FantasyLions: Fantasy Football 101

The maturation of fantasy football has been staggering since it first began in the 1960s but even with its torrid growth, it is not too late for first-time players to jump on the bandwagon.

Fantasy football has exploded over the last 10 years, developing into an extremely popular pastime for both the die-hard fan and the casual viewer.  The maturation of this popular game has been staggering since it first began in the 1960s but even with its torrid growth, it is not too late for first-time players to jump on the bandwagon. 

For those who are curious to indulge but don’t know where to get started, consider this fantasy football 101.

The first thing you will need to do is find a group of people with the mutual interest of participating in a fantasy football league.  Whether the group of people consists of long-time friends, co-workers or random players off the Internet is irrelevant, so long as they are dedicated for the full season (there are few things more frustrating than a player who neglects his team).  Once you have a group of players (known as fantasy football owners) you’ll need to decide what scoring format your league will employ.

There are several different variations of scoring formats ranging from basic (touchdowns only) to performance (any combination of statistics).  You will also need to know whether your league will employ a head to head or total points format.  Head to head pits owners in one-on-one matchups weekly, allowing the owners to accumulate a win-loss record, culminating in playoff matchups – eventually crowning a league champion.  Total point leagues do not match owners against each other weekly and do not incorporate any type of playoff, rather they measure each owner’s total points throughout the season and give the league championship to the owner on top.

Next will be the decision of draft type.  The two most popular types are Serpentine (snake) and Auction.

A serpentine draft is the same as a normal draft, allowing each owner to select one player per round.  The only difference is, the draft order reverses each round.  For example, the owner with the first pick in the first round has the last pick in the second round and the first pick in the third round, etc… An auction draft is exactly that – an action.  Each owner has a ‘cap’ for his team and can bid on each player, but needs to manage his cap to successfully fill out his roster.  So if an owner has a cap of 200 dollars (just an example as caps can range and be measured in points as well as dollars) he may openly bid on any player (highest bid wins) but cannot exceed the limit of the cap.

Next you will need to have rules developed for team management.  You will need to determine how many roster spots each owner is allowed (the number of players he can carry) and what the starting lineup will look like.  An average starting lineup will consist of a quarterback, two running backs, three receivers, one tight end, one place kicker and one defensive team.  Some leagues incorporate a flex player (an extra player to start who can be a receiver, running back or tight end) and individual defensive players.   Almost all leagues allow trades and waivers (‘waivers’ is a pool of undrafted players who can be added to any owner’s team, so long as the owner ‘drops’ someone currently on his roster to make room).  However, some leagues limit the amount of trades and waiver accusations an owner can make and most leagues have a trade/waiver deadline. 

Once you have reached final decisions on all of the above you are ready to set a draft date.  You and your fellow owners will get together (online or in person) and put your teams together.   The team you draft will most likely see dramatic alterations throughout the season with waiver additions and trades.  

You are now properly equipped to begin your fantasy football career.  Remember to check back regularly for the fantasy scoop on the Detroit Lions.

Mike Mady is a former KFFL contributor and has served as a correspondent for for the past two seasons. He is an avid fantasy football addict, and will be's fantasy football columnist for the 2008 season. Look for more of Mike's "FantasyLions" pieces in the coming days!

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