How Does Fantasy Football Work?

Fantasy football has gained significant popularity over recent years, offering football fans the opportunity to build and manage their dream teams and, perhaps, win some cash prizes at the same time.

If you’re not sure how it works and you’re keen to know how football fantasy games fit in to the overall theme of real money fantasy gaming, this article will help you understand the basics and get started on your own journey as a virtual team manager.

Make successful predictions around your teams’ abilities and performance, and there are real possibilities of finishing high enough up a leaderboard to finish in the money.


By RealMoneyGames – Steve Cross

Who are the 3 top operators of fantasy football competitions?

Before we delve deeper into some of the other aspects you’ll need to know, let’s see some of the biggest names in the industry:


Bet365 is a leading online sports betting and gaming operator that offers fantasy football contests as part of its range of gambling products. You’ll find the contests on a dedicated fantasy sports section on the Bet365 site. With a user-friendly platform, valuable promotions, and a wide range of football leagues and tournaments to choose from, Bet365 provides a seamless and enjoyable fantasy football experience.

Fantasy sports is not the only product that will appeal to punters as we saw in a detailed Bet 365 review, and the other services like the casino, poker, and general sportsbook will all be of value to prospective and existing customers. In addition, there’s a freeroll fantasy game that 365 occasionally run that players can enter at no cost but still win a cash prize.


DraftKings is a popular fantasy sports operator that offers daily and season-long fantasy football contests. With a focus on innovation and user engagement, DraftKings offers a variety of contest formats, including head-to-head matchups, multi-player tournaments, and 50/50 contests, giving users plenty of options to showcase their fantasy football skills.


FanDuel is another leading fantasy sports operator that offers a range of fantasy football contests for users to enjoy. With a user-friendly interface, competitive pricing, and a wide range of contest formats, including snake drafts and auctions, FanDuel provides a fun and engaging fantasy football experience for users of all skill levels.

Getting started with fantasy football contests

Getting started in fantasy football is pretty straightforward, although there are many aspects to consider.

The first point to be aware of is that there’s a fair amount of difference between how fantasy betting works for American football and how it works for soccer in the rest of the world. Those differences will be more apparent in some of the terminology used and, of course, how the leagues work in the detail. Essentially they’re both about selecting and managing sports teams.

Throughout the rest of this article we’ll be focusing on the US version of football.

To begin with, you’ll need to join a league – most commonly, you’ll find friends or colleagues who are participating in a competition or you can join a public league online. Once you’re part of a league, you’ll have the chance to draft and manage your team, making strategic decisions based on player performance, injuries and fixtures, and aiming to accumulate the most points in your league.

If it’s a season-long contest you’ve entered, then throughout the football season you’ll need to keep a keen eye on your players as well as their real-life counterparts, ensuring that you make smart choices to stay ahead of the competition. With a variety of platforms and formats to choose from, you can tailor your fantasy football experience to suit your preferences and level of expertise.

That’s covered the very basics of how it all works at a high level. Now let’s explore a little deeper:

Understanding Fantasy Football

To fully appreciate fantasy football, it’s crucial to grasp the basic principles that drive this popular pastime. Fantasy football allows you to become a team manager, assembling a roster of real-life NFL players and competing against other participants in your league. You’ll be responsible for setting your weekly lineup and accruing fantasy points based on your players’ actual on-field performances.

The appeal of fantasy football comes from the fact that it allows fans to experience the excitement of the NFL season from a different perspective. In addition to following individual athletes, you’ll become invested in the success of your entire fantasy team. Moreover, fantasy football is a way for people to compete with friends and strangers alike while enjoying the ups and downs of the football season together.

One key element of fantasy football is the draft. Before each NFL season begins, league participants select players in a predetermined order. There are multiple draft styles, including:

Snake drafts: This system involves managers picking one player at a time with the draft order reversing every round.

Auction drafts: Managers receive a budget to bid on their desired players, competing with other owners in real-time.

Keeper and dynasty leagues: Existing owners retain a number of players from their previous teams, whilst newcomers can choose from the remaining player pool.

Fantasy football scoring varies by league, but it usually includes the following:

Position Scoring Factors
Quarterback Passing yards, touchdowns, interceptions, rushing yards
Running Back Rushing yards, receptions, receiving yards, touchdowns
Wide Receiver Receiving yards, receptions, touchdowns
Tight End Receiving yards, receptions, touchdowns
Kicker Field goals, extra points
Defence Sacks, interceptions, touchdowns, points allowed


In season-long leagues, managers compete through the fantasy regular season, which typically runs from week 1 to week 13 of the NFL season. During this time, you’ll need to adjust your lineup to account for bye weeks, injuries or underperforming players. One way to do this is by using the waiver wire, where you can claim free agents and drop underperforming players.

