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.

Assumptions

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:

  • Quarterbacks - 1
  • Running Backs - 4-5
  • Wide Receivers - 4-5
  • Tight Ends - 0-1
  • Defenses - 0
  • Kickers - 0

Rounds 11 through 13

You need to get a second quarterback here. Make sure your two quarterbacks have different bye weeks. If you don't have a tight end already, get one here. One of the top defenses is a nice option as well.

Here's how many of each position you should have after 13 rounds:

  • Quarterbacks - 2
  • Running Backs - 4-6
  • Wide Receivers - 4-6
  • Tight Ends - 1
  • Defenses - 0-1
  • Kickers - 0

Round 14 through the Second-to-Last Round

It's time to fill out your roster (except for a kicker). If you didn't get one earlier, take a defense. Get a backup tight end. Make sure your two tight ends have different bye weeks. Bolster your running backs and/or wide receivers here as well.

Here's how many of each position you should have after the next-to-last round:

  • Quarterbacks - 2
  • Running Backs - 5-6
  • Wide Receivers - 5-7
  • Tight Ends - 2
  • Defenses - 1
  • Kickers - 0

The Last Round

Easiest round ever: Get your kicker.

Here's how many of each position you should have after your draft is finished:

  • Quarterbacks - 2
  • Running Backs - 5-6
  • Wide Receivers - 5-7
  • Tight Ends - 2
  • Defenses - 1
  • Kickers - 1

Draft Plan Summary Points

  • As mentioned earlier and evidenced in the draft plan, running backs and wide receivers are vital to your fantasy team and make up the bulk of your roster.
  • You don't need a backup defense nor a backup kicker. If you need another one later in the season, your league will have plenty of free agents available at these positions.
  • You should have a couple of nice options at quarterback and at tight end.

Who to Pick?

Your plan tells you which position to take and when to take them, but you also need to know who to take.

Before we give you a basic list of players, please take a moment to understand why having a custom cheatsheet is so important.

If you are a Season Long Pro at Footballguys, awesome. Here are two quick options for your cheatsheet:

  • If your league awards a point for a catch, use this cheatsheet.
  • If your league doesn't award a point for a catch, use this cheatsheet.

If you are a Season Long Pro and completely sold on the concept of a custom cheatsheet, get one here.

If you are not a Season Long Pro and are okay with a generic list of players, that's cool. Use the table below for your draft.

But please note the list below is not ranked based on Footballguys recommendations. It's simply a generic player list based on Average Draft Position or ADP. It shows you where players have been drafted on average in other leagues as of August 24, 2018.

If you want to have the best draft possible, click here to learn more, including how new DRAFT.com customers can get our Season Long Pro subscription for FREE.

