Fantasy Football for Beginners
Fantasy Football Addiction
Fantasy Football is great for many reasons. For some, it's for the glory of having a winning team. For others, fantasy football is about the grand prize and receiving a huge payoff in the end. For me, although I love to win (or most of all, I hate to lose), participating in a football fantasy league enhances my overall NFL experience. I love the national football league. In fact, I believe I have a serious addiction to the sport. So, if there is something out there that provides me even more NFL exposure, you better believe I'm going to pounce on the opportunity.
Why Play Fantasy Football
What is Fantasy Football? Basically, it's a place where you build a team of NFL players, handpicked by you, and then you keep track of their stats week in, week out. Each week you’ll face an opponent, who also built a team of their own, and then you compare your team’s stats with theirs.
In a nutshell, the team who outperforms the other team wins that week. At the end of the season, around Week 14 of the NFL, the fantasy league tallies up everyone's wins and losses. Then the league takes the top 4-6 winning records, and they battle each other in the playoffs for the ultimate prize.
Confused yet? Don't worry, it's not that difficult. If you're a football enthusiast then it won't be hard to figure out. Pretty much, you keep track of your guys and hope for the best.
Fantasy Football Leagues
You must take a look at the league you are joining. Some emphasize that the strength resides in the quarterback, while others may decide to have a wide receiver heavy league. It is absolutely imperative to pay attention to this step because once draft day approaches you need to base your strategy on the structure of the league. I cannot stress this enough because I have made the mistake before and it wasn't pretty.
Most leagues have the standard: 1QB, 2RB, 2WR, 2FLEX, 1TE, 1DEF format...with little deviations here and there. Other similar formats include:
1QB, 1RB, 1WR, 3FLEX, 1TE, 1DEF
1QB, 2RB, 1WR, 2FLEX, 1TE, 1DEF
1QB, 2RB, 3WR, 1FLEX, 1TE, 1DEF
Fantasy League Rules
Make sure you look at the fantasy league's rules, thoroughly. Most importantly, look at the point system.
Where are the quarterback settings at? Are passing touchdowns 3 points? are they 6 points?
Are running backs the powerhouses of the team? Do backs get a point every 10 yards or every 15?
Are receivers the workhorses of the league? Where wideouts get a point for every reception?
Is this a defensive heavy league, where the defense gets a lot of points for allowing the least number of yards or the least amount of points? I was in one league where blocked field goals were worth 25 points. 25 freakin points!!...something I was unaware of because I didn't bother to look up the rules on defense.
How to Create a Winning Team
In order to be successful, you need to stay on track. You need to keep tabs on your fantasy players, injury reports, free agents, and your opponents’ strengths and weaknesses. As you can imagine, this creates a lot of interest for players that you never even heard of much less root for. Creating more interest and definitely enhancing the NFL experience.
The best way to find out injury reports is to either go to an individual NFL team's website, which is most likely their team name.com (such as www.philadelphiaeagles.com), or go to ESPN's website and look under NFL teams injury reports.
Now, you don't just want to look at your player's injury updates. You also want to look at the entire NFL...and target teams that have a great running game and/or a great passing offense.
For instance, if Reggie Wayne goes down, then you know that Garcon and Gonzalez will get some more attention because Peyton Manning is Peyton Manning. You may even want to pick their 3rd receiver at this point.
Also, if Shonn Greene goes down, you may opt to get LT or even Joe McKnight because they have an awesome running attack supported by a great offensive line.
These are all the little things you need to pay attention to as the season progresses.
Ah yes, free agency. During the course of the season, you need to look at who your teammates drop in the free agency department. Sometimes fantasy players are too impatient, and they drop off a gold mine for you. Conversely, always make sure you don't let go of a gem of your own allowing other people to capitalize on your mistake.
You also need to pay attention to other teams. If you know that a competing team is missing a quarterback for that week (due to injury or bye week or both) snatch the best available quarterback in free agency to block their easy pick up. This maneuver is especially important if you're facing them that week!
Fantasy Football Draft
So, how do you build a winning team? It starts with the draft. There are many strategies out there, although it may vary depending on the structure of the league. I have another article out there that specifically targets fantasy draft strategies.
For now, we will go into the basics. For the most part, drafting is the combination of skill, luck, circumstance, and balance. Since you, the individual, cannot control the luck or circumstance then you must excel at the other two factors...skill and balance.
First off, do your research. Before any draft, look at fantasy player rankings, past performances, starting lineups, contract issues, injury reports, couching staffs, etc. You must look at everything in order to know who is available and what you need.
After your research, the most important thing to remember is consistency. You want your first 6 picks to be consistent players. They don't have to be all-stars (although, that would be great) but they need to perform their duties every week. Meaning, if you draft Ricky Williams in the 6th round, he better consistently get his 65 yards rushing, 35 yards receiving, and score a touchdown per game. If you doubt his consistency or you believe Ronnie Brown is going to have a phenomenal year, then do not draft Ricky Williams in the 6th round...plain and simple. You must be confident about your first 6 picks.
Next, make sure you draft a balanced team. For instance, don't draft 4 receivers in a row. They may all be great value picks, but you need to stay versatile and diverse. If you pick nothing but receivers then you are limiting your team's ability to mold and adapt.
To sum up your NFL Draft...you can only control two things...skill and balance. Your skill comes from your research and finding consistent players. As for balance, make sure you to draft a variety of skill players from different positions.
If your players get hurt or they just become a fantasy 'dud' (example Matt Forte in the 2009 season), then that's unfortunate and is out of your control.
Remember, just have fun with it and have an excellent fantasy football season!