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To all the ladies who are first-time fantasy footballers, welcome! This article is for you. Also, to the guy who convinced his girlfriend to play so the league has an even number of teams, this is for you to send to her. By the time you’re done skimming this, you’ll have taken enough away to create a respectable fantasy team. You’ll be able to win more games than you lose. And you’ll be able to beat the dudes who have discounted your ability to crush their souls because you’re a chick. You’re a queen and you deserve to take the throne.
I know your fantasies probably don’t involve football, but winning is fun. And some of these leagues are for money and money is dope. So let’s fn go.
I have a secret for you. It’s a secret no one talks about. It’s the secret that will ensure your league dominance.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO KNOW ABOUT FOOTBALL TO WIN IN FANTASY FOOTBALL.
Seriously you don’t. You just have to follow this guide. Or do what this girl’s mom did:
I want to simplify the game by only focusing on the important choices you have to make this season. And not focus on the complex choices that you don’t have to make. This guide is broke down into 5 sections: the basics (roster, schedule, scoring), the draft, regular season, postseason, and advice. Refer to these sections as you go about your season.
Fantasy football is on many platforms. Each platform has varying sets of game play and rules. It’s like a dating reality show. Each show has its people and relationships, but all the shows have the same purpose. And that purpose is to capitalize on other people’s drama. For simplicity, we will use the Bachelor of fantasy football platforms, ESPN. ESPN is one of the most popular platforms and its rules and regulations are like most other platforms. So if you’re using any other platform, you can still use this guide.
Each league has anywhere between 8 to 16 teams. Each participant is classified as the ‘owner’ of his/her team. The league is ran by a commissioner. The commissioner is usually the try-hard of the group. Stay on his/her good side – it will help you.
You will be prompted to make a fantasy account with ESPN when the league’s commissioner sends you the link. Create the account and look around the website to get a lay of the land.
To begin, you’ll have to draft a team (See ‘The Draft’). Your team has 16 players. These players are not from the same NFL team. They’re just whoever you pick from the league.
Of those 16 players, 9 will “start” and 7 will be “benched”. The players that are starting will get points for your team. The 7 that warm the bench will not get points for your team. Each week you can switch (or choose not to switch) which players are starting and on the bench.
Of the starting players, you will have 1 quarterback (QB), 2 wide receivers (WRs), 2 running backs (RBs), 1 tight end (TE), 1 flex (WR or RB), 1 defense (D) and 1 kicker (K). Don’t worry about the differences between the positions. It doesn't matter because the only thing that does matter is which player will score the most points. Don't let anyone else fool you.
When you are picking your players during the draft, your league will limit the number of players you can draft per position. For example, most leagues only allow an owner (you) to draft 2 QBs. Of those 2 QBs, you will only be able to start 1 of them. The goal is for your team to emulate a “mini” version of a real team. Mini because your team will have 16 people, while a real team will have 53. S'cute.
Each week you will go head-to-head against one other player’s team. The team that wins is the team that has the most points (each player contributes to the sum). The regular season will usually go for 12-14 weeks with one game per week. The playoffs occur between the 13th-16th weeks of the season.
Your position in the league’s rankings can change depending on how many wins you have compared to the other teams. The more wins you have, the better you’re ranked. Pretty straight forward.
You may play each team in the league once to twice, the schedules are random.
As stated above, only your starting 9 players can accumulate points for your team. Anyone on the bench, nada. Too bad, so sad if one of your benched players outscores your starting players.
Okay so as far as scoring goes, it is complicated. Each position accumulates points differently. For example, your kicker will receive points for making field goals. Meanwhile, your quarterback will receive points for throwing touchdown passes.
Since it’s complicated, let’s say screw it and rely on projections. Projections will be your savior. ESPN, along with most other fantasy platforms, will provide you with point projections for each of your players. When you’re deciding which players to start, select the player with the most projected points for that position slot.
If anyone ever questions your decisions, insult them about something unrelated. Sportsmanship at its finest.
