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How to Play Fantasy Football

Updated on July 2, 2013

Pro NFL Football

A Pro NFL football
A Pro NFL football | Source

Fantasy Football Leagues

Fantasy football has become incredibly popular and has firmly established a very dedicated following; some might even say fantasy football has reached epidemic status. The amount of places where fantasy football is available to play should be a very good indicator at how prevalent it has become.

Fantasy football allows anyone to become the head coach of their own football team comprised of National Football League (NFL) players. The attraction is to be the man, or woman, on the sidelines with the headset on calling all of the shots.

Anyone can play in a fantasy football league and I have the evidence to prove it. Every year I do a league with family and friends. It is nothing special just something for us all to do and poke fun at each other when someone gets beat. This past season my daughter, who was twelve at the time, decided she wanted to play. At first I was a little hesitant because she really knows nothing about football. After realizing the right thing to do was to allow her to play I signed her up. We did a live draft, I’ll get into drafts in a second, but she allowed the computers to draft for her. Long story short she darn near won the whole thing and finished as one of the top scoring teams in the league. She beat five other grown men in our eight team league. If you think that you cannot play fantasy football because you don’t know much about the sport just remember how my little twelve year old daughter did in her first year, that should be all of the convincing that you need to go ahead and play.

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Fantasy Football Draft Strategy

There are two basic types of drafts in fantasy football. The first is to let the computer draft a team for you. This is the easiest way for a new person to play because the computer will not short change you. It is programmed to fill out your roster and give you a player for every position. The other type of draft is a live draft. A live draft is very similar to the NFL draft shown on TV every year. The draft has multiple rounds and each team has a predetermined amount of time to make their selections. There is a third kind of draft but it is not as big as the other two I mentioned. Some people aren’t computer people so they prefer to do their draft “offline”. Doing an offline draft is the old fashioned way before computers and websites managed drafts for you. Basically everyone was in a room with a large board listing all of the players in the league that were available to draft. As a player was drafted they would be struck from the board since they were no longer available.

Fantasy Football Drafts

A board used to do a fantasy football draft
A board used to do a fantasy football draft | Source

Fantasy Football Scoring

In most of the standard leagues out there you will have to select one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, one kicker and one team defense. This is your starting lineup every week but you will have backups on your bench. Your job as the head coach is to figure out who is going to go into your starting lineup every week and who will sit on the bench. These decisions are critical because people on your bench will not contribute to your weekly statistics.

Statistically touchdowns are the same as they are in regular NFL games, six points. Quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends will also get points for a certain amount of yardage gained during games. Unfortunately these players will also be penalized with negative points for every interception or fumble they commit.

Kickers get one point for every point after touchdown attempt they successfully convert, just like the real games. They also get points based on the distance of their field goals made. Most leagues award the same points for kicks up to thirty-nine yards. An additional point is given up to forty-nine yards and one more is added for anything over fifty yards; five points is usually the maximum a kicker can get for a long field goal.

Defensively you are awarded for a few different things. Not allowing any points is usually a pretty good chunk of points because it is so difficult to do. The leagues that I have played in usually gave ten points for a shutout. Defenses got a point for every quarterback sack, two points for a fumble recovery or interception and safety’s.

Fantasy Football Format

In all of the leagues I have played in you went against another team each week, this is referred to as a head-to-head style league. Each week there will be a winner, loser or a tie for each pair of competitors. Just a warning when you play in these kinds of leagues, don’t get flustered when you lose to the one team who had more points than you did that week, trust me it will drive you crazy. I played in a league one year where I finished third in points in a ten team league but I finished dead last in wins. It might not be fair but it is just how things work out sometimes.

There are plenty of free fantasy football options out there so don’t feel that you have to pay to get into a league. I’m not a big gambler so a free league is the only way for me; I think I would get way too upset if I lost in the league and lost some money too.

Fantasy Football Drafting


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    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      Michael - Glad it re-energized you. I have enjoyed being in a league every year, the fact that both of our kids want to participate as well is pretty cool too.

    • Michael J Rapp profile image

      Michael J Rapp 5 years ago from United States

      I've played Fantasy Football a few seasons online and it's a blast. Every year I say I'm going to get back into it but then I end up forgetting or getting busy and missing out on joining a league. Nice Hub. It has encouraged me to try FF again!