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Fantasy Football is one of the most popular games people play in America, a unique experience for viewing NFL games. Playing fantasy football is an exciting and competitive way to engage with friends and family while also proving your sports knowledge.
Viewing NFL games completely changes when you have a fantasy football lineup on Sundays, rooting for individual players as well as your favorite team. Even if your real life NFL team isn’t having a good season, your fantasy football team might be, or vice versa!
RYP has plenty of fantasy football pools for you to join, or create your own and invite friends and family! When you create your own pool, dictate the settings and pool types to fit your group’s needs!
Understanding the Basics of Fantasy Football
Fantasy Football is a game in which players on your team score points based on real life outcomes. There are various styles of fantasy football games, but the easiest and most popular is head-to-head.
In head-to-head leagues, your team faces a new team each week with the team accumulating the most points after each week winning. Point values and roster sizes vary based on league settings.
Teams usually consist of a quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, a tight end, a flex (any player not a quarterback or kicker), an entire team’s defense/special teams and a kicker.
A fantasy football lineup might look like this
QB – Patrick Mahomes
RB – Jonathan Taylor
RB – Dalvin Cook
WR – Justin Jefferson
WR – Darnell Mooney
TE – Robert Tonyan
FLEX – Cordarrelle Patterson
D/ST – San Francisco 49ers
K – Nick Folk
If Justin Jefferson catches a touchdown, your team would accumulate six points because touchdowns are typically worth six points. If Jefferson loses a fumble, then your team would lose two points because turnovers are typically with two points.
Again, each league has different point settings so be sure to check with your commissioner before the season begins. Once all the players on you and your opponents’ teams have played their weekly games in real life, the scores are added up and the team with the most points wins the week!
In Rotisserie leagues, there are no head-to-head matchups. Rather, your team’s score is added up throughout the entire season. The standings are based on total team points instead of win-loss records.
How to Draft your Players and Start Playing
There are various things to consider when drafting players on your fantasy football team. The first is to try and forecast your draft by players available per position.
If you have pick No. 11 out of 12 but then have pick No. 2 the next round, then you have a ‘back-to-back’ pick or close to it. This means you will have to pick two players within four picks before having to wait over 20 picks for your third and fourth players.
Being able to forecast which positions others will be drafting while you are waiting is crucial here. If you notice that wide receivers are going to be taken after your first two picks, it would be wise to take one or two with your first two picks.
Another thing to keep in mind when drafting players is to not pile up on the same ‘bye’ weeks. If you end up drafting five or more players with the same ‘bye’ week, it will be difficult to utilize your bench and free agency for an effective lineup.
It’s also good to understand that last season’s stats are better than upcoming season projections. Yes, it’s important to see which players the experts like to have big years – but it’s all a guessing game. Using the prior year stats is a better measuring stick to use when ranking players to draft.
Highlighting ‘sleeper’ picks is also worth noting before your draft. What is a ‘sleeper’ pick? That is a pick someone takes in which the player selected is not expected to have a good seasonal performance. However, the selected player ends up performing well enough to be considered one of the best players on the team.
Hitting ‘sleeper’ picks can make or break your team, but ‘sleepers’ can also be found in free agencies after the draft ends. It’s important to establish your teams’ skeleton with foundation players, which begins with the best available players in each position.
Drafts are another league setting that varies based on the commissioner setting it up, so be sure to check what draft type your league is in. There are typically two – standard drafts and auction drafts.
In a standard draft, teams are selecting players when it is their turn to pick – as simple as that. If I have the No. 2 pick in a draft of 10 people, then I would receive the No. 8 pick in Round 2. I would then pick No. 2 in Round 3, and then No. 8 in Round 4 – as this cycle would continue until the draft is over. Whoever picks No. 5 in a 10-person draft would pick No. 5 regardless of the round.
This style is known as serpentine, or snake style draft. This is the most popular and fair way to draft because it doesn’t give a pick advantage for teams that draft early in the first round. There are standard drafts that disregard the snake style however, in which case the No. 2 pick would remain No. 2 regardless of which round it is.
In an auction draft, each team is given a set salary cap that they can not go over. An NFL player is selected by the commissioner for everyone to ‘auction’ on their team. Whoever offers the highest bid gets the player.
