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Fantasy Football Basics: How to Get Started

By April 5, 2014 No Comments

Deciding to play fantasy football for the first time is one of the better decisions you can make in life. It'll help teach you strategy, how to anticipate others moves and most importantly it's simply a blast.

Sure the process can seem daunting because there's so many steps to figuring out what to do, what kind of league to join, how to learn about fantasy football and more.

We've gone and broken down some of the most important things you can do to make sure your transition to fantasy is a smooth one.

One of my biggest pieces of advice before you get started is to have fun with it. Fantasy should never feel like a chore or burden to you. Sure you'll likely get stressed at times over lineup decisions and your match-ups but it should all be in good fun.

I've broken down how to get started into six easy steps. I've found that working through the process one step at a time can make a world of difference.

How Do I Get Started?

Getting started with fantasy football is as easy as deciding you want to play. First you need to learn about the commitment fantasy takes (it's no joke), who you want to play with (friends/co-workers/randoms) and where you want to play online.

Later on you'll need to figure out draft day details such as timing and whether it will be online or in-person. If you can manage to do an in-person draft I'd highly recommend it. It'll bring your league together like you never thought possible.

Learn About the Fantasy Football Time Commitment

Playing fantasy football is like anything else you commit to in life, it's going to require a good deal of your time. From preparing for the draft to actually managing your roster all season long you're going to have to put in time for waiver wire decisions, trades, lineup decisions and so much more.

If you're going to make the commitment make sure you're in it for the long haul. No one wants to play with guys who bail from the league after a few consistent weeks of losing. Treat every week like it's the most important week of your season. This will keep you involved and keep your competition from viewing you as an easy win.

Learn About the Fantasy Football Experts

As you search the internet you're going to find that there are endless fantasy resources available to you. You'll find blogs and experts from big sites such as NFL, ESPN and Yahoo as well as lesser known sites such as this.

You need to learn that fantasy advice is just that, advice. It's someones personal opinion put out there for you to make a judgement about. Look for a variety of fantasy football experts from different sites to get a fair and widespread view. This will give you multiple angles to see how your competition may be thinking, even if it doesn't align with your strategy.

You'll settle on a few favorite sites, experts and bloggers and you'll likely frequent them for advice. I've recently shared my favorite fantasy football blogs because of the unique things they offer. I don't always agree with what they have to say but I respect them for putting their opinions out there. That's what it's all about.

Find the perfect fits for you and learn as much as you can. It'll pay off in the long run.

Pick the Best Fantasy Site for You

There are many different sites out there that you can use to play fantasy football. There are major players such as NFL, ESPN and Yahoo and other options such as CBS and PremierLeague. We've taken the time to do a brief overview of the big 3 fantasy sites and plan to dive in even deeper this summer when they release their updated offerings.

The bottom line is that you can't go wrong choosing any of these sites mentioned. One of the biggest factors in your choice of platform may be determined by who you're playing with. If it's with randoms online you have complete freedom. It you're playing with friends or coworkers they may already have a preference. That's one of the reasons why it's so important to know who you're playing fantasy football with.

Determine Who You're Playing Fantasy Football With

The beauty of fantasy football is that an estimated 32 million people take part in the sport each season (courtesy of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association in 2010). That means you literally have millions of options to choose from.

If you've never played before and don't know anyone that would want to start a league with you then you should consider the free online leagues the major sites offer. These leagues are free to enter and typically contain teams that are completely random. This is a good way to get started in the fantasy world, however the competitiveness may decline as the season continues. Since you will likely playing for free and won't know the other league members well there won't be any way to ensure that everyone stays involved. This is a great jumping off point but don't judge fantasy football solely off of this experience.

If you have the opportunity to create a league with your friends I highly recommend it. Everyone doesn't have to have a crazy obsession with the NFL but being a general fan will be enough to get them involved. Playing with friends will improve your experience ten-fold and you'll be eagerly awaiting the next season. You'll likely be talking trash, playing for something (money, a trophy, or possibly both) and it'll bring you together like you never could have imagined.

Regardless of who you choose to play with just be aware that the members of your league are going to directly impact your experience. Don't let one bad egg ruin the game forever. If things don't work out there's always next year. Just make sure you know the rules before you commit to playing, they're pretty important.

Learn the Rules of Your League

Understanding the setup and rules of your league may be one of the most important things you can do. Honestly it's something you need to know before joining any league as it can impact everything from draft strategy to whether or not you even want to play.

Some of the more common fantasy football leagues are typically broken into two categories: Scoring and Drafting. Your league will be a combination of one selection from each section.

Make sure to find out all of this information before joining a league with a big buy-in or joining a random league online. You never know what (or who) you're getting into bed with.

Plan for the Fantasy Football Draft

Outside of getting the details figured out for playing fantasy football the most important thing you can do is prepare. By doing offseason research you'll ensure you're ready for draft day and that you will make smart and educated picks.

You never want to be the guy who is drafting off of magazines that were printed weeks in advance or off of notes you scribbled down minutes before arriving for the draft. You certainly don't want your draft day to go poorly, as your season will likely follow-suit.

Follow the experts I recommended researching above and read their articles. If reading isn't your thing many of them do podcasts that you can listen to online and on-the-go and many of them frequent TV. There's no excuse to not at least listen to these experts and get some perspective on the upcoming season.

Don't heed my advice to prepare for draft day and you'll likely find your team missing the playoffs.

Always Keep Learning About Fantasy Football

Don't get frustrated with the process of getting started with fantasy football. You need to look for the fun in it before you get started, otherwise you'll resent the entire process.

As you move along in your preparation for the draft and the upcoming season always make sure you keep looking at different fantasy football options. There are countless blogs, experts and sources you can learn from. They each have something unique to share and they could change your season.

Do you have some tips or questions on fantasy football basics? We'd love to hear your opinions and questions. Share them in the comments below.

Nick Schreck

Nick Schreck

I’m a simple man with simple pleasures. As someone who’s always approached life with the attitude that things could be worse, I’ve had an awesome time so far. I've been a fantasy addict for nearly a decade, and I've loved every second of it.

For the record, I never actually played football. I have no doubt that I would get crushed running across the middle for a pass, every single time.
Nick Schreck