Fantasy Football 101: Understanding Basic Terms and Strategies
March 6, 2024
Top 10 Fantasy Football Sleepers 2024 | Early list!
March 11, 2024
Fantasy Football 101: Understanding Basic Terms and Strategies
March 6, 2024
Top 10 Fantasy Football Sleepers 2024 | Early list!
March 11, 2024

How to play fantasy football | Complete Beginners Guide

Beginners fantasy football guide

To play fantasy football, start by choosing a site that hosts year-long leagues and sign up online. Next, you’ll need to participate in a draft to select the players that will make up your fantasy team. Then, play the players with the highest potential to succeed in their game each week to gain the most points during the NFL season.

Ok, so maybe you heard about the massive popularity of fantasy football, or you decided that owning a real NFL team is too expensive. Or maybe you just want to enjoy playing a game that brings joy and excitement to millions of players worldwide. No matter the reason, I will get you right up to speed on what fantasy football is and how to play it. When you finish reading this, you will be ready to immerse yourself into fantasy sports and experience the thrill and enjoyment it brings to me personally and to others. Fantasy sports continue to grow, and almost anyone knows someone that plays. It brings people together in a fun yet competitive situations. There is no better time to learn why it is so popular and how to play it. Let’s dive in! ( First, a little secret… you can really fast forward your success to dominate your leagues by getting the 16 Rounds Draft Solution HERE:

What is fantasy football? Overview

To put this to you simply, fantasy football is a points-driven game based on the real-life production of NFL players. The players put up real points when they play, and if you own them on your fantasy team, you will get points for that. Your team will be made up of different real-life NFL players from other teams and at different positions. The players you select will be selected in a draft that will take place with your friends or league mates. Typically fantasy football leagues consist of 8 – 14 fantasy players. Each fantasy player will select a player to fill out their rosters. We will dive into all the different parts of fantasy football later in this article. Right now let’s cover the overview.

Once you have your team each week, you will fill out a roster of your starting players at various positions allowed based on your league settings. The positions you have to fill usually include one quarterback (QB), two running backs (RB), two wide receivers (WR), one tight end (TE), one kicker (K), one defense (D/ST), and one FLEX (usually RB or WR, but some leagues allow for a TE or even a QB to be played at the FLEX position as well). The statistics your starting players accumulate on the field (touchdowns, yards, etc) contribute to their point total for the week. Point totals of all your starting lineup players are tallied into your weekly score, and if you have more points than your opponent ( another member of your league you going head-to-head against for that week) you win that week.

Your roster will also consist of bench players, and most leagues allow for five bench sports on average and they also collect points for the week. The bench points will not count for your overall score. Managing your roster is crucial and starting and sitting the right players can make or break your week. Bench players are important as they add depth to your roster, and cover your bye weeks and injuries. Note some leagues have IDP ( Individual defense players) I prefer not to have them in leagues I play in due to the volatility.

You will continue to compete weekly until the end of the regular fantasy football season. Typically a regular fantasy season runs until week 13 or week 14 of the regular NFL season. Fantasy Football playoffs are usually weeks 15 and 16. The reason the fantasy championship doesn’t run into week 17 is that a lot of NFL players are usually rested because of their playoff impact and sit for the preservation of their bodies. The last thing you want is to run into the fantasy football championship and have your 1st round draft pick sitting on the bench! ( Yes, this even happens as early as week 15! I know it’s happened to me.)

The teams with the best win-loss records will enter the fantasy playoffs for head-to-head matchup or elimination matchups. Who wins the remaining games in the playoffs is typically crowned the league championship following week 16. ( Note: The leagues vary in playoffs settings, timelines, and scoring settings) More on that later in this article.

Where to play fantasy football

Fantasy Football and where to play

Where you can play fantasy football

Before we dive deeper to how to play fantasy football we should know where to play it!

There are many free sites that offer you and your friends a platform to play. NFL and Yahoo are the two free ones I prefer. I find them pretty advanced in the flexibility and features available. The stats and information are reliable and the apps they offer are mobile-friendly and easy to you.

There is another platform that is a little more dated but a lot more versatile. It’s called My Fantasy League. This site is better used with a desktop to edit view and use but allows for a lot more customization. I like this site if you are considering doing a “keeper league/ dynasty league”.

The choice is really up to you and what you prefer. If you are in a league with other players and friends, the commissioner usually decides on the platform of choice. I personally like and am very familiar with the NFL platform for fantasy. The stats are coming right from the source and I like it that way.

Understand this is for your year-long fantasy football. There is also something called DFS which is daily fantasy sports. ( You draft a team a new team every week and then move on.) I have a separate article and video on DFS, but you can play it on Fanduel and Draftkings. They are the leaders in daily fantasy and are not yet legal in all states.

Week 1 is here now what?

Now that you understand the basics and have drafted a team ( See my how to draft a fantasy football team article) week 1 is here. Fantasy football week 1 starts with week 1 of the NFL season. You need to set your line up and make sure you have the right players in. Here are some basic tips and tricks for getting prepared for the first week and beyond.

  • Make sure all your starting positions are filled
  • Be sure you start the best possible player at each position. The first few weeks will reveal some of your team studs.
  • Edit your lineups well in advance of game time. Note: Some games start on Thursday nights, so be sure if your player is playing that you have him in your lineup.
  • Watch the games and immerse yourself. It’s funny because you will probably watch NFL teams that you don’t even like because you’ll have a guy you own playing
  • Be sharp and aware of the Waiver Wire. You want to be able to pick up the best possible player that is available at the end of week 1 on free agency in your league ( Next Section on the waiver wire)
  • Be competitive! This is your team, and you own it. Be sure to be on top of everything.

