Fantasy Football University: Beginner’s Guide

Are you new to Fantasy Football? Don't worry because Scout Fantasy Sports teaches you the ins and outs of the game and how to participate in a league!

What is Fantasy Football?

Fantasy Football is a game that allows YOU to be the owner, general manager and coach of a team featuring NFL players! Owners earn points based on the statistical performances of their players in actual NFL games. For example, if you have Marcus Mariota on your team and he throws a touchdown pass, you earn points.

In order to decide which NFL players are on your team, you participate in either a draft or an auction. Production on the field earns owners their fantasy points. Each week, you go head-to-head against another team in your league, and the team with the most points wins the game. At the end of the season, the teams atop the standings play against each other in the playoffs to determine a champion!

League Types

Redraft – This is the most common type of league. Every year, you draft a new team.

Keeper – Each owner keeps a certain number of players from his or her previous year’s roster. Let’s say that your league agreed to allow three keepers per team. Prior to your league’s draft, each owner selects three players from their team to hold onto for the upcoming season. Players not designated as keepers become eligible to be drafted by any team.

Dynasty – Instead of keeping just a few players for the upcoming season, you keep your entire team. In a Dynasty league, younger players have more value because they have the potential to play many more years than veteran players.

League Format

Head-to-Head – Two owners play against each other every week. The team with the highest score gets the victory. If there are eight teams in your league, then by Week 15, you will have played every team in your league twice. At the end of the fantasy regular season, the teams with the best records advance to the playoffs.

Rotisserie (roto) – Leagues determine a set of statistical categories their teams will use as a scoring system. For example, touchdown passes. If there are 10 teams in a league, the team that leads the league in touchdown passes would score 10 points. The team with the second-most touchdown passes would score 9 points and so on. Every statistical category produces a number of points which are then added up to produce a total score. The team with the most points at the end of the season is the champion. This scoring system is very rarely used in Fantasy Football.

Points only – Instead of playing a different team every week, your squad’s overall point total is all that matters. The team with the most points at the end of the season is the champion. This scoring system is almost never used in Fantasy Football.

Draft Format

Standard (snake or serpentine) – There are multiple rounds in each draft. A drafting order is pre-determined or randomly selected and then each team takes turns picking players for his or her roster. If there are 10 owners in your league, the team picking last in the first round would have the first pick in the second round (1 to 10, 10 to 1, 1 to 10, etc).

Auction – Instead of drafting in a set order, each team starts with the same amount of “money” to bid on players. Owners take turns announcing a player to be auctioned. Any owner can bid at any time as long as they have enough money to pay the winning bid.

Scoring Variations

Standard

25 passing yards: 1 point
Passing touchdown: 4 points
10 rushing or receiving yards: 1 point
Rushing or receiving touchdown: 6 points
Interception or lost fumble: -2 points
Extra point: 1 point
0-39-yard field goal: 3 points
40-49-yard field goal: 4 points
50-plus-yard field goal: 5 points

Point per reception (PPR) – One reception earns one point. These leagues make receivers, tight ends and pass-catching running backs much more valuable.

Bonus points – Many leagues add a certain number of bonus points for milestones reached. For example, if your quarterback throws for more than 300 yards, he gets an extra 3 points. This further rewards and incentivizes what should be considered a “good” game.

Note: Fantasy teams can also score points based on defensive performance. In some leagues, you draft team defenses, such as the New York Giants’ defense, while in other leagues, you draft individual defensive players (IDP) from different NFL teams. Team-based defensive scoring awards points based on yards allowed, points allowed and other defensive statistics. IDP scoring is purely based on the statistical performance of each individual defensive player on your fantasy team. There is no standard system for scoring defensive points in IDP leagues.

Roster and Starting Lineup Requirements

Standard – 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 FLEX, 1 K, 1 TEAM DEFENSE, 7 BENCH

2 QB – Some leagues use two starting quarterbacks instead of one.

IDP – As described above, some leagues allow owners to roster individual defensive players instead of an NFL team’s entire defense. These players add fantasy points to your team with tackles, sacks, turnovers, touchdowns and other statistical achievements. This is considered a more advanced league type as it adds a new layer of complexity and increases the available player pool.

Waiver Wire Versus Free Agency

Waiver wire – If a player is performing poorly or injured, you can drop him and add a player from the free agency pool. In many leagues, the player you dropped cannot be added by another owner until he clears waivers, which usually takes 2-3 days. This is to prevent owners from adding a player simply because they were the first one to see the transaction. The grace period allows all owners to have a shot at acquiring a newly available player without having to check league transactions all day, every day. Owners can then put a claim in for a player on waivers. If multiple owners put a claim in for the same player, the owner with the highest waiver priority will get him.

At the beginning of the season, waiver priority is most commonly decided through draft order. The last owner to select in the draft would start off with the highest waiver priority, the second-to-last owner would have the second-highest waiver priority and so on. Then, as teams begin to use their waiver priority, the priority order is determined by league standings or by a continual rolling list wherein each owner falls to the lowest priority each time one of their waiver claims is successful.

Free Agency – Instead of waivers, adding and dropping is simply first come, first served. Once a player is dropped, anyone can add him at any time.

Are You Ready For Some Football?

Now that you understand the basic rules of Fantasy Football, it’s time to join or create a league and then create your team.

Step 1: Decide how many owners you would like to have in your league. Most leagues use 10 or 12-team formats.

Step 2: Pick a team name. If you are having trouble coming up with something original, click here and we will help you!

Step 3: Decide your league’s rules and format.

Step 4: If you’re using a standard (snake or serpentine) draft, click here and we will randomly generate your draft order.

Step 5: Check out the contests offered by Scout Fantasy Sports and get in on the action!

Matt Brandon
About Matt Brandon 26 Articles
Matt Brandon has been dominating Fantasy leagues for over ten years and specializes in Fantasy Basketball and Football. Since being introduced to Daily Fantasy Sports in September of 2014, he has taken down a few big tournaments and continues to play on DraftKings. Matt bleeds blue for his New York teams and is a huge Giants, Knicks, Mets and Rangers fan. As Managing Editor of Scout Fantasy Sports, Brandon publishes all content to the site, writes NBA and NFL content, assists in customer service, manages draft facilitation teams and is responsible for other critical behind-the-scenes functions.Brandon was born and raised in the New York area but has traveled all over the country in his 27 years of life. Brandon attended Northeastern University before transferring to SUNY Purchase where he studied sports journalism and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Following graduation, he wrote for FF Swami and Fantasy Pros before ending up with Scout Fantasy Sports. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattBrandon21.