How to manage and play fantasy sports (football)

Over the last couple years I’ve introduced a few friends to fantasy football. And rather than teach them how to play, they were thrown into the fire and have typically burned. But, we’ve all been there. I remember in 2004 that we all drafted kickers in the middle rounds, and defenses, but over time we’ve learned.

Here are some tips to newcomers (newbies), and tips that are based on watching my friends progress.

Do not drop top draft picks early, even after poor performances

Last year a friend dropped his #1 pick Michael Turner after week #3. This caused a lot of discussion and poking fun but it’s understandable too. Nobody wants poor performers on their teams, but we all have our bad days/weeks. Players are drafted early for a reason, so store them on your bench instead of dropping. Give them time to find themselves.

This year a friend dropped his top three wide receivers, including Brandon Marshall and DeSean Jackson. They didn’t have stellar first weeks but as stated above, not everyone does. And this especially applies to wide receivers, who aren’t as consistent as running backs.

And there are several places that list who you should own, with one being the “Big Board” at Yahoo. It lists the top 100 players to own, so ideally the majority of your team is on this list. However, keep in mind that this is only one guys opinion.

Summary: Don’t panic.

If you’re unsure, use crowd wisdom to decide

We use Yahoo. It lists statistics like “projected rankings” and “% owned” which are key. Yahoo fantasy gurus determine what players are projected for over the course of the season. So while they aren’t perfect, it’s a decent baseline to use. Percent owned uses crowd wisdom which means if a player is 90-100% owned then there’s a good reason. Granted this doesn’t apply well to “new guys” but it’s still a worthwhile piece of information. Never drop near 100% owned players (unless they died).

Let experts help determine who to start each week

A lot of sites offer weekly projections to determine who will be the top performers for the upcoming week. All sites that manage fantasy leagues (like Yahoo) offer this next to your players, but plenty of sites are dedicated to this too. Here are a few:

  • Rotoworld – They post their rankings every Thursday with an update on Saturday. The series is called “Goal Line Stand” and does a great job.
  • ESPN – They post their rankings on Wednesday and update them throughout the week, and offer several peoples rankings.
  • Yahoo – Updated on Thursday, and offer several peoples rankings.

Waivers, free agents, and bench management

Not everyone is on a team, and throughout the season you will pickup and drop players. There are two distinct types and although each league manages waivers differently, they all have the same basic idea:

  • Waivers cannot be immediately picked up. It’s a period of time when each team has opportunity to pick up players by placing a waiver claim. If multiple teams place a waiver claim on one player, then the “who gets them” is determined by a ranked waiver priority system. And once you use a waiver, then your priority resets to last. For example, in a ten team league each team has priority of 1 through 10. When #1 uses a waiver, they are rest to #10 and then 2-10 all bump up to 1-9. This applies to all positions. One strategy is to save waiver claims so that you eventually become #1 and can pickup anybody you want, when you want them. In this case you only pickup free agents until that happens.
  • Free agents are players that “cleared waivers” meaning nobody put in a waiver claim. Most players fall in this category, and these players can be added at any time. They cost nothing. Simply drop a player and pick up a free agent.
  • Some leagues have a FAAB (Free Agent Acquisition Budget) which is the same as waivers except instead of a prioritized number (1-10) you have a specified budget to use throughout the year. This will likely be common as time progresses. It’s a silent auction meaning you place a bid and hope for the best (that you “won”).
  • Your bench are full of backup players that you may play if the matchup is right (e.g., they face the Rams), or if a starter gets injured, or are players to use during bye weeks, and/or players that you’re giving time to see if they’ll eventually be good.

Typically you’ll drop bench players for waivers/free agents, and instead move “lame” starters to the bench. Also, dropping a player puts them on waivers. And in many leagues, all players go on waivers from Sunday-Tuesday, then become free agents on Wednesday.


This is a different topic and has already concluded in the league in question. But I recommend getting good/elite WRs, and drafting a kicker/defense in the last two rounds. And have only one TE.


Good luck! :)

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