Fantasy Football 101: A Guide for Drafting Your First Fantasy Team

If you're new to fantasy football, this guide will get you up and running for your first draft.

In a nutshell, fantasy football involves choosing real NFL players to create teams that earn points based on their performances. If your team earns more points than your opponent, you win. Win consistently each week and through the playoffs you'll win money, bragging rights, steak dinners whatever. The bottom line is that you win, and who doesn't want that?

Unless you are psychic—or exceedingly lucky—preparation is key in drafting a decent fantasy team. This article will provide you a few basic guidelines for preparation and the actual selection of your team. It's not rocket science but does require some attention, so pay heed. (Try Draft on iOS or Android)

Snake Draft Basics

There are two primary draft types: the auction draft and the snake draft. Unless you are a seasoned pro with oodles of time and resources to commit to a fantasy draft, the snake draft is the way to go. In a snake draft, each fantasy owner chooses a player in each round. The number of rounds is based on the number of roster spaces. For example, if your team has 15 roster spaces (two quarterbacks, two running backs, three wide receivers, two tight ends, two kickers, two defense/special teams, and two flex players), then there are 15 rounds. Thus, in a 12-team league with 15 roster spaces, there will be 180 total player selections.

The order in which players are selected inverts, so the owner with the first pick in the first round will get the last pick in the second round, the first pick in the third round, and so forth. Knowing your position in the draft is critical for planning your player selection strategy.

Drafting Strategy

Perhaps one of the most important concepts to grasp is that a player's value is relative to his position. Generally, quarterbacks are consistently the highest scoring players on any given team and are, therefore, quite valuable; however, it is not always wise to put your proverbial eggs in one basket. With the abundance of elite quarterbacks in the league, it is just as important to pay attention to other high-point-earning positions as well. Remember, there is no "I" in team, and one fantasy player will not make or break your team, but having a few top-notch players will give you a better chance to score some massive points.

Experts highly recommend ranking each player in each position to give you an idea of the order in which you'd like to select particular players. This way, as the draft progresses, you can cross off players already selected so when it's your turn, you already know who you'd like to choose instead of having to do some last-second frantic Internet research or phoning a friend to figure out who the best available player may be when you are on the clock.

Positional Drafting

Everyone has their own preferred drafting strategy. Some fantasy owners always choose a quarterback first and save the kicker and defense for the end, while others like to spread out the positions to maximize their team's potential value. The consensus (and this is what I've always done) is to focus more on alternating wide receivers and running backs in the first four rounds because this player group tends to accumulate significant points. Select your quarterback(s) midway through the draft, and then go by a "best available player" strategy. Just remember, it is always easier to draft a good quarterback in later rounds than consistently good wide receivers or running backs.

Now it's time to put your draft skills to the test. Try Draft on iOS or Android to draft a new team each week using a live snake draft format and win real money.