What is Fantasy Football?

Contributed by: Billy E and Billy E
Last Updated: May 09, 2016 5:28 PM

Fantasy Football University: Class I


What is Fantasy Football?

Fantasy Football is a performance-based game in which participants, AKA owners, are assembled in a league, and select actual NFL players in a draft or auction. Based on the stats those NFL players put up, the Fantasy owner is awarded points. He who has the most points wins.


How is it Played?

Most leagues are started with a Draft. This is the start of the season and usually a ceremonious event. All participants gather, either in person or online, and they select their players. The most common type of draft is a “Serpentine Draft”, where each owner is assigned a draft slot. Let's assume there are 12 teams, so team 1 goes 1st, 2 goes 2nd and so on. At the end of the first round, the order reverses so that in the 2nd round team 12 picks first and team 11 picks 2nd.  This Serpentine pattern (1-12, 12-1) repeats until all roster spots are filled.

     Another type of draft is an Auction draft where each owner is given a set amount of “bidding money”. This is generally not actual dollars and all teams are given the same amount. Just as the name suggest, each player is auctioned off to the highest bidder. There's an entirely different strategy in this type of draft as each owner needs to balance between getting solid players and still having enough money to fill their whole roster.

     Most Fantasy Football leagues have a set amount of “starters” that you need to select each week. You generally do not start all of your players, so while you may carry 3 Quarterbacks, you have to select one of them each week to “Start”, and only his points will count for your team.

     Most leagues have similar starting requirements of one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one kicker and one defense. Some leagues also use one tight end rather than or in addition to a third receiver, and there is also often a FLEX position, which will be discussed in the terminology section. Most leagues are set up in a head-to-head format with a weekly schedule. Teams win or lose based on how their starting players perform on the field vs whoever their opponent was that week (another team in the league), and the best clubs play for the league title and prizes in the fantasy playoffs, which usually are held in weeks 15 and 16.

     Touchdowns for RBs and WRs are generally worth six points, and some leagues award bonus points for longer TDs. Generally players are also awarded one point for every 10 yards rushing or receiving. There is a wide range of scoring for quarterbacks, with the most common giving four points for touchdown passes and one point for every 25 yards passing. Some leagues called PPR also award one point per reception as well, which will be discussed later in this class.

     There is a weekly add/drop period as well referred to as the “waiver wire”, which gives owners a chance to improve their team but cutting loose their “duds” and upgrading with unclaimed players who are performing well. This is the best way to make your team better.

Trading also exists in fantasy football, which is the only other way to improve your team after the draft. Moves should be regulated by a league commissioner to keep things fair and level.

     These are the basics of Fantasy Football. There are MANY different strategies for putting your team together and then managing it to win your Championship, some of which are simpler and some are more complex.  In the coming weeks of FF University, as well as all of the other strategy articles and videos we put out we will fill you in on anything and everything we think you should be doing.


Fantasy Football Terminology

There are a number of terms that are often thrown around in Fantasy Football, so to ensure you are “in the know”, we have listed all that we could think of. If we missed any please let us know so we can add them.

ADP – This stands for Average Draft Position. This is where a specific player is being selected in various mock drafts. It helps gauge where a player that you are interested in should be targeted.

Auction Draft – A league where fantasy owners are given a salary cap to build their rosters. Owners take turns introducing players to bid on, and the owner with the highest bid is awarded the player up for auction.

Bench – These are backups who will not be starting in your fantasy lineup for a given week. They are not projected to do well for that week, or perhaps you just have better matchups elsewhere.  In many leagues your top backup is used to break a tie.

Bust – These are the players who are expected to do well for the season, but perform below expectations and disappoint. Often related to sleepers that don't pan out, or high draft picks that tank.

Bye Week – This is the week that an NFL player does not play, as his real life NFL team is off. This is where building good depth helps fantasy owners win games and separate from the pack. A “bye-week filler” refers to a quality player who could do some damage when your “studs” are not available. 

Cheat Sheet – This is a sheet of rankings that is vital for keeping track of the draft or auction. It lists every position in the order you think they should be drafted, and you simply circle or cross out a player when he is selected.

