You receive an invite to play fantasy football with a couple of your friends, but you have never played before and are thinking of passing. Truth is, everyone must start somewhere. That was the case for me last year when I played in my first fantasy football league. I accepted an invitation to play and started reading up on all the fantasy football websites and magazines hoping to gain some beginner knowledge.
In actuality, fantasy football can be simple to learn quickly if you pay attention and learn simple strategies in your league. In the end, I won two fantasy leagues I was in, even with playing with experienced fantasy owners by catching on quickly. The following article will help those who have never played—or those who are playing for the first time this year—learn some basic steps to a successful season in a standard league from my experiences during my first year playing.
I can't stress enough the importance to pay attention to the later rounds of the draft and to make sure you have quality backups for all position who can step in and start. I feel perhaps this step is even more important than drafting your starters. You may feel you are set with quality starters and already dreaming of winning your league, but don't jump ahead of yourself.
Last year, I drafted Tony Romo to be my starting quarterback. As we all saw, much to my horror mid-season, I lost my starting quarterback. Now, if I didn't plan ahead I would have panicked myself into a trade with a fellow owner. Luckily, during the draft I noticed nobody was drafting Ben Roethlisberger because of his suspension. So when I drafted him people were shocked as if I didn't know Roethlisberger was suspended. By the time Romo went down, Roethlisberger was back and stepped right in, and I won the league championship with my back-up QB.
Often, you know the other league owners. But sometimes in public leagues you might not know anyone. Regardless, you should take time to talk with the other owners in the league and get to know them. This may not seem like it has anything to do with fantasy football, but trust me it does. Whether you keep in touch with them after the season is up to you, but during the season keep in touch.
The main reason being, if you know everyone in the league, then the minute a player is up on the trade block then you get the first knowledge. Always discuss possible trades with other owners and remember for a certain price everyone on your team is tradeable. Talk with other owners and try to get first dibs on possible trades.
This one should come as an obvious lesson. However, you may be surprised at the number of owners who forget to check who their skill players are up against. If one of your skill players has a tough match-up, but another player on your bench has a favorable one, don't be afraid to bench a usual producer just for that week.
Basically, don't start a receiver going up against corners like Darelle Revis or Nnamdi Asomugha or start a running back going up against a defense like the Steelers or Jets because you will not win. It was a lesson I soon learned during my first year playing. I learned even if it means benching an Andre Johnson for a lesser name, do so.
I know it is hard to believe that despite you being a fan and believing in your team, not all the players on your team are fantasy football material. Another hardship is knowing how to tow the line when one of your skill players on your fantasy team plays against your favorite team, who do you root for? I found it best to just root for both and let the chips fall where they do.
For instance, I'm a Miami Dolphins fan and the only Dolphin I had on my draft board last year was Brandon Marshall. Unfortunately, I played in a league with another Dolphins fan who didn't feel the same. His draft went: Brandon Marshall in the first round, Chad Henne in the second round and Ronnie Brown in the third. It may be hard to believe, but it was really no joke. Just learn to separate your fan-hood for the sake of success in your fantasy league.
The most important step for beginners is to absorb all the information you can get from week to week of fantasy football. Listen to podcasts, read Bleacher Report and other websites and check up on your waiver wires every single week. It may seem time consuming, but if it's your first year playing you're going to need to research fantasy news and keep up with your team. Ask other fantasy experts or friends (not in your league) questions about what players are good to target and who to start or sit.
Last season, I absorbed all the information I could learn in the first few weeks of the season until I felt confident to make my own decisions to start giving my advice to other people. Trust me, it is a fun game and one you can learn quickly. Hope everyone enjoys their fantasy leagues this year. For people who have never played fantasy football, I hope I provided some insight and you feel confident about your first fantasy football season.