Beginners Guide to Fantasy Football – Part One

Beginners Guide to Fantasy Football – Part One

So you want to play fantasy football, eh? Well that’s great. As the great Matthew Berry said on the Backyard Banter podcast, “Until the whole world Wis playing fantasy football, my job is not done.” With this in mind, here are my thoughts on advice you should consider before you get started.


Step 1 – Choose a Commisioner
The ideal commish should have a slight god complex, enjoy having the final say on all league matters, and of course have adequate IT skills and access to carry out the job. I frequently “find” myself doing this job in my fantasy leagues.

Step 2 – Choose your league type
Now that you’ve chosen your head honcho, and he has settled himself into his plush office and invested in a fine line of expensive cigars, it’s time to decide on the type of league yours is going to have. The main issues to consider are how many players are you inviting to join your league, what style of draft are you going to endure/enjoy, and how are you going to settle on the makeup of starting roster.

I’ve personally played in leagues of 8, 10, 12 and 16 teams. For my money, ten is the real bare minimum and 12 the maximum. Any more than twelve teams can mean some truly awful players taking up undeserved spots on fantasy teams.

There are two main types of draft, standard snake draft (in a ten team league the first pick wouldn’t pick again until 20, them repeat) and an auction draft, where each player starts with the same amount of “money” and bids on every player. While the auction draft can be exciting, it can also be bloody long. I’m a snake draft guy myself.

As for the roster build up, a standard model is QB RB RB WR WR WR/RB (the flex spot) TE K DEF. I’ve played in leagues with only one RB spot, with the new spot given over to another flex position, echoing the move of REAL football towards a passing league. Running back is a position that is becoming devalued, so in a 16 team league the chances of getting TWO stud RBs are very slim. The basic rule of thumb would seem to be the bigger the league, the fewer RB spots you should have…unless you really want Bishop Sankey or Roy Helu killing your team every week.

Oh one more important decision that must be made – is your league going to be standard scoring, or Points Per Reception? This may seem a minor point, but when one considers that Wes Welker, in his New England days, hardly ever visited the Endzone BUT averaged over 100 receptions a year, the points picked up by workhorse RBs and a lot receivers can factor into draft selections.

Step 3 – Choose a date to draft
This sounds easy, but an awful lot of factors must be taken into account. For myself, I favour drafting as late as possible, maybe the last week of August or even the first week of September. But some heroes insist on drafting in July. Bravo, now you’ve increased the chances of players getting injured in camp/preseason after I just blew my first round draft pick on them. Gee thanks…

If you, like me, are going to participate in leagues with people from different time zones, you may need to make the tough decision of scheduling the draft at a time that suits the majority, not the one person who knocks the whole thing out of kilter. This is why I have drafted at 2am in the past, and am prepared and happy to do so again. The needs of the many, as Spock is forever telling us, outweigh the needs of the few…or the one.

Check back tomorrow to read some tips on what to do on the day of your draft.

(Note: This content originally appeared on, and has been reproduced here with the permission of Mr Oliver Connolly)

Neil Dutton

Neil has been writing about the NFL, and fantasy football specifically, since 2013. He is the fantasy football writer for and has written for UK Endzone, Fantasy Pros, Gridiron Experts and RotoViz. He has appeared on the Gridiron Show and the Woot and Wye podcast, and is co-host of the Waxing Lyrical with Mainz and Dutts podcast. You can follow him on Twitter (@ndutton13), and Instagram.

One thought on “Beginners Guide to Fantasy Football – Part One

  1. Can you play fantasy NFL in a non draft format like you can Fantasy Premier League? All seems a bit complicated to get a Commisioner, Draft Date etc

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