Fantasy Football for the NFL Novice

Men: Get excited, I'm going to talk about sports and mean it.

Ladies: Get excited, there's like 20 pictures of athletic men in this post.


Those who know me know I have many strengths. I read really fast. I remember birthdays and can analyze an SSAE16 report with the best of them. Sports? Not my forte. I have a healthy appreciation for them, but if you ask me to get technical, it's pretty much not going to end well. 

Despite this irreversible fact, I am somehow playing Fantasy Football this year. 

My colleagues at the office invited me to play, and little did I know what I was in for. Buy-ins? Drafts? Transactions and trades? Um, it's all Greek to me. In fact, unless it was some kind of Notre Dame-only fantasy football where Notre Dame just kind of wins automatically every week, the likelihood of me being able to even credibly contribute anything was slim to none. I had misgivings. But I went after it anyway...with the help of a close guy friend, David, who knows Fantasy Football like I know Jane Austen novels. That is to say...really, really well. 

When I asked David for advice (aka texted him "I'm in my office Fantasy league. HELP."), he pretty much had to give me a full crash course. Because I found this surprisingly interesting, and because he made it so easy to understand, here we go: a Liz-style review of everything I now know about Fantasy Football! (Thanks David!)

League Structure

Basically, once you decide you're going to do Fantasy Football, you have to set up a league. For me, this meant: "Be invited to participate as the sole rookie in a long-established, competitive office pool." Done. Leagues can be public (on, you can play against people all over the world) or private through a variety of sites (My boss has played on Yahoo; our office league is using ESPN). 


Every Fantasy team fields eight players per game, who earn points based on how well they play in their real games every weekend. Each team is matched against another team in the league, and the winner of the "game" is the team with more total points at the end of a given weekend. In a standard scoring structure, points are awarded for touchdowns, returns, rushing and receiving yardage, etcetera. All points systems can be customized. 

My league, in an effort to make things as complex and non-intuitive as possible, competes on a "PPR," or "points per reception," league. I'm still pretty shaky on my comprehension of how PPR scoring works, but what I do know is that it makes wide receivers and running backs the indisputable top scorers. (I lucked out in my draft and have a standout RB and a couple good wide receivers, so this works.) The overall value of a quarterback is less significant, too. 


Leagues can either do online drafts, which are run through the site the league plays on and are timed, or do a live draft, where participants meet face to face and make their draft picks in real-time. Supposedly, online drafts are easier. I wouldn't know since my team left work at 2:30 on a Tuesday and went to a bar to do a live, not going to complain about that one...

Draft pick order is randomly assigned in our league by picking a number out of a hat. I had the 3rd pick out of 8 participants, which was really good. Picks go in reversing on odd rounds, I picked third, and on even rounds, I picked sixth. 

Drafting is what I was most nervous/clueless about going in, but David game me his handy-dandy foolproof guide to drafting NOT like an idiot, and since I'm pretty sure this is common knowledge, here we go!

First round: Easy. Since I had the #3 pick, I was to take the remaining player out of Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy, or Jamaal Charles. I ended up with Jamaal. (He plays for the Chiefs, and once upon a time Charlie Weis coached for them, so, there's a tenuous Notre Dame connection...)

Second through fourth rounds: Stack up on a combination of wide receivers and tight ends. I landed Montee Ball, Brandon Marshall, and Antonio Brown. Of the three, so far Brandon's my favorite, sheerly for the picture below center. 

Fifth: Flex, which is basically another wide receiver, tight end or running back. I got Rob Gronkowski (who, of course, was out on the injured list this week...). 

Sixth: Here's where we landed a quarterback. David gave me a pre-approved list from which to pick, and I ended up taking Matt Ryan. Conveniently, he meets my desire that my quarterback be cute. Nice. 

In the seventh and eighth round, I needed more offense and picked up Shane Vereen and Emmanuel Sanders. 

Ninth round: Another quarterback. Pickings were slim by this point but I got Jay Cutler, who, to the best of my knowledge, is still Mr. Kristin Cavallari. 

In the tenth and eleventh rounds, more offense. More men about whom I know very little: Jason Witten and Danny Woodhead, who looks like quite the doofus if you ask me. 

Twelfth and thirteenth rounds were our last two, because our league is smaller. David's number one draft rule was to wait and take my kicker and defense last...apparently they're lower point-scorers in Fantasy. Using his tried and true method, I ended up with the Patriots defense and Justin Tucker, the Baltimore kicker (Hi Kait!). 

So there you have my team!

Transactions/Weekly Bench

I haven't really experimented much with this yet, but here's what I've got: You pick your eight players every week: a quarterback, a kicker, and a defense always, as well as 2 running backs and, in my league, any combination of wide receivers and tight ends. The rest of the players sit on your fantasy bench, which, in my fantasy, is gold with throw pillows, and don't earn you points. If at any point a player isn't pulling his weight, you can drop him from your team and pick up a new player (in my league, this costs $$. Real $$, so I'm hoping to limit that...). You can also trade with other teams, but nobody in my league ever trades so we end up with weird little powerhouse oligarchies of fantasy teams. Appropriate. 

Okay guys. Now that I've manned up for a solid half hour, off to watch a marathon of "Dance Moms" and "Raising Asia." Because let's be real...I'd probably be way better at Fantasy if it was with Junior Elite dance teams.