The 2016 Fantasy Football Manual by Utter Fantasy Writer & illustrator Doug Bowles
HOW TO GET STARTED:
THE 2016 FANTASY FOOTBALL MANUAL- STANDARD LEAGUE FORMAT
Chapter 1 – What Is Fantasy Football?
Chapter 2 – How You Score
Chapter 3 – Ways to Compete
Chapter 4 – Keys to a Successful Draft
Chapter 5 – Managing Your Team
Chapter 6 – Fantasy Football Etiquette
Chapter 7 – Starting Your Own League
At Utter-Fantasy.com, we get a lot of questions from people who are interested in playing fantasy, but don’t know how to get started. So, we decided to put together this quick guide that explains the basics of the game, and answers the questions we get asked most often.
The most common question that we get asked by people who are totally unfamiliar with fantasy football is, “Does everyone have the same players?” The answer is actually the opposite. No team in any fantasy football league will have ANY players in common. Hopefully, after reading this How-to-Manual for Fantasy Football, all of your questions will be answered and any confusing pre-conceptions about fantasy football will be cleared up, so that you can enjoy the fun that the rest of us are having.
Chapter One: What Is Fantasy Football?
Fantasy Football is a competition in which participants select imaginary teams from the players in the NFL, and score points according to the actual weekly performance of their players.
A fantasy football league normally consists of 8-12 individuals who are called “owners” and who draft their own teams. (Some leagues may have more or less teams participating and a team can have “co-owners”…friends who can share the responsibilities of one team.)
The league is usually set up by one ambitious person who is called “the commissioner” and he or she will organize pretty much everything to get started such as:
· Inviting everyone to participate
· finding an online fantasy football site to keep track of your league
· Setting a draft date
· Collecting league fees (If there are any. Many leagues play just for fun.)
Before the NFL season starts, owners name their fantasy team, then get together (either in person or online) to take turns drafting their team consisting of NFL players. A draft order is determined beforehand. During the draft, each fantasy owner selects one NFL player at a time until the rosters are complete. Typically each team will draft between 15-18 players. The number of players on your roster is determined by each league before the draft.
A Comforting Note For You…
Since most drafts are done online now, so there should be no fear of “not knowing the NFL players”. They will all be listed for you in the draft room, on the website that your league chose. It’s cool how it works. When it’s your turn to draft a player, you will simply click on the players name then he will go to your roster and will automatically become unavailable to any other team.
In most cases, the draft is serpentine. In fantasy, a serpentine draft goes like this…It starts with the person selecting #1, then goes down the line of draft owners picking, until the last pick in Round One. (If your league has 10 team owners, Round One will have 10 different NFL players selected.) Round Two begins in reverse order The #10 team owner, who had the last pick, drafts a second time right after his first pick, and drafting goes right back up the line of owners. (If you were #1 owner and drafted first overall, you will have two picks back-to-back ending Round Two and starting Round Three.)
When an NFL player is drafted by a team owner, that player is no longer available.
Just like being a real NFL general manager, fantasy owners are in charge of all aspects of their team. Drafted players will remain on someone’s roster as long as the owner wants them to be. They can cut players, add players, bench players, or even make trades with other owners in the league. This is all easily managed online.
A long list of available players ( not yet drafted) will always be listed on your chosen website. If you have a player that is injured and perhaps out for the season for instance, you can drop this player usually by clicking this (-) symbol near your roster player’s name, then clicking the add (+) symbol near the un-drafted available player’s name that you want, then clicking the “save” button. This will become very clear as you get started. As I have mentioned before, this is all easier than it sounds.
A Fantasy Suggestion: Fantasy football is best played among friends and remember, everyone was a beginner at fantasy football at some point. However, if you’re are concerned about being too inexperienced among people that you know who are experienced…you might want try a year by yourself and join a public league. Anyone can sign up to join a random public league on Yahoo for instance, and you could learn the nuances of the game. Most are played for fun and there is no money involved. Or, you might try starting your own league with friends who are also inexperienced. You could all learn together. Scroll down to Bonus Chapter: Seven for tips on starting a league. It’s easier than you think.
Chapter Two: How You Score-Standard League
Your rosters will consist of 15-18 players at various positions (depending on your league rules). Each week you’ll set your starters, which will consist of a
quarterback, two running backs, two-three receivers, a tight end, a kicker, and a team defense.
(This is very easy to do on your league website. Simply click “Starter” or “Bench” after the player’s name in your roster.)
