Fantasy Football Leagues

Fantasy Football Scoring

Fantasy football is played by millions of Americans every year. It is a way of testing one's knowledge of the NFL and competing with one's friends in a sports-related competition. Ordinary football fans join a fantasy football league of similar fans, who then select individual pro football players to represent their teams.

These players are drawn from all 32 teams in the NFL. A team owner might select the quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, but also select a receiver from the New York Giants and a running back from the New England Patriots.

Fantasy Football Rosters

After selecting a full compliment of players, often between 15 and 25 players per team, an owner has his fantasy football team roster. These will be the players that owner enters the season with, hoping to defeat his or her opponents in the league. Leagues typically allow any given NFL player to be on one roster per league at a time.

Each game, the teams are required to select a starting line up from among the players on their roster. Usually, a starting line up consists of:

  • a quarterback
  • two runners
  • two wide receivers
  • a tight end
  • a field goal kicker
  • and some manner of defensive unit

Fantasy Football - Leagues - ScoringThis combination varies widely from one league to the next. Some league require fewer runners and more receivers, while some leagues do not require a tight end to be started.

Fantasy Football Scoring

Any given week, fantasy football owners keep track of the NFL players' personal statistics. Leagues usually use statistics like touchdowns, yards passed, yards rushed and yards received as the basis for their scoring. Each statistic is given a particular point value, which are added up to determine what number of fantasy points each NFL player receives.

For instance, a running back might gain 100 yard rushing an a touchdown during a game. In a typical league, that runner will receive 1 fantasy point per yard rushed, as well as 6 fantasy points per touchdown. Therefore, the runner in the above example will have scored 16 fantasy points.

Every player on a team's starting line up will have their stats added up in this way. After tallying the total number of fantasy points for every player started, this number is compared to the fantasy points gained by the team's weekly opponent. Whichever team has the highest score wins that week's match up, usually simply called a game.

There are many different stats which can be used in fantasy football. Most fantasy leagues have their own idiosyncratic scoring rules, which feature one aspect of football over another. Some leagues are simply touchdown-only games, though such leagues are less common every year.

Skill Position Players

Offense is king in fantasy football. Specifically, offensive skill position players are the most important pieces of any fantasy football roster. Quarterbacks, running backs and receivers are the players who are drafted in the early rounds of a draft. In leagues with tight ends, one or two tight ends might be drafted in the early rounds, though they generally are not considered as important as the aforementioned positions.

While there may be the odd league with rules for such players, offensive linemen have almost no role in fantasy football. Though team owners should consider an NFL team's offensive line when drafting its skill position players, linemen typically have only this indirect impact on fantasy football.

Team Defense

There are two approaches to defense in fantasy football. One is for owners to select "team defenses" to represent the defensive aspect of NFL football. Scores for team defenses tend to revolve around sacks, interceptions and fumbles. If a defense scores a safety or a touchdown, this usually counts towards a team defense's score.

Points allowed and yards allowed are also measures of a team defense's effectiveness. Often, a league will choose one or the other as a factor in a TM Defense score. Occasionally, both statistics will be used.

Individual Defensive Players

A second option to represent the defense's impact on National Football League games is the I.D.P., or individual defensive player. In this variation, individual players are added to a team roster.

One might select one defensive lineman, one linebacker and one defensive back to start each week. Another option is that each team selects a certain number of defensive players, regardless of position. A third option is for a team to start one single i.d.p.

Whatever the set-up, the league tracks the stats of the individual player, just like one would do with an offensive player. Once again, sacks, interceptions, fumble recoveries, safeties and touchdowns are common stats used. Also, individual tackles are often tallied in an idp's final fantasy score.

Gambling on Fantasy Football

Many fantasy football leagues have a gambling aspect to them. Players join the league by paying an entry fee, which is placed into a league pool. At the end of the season, the winner of the league is payed this money. Some leagues pay out all the money to the league champion, while many others pay out to those teams which finish in the top three or four spots.

Colorful Team Names

Team owners select a team name for their franchise. These names tend to be personal and colorful. These names might represent a favorite high school, college or pro football team, or simply have a humorous tone to them. Most leagues have one or two outrageous team names.

Fantasy Football Magazines

Every June and July, stores fill with fantasy football magazines. These publications provide players with all the information players will need to know about fantasy football that year. Players will find ranked lists of players by position, mock drafts, depth charts, analysis of the NFL Draft, details on NFL free agency, fantasy tips and articles on recent trends in fantasy football.

The Fantasy Football Draft

The fantasy football season begins with the ritual that is the fantasy draft. All the league members, usually called "owners", gather together to select players for their teams. The owners first draw for draft order, usually by drawing cards or picking numbers out of a hat. When each owner is given a chance to select one player each, this is called a "round" in the draft. Drafts have a set number of rounds, usually enough to draft a full starting line up and a bench of varying sizes. The number of rounds are usually about twice the number of players in a starting line up.

