There have recently been some questions regarding fantasy football. Now, this post is not going to be breaking down each position with rankings and whatnot. Those lists can be found everywhere. What I am here to do is to explain basically how the game is played and which sites I like the best for fantasy football.
Unlike Fantasy Baseball, which is frequently played in two different styles (rotisserie and head-to-head), Fantasy Football is largely played head-to-head. (At least, that’s been my experience.) What that means is that once you have your team, you will face off against somebody else’s team each week. Each team accumulates points based on how their players do in the real games and whichever team has more points gets a win. Then there are overall standings based on the win-loss records. So if in the first 5 weeks I beat Metschick, lost to SA, beat Minda, beat Chitown Chick and lost to Dame of Extra Time, I’d be 3-2 overall.
Now, a lot of people will tell you (and I agree), that the best part of Fantasy Football is the draft. You get all prepared and psyched up for it and it takes 2-3 hours and it’s awesome. If you can have a league where you all actually live near each other and get an in-person draft organized… DO IT. I finally was able to do that last year when I organized a law school league and it ruled. We had 12 of us in a house, a ton of beer, pizza and it was a freaking blast. I made a draft board with some posterboard and markers and we took turns writing our picks up on the board, trying to be all suspenseful about our picks and heckling each other. It was great.
If you can’t be in-person, a live online draft is the next best thing. The draft is typically conducted in a serpentine manner, which means it goes positions 1-12, but then snakes back around 12-1. So the 12th pick gets the 13th pick and the 1st pick gets the 24th pick. You will be drafting a set number/positions of starters and then you can fill in your bench however you want. Most leagues have as starters one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, a tight end, a kicker and a defense. On most sites you can customize that, however, so you can adjust depending on the size of your league. For example, you may not want to have three wide receivers in a fourteen-team league because you’ll really start scraping the bottom of the wide-receiver barrel. My go-to bottom-of-the-barrel guy has been Mike Furrey of the Detroit Lions because he played college ball for UNI and lived in our rental house and I met him and he’s cute. Ahem.
In addition to starters, you’ll have bench slots. You’ll want to have back-ups for most of your positions because the NFL has bye weeks, which means there will be at least one week where you won’t have a starting quarterback or one of your running backs will be out (or both, if you can’t help it). So you’ll want back-ups. However, you don’t need a back-up kicker. Please only draft one kicker, ladies.
Once you have a team, the season will start and you’ll begin accumulating points. The way the points work is up to each individual league, but are usually mostly based on yardage, touchdowns, fumbles, and interceptions for your QBs, RBs, WRs and TEs. The kickers’ points are based on field goals and point-afters and the defense gets points for fumbles-caused, sacks, touchdowns, interceptions, etc.
The way yardage works is that your league commissioner will decide the amount per point. For example, for QBs it may be 1 point for every 25 yards passing. For RBs, it may be 1 point for every 15 yards rushing. For WRs and TEs, it may be 1 point for every 20 yards receiving. And so on and so forth. The way I like to set it up is to try to have 100 yards rushing or receiving roughly equal to a touchdown. It’s just personal preference, mostly based on my first Fantasy Football experience that was kind of fucked up. It was 1 point for every 25 yards rushing or receiving, which means that to equal a touchdown, a guy had to rush/receive for 150 yards. That’s ridiculous. That encourages the drafting of big fat fullbacks who get the ball at the goal-line and rumble into the endzone and fall down like Finch in Wildcats. Their line ends up being 3 yards and a touchdown. It’s dumb. A 100-yard performance for a RB or WR should be equal to a touchdown. That’s how I feel.
Most commissioners are cool and will listen to discussion about the settings of a league. Or they can be like my law school fantasy baseball commissioner who heard it from me all season 2 years ago about how much better head-to-head is than rotisserie and still set up a rotisserie league for this year and about 3 weeks into the season got an earful from 5 guys in our league about doing head-to-head and THEN agreed to do it for next year, nevermind the fact that I made all those same points LAST year and yet this year we’re still playing in rotisserie and YOU SUCK, ROY!
Anyway. The season will continue with you facing a new opponent every week and getting a W-L record. At the end of the season, usually around week 14, the playoffs will start. Hopefully there is something in place so that NOT EVERY TEAM makes the playoffs because that is fucking stupid. The reason they start in the 14th week is because they typically take 3 weeks (14, 15, 16) and by week 17 some of the big starters are getting benched to rest them for the real-life playoffs and that can really screw you over.
That’s basically how Fantasy Football works. If you’ve managed to weather this whole article, good for you. Here are a few more Lady Andrea Tips.
1. Homerism is Okay… To a Point.
I like to draft my favorite players. If I have the 3rd pick in fantasy baseball, I harass the two guys ahead of me to leave me Albert Pujols. I drafted Nate Kaeding as a rookie kicker because he’s a Hawkeye and adorable, but also because I know how good he is. I got a lot of shit for that, but he ended up being one off the top fantasy kickers that year (and every year). Suck it, Truman State XC Runners.