Running Backs
1
RB
Todd Gurley
LAR
27
RB
Ronald Jones
TB
53
RB
Latavius Murray
Min
2
RB
Le'Veon Bell
Pit
28
RB
Kerryon Johnson
Det
54
RB
Theo Riddick
Det
3
RB
David Johnson
Ari
29
RB
Rex Burkhead
NE
55
RB
Samaje Perine
Was
4
RB
Ezekiel Elliott
Dal
30
RB
Marshawn Lynch
Oak
56
RB
Rob Kelley
Was
5
RB
Alvin Kamara
NO
31
RB
Chris Thompson
Was
57
RB
Doug Martin
Oak
6
RB
Saquon Barkley
NYG
32
RB
Sony Michel
NE
58
RB
Jordan Wilkins
Ind
7
RB
Melvin Gordon
LAC
33
RB
Tarik Cohen
Chi
59
RB
Austin Ekeler
LAC
8
RB
Leonard Fournette
Jac
34
RB
Carlos Hyde
Cle
60
RB
LeGarrette Blount
Det
9
RB
Kareem Hunt
KC
35
RB
Isaiah Crowell
NYJ
61
RB
T.J. Yeldon
Jac
10
RB
Dalvin Cook
Min
36
RB
Jamaal Williams
GB
62
RB
Chris Ivory
Buf
11
RB
Christian McCaffrey
Car
37
RB
Marlon Mack
Ind
63
RB
Frank Gore
Mia
12
RB
Devonta Freeman
Atl
38
RB
Duke Johnson
Cle
64
RB
Spencer Ware
KC
13
RB
Jerick McKinnon
SF
39
RB
Chris Carson
Sea
65
RB
Javorious Allen
Bal
14
RB
Joe Mixon
Cin
40
RB
C.J. Anderson
Car
66
RB
Kalen Ballage
Mia
15
RB
Jordan Howard
Chi
41
RB
Aaron Jones
GB
67
RB
James Conner
Pit
16
RB
LeSean McCoy
Buf
42
RB
Nick Chubb
Cle
68
RB
Jeremy Hill
NE
17
RB
Alex Collins
Bal
43
RB
James White
NE
69
RB
Darren Sproles
Phi
18
RB
Kenyan Drake
Mia
44
RB
Ty Montgomery
GB
70
RB
Kenneth Dixon
Bal
19
RB
Derrick Henry
Ten
45
RB
Devontae Booker
Den
71
RB
John Kelly
LAR
20
RB
Jay Ajayi
Phi
46
RB
Giovani Bernard
Cin
72
RB
Jonathan Stewart
NYG
21
RB
Lamar Miller
Hou
47
RB
Nyheim Hines
Ind
73
RB
DeAngelo Henderson
Den
22
RB
Royce Freeman
Den
48
RB
Corey Clement
Phi
74
RB
Chase Edmonds
Ari
23
RB
Mark Ingram
NO
49
RB
Peyton Barber
TB
75
RB
Rod Smith
Dal
24
RB
Dion Lewis
Ten
50
RB
D'Onta Foreman
Hou
76
RB
Chris Warren II
Oak
25
RB
Tevin Coleman
Atl
51
RB
Matt Breida
SF
77
RB
Corey Grant
Jac
26
RB
Rashaad Penny
Sea
52
RB
Bilal Powell
NYJ
78
RB
Alfred Morris
SF
Wide Receivers
1
WR
Antonio Brown
Pit
33
WR
Emmanuel Sanders
Den
65
WR
Christian Kirk
Ari
2
WR
DeAndre Hopkins
Hou
34
WR
Cooper Kupp
LAR
66
WR
Dede Westbrook
Jac
3
WR
Odell Beckham
NYG
35
WR
Jamison Crowder
Was
67
WR
John Brown
Bal
4
WR
Julio Jones
Atl
36
WR
Robert Woods
LAR
68
WR
Keelan Cole
Jac
5
WR
Michael Thomas
NO
37
WR
Devin Funchess
Car
69
WR
Ted Ginn
NO
6
WR
Keenan Allen
LAC
38
WR
Randall Cobb
GB
70
WR
Danny Amendola
Mia
7
WR
Davante Adams
GB
39
WR
Pierre Garcon
SF
71
WR
Geronimo Allison
GB
8
WR
A.J. Green
Cin
40
WR
Jordy Nelson
Oak
72
WR
John Ross
Cin
9
WR
Mike Evans
TB
41
WR
Robby Anderson
NYJ
73
WR
Courtland Sutton
Den
10
WR
