Beginner’s Guide to Weekly Fantasy Football

If you’re playing weekly fantasy football for the first time, then you’ve come to the right place. This article is here to provide you with a simple walkthrough on how to play fantasy football.

First things first…

What is Fantasy Football?

In essence, fantasy football is a math-based game based on the real-life productions of NFL players. You “start” players at different positions based on your league settings every week. Usually these include a quarterback (QB), two running backs (RB), two wide receivers (WR), a kicker (K), a tight end (TE), a defense (D/ST), and a FLEX. A flex player is usually a wide receiver or a running back. Some leagues even allow a quarterback or a tight end as a flex. The stats that your players rack up on the field (touchdowns, yards, and the like) add up to their total point for the week. Your weekly score is made up of the point totals of all players in your starting lineup. If your total is higher than your opponent’s (another member of your league), you win that week! The Players you do not start are on your ‘bench’, and while they still can score points, those points are not added up to your weekly total. 

Each week goes like this until the end of the fantasy regular season, which usually comes in Week 14 or Week 15, depending on your league. Teams with the best win-loss records get to join the fantasy playoffs and the team that wins the rest of the games in the playoffs is named the league champion. Most leagues play their “Super Bowl” by week 17, but different leagues have different rules, so make sure you know yours!

First Week and Beyond

Now that you have gotten acquainted with the basics let’s move on to other things. When the weekly fantasy football season kicks off, what does it mean for you and your fantasy squad? 

First you have to make sure that you assemble your lineup at least five minutes before the game’s kickoff. Any players on your list from those teams will be “locked” anywhere you have them at that time. Regardless of whether they’re on your starting lineup or on your bench, you will not be able to move them until all the games of that week ends. This will happen each week with Thursday night football, so make sure you know when your star players start every Thursday!

Besides that, you can play with your lineup until the games on Sunday. You’ll want to make sure that your lineup is set by five minutes before the games kick off (1 p.m. ET). This will give you enough time throughout the week to go over your player rankings, read strategy columns, and be updated on player news. Do this and you’ll have everything you need to stay in top shape each week.

Taking Care of the Waiver Wire

After the conclusion of Week 1 after Monday Night Football, it’s time to pay attention to Week 2. Week 2 is where we enter one of the most important parts of the fantasy season: managing the waiver wire. 

The waiver wire is the process used to get players that are currently not in a roster into your fantasy league. What you do is make a ‘claim’ for a free agent. If you have the highest priority, or no one else claims that particular player, you can add them to your roster. Naturally, rosters have size limits, so if you want to add another player to your team, you’ll have to drop another to make space. In general, you’ll be asked to pick a player to drop once you make your waiver claim, so you don’t have to worry about that too much. 

One of the most important strategies you learn in weekly fantasy football is how to use your priority effectively. You wouldn’t want to waste it early in the year with a random free agent or until you’re able to pick an emerging bona fide starter. 

On Tuesdays, fantasy managers submit their waiver claims, and those are usually processed on Wednesdays. You can take advantage of this process during the week for more adds and drops in case news breaks that a player misses time. 

Some leagues opt for a free agent acquisition budget or FAAB for waiver wires. The commissioner decides on a budget that owners must use for the entire season at the beginning of the season. Owners are required to make blind bids on players they want to add each week. With this, managers have a better chance at getting high-quality free agents. 

What are ‘Bye Weeks’?

Every NFL team has a ‘bye week’ included into their season. This refers to a week when a team doesn’t have a scheduled game and uses that time to rest or recover. Bye weeks are important for fantasy owners to keep an eye on. It might be a good idea to add players to field a full starting roster. 

If you want to know when your players have ‘bye weeks’, check their name on your team page and check their season schedule. Make sure you have depth on your bench or you’re able to find a replacement on the waiver wire once these weeks come. It’s advisable to think a head in adding a free agent from the waiver wire whenever a ‘bye week’ comes up for a big player on your team. 

Trading Players

Another way to add players to your post-draft roster is through trades. Trades do not necessarily have to be one-for-one in nature. They’ll usually involve many players, and sometimes one team can give up several players in exchange for an elite fantasy producer. 

There’s no exact science behind carrying out fantasy trades. It takes time and lots and lots of patience. Doing your research and being aware of who you’re trading with can help a lot. To prevent collusion, most leagues enforce a trade deadline. This means all trades must be carried out before the date indicated. Be wise and make the right moves before the time is up!