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Your Beginner’s Guide to Understanding Fantasy Football

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CWU chapter.

Football is one of America’s favorite pastimes when it comes to the world of sports. Sports have this unbelievable way of bringing people together through the spirit of their home team and for the absolute love of the game. Growing up I was always watching Seattle Seahawks games with my family but when I met boyfriend, not only did the Seahawks matter, but so did the other teams. I was introduced to the competitive world of fantasy football. I took it upon myself to ask the basic questions to my boyfriend Cameron as well as doing my research on how you even get started in this week-to-week battle and make the right strategic decisions to make the most out of your customized team. Welcome to understanding fantasy football; class is now in session.  

How to Play 

First off, don’t be discouraged; playing fantasy football is not as complicated as it’s made to be. ESPN outlines a few key points that make it easy for the first-timer to get started. You’ll start by selecting your team of players and be in charge of setting up a lineup every week. After you’ve built your team, you’ll watch your players run, pass, catch and score touchdowns to receive points for your team. Each week you will match up against a new opponent that is in your league and if you haven’t already figured it out, the player in the league who gets the most points against their opponent, wins! Once we approach the final weeks of the NFL and they are in playoff mode, you will then advance through if you continue to win unless you lose; then your season is in the books.  

Draft Day

Drafting day is one of the most important days to be a part of (so I’ve learned). If you have no clue what I’m talking about, draft day is an event where participants select NFL players to form their fantasy football team. This is either held online or in person. Order selection happens at random and then you’ll have a number of minutes to make your pick. FantasyPros gives a detailed and laid-out picture of what different drafts can happen depending on your league.

Standard Snake Draft: Each participant selects one player per round until the roster is complete. The term “snake” refers to the pick order in such drafts, with the order reversing each round.

Salary Cap Draft: Each fantasy football member is given a budget to draft players. Players are nominated, and participants use their budget on players until each team has a full roster. Essentially, you’re bidding against one another for the best players of the season.  

Dynasty Draft: The type of draft I am most familiar with. Participants select players for a long-term team. While there are usually rookie drafts each year to allow team managers to add incoming rookies to the league, there are no new drafts (or startup drafts) in subsequent years, and the teams vary from year to year. 

This gives league participants chances to make trades throughout the season to others to make appropriate adjustments to strengthen their team.  

A few strategies that may help you when it comes to the future building of your team for fantasy football is to do your research. Research your player rankings and projections before you draft. There are also mock draft options that give you an idea of how the draft works and how you can go about building your roster. Draft a balanced team with a mix of high-scoring players in different positions. The key is strategy: you may have your favorite players, but are they giving your team points that you need on the weekly? Also, be aware of bye weeks when drafting players, this could take away from how many points you could earn at the end of the day. Finally, look for value picks in later rounds.  

Notes From an Experienced Player

My boyfriend Cameron has been playing fantasy football for years now. He’s done multiple leagues with friends and family members. He loves the competitive nature of it. Cameron enjoys playing against his friends and family. 

It can also be a learning experience, being that you are researching and learning the best players to have on your team so you can show that you know how to play fantasy football better than the rest. The most important piece he told me was, “It makes you realize you’re fans of specific players rather than just your home team.” That is probably why I end up having to watch Redzone to keep up with all the games at the same time. Trust me, it sounds as chaotic as I described. For someone like me, just getting into football and trying to understand fantasy football, what are my resources? Cameron recommends searching YouTube and watching mock drafts and videos on ranking players. You can also use other social media platforms to learn more and dabble in podcasts regarding fantasy football discussions. So, the biggest question I wanted to know for the current season are, who are his top fantasy football player picks? In order from first to last, here’s who he has his eye on and hopes for points towards his many leagues; Justin Jefferson, Christian McCaffrey, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, and hometown pick Kenneth Walker III.    

Fantasy leagues just like this happen in all different sports. It gives the game a more competitive edge for friends and family who want to compete against one another. As for me, I’m still learning and hoping next season I can be well-versed enough to start doing a fantasy league.  

My name is Katelyn Richardson. I am 29 years old. I am currently attending Central Washington University studying for my Master's in food and sciences to become a nutritionist and later a diabetes educator for kids. I've been personally battling type 1 diabetes since I was six years old. I love being outside, vintage shopping, watching movies, and going to stock car races! I love being a Her Campus Contributor because it gives me a platform to talk about current issues, topics I'm passionate about & real-life relatable experiences.