Only the “Starters” will count towards your score that week…the rest of the roster is comprised of bench spots that don’t score any points. An example of your fantasy team “Starters” in Week One could look like this:
QB: Drew Brees – Saints
RB: LeVeon Bell – Steelers
RB: Alfred Morris – Washington
WR: T Y Hilton – Colts
WR: Roddy White – Falcons
TE: Rob Gronkowski – Patriots
K: Matt Prater – Lions
DEF: Chicago – Bears
Bench: QB Carson Palmer – Cardinals
Bench: WR Steve Smith – Panthers, WR Davante Adams – Packers
Bench: TE Brent Celek – Eagles
Bench: K Patrick Murray – Buccaneers,
DEF – New England Patriots
(These bench players are still on your roster and you may choose from to start another week. Week Two you may choose to “Start” QB Palmer over QB Brees…or WR Adams over WR Roddy White…depending on match ups or injuries.)
To score points: the players from your team need to score on the NFL field. Some leagues reward points for touchdowns only. So, if your QB throws for 240 yards and two touchdowns, the example team listed gets 12 points (two touchdowns at six points each). And some leagues reward players for yards gained.
An example would be a point for every 20 yards gained, receiving or rushing. If a running back runs for 100 yards, gains 50 as a receiver and scores a touchdown, he scores 13 points that week.
As for kickers and team defenses, they generate points the same way as position players. A kicker’s stats are normally the same as what he does in an NFL game – he gets a point for an extra point and three points for a field goal. There are some leagues that will give bonus points to kickers for the length of the kick (more points for the longer kicks).
Team defenses can get points for sacks, interceptions, fumble recoveries, points allowed, and touchdowns scored. There are any number of ways a league can setup scoring for a team defense. Most team defenses also get rewarded for special teams play. If a kick-off is returned for a touchdown for example, your defense is awarded six points.
In the early days of fantasy football, league commissioners had the unenviable task of keeping track of the league, tallying scores and keeping track of the standings by hand. But since the internet took off, there are services (like CBS Sportsline or Yahoo) that will keep track of all your stats, standings, transactions, etc. This makes the task of running and playing in a league much easier. The internet is the main reason fantasy football is so popular today.
Other types of leagues: Above is a sample scoring for a Standard or Redraft league. Today, there are many other formats for fantasy football leagues. Here are some of the options you have: PPR Fantasy Football Leagues- Auction Fantasy Football Leagues- Keeper Fantasy Football Leagues-Dynasty Fantasy Football Leagues
A nice link that describes each- Fantasy football 101: Different types of leagues
Chapter Three: Ways to Compete
Teams can compete in fantasy leagues in different ways, but here are the two main ways.
Head to Head Competition: Just like the NFL (again, in most leagues), two teams are matched up against each other every week in fantasy leagues. This is called “head-to-head”, or sometimes referred to as “HD2HD” competition.
In the “Head-to-Head” competition, each week during the NFL season your team will compete against a different team in your league. The goal is to have the best record (most wins) at or near the end of the season. The four teams with the best head-to-head records (usually by Week 15 of the regular NFL season) will battle in a playoff scenario. The final week will pit the top two against each other, so that a head-to-head champion is determined.
Overall Points: The second way to compete is an overall points competition. Each week every team in your league will accumulate points depending on how your fantasy players did on the field. The four teams with the highest accumulated points throughout the season (usually by Week 15 of the regular NFL season) will battle in a playoff scenario. This usually happens in the final two weeks of the regular season. The final week will pit the top two against each other, so that an overall point champion is determined. (Some leagues compete in both ways described above. At the end of the season, two champions are crowned…an overall points champion and a head-to-head champion. Sometimes a team can brag as to having won both in a season.)
Chapter Four: Keys to a Successful Draft – Do Your Research
Research key players NFL teams. You already know more than you think. This seems like a daunting task, but it’s actually not. Simply study a little at a time, rather than a two hour crash course right before the draft. Give yourself 20 minutes, for example, to familiarize yourself with 32 QBs in the NFL. Next session, familiarize yourself with starting running backs. Fantasy Football magazines are a great place to start. They will list for instance how all the running backs did in 2014. (My favorite magazine is, “Fantasy Football index”.)
