Whether you are a longtime football fan who is finally jumping aboard the Fantasy bandwagon or are new to the sport entirely, there are certain basic strategies that can help you compete right away.
1. Know The Rules
When you join a Fantasy league, you should be able to quickly figure out what it takes to score enough points to beat your adversaries on a weekly basis. Most leagues operate under a basic scoring system that awards running backs, wide receivers and tight ends one Fantasy point per 10 yards gained and six points per touchdown. Quarterbacks typically receive Fantasy points on a slightly lower scale — one point per 25 passing yards and four points per TD pass — because the ball is always in their hands. Kickers and team defenses have their own scoring system as well. Every league is different, so make sure you check your rules and settings, and ask around to see what you’re getting into.
2. Find A Mentor
Considering the popularity of this multi-billion dollar industry, it should be easy for you to find a friend or family member who has been playing Fantasy Football for years. These mentors will be invaluable resources as far as explaining strategies, rules and providing advice when you can’t decide which player should be in your starting lineup on Sunday. If you don’t know anyone, it’s easy to connect with experts on Twitter and ask them questions, or simply scour FullTime Fantasy Sports for articles that are filled with solid advice.
3. Go For A Practice Run
Maybe you’re not ready to join a league with your friends or co-workers just yet. That’s OK; there are tons of Fantasy leagues that are open to the public either for free or for cash prizes if you want to test how the game works. Of course, you can also go through a mock draft to get a sense of where players are getting drafted, but joining a practice league will give you a better idea of what it takes to manage a team throughout an entire season.
4. Know The NFL
This may seem like work to some, but if you want to win a Fantasy Football championship, you’ll have to stay abreast of news across the NFL. Know which players are starting and who are the backups. It’s also vital to be aware of which teams are on the rise and which are vulnerable so that you know which players to start each week. Playing without this knowledge would put you at a serious disadvantage.
5. Work The Waiver Wire
Once you get to the middle of the NFL season, players start dropping like flies due to injuries, and the smartest Fantasy owners put themselves in great position by adding their backups off of the waiver wire. Different leagues have different rules for the wire. Some leagues involve a system where competing owners have to bid for the services of an available player. Some leagues take a first-come, first-served approach, and others determine which owner gets that attractive free agent based on a priority number. The simplest way to prepare yourself for this process is to read expert waiver wire articles every Monday and Tuesday during the season and then make the right claim for your team.
6. Balance Your Roster
When drafting, it’s usually a good rule of thumb to take the best player available. However, you have to build your roster somewhat logically in order to roll out a quality starting lineup each week. Try to avoid having too many players with the same bye week or from the same team. And don’t mortgage your position on the waiver wire for a player at a position that you don’t need.
7. Manage Your Roster
There’s always one owner in a league who completely abandons their team and lets their opponent each week coast to an easy victory by starting inactive players. DON’T BE THAT GUY! At some point before the games begin, you need to make sure that none of the players in your starting lineup are injured or are on a bye week. It might not matter to you, but this is America, and everyone deserves a fair competition. Keep in mind that the NFL now plays at least one game every Thursday, which might impact your roster as well.
8. Draft Strategy
This subject is best discussed in a full article, but try to have some sort of plan when you enter a draft. The biggest mistake made by novice Fantasy owners is drafting the “big names” early. For example, famous quarterbacks on good teams may get outperformed by the lesser-known quarterback on a poor team who has to throw the ball until the final whistle. The best early-round draft picks are usually stud RBs, WRs or TEs who will give you a decided advantage over your weekly opponent.
9. Learn How To Stream
The reason why most experienced Fantasy owners will avoid choosing a quarterback, a team defense or (obviously) a kicker early is because they plan to “stream” that position on a weekly basis. When you follow the NFL, you learn which matchups are the most favorable for players at each of those positions. Playing the matchups is a cheap and often successful alternative to going all-in on a high-ranking commodity at one of those spots during your draft. This strategy can be especially effective with team defenses as the top team defense nearly always changes from week to week.
10. Have Fun With It
Maybe your league doesn’t have a cash prize or a fancy trophy like you see on FX’s “The League,” but you’ll still find a tremendous amount of satisfaction by besting your friends or co-workers in a game of skill. Try to create rivalries. Talk a little trash, and you’ll suddenly feel invested on Sundays. But don’t take it too seriously, because in the end, the results are beyond your control.