WARNING: These projections are not always accurate. This a good thing and a bad thing. Good thing because sometimes your players can delight you and exceed the projection. Meanwhile, sometimes your players will pull a hammy in the first quarter of the game and score below the projection. This scenario sucks and you may throw your phone at a wall. But generally, the projections are reliable.
The draft is the biggest time suck and I’m sorry in advance for this. This is also when the other league owners will attempt to ‘shit talk’ you for your lack of experience and you have to tell them to royally eff off.
The draft will happen at a set date and time. Usually, it takes about two hours. A lot of leagues have draft parties a.k.a. an excuse to drink. Not to worry, if you don’t feel like dealing with other people then you can draft remotely from your phone or computer. You only need an internet connection. You can still drink if you want though.
If you're good at shit talking, make sure to take personal jabs at your competition.
Most drafts are snake drafts. No, there’s no real snakes or Taylor Swifts involved with this. A snake draft is when each team takes turns picking a player for their team in a particular order. Once everyone has picked once, the order will reverse for the second round. And then it will reverse again for the third round (same order as the first round).
There are 16 rounds this will go on for and each person will have roughly 90 seconds to make each pick. For example for an 8 team league, the order will go: 1st Round - [1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8], 2nd Round – [8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1], 3rd Round – [1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8]...and so on and so forth. It’s simpler than it seems I promise.
Okay, now it’s your turn to pick a player for your team. You have 90 seconds until a player is auto-drafted for you (keeping it short, like your man). Like the player projections, the draft has a magical feature of player rankings. There will be a list of the best available players for you to pick from. Just use that as you fill out each position slot.
Like a friend group, some people are more important to you than others. The people that are important to you in the draft are (in this order) the RB, the WR, the QB and sometimes the TE. The people that you can’t give too many flying Fs about are the D and the K. You show you don’t care about these people by waiting to draft them in the 10th+ round.
Here are my five tips for drafting your fantasy team:
ATTENTION IF YOU ARE LAZY: Auto draft is a BEAUTIFUL thing. Auto draft is when your team will default to draft the top available players. You don’t have to do a thing. You can also set up who you want to pick way ahead of time (given nobody picked the player). Auto draft is magnificent, but use it with caution. This is because sometimes you won’t draft the ~best team~. Most of the time, the auto draft will create the Victoria Justice of teams. Like it’s good, but you will be outshined by an Ariana Grande caliber team.
Naming Your Team
Naming your team is very important. It’s essentially an art form. It’s so important that I wrote an article about it.
Now that you’ve drafted a team and named it something dope, you’re ready to start playing. Having a team is like having a pet goldfish, it’s important to check on it and make sure it’s alive every few days. When you check on your fish team, you need to make sure of a few things:
To explain bye weeks a little more, in the NFL each team is allotted one week off during the season. Meaning, each of your players will have a week that they are not playing. These weeks aren’t usually the same unless your players come from the same team. Make sure your starting players aren’t on a bye week. I wish I got a bye week for my job.
COMMON SCENARIO THAT YOU MAY FIND YOURSELF IN:
Your starting QB is out due to injury, your back up QB is on a bye week: what do you do?! THE WAIVER WIRE!
Since not all the players in the NFL are selected in your league, there will be a few QBs still in the open market. You can snag one of these QBs by dropping one of your current dudes and submitting a waiver (a claim) to QB that’s not on a bye week or injured. Once your waiver is processed, the new QB will be on your team and you can start him.
TWO DISCLAIMERS WITH THE WAIVER WIRE:
Congrats! You survived the season and now your team is heading into the postseason. This is the piece that will vary the most by the league. Depending on what your league structure is, you’ll be doing one of three things:
Playoff games are treated the same as regular-season games. The only exception is sometimes playoff games will take place over a two-week duration, instead of one. This doubles your points.
If you find yourself vying for a championship, you have to give me some credit. And if you win the championship, you have two options:
And that’s it. That’s the tea. Fantasy football is a blast and it’s even more fun when you win. But, you have to try to win. Before you go on your merry way onto fantasy football land dominance, here’s my final advice.