The Newbie’s Guide to the Fantasy Football Universe: Part 1

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By Harold Studer


You’re back to the grind after a long holiday weekend. You’ve been barreling through the year and now have a two-month stretch until your next day off from work. This period of the summer has become the doldrums of your calendar year. You’ve used all your vacation days for that super fun beach trip, early on in the summer, and now you’re struggling to find a way to make it to Labor Day.

As you’re contemplating your options during your lunch break, you notice someone suddenly sits down across from you at the table. It’s Jim, a crazy, super competitive “sports guy,” and he is starting to go on and on about how football season is drawing near. As you try to drown out the constant barrage of player names, team stats, and draft talk, you happen to hear him ask you if you would join the office league.

You’ve never played fantasy football before! What’s Jim doing? You begin to think he is only asking you because he is trying to add guppies to the shark tank. Why else would he be asking you? Suddenly, you recall that last year, Jane from accounting won over $200 in her fantasy league. Now, you’re not an accountant, just a lowly account rep, but $200 could help you and your buds throw an awesome New Year’s party. Before he finishes his spiel, you agree to join. Now what do you do?

What follows is a few suggestions and some advice for those new to the fantasy universe. A guide to help you join and compete in a game you’ve never played before.

Know Your League Format:

The first step to understanding and being competitive is understanding how to score points. Do QB touchdowns net you 4 or 6 points? Are there bonuses? Point deductions? All these factors can influence opinions on particular players versus others. More importantly though, study the roster settings. What you really want to know is if you can start only one QB a week, as some leagues start two. Also, how many RBs and WRs can you start each week? These two positions are where your team will live and die, because their points fluctuate the most and are dependent on opposing defenses, game flow, and targets. With flex spots, you can start additional players, so you’re going to want as many RBs and WRs as possible. Although not common, watch out for position maximums placed on positions.

Do Your Homework:

Serious team owners have been absorbing fantasy news and advice since the end of last season. So, it is important that you freshen up on your knowledge of the offseason activity, transactions, suspensions, and injuries. You do not want to be the owner come draft time who’s spending a mid-round pick on a guy that’s out for the season due to an ACL tear, or a player that retired during the offseason. A good way to do some homework is to check out dedicated fantasy football websites, like You may also want to listen to a podcast or two, but remember any and all advice given is all just opinion. Although we all try to predict what we think will happen, there is no fantasy crystal ball to guarantee which players will succeed, just circumstance and situation to base opinions on. Part of doing your homework would also be finding someone you know and can trust that also plays or has more experience with fantasy football. Considering there are millions of fantasy team owners, the probability is you know someone. They can help explain the more intricate aspects of the game, but don’t get bogged down in the details; you just want to tap into their knowledge.

Practice, Practice, Practice:

So, if you have never participated in a fantasy draft before it’s easy to assume you can guess how it works. I’m here to tell you that a fantasy draft is anything but predictable and can easily become one of the most complicated aspects of a fantasy season. Multiple owners coming together, everyone with a different agenda, vying for as much talent as they can get; it typically is considered the focal point of most leagues because of the excitement of the processes. To best prepare for all the excitement that comes with the fantasy draft, you must practice. Numerous websites allow users to mock draft. Do as many mock drafts as possible, as these mocks will familiarize you with where players are being drafted, and give you a sense of which players you can wait on. This information becomes especially important when you can compare it with position rankings. Participating in as many mock drafts as possible allows you to practice using the knowledge you’ve gained from your sources and all the homework you have done.

Now that you’ve joined your first league and began the steps to prepare for your fantasy draft, the next step is to tackle the draft and all the advice that will help make your fantasy season a success.