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Winning Fantasy Football Strategies

Updated on September 9, 2014

Playing Fantasy Football

While seeing summer coming to an end can be a disappointment to many of us, there is one thing to look forward to at that time of the year - the NFL football season. This of course also means that fantasy football starts along with it. Nowadays, it's become almost a must for any serious football fan to play the fantasy game.

Fantasy football is easily the most popular of the fantasy sports. When you join a fantasy football league you'll draft the offensive players and team defenses you think will give your team the best chance to win every week. There will be jubilation when it comes around to your pick and your guy is still on the board. There will also be disappointment when you miss out on somebody you want on your team - especially when they get picked within a few turns of your next pick. During the season, there will likely be ups and downs. It's all or nothing since each player is going to only play once each week. Some weeks you may be way down early and end up winning and vice versa. There will be times when you feel like a genius when you start certain players who lead you to victory and times when you feel like an idiot because your bench players would've outscored your starters. All in all, it's great fun to draft your team and play from week to week.

To give you team a better chance of winning your league there are plenty of winning fantasy football strategies you can take advantage of. These include strategies on joining or creating a league, drafting the best team possible, playing each week, and winning in the playoffs.

Peyton Manning
Peyton Manning

Joining Or Creating A League

The first step to playing fantasy football is to join or create a league. With some great websites to play fantasy football and the amount of leagues in them, you won't have any difficulty finding a league to play in. Of course, there are some winning fantasy football strategies to follow when joining or creating a league.

When you decide to join or create a fantasy football league, you first need to figure out where you want to play. Fortunately, there is no shortage of excellent websites to play fantasy football on that will track all of your stats and make it easy to pick up, drop, and trade players.

You have many options when you want to join or create a fantasy football league. You can either join a league with a snaking draft or one where you try to outbid other teams for the players you want.

When you're looking at fantasy football leagues you may want to join, you need to check the league settings. This includes player positions and scoring settings. The common player positions are quarterback (QB), running back (RB), wide receiver (WR), tight end (TE), kickers (K), DEF (defense), and some bench (BN) slots to put players of any position that you aren't starting in a given week. Many leagues also feature W/R (wide receiver or running back) and W/T (wide reciever or tight end) slots. If your league has individual defensive players there will also be slots for those. The majority of leagues will feature multiple RB and WR slots and one each for QB, TE, K, and DEF. Of course, there will be leagues where you find multiple slots for each position. It's best to join a league with position settings you feel comfortable with.

Scoring settings also vary from league to league. Usually your team will get a point for every 10 yards rushing or receiving and 25 yards passing, along with 6 points for every touchdown scored (though in many league passing TDs give you 4 points). Scoring for kickers is usually pretty basic, with a field goal worth 3 and a PAT worth one (longer field goals may get you more points in some leagues). Defense scoring can vary quite a bit from league to league as many will count special teams stats and there will be different set-ups for how many points your DEF gets based on how many points they allow. Some fantasy football leagues will also give your players bonus points for breaking a certain amount of yards (usually 100 rushing or receiving or 300 passing). There may be bonuses for long plays as well. One of the top winning fantays football strategies is to make sure you check these settings before joining a league - especially a customized one.

If you decide to create a fantasy football league, you'll have many options to customize it the way you want. Then you can get other players to join your league and try to show them who's boss.

Drafting Your Team

Once you've joining or created a league, the next step is to draft your fantasy football team. For many of us, this is one of the best things about fantasy football. You get to draft a team of players you want (as long as they're still on the board) and feel the disappointment of missing other players you'd like on your team. Whatever the case, drafting a team is great fun and there some excellent winning fantasy football strategies you can take advantage of to draft the best team possible.

The first step to most fantasy football drafts is getting a draft position (unless you're in a bidding draft league). Drafts in the majority of leagues snake around so the first overall pick will pick last in the second round (in a 10 team league it will go 1 through 10 in the first round, 10 through 1 in the second round, and so on). If you're drafting online, you'll likely be stuck with the draft position you get, but if you get together with some friends to draft your league you may be able to trade positions. In my opinion you are better off having a later pick in the first round as most of the leagues I've been in end up with a late first round drafter ending up winning it all.

When your drafting your team, one of the top winning fantasy football strategies is to pick players who might break out big rather than ones that are on the downside of their careers. Let other teams take a chance on those big name past their prime players.

Every NFL season brings a new group of hyped up rookies. However, for fantasy purposes, the only rookies that you should go after are running backs, and to a lesser extent, wide receivers. Many rookie running backs who get a lot of touches end up having very good fantasy seasons, and you can wait a bit before you pull the trigger and draft them. Rookie wide receivers are more risky, but there are bound to be a couple that are worth a late round pick. Rookie quarterbacks almost never put up huge numbers, and really should be avoided.