Everything you need from waiver wire pickups, breaking news, and rankings are all available on my Fantasy Football Counselor Podcast.

What is Waiver in Fantasy Football? – Full Definition

The waiver wire is the process in fantasy football to acquire players who are not on any other team’s roster in your fantasy league. You want to target players who has a good week prior and are trending forward. You put in a “claim” on the free-agent players in hopes to acquire them. Each league has a waiver priority and this can be predicated on the success ( Win/lose) of the previous week.

Some fantasy leagues have a dedicated blind bid FAAB system ( Free agent acquisition budget) that lets you acquire players. I suggest you try to claim a player that will address your needs. For example, if your QB went down with an injury, invest in acquiring the best possible Qb. You have to note your roster size limits, so if you wish to add players, you’ll have to drop a current player to make room. (The current fantasy football league platforms will let you know by default)

Once week 1 concludes after Monday Night Football, it’s time to focus on next week! If you have been following my podcast, your team is solid, and you have secured a win! Either way, you need to focus on the waiver wire.

Don’t always BUY the waiver wire hype

So many people ride the hot train. One player breaks out, and everyone wants to pick him up off the wire. You have to look at who the player was and the situation. It often happens when a player breaks out and becomes a one-week-wonder. Sometimes you may never hear from him again. Be careful you don’t spend your whole FAAB budget on a one-week wonder or drop a good player on your roster to pick up an overhyped guy. The waiver wire can make or break your season, as many times, guys that have been picked up could also be league winners.

Waiver claims are to be submitted on Tuesdays, and players are typically awarded to your roster on Wednesdays. You can add or drop players as you please between this time and when the game starts with your current rostered players. When the games are on with your rostered players, they are locked, and you can’t make any moves.

My advice is that you always have to stay sharp on the wire!

Bye Weeks

Every NFL team has a bye week built into their regular-season schedule. This is one week in the season where the team does not play and allows them to have some time to rest and recover. This is important to fantasy players because the players you own will end up being off 1 week out of the year. Ideally, you want to ensure that players on your team don’t share the same bye week. I don’t pay too much attention to this as my team always has a lot of depth, and I cover myself with my bench positions or grab someone off the waiver wire.

Some tiptoe around players during the fantasy football draft because they don’t want players with the same bye weeks. I give this a little attention but am fully aware of the bye weeks. Just try to make sure most of your players don’t share a bye week, and you will be ok.


Aside from the waiver wire, trades with your league mates are another way to acquire players you want throughout the season. If your team is not doing as well as you thought, or your dealings with injuries, you may want to consider making a trade. Some things you need to be aware of when thinking of making a fantasy football league trade are:

Fantasy Football Trades

Trades in Fantasy Football

  • Don’t give up too much
  • Other league players may ask for too much
  • Don’t get ripped off
  • Address your needs. Don’t trade for a player because you like the team or are biased toward that player. Address your positional needs
  • Watch if fair trades are happening in your league and if others are not getting ripped off. ( Usually, the league or commissioner will veto and overlook all trades)
  • Also, note and know when your league trade deadline is. This should be in the league settings and is default unless altered by the league commissioner.

Bonus tips and advice

If you are new to fantasy football, I want you to go in with some insight into the game and the industry. Now that you have an idea of how to play there are some things you should be aware of before you begin. Knowing these things will give you a competitive edge over the competition. I have specific articles and videos on different aspects of fantasy, but I wanted to provide you with a general overview and some tips you can run with.

  • Take part in leagues with people you like. I have been in leagues with haters, and it’s not fun.
  • Be confident, and do your research.
  • Dominate your draft. This is crucial to your success; my 16 Rounds draft solution will help you crush your league.
  • Always stay on top of the latest news and notes. We go year-round on the Fantasy Football Podcast
  • Stay sharp on the waiver wire
  • Don’t always believe in a player because of their name. Look at stats
  • Look for trends in players. Success leaves clues, and so does failure
  • Do not draft injury-prone players; history speaks for itself
  • Don’t be biased against a team you like; always draft the best possible player
  • Don’t buy the hype from the mainstream media. They copy and paste last year’s finishers in their early rankings. Avoid the sheep fantasy football mentality
  • Enjoy the process and watch the games. Total immersion and watching your players will enhance the fantasy football experience

When Does Fantasy Football Start?

The Fantasy Football Season starts when the NFL season begins which is typically the early part of September each year. This season start is confirmed every year when the NFL schedule officially comes out.

Fantasy Football is played in line with the football season and week 1 of each NFL season takes place on the Thursday after labor day weekend in September year. The Fantasy Football Draft must be completed before the start of the season.

Enjoy the game

Fantasy football is a game of skill, and it takes some work. Do not be overwhelmed, and enjoy the process. At the end of the day, it is about having fun and adding another element to NFL football. I found that watching NFL games got much more exciting when I started playing fantasy football. More was on the line and at stake once my fantasy team was invested. When you are in your league by yourself, if you like to trash talk, let your league mates hear it. If you let the scoreboard do the talking, that’s fine too.

I want to see everyone that listens to my content succeed and dominate their leagues. I will give you all of my tips, strategies, and tools to get the edge over the competition, so make sure you subscribe to my #1 fantasy football podcast as we go year-round. Remember also to be the lion in your league and stray away from the mainstream fantasy football rankings. These rankings are wrong yearly and should only be used as a guideline. You will not win your league if you follow the herd like a sheep. Always think outside the box and be the lion.

Good luck in fantasy football leagues, and talk soon!

Joseph Robert
Joseph Robert
Joseph Robert's outside of the box, LION mentality has created the strongest and most loyal fan base in the fantasy football industry! @fantasyfootballcounselor