Successful managers progress to the playoffs, typically held from weeks 14 to 16. Here, the top fantasy teams in each league contest in a single knockout format to be crowned league champion.

In summary, understanding how fantasy football works equips you with the knowledge to engage in this exciting, social, and strategic pastime. Whether you’re new to the game or a seasoned veteran, there are always opportunities to hone your managerial skills and enjoy the rollercoaster ride of the NFL season.

The Different Fantasy Football Formats

In the world of fantasy football, there’s an array of formats to choose from. Each offers its unique challenges and excitement, catering to different types of players and preferences. In this section, let’s explore various formats so you can find the one that best suits you.

Standard fantasy football leagues are where it all began. In this classic format, you’ll draft a team of NFL players and earn points based on their performance in the actual games. Every week, you’ll set your lineup, selecting your top performers in various positions, like quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and more. As the season progresses, you’ll manage your roster by diving into the waiver wire to pick up free agents and replace underperforming players. You’ll compete against other teams in your league, with the ultimate goal being to reach the playoffs and claim your league championship.

For those who seek a more dynamic experience, there are daily fantasy sports (DFS) formats. Instead of managing a team for an entire season, you’ll create a new lineup each week based on the available player pool and a predetermined salary cap. Points are awarded in the same way as standard leagues, but the competition begins anew every week. The popularity of DFS has grown rapidly, largely due to its quick and engaging nature.

Then, there’s dynasty fantasy football, which adds a long-term strategic element to the game. In dynasty leagues, you’ll maintain the same roster from year to year, fostering a sense of team ownership and commitment. Each offseason, there’s a rookie draft that allows managers to add fresh talent to their teams. Dynasty leagues test your ability to identify and nurture talent, as well as plan for the future.

Of course, it’s important to consider the differences in scoring systems between various leagues. Some leagues emphasize extra points earned for specific achievements (e.g., field goals, interceptions, sacks), while others use point-per-reception (PPR) scoring, awarding players additional points for every catch made during a game.

Another variation to consider is the auction draft format. Instead of using the traditional snake draft where managers take turns picking players, auctions work on a bidding system. You’ll have a set budget to build your roster by bidding on NFL players, testing your ability to find value while managing your spending.

Regardless of your preference, fantasy football offers an abundance of choices for you to engage in the excitement of NFL season while challenging your strategic skills. So whether you’re a newcomer looking to dive into FPL basics or a seasoned veteran ready for advanced strategies, there’s a fantasy football format out there that’s perfect for you.

Selecting Your Squad

Kicking off your journey in fantasy football involves selecting your squad. There are various ways to go about this process, but one of the most crucial aspects to master is understanding player rankings and making the right choices for your team.

Player rankings play a significant role in building your fantasy football team. Various factors such as player performance, team dynamics, and injuries are taken into account when determining these rankings. Do thorough research on players you see value in, and focus on selecting those who would be the most beneficial for your team.

Depending on the type of fantasy football league you’re joining, the draft system can differ:

Standard Drafts : These are most common in NFL fantasy football. Team managers take turns to select players in a fixed order, with each player being drafted once.

Auction Drafts : Managers are given a budget to “bid” on players, with the highest bidder adding the player to their roster. This type of draft allows for greater strategic and tactical decision-making.

Dynasty Leagues : In dynasty fantasy football, managers maintain their roster from year to year. Thus, they select players not only with current potential but with a long-term perspective, which involves considering rookies and free agents.

It’s important to maintain a balanced roster with players from various positions such as quarterbacks, wide receivers, and running backs. This strategy allows you to maximise your fantasy points throughout the season, giving your team a competitive edge.

As the season progresses, staying active on the waiver wire is key to keeping your team competitive. The waiver wire allows you to pick up free agents, which can be a goldmine of opportunities during bye weeks and injuries. Be on the lookout for players who perform unexpectedly well and may be undervalued, and make sure to plan for the future by having backup options.

When you’re preparing for the season, it’s essential to familiarise yourself with your league’s scoring system, as different leagues have varied rules for points allocation. For example, in leagues, quarterbacks earn 4 points per touchdown pass, while ESPN leagues award 6 points. Understanding these nuances can set you up for success.

Don’t forget to have fun while selecting your squad and participating in fantasy football. Engaging with fellow sports enthusiasts and immersing yourself in the world of football is what fantasy sports are all about.