Most drafts follow a "serpentine" pattern. This means that when a round is over, the selection order snakes around for the next round. Therefore, if an owner selected last in one round, that owner will select first in the next round. Conversely, if an owner selected first in one round, that same owner will select last in the next round. The serpentine draft is supposed to minimize the advantage of selecting first in the first round, and every round beyond.

Drafts often involve large amounts of food and alcohol. These events usually take the better part of an afternoon, usually one some weekend day in late August.

Team owners enjoy trash talk, either about the players being drafted by a particular owner, or league results from the previous year. The draft also allows trade talk, as player jockey for better draft positions. This event usually sees league owners flipping through notes and magazines looking for a name or a stat, while friends stand over around trying to sell a trade.

Fantasy Football Auction

Not all leagues use a fantasy draft. Instead, some leagues use an auction when selecting rosters. Because some fantasy players believe that having the first pick in the draft is too much of an advantage, they prefer to take the random nature of the draft order out of the equation. Instead, each team is given a "salary cap", typically an arbitrary amount of money they can spend on players to fill their roster. This money is usually imaginary in nature, so that a team might have a cap of $200, $250 or $500,000. This is monopoly money, and usually has no purpose or value beyond the initial draft.

The draft starts when one owner names a player who is up for auction. At this point, the league owners begin to bid on that player. When no owner raises the bid, the player in question is assigned to that team, at the price bid on the player. Each owner gets a chance to throw out a name, which is considered a round. Typically, a couple of hundred players will be bid on, with owners needing to conserve their money for the players they want most.

In this way, teams are given the same opportunity as every other team to add Ladainian Tomlinson or Peyton Manning to their roster, instead of having to hope for the luck of the draw. At the same time, auctions tend to take a little longer than drafts, so that not all leagues enjoy the auction.

Fantasy Football Transactions

Once the draft is over, a player can add and subtract from their roster in two ways: trades and free agency. Generally, these in-season transactions require a team to maintain the same size roster.

Fantasy Football Trades

Most leagues allow their franchise owners to trade players on their rosters for players on other teams' rosters. This allows a team which has been hurt by injuries or poor performances, but who have an overabundance of players at another position, to fill a hole.

Trades are usually one of the most contentious parts of a fantasy football season. Leagues tend to have elaborate rules to regulate trades. In some leagues, the league commissioner can veto one-sided or unfair trades. In other leagues, the league will vote on whether a trade should be allowed. Some allow for free trading, but set a trade deadlines, to keep teams which are already out of the playoff chase from colluding to help a friend win the league.

Free Agency

Once the regular season begins, teams can fill holes on their roster through free agency. In fantasy football, a free agent is a player which isn't on a roster. Due to injuries or breakout years, there are always a few players who go undrafted who become stars during a fantasy football season. Therefore, adding a key free agent or two can often make or break a team's season.

Fantasy Football Websites

In the early days of fantasy football, team owners would determine winners each week by adding up statistics from the local Monday newspaper. In the age of the internet, there is a whole score keeping industry online for fantasy leagues. Fantasy football sites can handle live scoring, which allows owners to keep track of their match up throughout the day.

These sites do everything to help organize and service a league's needs. On a league's home page, owners can see league records, league transactions, NFL news and messages from other owners in the league. League message boards are often humorous and boisterous. Along with these options, fantasy sites allow teams to start and bench their players, offer trades to other teams, transact trades if accepted and pick up free agents. League sites even allow for drafts online, as well as the posting of funny stories and pictures for the entertainment of fellow league members.

A league website is a large part of the camaraderie involved with fantasy football. In this way, friends can interact and enjoy the fun of competition throughout the year. A locker room mentality often prevails. Of course, nothing breeds fantasy football camaraderie more than the fantasy draft.

The Fantasy Football Schedule

Most leagues have a fantasy schedule, in which franchises play one another in heads-up contests. A typical schedule has a team play each other team once per regular season, while playing one's division opponents twice per regular season. A running tally of wins and losses are kept, with the teams with the best won-loss records gaining entry into the league playoffs.

The Fantasy Football Playoffs

Once the playoffs begin, teams plays one another in a heads-up, winner moves on format. The ultimate winner of the playoff bracket is the league champion. This champion usually wins both prize money and possession of a league trophy. Sometimes, championships are declared for both the winner of the playoffs and the winner of the regular season, often determined by the team with the most fantasy points throughout the regular season. Often, the "points title" is as prestigious as or more prestigious than the league champion title, because it is a better gauge of excellence throughout the fantasy season.

You can find a list of more fantasy football tips here: 50 Fantasy Football Tips, and you can also find free NFL football picks every week of the pro football season here: NFL Football Picks. Or visit my friend's site for information about football match predictions, but only if you're one of those wacky folks who think that soccer is called football. :)

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