This style is not as common, but allows teams to pay whatever willing price they want for desired players. It’s more challenging to draft this way because of the budget, and in some cases makes drafting more restrictive. If I want Jonathan Taylor and offer $1,000 of $5,000 total, then another team would have to offer $1,001 or more to claim Taylor.
If no one wants to bump the offer, then Taylor would be on my team but I would only have $4,000 left to fill in my entire lineup.
Dynasty leagues, also known as a ‘keeper’ league, are becoming more popular but are only for the committed fantasy football players. In a dynasty league, you draft your entire team the first year but are allowed to keep one or more players the following year before drafting again.
Typically, a fantasy football league will draft teams and play the season before coming together a year later and drafting all over again. Dynasty league’s allow teams to keep their best players the next year. If entering a dynasty league, draft strategy revolves around up-and-coming talent more so than older players.
Fantasy Football and Scoring Systems
As mentioned earlier, there are various scoring systems in fantasy football and it’s imperative to check with your commissioner on the league’s scoring system. With that said, here are the various styles of fantasy football scoring systems when starting your pool or league.
Standard scoring systems are the easiest and most popular form of scoring in fantasy football. This style typically features whole numbers, in which touchdowns are worth six points although some league’s prefer throwing touchdowns to be four points.
Every 25 passing yards for a quarterback typically equals a point, while every 10 rushing or receiving yards equals a point as well. Two-point conversions that are successful are worth two points, regardless of the position.
Defenses are typically rewarded based on the number of points allowed in a game, with shutouts earning 10 points. Interceptions, fumble recoveries, blocked kicks, sacks and safeties are typically worth two-point each – while offensive turnovers typically cost teams two points.
Kicker scoring is easy to follow as well in standard leagues, with successful PATs earning kickers one point. If a kicker misses a PAT no big deal, but if a kicker misses a FG then it costs a point. If a kicker makes a FG then it is usually three points, unless it’s a far FG. Any FG made between 40-49 yards is typically four points, while FGs made from 50 yards or more are usually five points.
Points Per Reception
In points per reception (PPR) leagues, teams are awarded one point for each catch their player makes. It might not seem like much, but receptions can dictate the outcome of a fantasy football results – especially at the running back position.
Running backs such as Christian McCaffrey become hot items in PPR leagues because he sees a lot of pass catches out of the back field. Each one of those catches is an extra point, and six catches is enough to equal one touchdown.
This also impacts wide receivers that see a lot of targets, despite maybe not scoring many touchdowns or seeing lots of yards. The strategy for drafting players changes with PPR leagues.
Individual Defensive Player
Some leagues draft individual defensive players instead of an entire team defense/special teams. In these leagues, teams will be asked to also draft defensive lineman, linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties. Typically tackles are the top stat to look at here, but sacks and turnovers are still rewarded just like standard leagues.
Some leagues will offer bonus points for great player performances. Bonus points can include anything from multiple touchdown games or to 50-yard or more touchdown plays. In a bonus point league, a commissioner might add an extra three points for any player who scores a 60-yard or more touchdown or any player to eclipse 150 total yards on the day.
Fantasy Football Betting is a Game of Skill
Fantasy football is a game of skill, trying to determine the right combination of available players to output the most accumulated points based on sports knowledge. An example of this might be seeing that your kicker is playing in New England in January. Knowing the conditions might be inclement, perhaps you swap your kicker for one that has an indoor game.
These are the decisions and prior knowledge that can help win or lose your fantasy football weeks. If your quarterback is facing the No. 2 passing defense in the NFL, perhaps you bench him for a quarterback playing a worse secondary? But if that quarterback is Jalen Hurts, do you bench him just because he’s facing a good passing defense?
These are the decisions fantasy football players need to make on a weekly basis. Then combining that into an accumulated score to produce more than your opponent is where the skill comes in.
This is different from gambling, where you are picking a 50/50 outcome of a game result. There are different stats you can look up when gambling to help decide on a bet, but there is no combination of decided moves to out-strategize another player doing the same. It’s simply a ‘will this happen?’ game.
As mentioned earlier, fantasy football is also a great community building game to play. Whether it’s with friends, family members or co-workers – fantasy football is engaging and interactive for peers to stay connected together, even if from a long distance.
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