a diagram for fantasy football beginners

A Beginner's Guide to Fantasy Football

You’ve heard the hype, and now you’re ready to get in on the action yourself—you’re going to get involved with fantasy football. Many beginners are overwhelmed by the prospect of becoming a team “manager,” but the process is actually a lot simpler than you might think. While each league is sure to have its own methods and traditions, here is a look at some of the basics that most share in common.

Choosing Your Team

The rules for assembling your fantasy football team will vary from group to group, but most leagues employ either a draft or auction to pick players. The draft method, which is similar to the one actually used by the NFL, has managers choose players one at a time until all positions on the teams have been filled. With the auction method, managers have a set “budget” to spend on players, which they then use to bid against one another.

If your fantasy football league uses the auction method, be careful not to spend too much money on one single player. You might be tempted to go after a superstar, but it’s much easier to win championships with a well-balanced team than by placing all your hope on one player. While some leagues allow managers to have backup players, your “starters” are typically the only ones who will accumulate points on any given week. However, you can promote benched players to the starting roster from week to week.


Fantasy football scoring is highly subjective and varies from group to group. However, most employ some sort of system in which different real-world football events are assigned a point value within the fantasy football league. For example, a touchdown by a player may be worth +10 points while an interception may be -5 points. This method is often easiest for first time fantasy football managers and is considered one of the fairer options for the game.

Other leagues may employ a yards-based scoring system. With this method, specific actions such as touchdowns or interceptions don’t contribute point values. Instead, scoring is based purely on yards traveled with passing and rushing.

Getting Involved

There is no shortage of ways to get involved with a fantasy football team. Many people have private groups of friends who compete with one another for fun, but others are increasingly creating leagues online in which managers don’t necessarily know one another. Additionally, some football-related organizations have begun to get in on the action as well—ESPN, CBS, Yahoo, and even the NFL itself currently have fantasy football leagues.

Last Updated: January 29, 2024