An Introduction to Fantasy Football Part I:

Bills is proud to present our first featured column on Fantasty Football. This three part story will intoduce some of you to what fantasy football is. For those seasoned fantasty veterans we will also up some opinions on a vareity of web sites that offer fantasy football leagues and services.

The Football season is quickly approaching as summer winds down and training camps open. For most people, this is a lull in the excitement of professional football. For many people, however, the thrill of the NFL is now beginning. Many football fans have found a way to satiate their hunger for year round football coverage in fantasy football. It is the chance to play General Manager and possibly earn some extra money or bragging rights among their friends. It's becoming increasingly popular and profitable. And now it has gotten you also.

  • The best way to begin deciding how to partake in fantasy football is knowing what fantasy football really is. The boiled down definition is that you take the role of an owner/general manager/ head coach of a football team and do the best job you can drafting, trading, watching free agency, and managing your players in an attempt to win your league. You use NFL football players to stock your team and your team's success or failure rests on those chosen players week by week statistics and ability to stay healthy and productive. These players score points for you based on individual league settings which will determine whether your team wins or loses that week.

  • The easy part is understanding what fantasy football is, but choosing what type of fantasy football league you are going to play in much more difficult.

Types of leagues: There are three basic fantasy football formats that a person can participate in: player draft format, salary cap, and player auction. I will outline these three main types in order from most typical to the most rare of formats.
  1. Player Draft: This is the type of fantasy football that can be found on almost every fantasy football website and is the most popular among fanatics. In this format, you will draft your team, choose your lineup, and trade, drop and add players as you see fit. The players you get are dependant on a few things. First, your position in the draft will either increase or decrease the chances of getting a certain player. Having the 3rd pick will give you more options than having the 8th pick in choosing a player. Second, what players are chosen around you determines your team. Obviously, you might like to have Ricky Williams but he was chosen 3 picks before you get to. Tough breaks, but things like that will happen. And third, how valuable a player is to you will help you make a decision to select that player or not. Fred Taylor might be the 8th highest rated RB in the fantasy draft, but if his injury history concerns you, you might pass over him for someone you consider more durable.

    Doing your homework on the players helps. This format usually uses head to head matchups between other owners in the league to determine records. This can be frustrating because a lot of times your success will determine not on your players but the luck of your schedule and how your opponent fairs. It does you no good to be the 2nd highest scoring owner that week if your friend had the highest scoring team. Oh, and guess what? You had to play him. It's still a loss. You can find this format in just about every major fantasy website.

  2. Salary Cap: This is relatively popular but in many ways lacks the competitive spirit that the draft league contains. In this format, you are given a salary cap and players are given a certain value and you choose your players in attempt to create the best team in your league while staying under the designated salary cap. Usually, there are no head to head matchups and rather than having a won/loss record you simply score points and at the end of the season whoever has accumulated the most points wins the league. This gets rid of the idea of having lucky weeks when it comes to facing an opponent. Now if your team is consistently one of the highest scoring teams, it will show it in your record. You also aren't shut out from having one player just because another player does. If you want Eric Moulds and can afford him under your salary cap, you can get him even if your buddy has him also. This league tends to lack the excitement of wheeling and dealing for players.

  3. Player Auction: In many ways this is a hybrid of both leagues, but you won't find it on any websites. The player auction is typically done on a personal basis rather than a website. It's pretty much what it sounds like. You are given a limit of money you can spend, similar to a salary cap and typically around $100, and you bid for a certain player. The better a player is, and the more popular that player is, the more money you are going to have to pay to get him. Remember, other players are going after this guy also so you have to be willing to spend more than the other guy to get him. Once Marshall Faulk is gone though, there's no chance of getting him later on unless you make a deal for him. This is how you assemble your team. You also have head to head matchups with other owners and because more often that not you will know them it provides a lot of excitement.

This concludes Part I of our III Part Series. Join us tomorrow night for Part II which focuses in on Choosing A League.

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