guaranteed production as possible,” said NFL analyst Matthew Berry in his article about fantasy football.

The key to doing well in the draft is not to overthink it. Remember, this is only a game unless you are doing it for bragging rights, in which case you should go all in. It’s helpful to have a roster sheet to help you see which positions you have already drafted. Also, this is a good time to use your ranking sheet. This sheet will tell you where the experts would draft each player. Another way to do well in the draft is to not have a set mindset going in, meaning don’t draft a player because you feel like you have to. There is always value on the draft board. 

“At a fundamental level, the key to fantasy football success is minimizing risk on a weekly basis to give yourself the best odds to win.” says Berry in the same article.

Now that you have your team, you need to set your roster. You have to put a player at each of the positions on your roster. In order to decide who should start, you can look at the projected points for each player. While this will not be very accurate most of the time, it will still give you an idea of how the experts think each player will perform during the game. You can also look at who each player is facing in their real game. For example, when a player is facing a team with a weaker defense, you may want to start that player. The final thing you want to take into consideration is bye weeks. A bye week is the week the NFL team has off. Each player will have one bye at some point in the season. Taking these factors into consideration, you should set your lineup by Wednesday before the Thursday night games. This will make sure you have full access to your team because once the games start in real life, the players are locked wherever they are on your team.

Throughout the season, you may want to get rid of players that do not perform like you thought they would. You can do this using the add and drop or the waiver wire. Using the waiver wire, teams can release a player on their roster and “sign” a player who is not on a team in your fantasy league. The most important time to do this is Week 1. During Week 1, players’ performances usually show what you can expect from them the rest of the season. Many players who helped win fantasy championships last year, like James Conner and Phillip Lindsay, were claimed during this time. The other way to improve your team is through trades. If you have players that you don’t want or need you can trade them to another team for players that are more valuable to you. But to do this, you must work with another team in your league. This may end up benefiting both teams.

That’s it. Those are the simple rules of fantasy football and tips to help you be successful. The players you select will determine how well you do. There is no certain way to play the game and win, but one thing is for sure: if you want to win, you need to minimize risks, especially in the draft. Be sure to do research on all the players before you select someone. Don’t be the person, for example, to select Andrew Luck and Lamar Miller, only to find out that they both won’t play all season. Finally, remember to have fun, because this is only a game.