Remember, the ultimate goal is to enjoy the season and make the best of your experience. So sharpen your skills, learn from seasoned managers, and keep up-to-date with the ever-changing world of football. With dedication and a keen eye for talent, you’re well on your way to creating a formidable fantasy football team.

Points and Scoring System

Understanding the points and scoring system in fantasy football is crucial for success. It’s the backbone of the game, determining which players contribute the most value to your team.

Let’s dive into how points are scored in a typical fantasy football league.

Players earn fantasy points based on their on-field performance in various statistical categories during the NFL season.

Points can be gained through: Passing yards – Rushing yards – Receiving yards – Touchdowns – Field goals – Extra points – Interceptions – Sacks

Each league has its own point values for these categories, but they usually follow a general pattern. Here’s a common breakdown of fantasy points:

Category Points Per Unit
Passing Yards 1 point per 25 yards
Rushing Yards 1 point per 10 yards
Receiving Yards 1 point per 10 yards
Touchdown 6 points
Field Goal 3 points
Extra Point 1 point
Interception -2 points
Sack 1 point

In addition to the standard scoring system, some leagues use PPR (Points Per Reception), which awards an extra point for each reception. This format boosts the value of wide receivers and pass-catching running backs.

It’s essential to keep track of bye weeks, which are weeks when a team doesn’t have a game, and the players don’t score any points. You’ll need to adjust your lineup accordingly to maximise your point-scoring potential.

Your ranking within the league is determined by the cumulative points earned by your team over the course of the season. The top-scoring teams at the end of the regular season advance to the playoffs, where head-to-head matchups over several weeks will ultimately crown the fantasy football champion.

Managing your waiver wire strategy is vital in maintaining a successful roster. During the season, you can pick up free agents or claim dropped players through the waiver system. The order is determined by your league’s rules—often based on reverse standings. Savvy owners can use the waiver wire to bolster their lineups, replacing injured or underperforming players.

In summary, understanding the points and scoring system in fantasy football is essential for building a competitive team. Pay close attention to how points are awarded in your league and adjust your strategy accordingly—utilising waivers and tracking bye weeks—to maximise your chances of success.

Participating in Drafts

Fantasy football is a fun and interactive way for football fans to experience the game. One crucial aspect of it is participating in drafts. In this section, you’ll learn about the essential elements of the draft process, giving you the necessary knowledge to build a competitive fantasy football team.

To start with, there are several types of drafts that you might encounter in fantasy football leagues, each with a unique method for selecting players:

Snake Draft : The most common draft type, where managers take turns choosing players in a predetermined order. The order reverses each round, ensuring a fairer system.

Auction Draft : Managers have an allocated budget to bid on players. You’ll need to strategise carefully to fill your roster without running out of money.

Linear Draft : Similar to Snake Draft, but the order remains the same each round.

Before the draft begins, research is essential to ensure you select the best possible players for your team. Study factors like players’ past performances, their roles in the actual NFL teams, injuries, and their upcoming schedule. You can use resources such as rankings, expert opinions and even podcasts, like Marcas Grant’s, to gain helpful insights.

When it’s time to draft, remember that each team usually has a set number of roster spots to fill, varying from league to league. These spots are typically divided among different positions, such as quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, etc. Understanding the scarcity and depth of these positions will help you decide which players to target in each round.

During the season, it’s essential to stay active and manage your team effectively. Strategies like picking up free agents and using the waiver wire can help you improve your team’s performance. Don’t forget about bye weeks – these are weeks when certain NFL teams don’t play, meaning you’ll need to adjust your lineup accordingly.

Also, keep an eye on the league’s scoring system. Some leagues reward more points for certain actions, such as touchdowns or interceptions, while others may penalise for turnovers. Understanding your league’s scoring system can significantly affect your drafting strategy.

Lastly, the regular season eventually leads to the playoffs, where the league’s top-performing teams compete for the championship. Keeping an eye on your league’s playoff format, such as seeds and tiebreakers, will help you plan accordingly throughout the season.

In summary, participating in drafts is a critical aspect of playing fantasy football. With proper research, a sound draft strategy, and active participation, you’ll increase your chances of achieving success in your fantasy football league.

Trades and Transfers

Fantasy football revolves around creating and managing your ideal team. An essential part of this process is trades and transfers, which play a crucial role in building a competitive squad. You’ll need to understand how the system works to get the most out of your fantasy football experience.

In a typical fantasy football league like the NFL Fantasy Football or ESPN Fantasy Football, you start by drafting your team of players. The draft order is often determined randomly or by league managers. The draft is either conducted in a snake-draft format (where the order is reversed in each round) or an auction format, offering different strategies in selecting your roster of players.

Throughout the season, you’ll face various challenges with your team. Players might suffer injuries, underperform or go through bye weeks. That’s where trades and transfers come into play, allowing you to fill gaps in your roster or improve its overall strength.

You are allowed to trade players with other teams in your league. As a team manager, it’s important to be aware of the strategy behind trading:

  • Identify your team’s strengths and weaknesses and understand how a potential trade might affect your lineup.
  • Negotiate with other managers to reach a fair and mutually beneficial agreement.
  • Keep an eye on player rankings and performances to ensure you’re making informed decisions.

Another key element of fantasy football is the waiver wire. The waiver wire functions as a pool of free agents – players who aren’t on any team’s roster at that time. You can claim these players to fill gaps in your squad or replace underperforming assets. However, there’s usually a waiver order that determines your position in claiming free agents, so strategising becomes essential.

In dynasty fantasy football leagues, the rules are slightly different: instead of redrafting your team every year, you keep the same team and make changes through trades, the rookie draft, and the waiver wire. This format requires long-term planning and management, making dynasty leagues popular among devoted fantasy football enthusiasts.

Moreover, there are specific rules about trading and transfers that may vary across leagues. Be sure to familiarise yourself with your league’s rules regarding deadlines, roster limits and other specifications to avoid penalties and maximise your potential for success.

Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy the process! Trades and transfers are integral to the fun and excitement of fantasy football, offering dynamic opportunities to shape your team throughout the season. Stay engaged, keep learning, and remember – in fantasy football, every game counts.

Managing Lineups and Substitutions

Managing lineups and substitutions is a crucial aspect of playing fantasy football. You’ll need to keep track of your players’ performances and make necessary changes to your team throughout the season. Let’s dive into how to manage your lineups and make substitutions effectively while playing NFL fantasy football.

Setting Up Lineups in Fantasy Football

Each week during the NFL season, you need to set your team’s starting lineup. Your lineup must consist of players in various positions, such as quarterback, running backs, wide receivers, and others.

Here’s a brief overview of how to organise your lineup:

  • Usually, your starting lineup should have one quarterback, two running backs, and two wide receivers, at the very least.
  • Additionally, you’ll have a tight end, kicker, and team defence or individual defensive players (IDPs), depending on your league rules.
  • You have the opportunity to change your lineup before the players’ games start each week. So, it’s crucial to pay attention to players’ performances, matchups, and injury updates to make the best decisions.

Making Substitutions in Fantasy Football

There are a few ways to make substitutions and changes to your fantasy football team. These include adding, dropping, and trading players, as well as utilising the waiver wire to acquire free agents.

  • For adding and dropping players, you can browse the available free agents in your league, and pick up new players that align with your strategy while releasing underperforming ones.
  • To trade players, negotiate deals with other managers in your league, exchanging players or draft picks to improve your squad. Communication is key here so keep the dialogue open with your fellow league members.
  • The waiver wire is a list of unclaimed players, and you can place a bid on them during the waiver period. Once the waiver period is over, if your claim is successful, the player will join your roster, and you’ll need to release another player to make room.

Dealing with Bye Weeks and Injuries

When managing your team, it’s important to consider bye weeks and player injuries, as they can significantly impact your squad.

During bye weeks, NFL teams get a one-week rest, and their players will not earn any fantasy points. Make sure to swap them out of your starting lineup and replace them with other players from your roster or add temporary replacements from the free agent pool.

Player injuries are similarly inconvenient, and you should monitor injury updates to ensure all your starters are fit to play. If a player is injured, it’s time to put your trust in your bench or explore the waiver wire for potential replacements.

Now that you’re familiar with managing lineups and substitutions, you’re one step closer to mastering NFL fantasy football. Remember, knowledge is power, so stay on top of news, stats, and trends to make informed decisions and propel your team towards victory throughout the season.

Playing in Private or Public Leagues

To get started with fantasy football, you’ll need to decide whether to join a private or public league. Both options have their benefits, and it’s essential to weigh them up to find the perfect fit for you.

In a private league, you’ll be playing with friends, family, or colleagues, creating a more personalised and interactive experience. You know the people involved, which adds to the competition and fun. Private leagues are great for new players looking to learn the nfl fantasy football ropes in a more relaxed setting.

Public leagues, on the other hand, allow you to join a random league with people from across the globe. This can be an exciting challenge, as you’ll never know who you’re up against. Public leagues are generally more competitive and can help you hone your skills over time.

No matter which type you choose, the goal remains the same – to assemble the best possible team and score the most fantasy points. Both private and public leagues follow standard rules, draft systems, and scoring, although some might have their customisations.