T.Y. Hilton
Ind
42
WR
Nelson Agholor
Phi
74
WR
James Washington
Pit
11
WR
Tyreek Hill
KC
43
WR
DeVante Parker
Mia
75
WR
Antonio Callaway
Cle
12
WR
Stefon Diggs
Min
44
WR
Kelvin Benjamin
Buf
76
WR
Taywan Taylor
Ten
13
WR
Adam Thielen
Min
45
WR
Sterling Shepard
NYG
77
WR
Dez Bryant
FA
14
WR
Amari Cooper
Oak
46
WR
Kenny Stills
Mia
78
WR
Cole Beasley
Dal
15
WR
Doug Baldwin
Sea
47
WR
D.J. Moore
Car
79
WR
Tavon Austin
Dal
16
WR
Larry Fitzgerald
Ari
48
WR
Allen Hurns
Dal
80
WR
Donte Moncrief
Jac
17
WR
Jarvis Landry
Cle
49
WR
Calvin Ridley
Atl
81
WR
Ryan Grant
Ind
18
WR
JuJu Smith-Schuster
Pit
50
WR
Mike Williams
LAC
82
WR
Mike Wallace
Phi
19
WR
Demaryius Thomas
Den
51
WR
Marqise Lee
Jac
83
WR
Brandon Marshall
Sea
20
WR
Golden Tate
Det
52
WR
Cameron Meredith
NO
84
WR
Quincy Enunwa
NYJ
21
WR
Brandin Cooks
LAR
53
WR
Michael Gallup
Dal
85
WR
J'Mon Moore
GB
22
WR
Allen Robinson
Chi
54
WR
Kenny Golladay
Det
86
WR
Cordarrelle Patterson
NE
23
WR
Marvin Jones
Det
55
WR
Tyler Lockett
Sea
87
WR
Phillip Dorsett
NE
24
WR
Josh Gordon
Cle
56
WR
Josh Doctson
Was
88
WR
Terrelle Pryor
NYJ
25
WR
Alshon Jeffery
Phi
57
WR
Anthony Miller
Chi
89
WR
Corey Coleman
Buf
26
WR
Corey Davis
Ten
58
WR
Rishard Matthews
Ten
90
WR
Dante Pettis
SF
27
WR
Michael Crabtree
Oak
59
WR
Paul Richardson
Was
91
WR
Terrance Williams
Dal
28
WR
Chris Hogan
NE
60
WR
Tyrell Williams
LAC
92
WR
Albert Wilson
Mia
29
WR
Sammy Watkins
KC
61
WR
Mohamed Sanu
Atl
93
WR
Tre'Quan Smith
NO
30
WR
Marquise Goodwin
SF
62
WR
DeSean Jackson
TB
94
WR
Jermaine Kearse
NYJ
31
WR
Julian Edelman
NE
63
WR
Chris Godwin
TB
95
WR
Eric Decker
NE
32
WR
Will Fuller
Hou
64
WR
Martavis Bryant
Oak
Quarterbacks
1
QB
Aaron Rodgers
GB
14
QB
Matt Ryan
Atl
27
QB
Tyrod Taylor
Cle
2
QB
Deshaun Watson
Hou
15
QB
Jared Goff
LAR
28
QB
Ryan Tannehill
Mia
3
QB
Tom Brady
NE
16
QB
Patrick Mahomes
KC
29
QB
Joe Flacco
Bal
4
QB
Russell Wilson
Sea
17
QB
Alex Smith
Was
30
QB
Baker Mayfield
Cle
5
QB
Cam Newton
Car
18
QB
Marcus Mariota
Ten
31
QB
Sam Darnold
NYJ
6
QB
Drew Brees
NO
19
QB
Dak Prescott
Dal
32
QB
Lamar Jackson
Bal
7
QB
Carson Wentz
Phi
20
QB
Derek Carr
Oak
33
QB
Josh Rosen
Ari
8
QB
Andrew Luck
Ind
21
QB
Jameis Winston
TB
34
QB
Sam Bradford
Min
9
QB
Kirk Cousins
Min
22
QB
Blake Bortles
Jac
35
QB
Josh Allen
Buf
10
QB
Matthew Stafford
Det
23
QB
Eli Manning
NYG
36
QB
Ryan Fitzpatrick
TB
11
QB
Ben Roethlisberger
Pit
24
QB
Mitchell Trubisky
Chi
37
QB
Josh McCown
NYJ
12
QB
Jimmy Garoppolo
SF
25
QB
Case Keenum
Den
38
QB
Nick Foles
Phi
13
QB
