Inconsistent chatter from a Sacramento-based 'Sconi attorney.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Fantasy Football 101

I love fantasy football (not too hard to imagine, because I am crazy about the NFL). I think it is one of the best things that nerds have ever given planet earth. When combined with the internet (another great gift of the nerds), it is perfect.

I know that some of my readers have no care about football, know nothing about it, or know nothing about Fantasy Football. Because I am a caring guy, I am going to explain Fantasy Football to you. This explanation will hopefully encourage some person (ehem, Paige)or persons to start her/his own Fantasy Football league with her/his friends, so that all can begin to enjoy Fantasy Football, and then football generally. And for my traditional female readers, it will help them understand why their husband, fiancee, or boyfriend seems so preoccupied and inattentive on autumn Sunday afternoons.

Fantasy Football is a game that almost anyone can play. What it involves is a group of people (usually even-numbered) from about 6-20. Each individual owns a Fantasy Football Team (individuals hereinafter refered to as "owners"). Usually 2 weeks before the regular NFL Season begins, the league conducts a Fantasy Football Draft, in which any and all players currently playing in the NFL are eligible to be drafted by each owner (this draft however can take place really at any time - even after the season has already begun). Each owner gets 1 selection per round, with the best players usually going first. In leagues where owners do not know much about football, this could be a difficult task. But alas, most fantasy leagues have even cured this difficulty, by having the league website in which the draft is conducted pre-rank the players for you based upon their anticipated production (which is based upon their past production in prior seasons). Thus, one could elect to have the league website conduct the draft for all owners in the league, and almost all teams will be equally good... based on their anticipated production.

So what does an owner's team consist of? Well, that depends on your league. Your typical Fantasy Football league's roster will consist of the following:

1 Quarterback (a/k/a QB)
2 Running Backs (a/k/a RB)
2 Wide Receivers (a/k/a WR)
1 Tight End (a/k/a TE)
1 Kicker (a/k/a K)
1 Team Defense
7 Back-Ups
Your back-ups consist of players from the above position. Usually, you want a back-up QB in case your starting QB gets hurt or has a bye week, etc. This is the same for all of the other positions too. However, only your starting 8 (QB, RB1, RB2, WR1, WR2, TE, K, Team Defense) can score points for you week-to-week.

So, how does one score points? Well this also depends, league to league. Typically, QBs score points from throwing touchdown (a/k/a TD) passes, gaining passing or rushing yards, or scoring rushing TDs. In some leagues, QBs lose points by throwing interceptions (a/k/a INT) or fumbling, or getting sacked. For RBs, it is rushing TDs, and rushing yards. For WRs and TEs, it is receiving TDs and receiving yards. For Kickers, it is made field goals, and made point-after-TDs (a/k/a PAT). For Team Defense, it is points allowed, sacks, interceptions, fumbles recovered, blocked kicks, defensive TDs.

All of these categories also have different values. For example, when an RB scores a TD (rushing or receiving), it is worth 6 points. However, when an RB runs the ball for 5 yards, one typically would only receive 1/2 of a point. That is because, typically an RB only receives 1 full point for every 10 yards they gain, be it rushing or receiving. This also holds for all of the other positions, and all of the other categories. Although interesting or seemingly complex, it really doesn't matter that you know the exact point for each category to play fantasy football.

So then what? Well, after your leagues draft, and after you have settled upon whom is going to man your 8 starting positions, you let the NFL Season come to you. Huh? What I mean, is you just sit back and watch some football! Yeah, that is it. To be brutally honest, you don't even have to watch 5 seconds of a football game if you don't want to. The league website is set-up to add points to each team as their players accumulate TDs, rushing yards, PATs, INTs, etc. You don't have to add a thing. And the league website sets-up a schedule, on its own, which guarantees you will face a different owner (i.e. one of your friends who joined the league) each future week, until the NFL season has gotten to its last weeks. Each week, if your team scores more fantasy points than the team you are facing, you win. The point of the league is to have the most wins in the league (as opposed to losses) when the fantasy league season ends.

The only action an owner would be wise to take during the actual NFL Season is replacing injured/inactive starters on a weekly basis. Yes, this may seem complicated and too-much work, but it is actually quite simple. Basically, good players get hurt in the NFL. They get hurt often. Many times, these players cannot play one week due to their injury. Thus, as an owner, if one of your starters get hurt and is not going to be playing the next week, it is your best interest in the Fantasy Football league to replace this injured player with someone who will actually play the next week. This also applies when the team a player you possess on your fantasy team has a "bye" week in the NFL schedule. A "bye" week is just a scheduled week off for that player and his NFL team. The "bye" week varies from NFL team to NFL team. For example, the Indianapolis Colts have their "bye" week scheduled for Week 8 of the NFL Schedule. Thus, if you had Peyton Manning as your starting QB, you would be wise to take him out as your starting QB and replace him with your back-up QB for Week 8. But then you would put him back-in as your starting QB in Week 9 -and thereafter- unless he was injured. The San Francisco 49ers have their "bye" week scheduled for Week 6 of the NFL Schedule. Similarly, if you had Kevin Barlow as your starting RB, you would be wise to take him out of your starting RB and replace him with your back-up RB. But then you would put-him back-in as you starting RB in Week 7.

Unfortunately, the altering of a team's starting roster does not happen automatically. However, one only elects to make changes to their starting roster. An owner is not required to make a line-up change. It is only in the owner's best interest that she or he do so in order to score the most points on a weekly basis.

In weeks 15, 16, 17 of the real NFL season, it is the playoffs in your fantasy league. This involves usually only the best 4-6 teams in your league. It is set-up just like the regular season of your fantasy league, except if you lose, your season is done. If you win, you move onto the next week of playoffs, and ultimately the championship game of the fantasy league. Who ever scores the most points in that "game" wins the league.

That is pretty much it. Pretty simple. I did leave out one crucial detail: money. Typically, fantasy leagues are centered around not just the thrill of week-to-week victory, but of winning the entire league and coming home with the big cashpot at the end of the Fantasy season. How it works is your friends who want a team in your fantasy league all contribute x amount of $ to purchase a team. The amount can be anything. For example, it could be $50. If you have 10 teams in your league, the cashpot is the total of all of the teams' entry fees = $500. Therefore, in a winner-takes-all league, the winner of your fantasy league championship game receives the entire cashpot. That is $450 in earnings from playing the fantasy league. In other leagues, the cashpot can be separated for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place.

So there you have it folks, Fantasy Football 101. A lot of things I brought up is just a generic way to run a league. You can be very creative as to the parameters of any one fantasy league. You can have a higher/lower entry fee, more/fewer owners, different rosters, different values for certain statistics, etc. Basically, it is a very low maintenance operation. It also makes Sundays more fun, especially for those who do not have a favorite football team, do not like football, or do not even have a television.

Well, hopefully this will inspire someone out there to start their own fantasy football league.

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