Understanding the Basics of Fantasy Football

While there is a pretty large percentage of Americans who participate in fantasy football, there are just as many casual football fans who have no interest in the popular pastime. However, if you’re curious how the game works, it can be difficult to find an explanation that isn’t bogged down with finer details and strategic suggestions. Get to know the basics of fantasy football, how the game works, and why it’s really popular.

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Owners & Managers
If you have a family member or friend who plays fantasy football on a regular basis, you’ve probably heard them refer to themselves as an owner or a manager. As an owner or manager, an individual chooses real players from real NFL teams to play for their teams. They are free to pick players from any NFL team. The players chosen are offensive players, also known as skill positions, such as quarterbacks, running backs, tight ends and wide receivers. The owner also chooses a kicker and a defense to round out their roster.

The Draft
Aside from managing a roster and making trades throughout the season, a fantasy football draft is the most important part of the fantasy process. Now, there are a variety of different leagues that dictate what types of players are drafted, how scoring is broken down and what the overall schedule looks like. We don’t need to get into the details. Just know that the draft is where owners pick their key players. But why are they picking players to begin with? How do players from all over the league play on one owner’s fantasy team?

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Scoring Points
When you have a player on your team, that player earns fantasy points based on how they perform in real NFL games. For example, say the quarterback on your team is Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers. The Green Bay Packers play the Jaguars in Week 1 of the season. Rodgers’ stats against the Jaguars will determine how many fantasy points you get for Week 1. Points are given for passing yards, rushing yards, touchdowns, and subtracted for interceptions or lost fumbles. Other players on your team, such as running backs and wide receivers, will also accumulate points based on their games in Week 1. When you add up all the points from all your players, you get your Week 1 total. But who do fantasy owners play against?

Schedule & Playoffs
Fantasy owners play against each other every week. The owner with the most points wins the game. The more wins you get the more likely you are to make the fantasy football playoffs for your league. Again, this depends on how your league is set up, but the basic model involves owners competing against each other for the first 13 weeks of the season. The standings determine who goes on to the postseason, and playoffs are played in accordance with the remaining weeks of the NFL schedule to ensure all players have games.

Fantasy football is pretty simple when you get down to the basics. Build a team with productive players and do your best to manage the team on a weekly basis. Keep track of whether or not players are on bye weeks or injured, bench players in favor of those with favorable match-ups and make trades when necessary. The rules vary from league to league, but at least now you’ll know why a family member or friend is smiling after a player on the team he or she is rooting against scores a touchdown against the team they’re cheering for.