Commissioner – This is the person who runs the draft or auction, and regulates trades and roster limits. It is important to elect a commissioner who is honest and responsible.

Draft – This is where fantasy owners build their rosters. It is often done in a serpentine format, with owners drawing for pick order. The Draft is the start of your Championship journey.

Dynasty League – This is a league where you retain your entire roster from year to year. New players are added through an annual rookie or free agent draft where owners select from the pool of players not already on a fantasy roster.

Flex – This is a spot on your fantasy roster where you have flexibility to start a player at several different positions. For example, many leagues allow fantasy owners to start either a third running back or third wide receiver in the Flex spot.

Flier – This is a player who is acquired as either a late-round draft pick or on the waiver wire. They are players who fantasy owners take a chance on in hope of striking gold if that player outperforms expectations.

Free Agent – A player that is not currently on anyone's fantasy roster. They can be acquired on the waiver wire.

Handcuffing – This is the strategy of drafting the backups of your top players. This is an insurance measure, and most handcuffed players have the potential to post good numbers if the star that they are backing up goes down. Ex. DeAngelo Williams had great success in Pittsburgh when Le'Veon Bell was suspended and injured. 

IDP – This stands for Individual Defensive Players. IDP Leagues draft individual defensive linemen, linebackers and defensive backs, opposed to traditional leagues that just draft offensive players and employ a team defense. IDP leagues award points for tackles, sacks, interceptions etc.

IR – This is the injured reserve. Some leagues allow fantasy owners to free up a roster spot by placing an ailing player on injured reserve if they are hurt. Be aware that some fantasy owners try to abuse the feature by “reserving” a player who has a minor ailment and not expected to miss much time, so most leagues require a player to be listed as “OUT” in order to be placed on IR.

Keeper League – Similar to the Dynasty League, but fantasy owners keep only some players from year to year, and not the entire roster. Generally the number of players kept range from 1-5 from season to season, and often an owner will have to forfeit a corresponding draft pick depending on which player he keeps.

Lineup – Your weekly starters make up your lineup.

Mock Draft – A tool that is used to “practice drafting”. This is VERY helpful to work on your draft strategy and hone your drafting skills. You can also gauge where a certain player may be drafted. This helps to prevent fantasy owners from reaching for a flier too early, or missing out on a top target. FFChamps.com has THE BEST Mock Draft to on the internet available with our own proprietary algorithm running our computer AI to draft against, BE SURE to use it.

PPR – This stands for Points Per Reception. These leagues award points for receptions and not just yardage. Running backs that are targeted often in the passing game are more valuable in this format and top WRs and TEs also get a bump in value.

RBBC – Running Back by Committee. More and more NFL teams are featuring two running backs in their offensive game-plan, hence the term “committee.”

Sleeper – A player that will fall under the radar in fantasy drafts, who owners believe will outperform expectations for the season. Uncovering sleepers is key to winning in fantasy football, as they provide excellent late-round value when they pan out, and have a breakout year. Jacksonville could be employing a running back by committee in 2016, with Chris Ivory and TJ Yeldon.

Stud – This is the term for players who dominate in fantasy football, and are the driving force of a fantasy team's success. Antonio Brown is a stud receiver and Adrian Peterson is a stud running back. We are looking to accumulate as many studs on our teams as possible.

Team Defense – The entire defense is used for fantasy scoring. Categories for points are: sacks, interceptions, fumble recoveries, and points or yardage allowed as well as points for TD returns on special teams or by a defense after an interception or fumble. This is the opposite of using IDP.

Waiver Wire – This is a pool of players who are not currently on fantasy rosters. They are either added on a first-come/first-serve basis, or awarded in order of a team's record, meaning if two teams put in a claim for a specific player, the owner with the weaker record will get him.


Different Types of Leagues

There are three main types of leagues. They are Re-draft, Keeper and Dynasty. Keeper and Dynasty were both defined earlier in this session. A re-draft is basically a league where teams start fresh every year with no carry-overs from the previous season. Re-drafts are the most basic and least time consuming to maintain, but fantasy diehards prefer keeper and dynasty leagues, as it is very exciting to act like a GM and build a champion and legacy over several seasons.


Follow @FFChamps on Twitter

Related Articles: