Fantasy Football Advice For The Beginner

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I have a fantasy football league that would be old enough to drink in any state in the continental United States if it were a person. The league is older than one of the team owners. The size has ballooned to as high as 18 and withered to as low as 10 over the years. People move, friends from work are added, and the league moves on. It was recently re-named after an owner who died. He was one of the nicest and most gracious people I have ever known.  Last year I drove nearly 300 miles to attend the draft, which was done online.

We started in the early 90s with a board game that used sets of statistics from previous seasons. Each player would draft a starting lineup from a given year. The points that had been generated by the drafted lineup during the season in question would be tabulated and the winner crowned “champion.” We played a few times. It took about half an hour to play, was tangentially related to the sport we all loved, and got a  group together that remain on the list of human beings I would probably reflexively take a bullet for.

One day I went over to Walter’s house and he greeted me at the door with a look of joy on his face I have not seen since. Not when he told me of his impending marriage. Not when he told me his wife was pregnant with their first child. It was a look that only those who have not quite realized the gravity of being an adult can muster when they’ve discovered something. I will never forget the moment, and the words he said in a tone of voice that leads the listener to believe that the speaker fears vocalizing them might make them untrue. “There are rules at the back of the instructions for playing fantasy football during the season.”

That was my introduction to one of my favorite things. Our league started with the commissioner (Walter) painstakingly searching through box scores in the newspaper finding each player’s roster, and tabulating the points every week. There was no fantasy sports, and no to look up box scores. We had to do this by hand. If you wanted to make sure the commish wasn’t cheating, you had to get your own paper to check the scores yourself. Fantasy football was a lot of work. And we had to do it uphill both ways through three feet of snow during a hurricane too.

The fantasy leagues do have a vast array of skill levels to play in. The highest level requires a level of familiarity with each team’s offensive and defensive lineup that is anything but casual. These articles are for those considering entering the beginners league. The thing about nerds, something I am and will be until the day I die, is this. We want nothing more than for everyone to see what we see, to enjoy the things we enjoy, to understand and share our obsession. So I will give you a few pointers as you consider taking the plunge. They start basic and get a little deeper as I go.

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Know Your League’s Rules

Today’s fantasy football advice installment is just good general life advice. Understand the thing you are doing, and you will know how to excel at it. Sun Tzu stressed this a lot in “the art of war.” There are a thousand variations on how to play fantasy football. Some scoring methods stress yards gained, others long touchdown plays, and other variations stress volume of touches. When you join a league get to know the things that will score you points. Each change to the way that weeks are scored will alter the strategy needed to win in that league.

Some leagues add wrinkles like penalizing players for fumbles or interceptions. There are also leagues that reward players with a point for every reception. This was done to both balance the fantasy value of receivers/running backs, and make more running backs usable as the “bell cow” running back faded from prominence. It also allowed for bigger leagues, and more viable midseason replacements for poor draft picks and injuries.

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How the Detroit Lions Podcast Team Defense Leagues Score

  • Starting Roster: 1 QB, 2 WR, 2 RB, 1 TE, 1 w/r/t, 1 K, 1 DEF, 6 bench players, 1 IR spot
  • One point for every ten yards gained receiving/rushing/returning kicks
  • One point for every 25 yards passing
  • Six points for a rushing/receiving/kick return touchdown
  • Six points for a passing touchdown
  • Two points for a two-point conversion
  • Negative one point for an interception thrown
  • Negative two points for a fumble lost
  • Three points for 0-39 yard field goals
  • Four points for 40-49 yard field goals
  • Five points for 50+ yard field goals
  • One point for each extra point

Team Defense

  • One point for each sack
  • Two points for each interception/fumble recovery/safety
  • Six points for each defensive touchdown scored
  • Two points for each blocked kick
  • Ten points for a shutout
  • Seven points for allowing 1-6 points
  • Four points for allowing 7-13 points
  • One point for allowing 14-20 points
  • Negative one points for allowing 28-34 points
  • Negative four points for allowing 35+ points

I hope that you will take the plunge, and join us this year. The fact that there is a cash payout at the end is a nice bonus, but I have found the camaraderie of a fantasy sports league to be the best part. Last year’s game day chats during the Lions games were a great way to express the joy, or the pain on Sunday, without it getting lost in that week’s GDT. There were a group of specific Lions fans that were definitely going to see and engage with your thoughts.

When I knocked /u/Punkrawkintrev out of playoff contention last year, it was one of the highlights of my fantasy season. Not because of any animosity I feel toward him, but because he had fewer points than me and had been ahead of me in the standings all year. I had employed a risky draft strategy and it blew my entire season early. That was really all I had left to play for in the final weeks. I look forward to joining you in the leagues this year.

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About the Author

Ash Thompson
Ash Thompson is a fanatical football fan, and less fanatical hockey fan despite his Canadian heritage. He is sorry aboot that. His spirit animal is a beaver with a shark's head. He enjoys maple syrup and tacos, but never at the same time.