Fantasy Football 101

We all have our favorite NFL teams. We wear their jerseys and sweatshirts and scream our little hearts out, but no team is perfect and sometimes there is that one guy you wish wasn’t on your team. Or there is some guy on another team that you wished with all your football loving heart would suit up for yours.

Welcome to Fantasy Football where your team is literally what you make it!

Playing fantasy football is pretty simple, but it can be intimidating. Typically you join a league with a bunch of other fantasy football players. An average league will have 8 to 14 teams in it.

The point of this article is to help simplify a subject that can be quite confusing and nobody wants to play something that confuses him or her. Picking players can be intimidating when Sports Center devotes entire shows to “who and who not to pick” and “do this and do that” and OH MY GOSH MY BRAIN JUST EXPLODED! That’s the goal here at gridirongirl. Explain the game of football in a way that isn’t condescending or overwhelming. It’s a safe environment where you can ask questions and know that nobody, and I mean nobody, is going to judge or think less of you.

This article will use player examples from the 2013 season to demonstrate how scoring works (using NFL fantasy football standards) as well as explain how each position can earn or lose points. This article will also explain how each of the different draft types work and give you advice on the best strategies when drafting players and putting them in your lineup for that week. The goal is help you maximize your fantasy football experience. We want you to have fun and learn at the same!

 The Draft

Typically the first thing a league will do is set up draft day. There are different types of fantasy football drafts; they are the Snake Draft, Straight Draft, and Auction Draft. I’ll explain them all, but first I want to talk about what you do before draft day – Research. Research is essential before you draft your players. There are things you need to know about your players. Things like: Are they injury prone? Do they have issues staying out of jail and on the field? Will they remain a starter? In my opinionthe key to a successful player in fantasy football (and probably real life too) is consistency. You want a player that puts up numbers every week, not a lot week 1 and then negative or no points in week 2. You need someone you can rely on. If you can’t rely on them, don’t bother wasting your roster space. Also, make sure they are a starter. If they aren’t going to be in almost every down (on offense or defense) then they won’t get you many points. Make sure your RB is the primary back for the offense and you’re your WR and TE are consistent targets for the QB. The more touches they get the more yards they accumulate and the better chance they have of scoring touchdowns, all which equate to fantasy points! Follow these steps and you will find yourself organized and ready to do battle with even the fantasy football veterans!

  1. Make a list of each position that you need players for.
  2. Write 3 players for each position starting with the one you want most. You want to have a backup in case someone grabs the one you really want (I hate that!). You’ll also need a backup for bye weeks.
  3. Google your players. Find out if they have injury issues, legal issues, or issues remaining a starter. If you have a rookie on your list, read info from training camp. That will give you a good indication of whether they will start or not.
  4. Check player’s upcoming schedule and make a note of their bye week. You are going to need someone to start in their place unless you don’t want any points for that position when they are on a bye. Make sure their backup doesn’t have the same bye week; I know this seems like a “duh” moment, but it has happened.
  5. MUST to remember – sometimes there are things out of your control and you just have to go with your instincts. Sometimes players have bad games and cause you to lose points. You can’t control that. So just go with flow.
  6. HAVE FUN! Don’t’ over-complicate it, pay attention, and enjoy it!

Snake Draft – This is a gridirongirl pick. A Snake Draft reverses the order of the draft at the end. So if you pick 1st in the 1st round you pick last in the 2nd round. This is the typical draft style for most fantasy leagues and one of the fairest ways to do it.

Straight Draft –This is not a gridirongirl pick. The order you picked in at the beginning of the draft is where you will pick every round. So if you picked last, you are last every round. See why it isn’t a fav? Let’s just hope you’re in good with the league commish.

Auction Draft –This is a gridirongirl pick, but we think it should be reserved for more experienced fantasy football players. Everybody is given the same amount of money. A player will be nominated and the bidding begins! Obviously the really good players will go for primo dollars, but be careful because you have an entire team to build and if you spend all of your money on one player you’ll be stuck with a bunch of duds to make up the rest of your team.

Also, some leagues will allow each person “keepers”. Keepers are where each person will choose player(s) they want on their team; this is done before the draft. If you are in a league that allows keepers I advise you to pick a player or players that will be hard to get in the draft.

 You have your team, now what?

Now you play your games. Each week you will play somebody else in your fantasy football league. You need to determine your starting roster. To do this (after the 1st week) you would see how they produced last week, see if they sustained any injuries last week, and read the news coming out of whichever team they are on. The following are how each position earns points. (Keep in mind that a league manager can customize how a player earns points). Also, some leagues will have you draft one whole defense as opposed to individual defensive players. However they do it, the reasons for scoring will largely remain the same.

Quarterback – Will earn points for passing yards, completions, passing and/or rushing touchdowns, and 2-point conversions. Will lose points for interceptions, incompletions, and getting sacked.

Here are the NFL’s scoring settings for QBs:

  • Passing Yards: 1 point per 25 yards passing
  • Passing Touchdowns: 4 points
  • Interceptions: -2 points

To demonstrate how scoring works we are going to use Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning. In week 1 of the 2013 season, Manning’s stats were: 462 passing yards, 7 touchdowns, and no interceptions.

8.48 (462/25 for his passing yards) + 28 (7 * 4 for his passing touchdowns) + 0 (no interceptions) = 46.48 points

The amount of points Manning garnered for week 1 of the 2013 season on your fantasy team aren’t the standard.  Some weeks you’ll see that for your total, but hey take the high ones where you can get him.

