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A Beginner's Guide to Fantasy Football

Chances are if you're reading this, you are probably thinking of joining a fantasy football league with some friends or co-workers for the first time. Let me begin by saying “congratulations” - you're about to embark on a journey full of fun and excitement. Few things bring me more joy – my family and those I care about the most... pizza, re-runs of The Office, and then there's fantasy football.

Call me crazy, but I look forward to fantasy football season as much as (if not more) than football season itself. Draft day is like Christmas morning, and each week brings with it a new challenge of putting together the right lineup in order to win. Let's take a look at some fantasy football basic terminology that will help any “newbie” get started in this “silly little game”.

Generally speaking, there are three different types of fantasy football leagues – redraft, dynasty, and keeper. It's important to understand which type of league you will be joining, as this will effect your draft strategy.

Redraft – Probably the most common of the three. In this league, a new draft takes place at the start of each season. Players are only drafted with the current football season in mind.

Dynasty – A full draft takes place at the onset of a dynasty league. However, from year-to-year, teams maintain the same players, and as a new season begins, a preseason draft will only involve incoming rookies. A dynasty league provides more of a “general manager” feel, which many players enjoy, but does take away the fun of a full fantasy draft annually.

Keeper – Sort of a hybrid of the two, a keeper league allows an owner to keep a disclosed number of players (usually 2-4) from one season to the next in exchange for a draft pick. The draft cost to keep a player is determined by either the same round they were drafted in the prior year, or based on their current average draft position (ADP).

Another important factor to consider before joining a league is the type of draft the league will have at the beginning of the season – a “snake” draft or auction draft.

Snake – The most common type of draft, a snake draft requires the league commissioner to set a draft order, either chosen or at random. Team owners will draft in that order for the first round, and then inverse the order for the second round. This pattern will ensue for the remainder of the draft. For example, in a 12 team draft, if a player has the 12th pick in the draft, they will also have the first pick of the second round; in the third round, the 12th pick, and the fourth round, the first pick again etc.

Auction – I wouldn't necessarily recommend a brand-new fantasy player to start with an auction league, but they can be a lot of fun. In a snake draft, if you have a later-round pick, you can almost guarantee players such as Ezekiel Elliott or Saquon Barkley will not be available. However, in an auction draft, every player is up for grabs. At an auction draft, team owners nominate a player to be drafted, followed by bidding until someone has “purchased” the player. Each team is given the same amount of “funds” to spend on players; therefore, it's very important to have a strategy before going into an auction draft.

Understanding your league's scoring system for receptions is also important when joining a new league, as it will impact the way you draft.

Standard – No additional points awarded for a reception.

Point per reception (PPR) – a player earns a point for each catch made. This gives helps give a greater value to a “possession” receiver, such as Julian Edleman and Larry Fitzgerald. For example, if a player has 60 yards receiving on 10 catches, in a standard scoring league they will only score 6 points (1 point per 10 yards); for PPR scoring they will have 16 points (6 points from yards, 10 points from receptions).

Half point per reception (half PPR) – This is the scoring system I most prefer, as it is the most balanced in my opinion. A player will receive 0.5 points for each reception. In the example given above, a player would earn 11 points (6 points for yards, 5 points from receptions).

As you begin playing fantasy football, the most important thing to remember is to have fun! Stay involved with your team and league, regardless of your record. Talk trash to your friends when you beat them. Enjoy the ride of the ups and downs that fantasy football brings; you'll be glad you did.