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Fantasy Football Strategy for New Players - Footballguys

Basic strategy for people who are brand new to fantasy football

Before we get started, here's a hearty welcome to the world of fantasy football. Like every other aspect of sports, this place is filled with joy and heartache. Let's do our best to reduce the heartache.

Since you're new to the hobby, you likely have some nervousness running through your veins right now. This is normal for almost everyone when starting something new. You don't know exactly what's going to happen, and you definitely don't want to do something stupid and embarrass yourself. This article can help with all of that.

First off, let's go over the basics of fantasy football:

  • Simply put, you are going to act like the general manager of an NFL team.
  • You and the other people in your league will take turns picking real-life NFL players. The players you pick will play for a variety of real-life teams, but they will all be on your fantasy team.
  • Each week, your team will play a game against another team in your league. You'll each pick a starting lineup. When those players score in the NFL, they'll also score points for your teams. The team that scores the most points will win that game.
  • After 13 or 14 weeks, the best teams - usually based on record but sometimes on points scored - in your league will have qualified for your fantasy playoffs.
  • After Week 16 of the NFL season, your league will crown a champion.

Now, before we talk about how to pick players, we need to make some assumptions about your new league:

  • Your league probably has 10 or 12 teams.
  • Your draft probably has 16 or 18 rounds.
  • Your starting lineup is probably 1 quarterback, 2 running backs, 3 wide receivers, 1 tight end, 1 kicker, and 1 defense.
  • Your scoring system probably awards points for touchdowns and for yards. It may or may not award a point for each reception.

The majority of leagues out there are either exactly or very close to what is described above. The More your league deviates from these assumptions, the more research you'll need to do here.


But let's assume your league is generally normal. That means these things are also true:

  1. Quarterbacks Aren't That Important in Fantasy Football
    In the real world, guys like Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, and Andrew Luck make all the difference to their team's fortunes. That's not the case in fantasy football. There are lots of quarterbacks who will make very good to great fantasy options for your team. And you probably only need one in your starting lineup.

  2. Running Backs Are Important in Fantasy Football
    This is the case for several reasons, but the biggest is a concept called positional scarcity. There simply aren't enough running backs who get significant carries and/or receptions to go around. And you probably have to have two in your team's starting lineup.

  3. Wide Receivers Are Also Important
    This position is a combination of quarterback and running back. Similar to quarterbacks, there are lots of wide receivers who are good options. But like running backs, you have to start multiple wide receivers - most likely three.

  4. Tight Ends Are Either Awesome or Ho-Hum
    The elite tight ends — Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, and Zach Ertz — are difference-makers. The other guys at the position don't offer much separation.

  5. Defenses and Kickers Are Pretty Much Afterthoughts
    Defenses are more important than kickers but just barely.

Your Basic Draft Plan

The plan outlined below is easy to follow and will give you a solid, balanced team. With more research, you could do better. You'll have to invest the time, though. You'll need to dig deeper into Footballguys or one of the dozens of other quality fantasy football sites around the internet.

But if you are just looking to have a good time drafting and not worry about doing something stupid that would go viral on Twitter, this basic plan will certainly allow you to do that.

The First 6 Rounds

You should focus on running backs and wide receivers in these rounds. It's also acceptable to select Gronkowski, Kelce, or Ertz in this range as well.

Here's how many of each position you should have after six rounds:

  • Quarterbacks - 0
  • Running Backs - 2-4
  • Wide Receivers - 2-4
  • Tight Ends - 0-1
  • Defenses - 0
  • Kickers - 0

Rounds 7 through 10

This is the time to select your first quarterback. Picking a tight end is also a good option. Also, if you only selected two running backs or two wide receivers in the first six rounds, you need to focus on that position here as well.

Here's how many of each position you should have after 10 rounds:

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