As the game grows in popularity year after year, more and more new managers are dipping their toes into fantasy football, and the 2022 NFL season will be no exception. But without a basis for understanding how it all works, things can quickly get out of hand. While there are many ways to play fantasy football, here we go over some of the basics to help new managers get started on the right foot as a beginner’s guide on how to play.
Whether it’s being called up to the office league, being persuaded into it by a significant other, or individual curiosity, every season more and more people find themselves jumping into their first football league. Fantasy without any prior knowledge.
First of all, welcome. Pull up a chair, have a drink and enjoy your stay. Second, I’m sure that sounds overwhelming, but it’s not. Fantasy football is an incredibly simple game at its core. It should be about having fun.
Hopefully, with a little knowledge of what to expect, the feeling of being overwhelmed can be replaced with confidence as you enter your first fantasy football draft knowing how to play. While there are probably dozens, if not hundreds, of different ways to play fantasy, we’ll cover the most popular ones as this should be what the majority of you will be taking on for your first fantasy football league.
Draft is the best day of the entire fantasy calendar. You’ve reviewed the league rules, given your team a name – which will hopefully appear on the trophy – and you’re about to complete your first fantasy football roster. It’s a big moment.
Rather than a simple every man for himself, the teams are formed through the repechage. Before the draft even begins, fantasy managers have to do some work.
The first is how many members are in the league. It is important to remember when reading fantasy football recommendations, that they are generally suited for the “standard” league of 10-12 people. You may need to change the recommendations and adjust them for the correct round for ADP (Average Draft Position).
Don’t forget to read the league rules
When learning to play fantasy football for the first time, be sure to review your league’s rules, roster, and scoring settings. Going blind could be a disaster. Do players receive points for a reception, called PPR (points per reception)? Is it a half point or a full point? This impacts the priority of pass catchers who see high volume.
Also, what type of draft is it? This will have the most significant impact on your strategy when learning to play fantasy football. Is it Auction, Best Ball, 2QB/Superflex, DFS, Dynasty, TE premium, keeper, or just a standard redraft league? For most newbie players, you will be in a redraft league.
There is no “wrong” way to write
Now is the time to go, finally. Before someone yells at you differently, there’s no wrong way to draft/build a fantastic team. Period. Yes, there are optional and sub-optimal ways to go about it, but anything can work with the right execution and a bit of luck.
Once the draft begins, managers will go pick by choice in a draft order established prior to the draft until the rosters have been filled. The number of rounds this takes depends on how many roster spots your team needs to fill. It could be 15 rounds or even 35+ in some dynasty leagues.
Overall, most fantasy football teams will start one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end, two flex points (can be a RB/WR/TE), one kicker, one defense and about six bench players. .
I tend to prioritize RBs and WRs at the start of these kinds of leagues. We start these players more than any other, making them the backbone of the roster. But as you learn to play fantasy football, you’ll quickly realize how many different ways to build a roster.
Luckily for us, we’re not tied to every player. And no matter how good your draft is, midseason moves and roster management are what can make or break your fantastic team.
This is what defines champions in fantasy. Outside of Best Ball, I doubt you’ll ever find a winning team that didn’t change teams after the draft. Knowing when to add/remove or start/seat players can make the difference.
Once the draft is complete, this is the main way to add talent to your fantasy football team. You’ll learn just how powerful it can be as you keep playing. The waiver thread is the list of players who have not been drafted and who are essentially “free agents”. They can be added to your list multiple times during the week. The first inning is traditionally cleared on Wednesdays, then every day thereafter.
That said, it’s essential to see if your league’s waivers are on a first-come, first-served basis where there is no set time and date. In these leagues, you can add a player at any time.
Unfortunately, injuries happen. If you have an injured player, you can find someone from the waiver wire to replace them. Got someone you drafted who isn’t playing well, and you’re ready for a change? Use disclaimers. Is it a week off for some of your players or do you want to anticipate the following week? The waiver thread is where you can go to fill out your team.
If your roster is already full, you’ll need to drop someone already on your team so you don’t go over the roster limits. Otherwise, if you have a free spot, they can be added directly to your team.
There is an art to rolling and negotiating in fantasy football. Some are great and some just don’t get it. It can be a powerful tool if used correctly. Is there a stud player who is playing badly but is about to have one of the softest schedules and could burst? Trying to swap them out before that happens could be a priority decision.
The key to trading is to understand that no matter how much you like a player, even if he is the second comer, he is only worth what someone else is willing to give. Jonathan Taylor may be RB’s best player (which he is), but if no one is giving market value, there’s no reason to move him on the cheap.
Just like the NFL, fantasy football also has a trade deadline. Beyond the fixed date, there are no exchanges. This tends to be between week 11 and week 13 to help prevent collusion. Otherwise, teams unlikely to make the playoffs could trade their best players to the highest bidder, essentially giving someone a championship.
You will quickly find out who is receptive to trading, who is wary of it because they constantly fear being taken advantage of, and who is wild in their player ratings. Trading is a difficult art form to master.
Weeks of work and setting up the roster lead to the fantasy football playoffs. For most leagues, these will start in week 15. This allows for multiple rounds of the playoffs to be completed and the championship in week 17. Trust me when I say this, you do NOT want your championship in week 17. regular season finale when teams are bench players. That’s no way to decide a fantasy league. If you see it, ask your league to get together and change it before the draft starts.
Generally, playoff standings are based on the win-loss record of everyone in the league. Some go through most of the stitches, but using the global folder is the norm. For most leagues, the fantasy playoff is a knockout bracket. In this, the winners advance to the next round, with the eliminated heading to the consolation bracket. Adding rewards (money or draft picks for next year) to the consolation bracket can be a great way to keep teammates involved all the time.
Some sites such as ESPN use two-week playoff games. In this, the total score of your teams over a period of two weeks determines the winner and who advances to the championship. However, the longer the game, the fewer teams qualify for the playoffs.
It’s about being hot at the right time and needing a bit of luck. Play fantasy football long enough and you’ll realize that the best teams don’t always win. These are the ones who got hot/lucky at the right time. Yet part of that randomness is why we play fantasy football. That’s why more and more people are learning to play fantasy football, because anyone can become a champion.