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Living in a Fantasy World
It’s unlikely that there are many, if any, people in the US today who haven’t at least heard of fantasy football. If you love good-natured trash talking, placing risky bets on up-and-coming players, and arguing amongst yourselves about which team will end up victorious, then fantasy football is the ultimate hobby for you! Fantasy football combines an enjoyment of online sports betting with a genuine love for the game of football itself. While anyone who loves football probably already understands fantasy football basics, we thought we’d give the newbies a little Fantasy Football 101.
So, What IS Fantasy Football?
You and your friends are the owners of various franchises, and you’ll need to draft football players into your team. You manage all your players throughout an entire season, running from September to February. Every week you have to handpick your starting lineup from your current roster and face off against another team in your league. Players score in the standard ways: running, catching, touchdowns, etc. The team that has the most points wins the game. Fantasy playoffs are held during the last few weeks of the NFL season. The winning team is crowned just before the actual NFL playoffs begin: because realistically, who has time for anything else during playoff season? The level of excitement going into the fantasy draft is something matched only by the real thing, and the actual managing of the team that you need to do throughout the season is equally as entertaining. Anything that could happen to your team in the real world can happen in the fantasy world as well. You might need to replace your star quarterback due to an injury or take an underperforming player out of the game for a while; you never know.
All this might sound a little daunting if you aren’t already extremely familiar with the game of American football or if you’re just starting out, but don’t worry; we’ve got you! Read on for the nitty-gritty of the game.
Join A League
The first step into the world of fantasy football; join a league! There are about 20 million people in the US who play fantasy football every season, so there’s a pretty good chance that you already have a friend, colleague, or family member who already plays! If that’s the case, ask them for the skinny on their league or the best options. If not, check out Yahoo! Sports or ESPN for some options to start you off.
Choosing A Team Name
Here is where the fun really begins. Try a play on words or on your favorite player’s name (something like “Rice, Rice Baby”) or even take a shot at your opposing team (we only recommend this if you know them well!). Sure, you could pick a “normal” team name and be safe (and maybe a little boring), or you could get out your wit and sense of humor and really have a laugh. The minute you start taking things too seriously is the minute the game loses that extra bit of shine.
Let the competition begin! The fantasy draft runs differently from the NFL draft: a random draft order is chosen, and then reversed after the first round. Some leagues also use an auction-style draft where players are allocated to the highest bidder, and all owners have a salary cap.
A good, simple strategy is to mix it up with reliable players like Drew Brees and lesser-known players who have great potential. These lesser-known players are called “sleeper” picks. You have to remember to cover all your positions, and every league has a requirement for the number of starters in each spot. You could just say “hell with it” and draft all of your favorite team’s players, but beware: this is bound to irritate someone in your league who feels that’s a lazy way to draft.
Trading and Free Agents
Come the mid-season, the unpredictability of the game may begin to take its toll: injury, lack of performance, whatever the case may be. A good draft is a good start, but it’s only half the battle! If you need to change things up, you’ll select players from the pool of free agents in the league. Trading players and wheeling and dealing with your friends is loads of fun! Since most fantasy football leaguers have full-time jobs, the league has games once a week, and you all check up on your teams on Monday evenings (injury check) and Saturday mornings (starting lineup check): this is when you figure out who should stay and who should go. There aren’t rules to govern the trading of players: anything that both parties are happy with goes.
There you have it: the basics! Fantasy football isn’t that complicated, and if you’re struggling, the people in your league will likely be happy to help. The most important thing we can leave you with is to have fun! It’s a game, after all.