Introduction to Fantasy Football

There are 32 teams in the NFL, which would make for 32 team owners and 32 general manager positions. The job market for these two desirable occupations is very fierce and the majority of America is priced out of the owner position. The general manager position is the one that most fans see themselves as a qualifier. NFL trades, cuts, drafts, and starting line ups are the conversation of all walks of sports fans. There is a proving ground in which the ‘common man’ can prove his abilities as an NFL owner, general manager and a coach, the proving ground is the ever-growing phenomenon that is fantasy football.
Fantasy football was born out of a brainstorming session stemming from the mind of Bill Winkenbach of Oakland in 1962. The Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League or GOPPPL debuted in 1963 after some minor tweaking of the rules. What fantasy football offers its participants is the opportunity to be the owner/general manager/coach of their own franchise. The one man front office must maneuver the team throughout a season that coincides with the ongoing NFL season. The first step is determining what type of league you want to participate in.
There are generally four types of leagues to join. The four types of leagues are keeper, redraft, dynasty and salary cap leagues. A keeper league is a league that allows owners to keep a predetermined number of players after the season is over. All other players are eligible for the draft the next season. In a redraft league every player is released after the season and is eligible for the draft the following season. The dynasty league makes things a little tougher as teams are basically the same as only incoming rookies and free agents are eligible for the draft the following season. The final league is the salary cap league; in this league the players are assigned a dollar value, with teams having a cap on what they can spend; have to fit their roster under the cap. The type of league is important because different roster building strategies would be employed throughout the season. The next decision will be made by the league as a whole, that decision is what format to use.
There are two formats that are widely accepted by fantasy football players; they are head to head and cumulative. In head to head leagues each team has a schedule in which they play another team in the league each week. The match ups are usually determined by a number sequence in which teams within the same division usually play each other twice while playing teams not in the same division once. Wins, losses, and ties are accumulated weekly as the stats from the NFL players on their respective rosters gain yards, score touchdowns and record stats on the gridiron. Cumulative leagues don’t count wins and losses, the standings are determined by the total points scored throughout the season with the rankings fluctuating as the season plays out. The big difference is that in a cumulative league, you get maximum credit for an individual player’s big game, his points will resonate at a rate that the entire league will feel as opposed to just the team that is opposing him in a head to head match up. Enough of the preliminary rules and league decisions; let’s get into the first move as a general manager, the draft.
League owners determine the type of draft the league will run the options are a live draft or an online draft. On all online drafts, the actual presence of the owner is not necessary (just be sure to rank your players). When circumstances (owners out of state, owners don’t know each other, etc.) dictate an online draft would be the best option. The online draft has a few positive things about it over a live draft. The biggest positive point is that owners can be located anywhere in the world and participate. Live drafts offer the personable touch as a group of friends sit together talking and participating in football. Usually at one of the owner’s house or a local hangout (bar or bowling alley, or the best place I’ve been to one at Hooters) everyone will meet, eat and then once the draft starts it is all business. Owners take the draft very seriously as championships can be lost on this day, just one wrong pick and you will spend weeks trying to swing a deal to make your team into a competitive squad. The draft order is usually a ‘snake method’ as the team that picks first in the odd numbered rounds will pick last in the even numbered rounds. The rounds of the draft would look like this:

Round 1 team 1, team 2, team 3, team 4, team 5, team 6
Round 2 team 6, team 5, team 4, team 3, team 2, team 1
Round 3 team 1…………team 6
Round 4 team 6…………team 1

Owners have to beware not to focus only on getting quality players, but also on filling out different positions in order to field a complete line up each week.
Rosters are comprised of a pre determined amount of players per team. Fewer players make up your lineup, but the extra players are necessary to help compensate for injuries, slumping players, and bye weeks. Once the draft has been completed rosters can be tweaked in two ways; by adding a free agent (player not signed to any team) or by getting another owner to make a trade with you. In-season trades are rare because teams rarely offer a fair deal, as most in-season trades are predicated out of necessity. Just like the NFL, once teams figure out (or the perception is out there) that you are in dire need of a certain positional player; the price you have to pay to obtain that player is always more than what you bargained.
Every week the owner is required to select a starting lineup. The lineup consists of a quarterback, 2 running backs, 2 or 3 (depending on the league agreement) wide receivers, a tight end, a kicker, and a defensive unit, special teams unit combined (that is, if you pick the defensive of the Colts, you also get the Colts special teams unit). There are leagues that allow individual defense players instead of team units as the defense, this causes the need for more roster spots and a slightly different scoring system that considers individual tackles sacks and turnovers forced. Some leagues have a back up quarterback that is submitted, just in case the starting quarterback gets injured. It is with this lineup that stats accumulate to score points for the perspective owners.
Points are scored in a combination of ways that vary by the position of the player. Variations of yardage, touchdowns, sacks, interceptions, catches, distance of field goals and receptions are assigned values that make up the scoring format. A typical format is something like this:
• 1 point for every 25 passing yards
• 1 point for every 10 rushing or/and receiving yards
• 1 point for each reception
• 6 points for each touchdown scored (rushing, passing, or receiving)
• 2 points subtract for each fumble or interception (by)
• 1 point each extra point
• 2 point per field goal (additional points for field goals of greater distance)
• 1 point per sack by defenses
• 2 points for defensive safety
• 6 points per defensive touchdown
• 2 points per blocked kick
• 6 points for special teams touchdown return

Some leagues offer the opportunity for score bonus points if an individual player goes over 150 rushing and receiving yards or a quarterback throws for over 400 yards, rules like these are usually voted on by the owners before the season starts.
Many leagues offer prizes to the winners of their respective “Super Bowl”, in those leagues there may be a small fee to enter, usually enough to cover the prizes and the live draft expenses (if there is a live draft). Most free leagues don’t offer any prizes, but in this competitive arena bragging rights will be more cherished than any trophy that can be given. Some free leagues on larger websites offer prizes or trophies to the winner, but the pool is a lot deeper, you may win your league but not place in the overall standings. In the case of these leagues the prizes are usually provided by sponsors, which allow the league to remain free.
By now you should be ready to own/general manage and coach your way to a fantasy football title. As an additional help, feel free to use my tips located in the sidebar as a guide to start you on your way to victory.