Whatever you already know every professional football team and player like the back of your hand, or you just want to learn enough to look less blank when conversing with friends, family or coworkers, fantasy football can enhance your NFL viewing experience.
As a lottery commercial says, “you have to be in it to win it.” In order to join the fun, you have to pick a “host”, select your preferred NFL players, and join or start a league.
You have a ton of options when considering where to host a fantasy football team. Some of the most commonly played “hosts” include CBS Sportsline, SportingNews, YahooSports Fantasy Football and CDM Fantasy Sports.
Depending on the host and league, you'll play one of several formats. One requires an upfront payment to enter your league, but does not charge you for players you pick up during the season from a free agent or “waiver” pool. Generally, the higher you pay as your upfront fee, the larger your prize if you win your league for the season.
The second format is free to join, but will cost you for most or all players you claim waivers or as free agents after the initial draft period ends. Generally, trades with other players are free of charge. Be careful, though! Those trades can be costly in another way to you if you give away too much to get that must-have player.
The most common formats allow you a team made up of one or more quarterbacks, one or more running backs, one or more wide receivers, one or more tight ends and one or more defense / special teams (DST) units. Depending on the league, you may play all of your players at once or pick some players as “starters” and assign others as “reserves”. Only your active players (starters) earn you points for that week. You get points for their league-defined achievements each week.
Now you need players on your team, so it is time for you to “draft” some football players. Using your basic understanding of football, and drawing on your NFL savvy, or some of the free information sources to review, you'll rank real NFL players before your league draft. You may also be able to use the players as “pre-ranked” by your host.
You'll also need to decide whether you want the excitement and time commitment of a live draft, or the relative ease and less time offered by an automated draft. If you are a beginner, the automated draft is highly recommended.
During the season, there are “BYE” weeks, during which an NFL team and its players get the week off to recharge. Real players also can be injured, so you lose their productivity. On the other hand, you and your team do not get any time off, so you'll probably have to make trades and perform waiver wire moves to ensure that you have a full, strong team playing every week.
Those are the basics. Now, it is up to you to apply your special knowledge, instinct or hunches, and “Win one for the Gipper”. Before your draft, you might want to challenge friends, family members or co-workers who have similar skills to yours to join your league. Some healthy competition can make your fantasy football experience even more enjoyable.
As with any game, keep in mind that it is only a game. You will not become rich or popular dependent upon how well you play. It is mostly purely entertainment. If you keep this in mind and do not take yourself or the game too seriously, you will have a great time. It is a great game and you should have no trouble finding others with your passion and skill level. Have fun and good luck!