The internet has an endless amount of information for you to research from, via search engines, and sports websites. Before choosing your fantasy team, you need to research available players so you can pre-rank them according to your personal preference, but you don’t necessarily have to! Your fantasy football magazines will have early “cheat sheets”, which will rank all the NFL players and defenses, and most good fantasy football websites (like Utter-Fantasy.com) will have players rankings available to you as well.
Prior to your pick in any round, have players in mind to select. Be ready in the event that the player you really wanted has just been taken. It can be frustrating when one team owner takes a long time to make each of his/her player selections during the draft . This usually happens when the player that they wanted has just been taken by another team, and they aren’t prepared to make another decision.
If you don’t have options ready when it’s your turn, you will be:
1. Lost as to who you do want next.
2. Rushed into selecting someone that you really don’t want.
When my turn is 3 picks away during the draft, I spend the time since my last selection choosing 3 players that I desperately want on my fantasy team. If two of them were chosen before it’s my turn to pick, my decision is easy, because I have that 3rd player ready to draft. Draft Quality Players at Every Position
During the draft, keep a record of how many players you’ve selected in each position. If you use your top 5 draft picks on the best 5 RBs available, you will likely have the best stable of RBs in the your league. However, by ignoring the other positions, your team will be beat by teams that have overall strength week after week.
Remember, you can only score two RBs each week, so those other 3-4 superstar RBs that you’re smitten with, aren’t helping your team sitting the bench. You need quality WRs to score each week, as well as a strong TE and QB. Pay attention to your team, and draft intelligently at every position.
Don’t Draft a Kicker or Defense Until the Last Few Rounds
There have been instances where I haven’t always followed my own advice
on this because:
1. I select a kicker of defense too early, because I was enamored with their successful performance the year before. Particularly concerning kickers, very seldom do they follow up a great stat year, with another one. Pick your kickers last. Pick your defense(s) next to last. (Although if you choose to select the Seattle Defense in a mid-round, I wouldn’t blame you. They have been the top defense for two years in a row.)
2. I might not have been prepared in to draft in a particular round and therefore end up swinging for a kicker or defense out of desperation.
Chapter Five: Managing Your Team
Drafting the best team in your league doesn’t ensure you’ll win. In order to be successful in Fantasy Football, you have to actively manage your team throughout the entire season. Here are some of the keys to managing your team.
Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em: Most leagues require you to select the players from your roster each week that you wish to score. For example, if you drafted 4 running backs (RBs), you may be required to select only two of them to score in any given week. Your decision of which two to score will be based on many different factors, such as of health of your players, the teams your players will be facing, or even the weather. Utter-Fantasy.com offers Start ‘Em & Sit ‘Em advice. You can sign up to get these alerts and updates using the form in the right hand column
of any page on the website.
Player Moves: You’re not stuck with the players you chose on draft day. As a matter of fact, by the end of the season, your roster will likely look very different from the one you drafted. Making the right player moves can greatly improve even a poorly drafted team. The two main ways you can make player moves are through the waiver wire, and via trades.
Waiver Wire: As a fantasy owner, you’re in total control. You can drop players you think aren’t good enough and replace them. The waiver wire is a list of players that that nobody in your league already has on their roster. Therefore, these payers are available to be added to your team, once you drop a player.
If you have a player on your roster who gets hurt, benched, suspended…or just isn’t performing up to expectations, you can drop him in exchange for a player who is a free agent (not owned by any team in your league). Every week, new players become available or in demand due to many reasons and advice on picking up these players can be found on fantasy websites that have, “Waiver Wire Updates”. (It’s a popular feature on Utter-Fantasy.com)
Trades: You can even make a trade offer to another owner. Sometimes there will be a situation where you’re very heavy in one position and end up with high
scoring players sitting you on your bench. If this is the case, you’re likely
going to be weak at another position. Look around the other rosters in your
league and see if there’s a team in an opposite position (weak where you’re
strong, and strong where you’re weak). If a trade looks mutually beneficial,
extend an offer to the team owner.
Note: The other owners in your league aren’t fools. Offering to trade your 3rd Tier WR for someone’s 1st tier RB isn’t going to get you anywhere. If the trade doesn’t seem mutually beneficial to you, it won’t to them, either…so don’t insult their intelligence.
Winning Your League: Only the strong survive, and at the end of the fantasy season, the top teams square off in a playoff tournament to decide the league champion. The last team standing may win a trophy, a cash prize, or just bragging rights. Some leagues have the playoffs begin week 13 of the NFL season and some have them start week 15. Every league has their own rules on this.
Chapter Six: Etiquette and Rules of Personal Conduct
While fantasy football can be an extremely competitive endeavor, it is important to remember that enjoyment of the game is predicated on a certain level of sportsmanship displayed by the participants. Common courtesy and common sense are good things to keep in mind this fantasy season.
Here are a few DO’s & DON’Ts:
The Draft – Be on time for the draft. Know when it is your turn, and do not take excessive amount of time when it is your turn to select. Everyone has a round or two of indecision, just make sure you are not the guy (or gal) who does it almost every time. Come prepared.
Participate in Fantasy Activities in a Timely Manner – That means, respond to phone calls, or emails etc by other team owners without long delays, and especially communications by the commissioner. Accept or Reject a trade offer as soon as possible. Online League sites often send out invitations to team owners and need replies…SO REPLY! Don’t make the commissioner’s job harder than it already is.
Trash Talking – It is part of fantasy football, so get used to it. However, you can have fun without being offensive (and BTW, I already know how fat my mother is).
No Collusion – Collusion can occur when one team makes moves to benefit another team, without trying to improve its own position. One-sided trades
are an obvious example of this. Another example is when a player drop is made so another team can pick up that player. Your commissioner can and
should void trades and moves where this is obvious.
Do Not Impede Other Owners- Certain transactions made solely to impede other owners is not allowed. Tanking games for the sole purpose of denying another player’s chance to make the playoffs is against the rules. In particular, cycling through players in free agency to put them on waivers and make them unavailable to other teams in your league is strictly prohibited and should be grounds for expulsion from your league.
No Roster Dumping either (i.e. dumping players into the player pool due to disinterest or for any other reason).
Keep Your Team Active – In order to maintain the integrity of the league, team owners should not remain inactive for extended periods of time. If you are giving up on the season, reassign ownership of your team to someone that will try.
Pay Before You Play – If your league plays for cash prizes, everyone should get their league dues in before the season starts. Commissioners dread the manhunt, tracking down a team owner that has not handed in their league due.
Vote – It’s worth mentioning again. Do not let a few team owners run your league. If someone thinks a rule or point system needs changing, demand a vote. If majority agree, change it.
A Few Extras –
· Take it easy on the New Team Owners. (We’ve all been one)
· Football Sunday is your fantasy day, so spoil the spouse on Saturday.
· Don’t be the Moocher at the draft – If you eat & drink with friends for
fantasy fun, buy some of the eats, and buy some of the drinks.
Good luck, and welcome to the obsession!
Bonus Chapter Seven: Starting Your Own League
We have new players ask us about how to start their own leagues, so we thought we would cover the subject as a bonus chapter, for those who are interested. There are countless internet sites that you can play on, and keep track of your fantasy leagues. Many popular sites don’t charge a fee. It is free to park your leagues there. The most recommended ones are NFL, ESPN and Yahoo.
When you decide to play fantasy football, joining one of these sites is easier than you might think. Let’s say you want to have Yahoo host your league.
(You’ll be asked to sign into your Yahoo! Account if you haven’t already.)
· Go to Yahoo.com.
· Select the Sports tab from the list of Yahoo services.
· Next click on the “Fantasy” tab in the Sports Section.
· Scroll down to “Fantasy Football” and click this link.
· There you will find two choices…”Join a League” or “Create a League”.
To Join a League – Simply click this link – you will see open leagues that
To Create a league – Click this link –YAHOO FANTASY FOOTBALL . It will ask
you for your League name – Type of league you want (Points vs HD2HD) –
How & When you want to draft – Click “Finish” and voila!– You can even
customize your league settings right there.
Another site growing fast in popularity is MyFantasyLeague.com where all of my current leagues are. Check them out!
As a league, decide on rules for trades, player moves each week and for submitting weekly line ups. You’ll also need to decide how long your season
will last and if your league will have playoffs. These are decisions every team
member should vote when starting a new league.
If you’re invited to join a friend’s league, you’ve probably received an e-mail with a link to the sign-up page. Just click on the link, accept your spot, pick a team name and logo. This type of league works exactly like a public league when the season begins, but the league’s commissioner can customize the setup. Yahoo has a certain set of standard defaults for roster requirements, scoring, free agency, and so on.
So, there you have it…setting up your league with a Free Fantasy Football Hosting Site is as easy as taking a ride on the Reading Railroad!
To learn more about your new obsession and get more advanced fantasy tips and advice, be sure to visit us at Utter-Fantasy.com often.