Philip Rivers
LAC
26
QB
Andy Dalton
Cin
Tight Ends
1
TE
Rob Gronkowski
NE
15
TE
O.J. Howard
TB
29
TE
Vernon Davis
Was
2
TE
Travis Kelce
KC
16
TE
Cameron Brate
TB
30
TE
Luke Willson
Det
3
TE
Zach Ertz
Phi
17
TE
Eric Ebron
Ind
31
TE
Tyler Kroft
Cin
4
TE
Jimmy Graham
GB
18
TE
Austin Seferian-Jenkins
Jac
32
TE
Jonnu Smith
Ten
5
TE
Evan Engram
NYG
19
TE
Charles Clay
Buf
33
TE
Ed Dickson
Sea
6
TE
Greg Olsen
Car
20
TE
Hayden Hurst
Bal
34
TE
Virgil Green
LAC
7
TE
Delanie Walker
Ten
21
TE
Mike Gesicki
Mia
35
TE
Ryan Griffin
Hou
8
TE
Kyle Rudolph
Min
22
TE
Jared Cook
Oak
36
TE
Nick Vannett
Sea
9
TE
Jordan Reed
Was
23
TE
Austin Hooper
Atl
37
TE
Jesse James
Pit
10
TE
Trey Burton
Chi
24
TE
Vance McDonald
Pit
38
TE
Adam Shaheen
Chi
11
TE
David Njoku
Cle
25
TE
Ben Watson
NO
39
TE
Gerald Everett
LAR
12
TE
Jack Doyle
Ind
26
TE
Ricky Seals-Jones
Ari
40
TE
Tyler Higbee
LAR
13
TE
George Kittle
SF
27
TE
Dallas Goedert
Phi
41
TE
Blake Jarwin
Dal
14
TE
Tyler Eifert
Cin
28
TE
Jake Butt
Den
42
TE
Antonio Gates
FA
Defenses
1
Def
Jacksonville Jaguars
12
Def
New England Patriots
23
Def
Buffalo Bills
2
Def
Los Angeles Rams
13
Def
Kansas City Chiefs
24
Def
Cincinnati Bengals
3
Def
Minnesota Vikings
14
Def
Chicago Bears
25
Def
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
4
Def
Philadelphia Eagles
15
Def
Tennessee Titans
26
Def
New York Giants
5
Def
Los Angeles Chargers
16
Def
Seattle Seahawks
27
Def
Washington Redskins
6
Def
Baltimore Ravens
17
Def
Green Bay Packers
28
Def
San Francisco 49ers
7
Def
Houston Texans
18
Def
Arizona Cardinals
29
Def
New York Jets
8
Def
Denver Broncos
19
Def
Dallas Cowboys
30
Def
Miami Dolphins
9
Def
New Orleans Saints
20
Def
Atlanta Falcons
31
Def
Oakland Raiders
10
Def
Carolina Panthers
21
Def
Detroit Lions
32
Def
Indianapolis Colts
11
Def
Pittsburgh Steelers
22
Def
Cleveland Browns
Kickers
1
PK
Stephen Gostkowski
NE
10
PK
Robbie Gould
SF
19
PK
Ka'imi Fairbairn
Hou
2
PK
Greg Zuerlein
LAR
11
PK
Matt Prater
Det
20
PK
Dustin Hopkins
Was
3
PK
Justin Tucker
Bal
12
PK
Mason Crosby
GB
21
PK
Caleb Sturgis
LAC
4
PK
Harrison Butker
KC
13
PK
Graham Gano
Car
22
PK
Sebastian Janikowski
Sea
5
PK
Wil Lutz
NO
14
PK
Adam Vinatieri
Ind
23
PK
Phil Dawson
Ari
6
PK
Jake Elliott
Phi
15
PK
Brandon McManus
Den
24
PK
Steve Hauschka
Buf
7
PK
Matt Bryant
Atl
16
PK
Josh Lambo
Jac
25
PK
Chandler Catanzaro
TB
8
PK
Chris Boswell
Pit
17
PK
Daniel Carlson
Min
26
PK
Randy Bullock
Cin
9
PK
Dan Bailey
Dal
18
PK
Ryan Succop
Ten
27
PK
Eddy Pineiro
Oak

Best of luck!