But let’s not get carried away. I love Dallas Clark but you don’t draft a TE in the first few rounds because they don’t score nearly the same number of points as RBs, QBs and WRs. So I’m not gonna take Dallas in the 4th round or sooner. Also, I’m not going to take Joey Harrington as my QB just because he’s cute. He sucks. Homerism and cuteness can only go so far. Don’t be like the douchebag pictured above who took Matt Leinart in the 4th round last year because he really likes Matt Leinart. That’s fucking stupid.
2. Try to Keep Paying Attention
It’s 1000 times more fun to play all fantasy sports when the people in the league continue to pay attention. If you forget to set your lineup and your QB and one RB are on byes, you are practically HANDING your opponent a victory. That’s great for your opponent, but it pisses the shit out of the other players in the league. Furthermore, be active. Grab people off the waiver wire. Know when you have an injured player. Make trades. It makes it so much more fun.
3. Having a Defense is Great. Having Individual Defensive Players is Dumb.
Nobody cares about drafting the DE from the Baltimore Ravens. Don’t set up the league that way.
4. Drafting a Handcuff Pair of RBs is Dumb.
Some people like to draft their RBs back-ups, in case those RBs get hurt. It may seem like a good idea, but suddenly your bench is half back-ups. You don’t have a good substitute if you don’t like the match-up for one of your starters, or one of the starters has his bye week. Take some legitimate bench RBs and keep an eye out for undiscovered talent on the waiver wire. It won’t stay undiscovered for long, so look alive.
5. Drafting a Handcuff Pair of QB and WR is Smart.
I played in two different leagues last year where someone had both Tom Brady and Randy Moss. It was ridiculous. Every time Brady threw a TD to Moss, that person got essentially double the points. Most years, no duo is going to be as successful as Brady and Moss were, but since you get 3 WRs, having one of them be a receiver that goes with your starting QB is not a bad idea.
6. Be There for the Draft.
The draft is pretty much the best part of the entire experience. If you can’t be there for the draft, the site you use will autopick for you and you’ll end up with a shitty team. Then not only did you miss the best part, but your team sucks balls. Show up for the draft.
Finally, Alert Reader Kristin has asked what sites the Ladies like to use. I can only speak for myself, but I really gotta give it up for Yahoo! Yahoo is the most user-friendly and least confusing. ESPN fucking sucks. Stay away from ESPN. I play in a Fantasy Baseball league on ESPN and it’s year 2 and I still don’t like it. It’s not… intuitive. I don’t like the way you can sort the players who are available for pick-up. It’s just yucky, stay away.
CBS Sportsline isn’t bad. I’m in a Fantasy Baseball league on CBS this year and it took awhile (AWHILE) to figure everything out. But once I did, it’s a very slick set-up. The difference between ESPN and CBS is that while neither is overly user-friendly, once you figure them out ESPN sucks and CBS is really good. So you waste your time with figuring out ESPN, but CBS has a payoff.
However, for a Fantasy Football Virgin, Yahoo cannot be beat. Learn to play over there and then graduate to CBS.
If you have any more questions, feel free to leave them in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy Drafting!
Great tips and rather timely too since I just got the invite to join the office pool and really had no idea where to start in choosing a team.
Woooo, now I’m excited for football again! (OK, I already was a little bit, but was suppressing that feeling because baseball is still going strong.)
So… We’re doing a Ladies… FF league right? I will take you down!
In my head, little curly-haired Minda in a blue Royals hat and pigtails is jumping excitedly and in a teeny little voice going “We’re doing a Ladies league, right? Right? I will take you down. [finger point] Down to Chinatown! [giggle] Grrrr.”
Wait-so my plan of drafting only former Michigan players isn’t a good way to go? Now you tell me.
I played in two different leagues last year where someone had both Tom Brady and Randy Moss.
I certainly hope they didn’t win the league and got a nifty little bobble head for the victory.
Stuff a sock in it, Patriot Lover.
Oooh, this trash talking has me all excited. Grrrrr, indeed.
I really like CBS’s, but then it’s the only one I’ve used. I particularly like that I can export the stats as an Excel speadsheet which is very helpful in draft planning. (Yes, I’m quite a nerd)
One of the other dangers of homerism is jinxing your favorite team/player. Being drafted by me appearantly is the kiss of death. (Sorry about the hamstring Rudi!)
Also, pay close attention to bye weeks when drafting. Last year my top 2 RB’s had the same bye week and it really sucked.
we keep it really simple and play this format. I won big last year and there aren’t alot of deadlines and rules.
Hey now, I don’t like the Patriots. I just love Tom Brady. And they got me a lot of points last year. And I’m thinking of how I can draft their entire team this time around.
Andrea – thanks for the tips. I really do feel like I need to do a few practice runs before I play with the fantasy pros. I’m proceeding with caution…