The first position that most fantasy football drafters focus on is running back. This is because they usually touch the ball so much and get plenty of rushing yards and touchdowns. Some of them also get a nice amount of receiving yards. Nowadays, many teams are going with 2 RBs to keep guys from getting too much mileage or they use a different RB in a short yardage situation. Of course there are still plenty of running backs who will get the most yards and still get the touchdowns. These are the RBs you should be looking at early. Running backs are also important because you're likely going to be able to start multiple ones every week.

Another important position to fill is the wide receiving position. They can put up huge numbers, though not as consistently as the top RBs. You'll likely need more of them than the other positions as well. Wide receivers also tend to break out after playing a couple of seasons, so you should look at those players who had solid, yet unspectacular, seasons to start their careers and are entering their third year in the league when you're looking for upside picks.

Quarterbacks are of course very important to your fantasy football squad. In most leagues, you're only going to be allowed to start one QB per week, so you'll want a good one. When to pick a quarterback for your fantasy team depends on a few things. If passing touchdowns are worth 4 points in your league you may want to draft one earlier, if they're worth 6 you may want to wait. You'll also want to pay attention to how many teams are picking a QB early. If the top 5 QBs go somewhat early, there are 5 less teams that are going to pick one anytime soon so you may able to wait another round or 2 and still get a potential top 10 QB. However, you don't want to wait too long and take a chance with one that won't perform consistently.

As far as tight ends go, it's best to wait a while before you pick one. Even the best of them aren't going to get near the stats that the top wide receivers get. However, some are definitely going to get you some nice receiving stats. The thing about drafting TEs is that once somebody finally picks one, the top 5 or so will likely go soon after.

It's also a winning fantasy football strategy to wait before you start picking defenses and individual defensive players (IDPs) if your league has them. Of course, this depends on your leagues settings, but usually you're not going to get as much scoring out of these positions as much as your offensive position players.

Kickers should always be picked late in fantasy football drafts. This means in the last round or two. Kickers are hit or miss and there's usually not a huge amount of difference between the best and the 10th best.

Winning Fantasy Football Season Strategies

There are plenty of winning fantasy football strategies to keep in mind once the actual season starts. With the amount of injuries and players that come out of nowhere and get big stats, you always need to keep an eye on what's going on in your league. If you stay ahead of the game, you'll give your team a much better chance of winning.

One thing you certainly have to do during the football season is to keep an eye on the waiver and free agent lists. Every year there are players who don't get drafted and and up having big years. This is especially true of running backs who start the season as back-ups and become the starter for whatever reason. There are also plenty of players who will get dropped by other teams before they turn it up a notch. With the amount of injures in the NFL each year, there is a good chance that you will need to pick up some players throughout the season, so it's best to be on top of things by regularly checking to see who's available on waivers and in free agency.

Another one of the best winning football strategies is to keep an eye on the other teams in your league if you ever decide to offer a trade. If your team is strong at a certain position but weak in another and another team is the opposite, you may want to try trading with them.

Playing the matchups is also important if you want to give your team a better chance of victory every week. This means that you may want to start a player you usually keep on the bench if their matchup that week gives them a good chance of putting up big stats. You may also want to sit one of your studs if they're facing a stifling defense. Check the matchups every single week and adjust your starting lineup accordingly.

During the season, you'll need to replace your normal starters on their bye weeks. It sucks, but everybody goes through it. This is where having strong bench players will help you.

Fantasy Football Playoff Strategies

If you win enough games, you'll get to play for all the marbles in the fantasy football playoffs. At this point you have to win or your season is over. Of course, there are winning fantasy football strategies you can use to give your team a better chance at winning it all.

Most fantasy football leagues hold their championships in week 16 of the NFL season (though some will hold them in week 17 and there are even leagues that combine week 16 and 17 for their championships). This is because a lot of teams that already have their playoff position clinched will either rest their starters or play them very little in week 17. Unfortunately, this may even happen in week 16 for some teams. This is definitely something to watch out for if you have players on teams that may have already cliched a top playoff berth by then. You will be better off playing guys on teams that are still playing for something. This includes pride, as a lot of times players that aren't on playoff bound teams will blow up in the final weeks.

During the playoff weeks, you'll still need to play the matchups. At least at this point, you don't have worry as much about dropping somebody since the season is almost over, and in the last week you don't even have to give a second though to doing it.

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