Fantasy football leagues can be of different types:

Redraft leagues : You draft a new team every year, starting fresh each nfl season

Keeper leagues : You can keep a select number of players from your previous year’s roster.

Dynasty fantasy football leagues : You maintain your roster from year to year, adding rookies through a rookie draft.

During the draft, you’ll need to fill every position on your roster, such as quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers. The order in which players are drafted is typically determined by a random or a weighted system based on last season’s results.

Throughout the season, you’ll need to manage your lineup and make adjustments based on player performance, injuries, and bye weeks. This process involves adding and dropping free agents or placing claims on the waiver wire to improve your chances of winning. Be strategic and keep an eye on the rankings to get ahead.

Towards the end of the regular season, successful teams advance to the playoffs, facing off in a series of head-to-head matchups. The goal is to outscore your opponents and progress through each round until you are crowned the league champion.

Fantasy football allows you to engage with the game in a new and exciting way, turning you into an active participant rather than a mere spectator. Whether you’re a first-time player or a seasoned nfl fantasy football veteran, private and public leagues both offer unique challenges, friendships, and experiences – so dive in and enjoy the thrill of building your dream team.

Tips for Success in Fantasy Football Contests

Embarking on your fantasy football journey can be both exciting and challenging. To help you succeed, here are some essential tips to keep in mind throughout the season.

1. Understand the rules : Familiarise yourself with the specific rules and scoring system of your fantasy football league. Different leagues may have different scoring systems and roster requirements, so it’s crucial to know the details of your league.

2. Prepare for the draft : Do your research and create a list of potential players to draft onto your fantasy team. Stay up-to-date on NFL news, player injuries, and rankings, as these factors can influence your draft strategy.

3. Be flexible during the draft : While having a draft plan is important, you need to be ready to adapt your strategy based on how the draft is unfolding. If other managers are picking multiple quarterbacks early, you may need to adjust your plan and grab one yourself.

4. Manage the waiver wire : Check the waiver wire regularly for opportunities to improve your team, especially during bye weeks or following player injuries. Picking up quality free agents can make a big difference in your season.

5. Pay attention to matchups : When setting your weekly lineup, consider the matchups your players will face. Certain NFL teams may have strong defenses against specific positions (e.g. wide receivers), so you’ll need to make roster adjustments accordingly.

6. Monitor the NFL season : Stay informed on player performances, NFL game schedules, and bye weeks. This knowledge will allow you to make strategic roster changes and optimise your lineups throughout the fantasy football season.

7. Be active in trades and negotiations : Engage with other team owners in your league and discuss potential trades to improve your roster. Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks, which may just pay off in the long run.

8. Learn from the experts : Follow fantasy football podcasts, experts, and articles on sites like ESPN to gain valuable insights and knowledge. Look into different strategies, such as dynasty fantasy football or playoff fantasy football, to broaden your understanding of the game.

By incorporating these tips into your fantasy football journey, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the twists and turns of the NFL season, giving you a better chance at success. So, immerse yourself in the world of fantasy football, have fun, and most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy the thrill of the game!

Wrapping It All Up

Now that you’ve delved into the world of fantasy football, you’ll soon realise it’s a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the sport. A perfect mix of strategy, skill, and a bit of luck, this game generates countless hours of fun for sports enthusiasts.

To succeed in fantasy football, it’s important to familiarise yourself with the NFL players’ performances, as well as the scoring system and rules of your chosen league. Keep in mind that each league may have a different level of competitiveness and varying rules, making every experience unique.

Here’s a summary of key points to remember:

  • Be strategic during draft time and take your time to select the best players for your roster.
  • Keep an eye on player rankings and performance throughout the season, ensuring your team remains strong.
  • Regularly update your lineup, utilise the waiver wire to replace injured or underperforming players and look for valuable free agents.
  • Monitor bye weeks and ensure you don’t have too many players on a break, leaving your team short-handed.

By participating in different types of leagues, such as dynasty leagues and playoff fantasy football, you can experience various versions of the game that best suit your interests. These leagues offer unique strategies, draft orders, and roster management, giving you endless opportunities to flex your football knowledge.

Make full use of various resources like ESPN Fantasy Football or podcasts by experts like Marcas Grant for additional insights, analysis, and advice. You’ll also need to closely watch the NFL season and stay updated on player performances, injuries, and any potential shifts in their value. By doing so, you can make informed decisions when adjusting your lineup and enhancing your team’s overall potential.

In closing, fantasy football brings friends, family, and football fans together by providing a fun and engaging layer to the NFL season. So gather your league, draft your team, and let the games begin!

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