See how that works? That’s why in regards to the QB; I suggest you find a QB that doesn’t throw a lot of interceptions. If he is interception prone you’re going to see a lot of negative points every week and nobody wants that. You’ll also want to pick a QB that gets a lot of passing yards each week. The touchdowns don’t hurt either. A QB like Peyton Manning is a perfect example of consistent performance as well. He may not be a 46 pointer every week, but you can bet that a QB like Manning will get you decent points almost every week.

Running Back – Will earn points for rushing yards, touchdowns, and 2-point conversions. Will lose points for fumbling the ball.

The NFL scoring settings for a RB:

  • Rushing Yards: 1 point per 10 yards
  • Rushing Touchdowns: 6 points
  • Receiving Yards: 1 point per 10 yards
  • Receiving Touchdowns: 6 points
  • Fumbles Lost: -2 points

We are going to use two examples to demonstrate the scoring system for running backs. The purpose is to show you how damaging it is when a running back loses a fumble. Our first scoring example for the RB position is Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch. In week 2 Lynch’s stats were: 98 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD, 37 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD, and no fumbles lost.

9.8 (98/10 for his rushing yards) + 12 (6*2 for his two rushing TDs) + 3.7 (37/10 for his receiving yards) + 6 (1 receiving TD) = 31.5 (the NFL fantasy football scoring system allows fractional points)

Our second example is Chicago Bears RB Matt Forte. He’s an exception running back, but unfortunately in week 2 of the 2013 season he lost a fumble. His stats for week 2 are: 90 rushing yards, 71 receiving yards, and 1 lost fumble.

9 (90/10 for his rushing yards) + 7.1 (71/10 for his 71 receiving yards) – 2 (lost fumble) = 14.1

If a player didn’t garner many receiving or rushing yards that week, you may end up with negative points. Which is why it is important to pick players wisely and make sure they don’t have butter fingers.

Wide Receiver/Tight End – Will earn points for receiving yards, touchdown receptions, and 2-point conversions. Will lose points for fumbling the ball.

The NFL scoring settings for a WR are: (which also work for a tight end)

  • Receiving Yards: 1 point per 10 yards
  • Receiving Touchdowns: 6 points

Our example for the WR position is Pittsburgh WR Antonio Brown. He was the highest scoring wide receiver in fantasy points in week 3 of the 2013 season. This is what’s funny about fantasy football. The Steelers lost to the Bears that week, but Brown was still the highest scoring fantasy football WR for the week.

His stats for week 3 of the 2013 season were: 196 receiving yards and 2 TDs.

19.6 (196/10 for his 196 receiving yards) + 12 (6*2 for his TDs) = 31.6

The scoring breakdown for the TE would look the same so I’m not going to bore you with another math model. See how quick the receiving yards rack up though? Imagine if you had a WR or TE who had over 200 yards receiving. You would be rolling in the fantasy points!

Defensive Positions – Will earn points for total tackles, sacks, interceptions, fumble recoveries, assisted tackles, blocked punts, blocked field goals, or blocked point after attempts.

This is where scoring gets different. Like we explained above, different leagues have different settings. Some leagues will have you draft individual defensive players and some will have you draft one whole defense. For the purposes of our guide here, we’re going to highlight if you would have drafted one whole defense. It’s easier for beginners to only have to worry about one whole defense instead of researching all of the positions on the defense.

The NFL scoring settings for defense are: 

  • Sacks: 1 point
  • Interceptions: 2 points
  • Fumbles Recovered: 2 points
  • Safeties: 2 points
  • Defensive Touchdowns: 6 points
  • Kick and Punt Return Touchdowns: 6 points
  • Points Allowed (0): 10 points
  • Points Allowed (1-6): 7 points
  • Points Allowed (7-13): 4 points
  • Points Allowed (14-20): 1 points
  • Points Allowed (21-27): 0 points
  • Points Allowed (28-34): -1 points
  • Points Allowed (35+): -4 points

Our example for an entire defense is the Indianapolis Colts. They played the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 4 of the 2013 season. Their defensive stats were: 4 sacks, 3 interceptions, 1 TD, and 3 points allowed.

4 (1 point per sack) + 6 (2*3 for interceptions) + 6 (6 points per defensive TD) + 7 (only allowed 3 points) = 23 points

Kicker – Will earn points for field goals made (how many points depends on the length of the FG) and point after attempts. Will lose points for a missed field goal or point after attempt.

Some advice on the kicker is to pick a player that is accurate with his kicks, meaning he makes a majority of them. Also, choose one that kicks a lot. You can look at teams that might have trouble getting in the end zone so they kick a lot of field goals, or a team that scores a lot of TDs so they kick a lot of extra points.

The NFL scoring settings for kickers are:

  • PAT Made: 1 point
  • FG Made (0-49 yards): 3 points
  • FG Made (50+ yards): 5 points

Our first example is Green Bay kicker Mason Crosby. In week 5 his stats were: 1 extra point, 4 FGs at 0-49 yards, and 1 FG at 50+ yards.

1 (1 extra point) + 12 (4*3 for 0-49 FGs made) + 5 (1 50+ FG made) = 18

There you have it, your guide to fantasy football! Hopefully this was helpful. Remember to have fun!

If you have any questions that weren’t answered in this guide, contact us @gridirongirlorg or @PatsFanGirl12 or the contact link on our website.

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