The NRL regular season may be all but over, but the content to will continue to be churned out over the “offseason” on NRLSCTalk, including NFL fantasy.
Craig Gilhooly is one of our resident NFL experts and he has provided us with the following NFL fantasy introduction for you to get your teeth into. With the NFL season only a couple of weeks away it is a very valuable and timely addition to the site.
August is truly my favourite time of year. It’s my birthday, I get to show the tax man whose boss with my plethora of work related expenses, the footy is ramping up to finals and NFL preseason is upon us. Now much like the NRL, its American cousin’s preseason is to be taken with a grain of salt. Everyone is training the house down and every player is set to be a first ballot hall of famer.
Most importantly this signals NFL fantasy time as well. Now many of us, myself included, may be disheartened with the state of Super coach. Trades are as scarce as respect for Gus at the foot of the mountains and we are already planning for 2019.
The answer to your fantasy fix is here. Fantasy NFL is a monstrous, addictive, fun filled landscape offering players a vast array of options, scoring systems, squad makeups and even the chance to build a dynasty.
This article is designed to ease you into the many different aspects of Fantasy NFL and make it easier for the first timer or someone who’s played very casually in the past. I have been playing Fantasy NFL in one form or another for 9 years now and I still find new and exciting ways to spice up a league. So let’s dive in.
Where to Start
First you need to figure out what kind of fantasy NFL investment you want to make. There are number of different option for how long you want your team to last in fantasy.
Redraft – The day/night game of NFL fantasy. This format involves drafting a team for the upcoming season. You still trade, run waivers (we will get to that), manage your starting line-up etc. Less importance is placed on a player’s age and more on immediate impact. Rookies are usually valued less in this format.
Dynasty – This is the test match of NFL fantasy. You draft a team with a look to both winning now while balancing longevity. A dynasty league has no finite time limit. You are the manager of your team for as long as the league exists (my longest is 9 years now). The start-up draft is very important in Dynasty and benches are usually a little deeper here. Player values can vary dramatically from redraft to dynasty due to age, contracts and injury history.
In Dynasty you can trade during the season but also during the “offseason”. There is no true offseason when it comes to fantasy here. Keeping an eye on college players for the upcoming Real NFL draft is important. After your first dynasty season, your league will do a rookie draft (usually around July). This is very similar to your start-up draft however it involves ONLY rookies. Your draft position is based on the inverse of your finish in your league (you win your league, you draft last). This allows your team to maintain numbers when veterans retire and promotes a more even spread of talent across the league.
Best Ball/Daily Fantasy – T20. You draft a team and you’re done. No trades, no waivers, no team management. The team can be for a game day (daily) or for a season (best ball). The programme automatically picks your best line-up for the week.
Ok so now you know what kind of league you want to play let’s look at some of the terminology used in fantasy NFL. Soon you will be wavering IDP’s because the 5tech scheme is causing your DE to rotate out for an OLB because he’s better at stuffing a RB running a wheel route.
QB – Quarterback; usually the highest scorers in the game but due to only starting 12 in most leagues they are not highly drafted. The difference between the QB5 and QB15 is usually negligible.
RB – Running Back; A once maligned position in the NFL, running backs are the new black. Much like the forwards of SC they are a solid source of points ever week relying on volume for production. You will see them fly off the board at the start of your leagues draft. There are very few true workhorse RB’s so getting one provides a big advantage for your team
WR – Wide Receiver; These guys are the CTW/Halves of Fantasy. Receivers are flashy and can have monstrous weeks that win you games. There are a few who are very consistent and grabbing one of these guys early in your draft is a must. For Dynasty I always target young WR’s due to greater longevity than RB’s
TE – Tight End; What 5/8 is this year. Couple of good ones then meh. They typically rely on touchdowns to have any sort of production. Gronk, Kelce, Ertz. If you don’t have one of them, then I recommend waiting till the very end of your draft before acquiring one.
FLEX – Allows you to play a RB, WR or TE in this slot.
Superflex – Allows you to play QB, RB, WR or TE. This format along with 2 QB dramatically increases the value of QB’s in your league. You can now start, and should ALWAYS start, Two QB’s on your team.
DST/K – Defence/Special Team/Kicker; Just no. Don’t include these in your league. If you do. Don’t draft them till you have to.
IDP – Individual Defensive Players; for the more serious NFL Fantasy player. You can include specific defensive positions much like offence. Not for a newcomer.
Standard – The default setting on most fantasy sites. That being said standard scoring is the least common type of scoring used. Its boring and limits the upside of consistent high volume players in the league.
PPR – Point per reception; This incorporates standard scoring and adds a point for every reception a player (RB, WR, TE) get in a game. Well QB too…Foles did catch a touchdown in the Super bowl. My preferred points system. You can also play ½ point per reception which some believe is less biased toward possession receivers.
PPC – Point per Carry; I have never played this format before. I believe it would place too much emphasis on RB’s
Carry – A player is handed the ball then runs with it, irrespective of gaining or losing yardage
Reception – A player is passed the ball and successfully completes a catch
Completion – Awarded to a QB who throws a pass that results in a reception
Touchdown – A player with the ball, within the field of play who breaks the vertical plain of the goal line with the ball in their possession. QB’s are also awarded points if it is a passing play for the pass thrown.
Interception – A pass thrown by your QB picked off by the defence. This awards negative points to the QB. Also known as a pick.
Fumble – An RB, during a carry, losses the ball and it is recovered by the opposing team.
ADP – Average draft position. A rank of a player based on data collated by a number of fantasy sites, across thousands of fantasy drafts around the world. An ADP of 10 indicates that the player is being taken 10th overall, on average, across all drafts on all platforms.
Waivers – The true yard stick of a fantasy manager. Waivers are a pool of un-drafted player’s available to all teams that you can draft to your team during the season. Usually done by a blind bidding system.
FAAB – Free Agent Auction Budget. The cash you have to spend on bidding for players on waiver. Usually only $100 for the season.
Streaming – Continually rotating players from your team to waivers based on matchup or depth of position. I usually do this if my league has a DST or Kicker. In Single QB leagues, streaming is a great strat for QB as well.
General League set-up
The type of league you play in can also affect the way you draft and player’s value. This could be due to scoring rules, depth of position, length of your league, and the number of teams in your league. Duke Johnson Jnr was a top 12 running back (RB1) last year in 12 team PPR leagues. If you were playing standard he dropped to 25th RB overall.
Common league setups
Snake Draft – Randomly generated draft order. In a 12 team league you will get a position and draft respectively to that. For example 1st overall picks first then 24th and 25th. 12th overall picks 12th then 13th, then 36th and 37th and so on. Great for new players as most online player ranks can easily be applied to this type of draft. Take the best player available is typically a good strategy. Can take from 2-4 hours
Auction Draft – Every player gets a budget (usually $200) to start the draft. Players then take turns nominating whoever they want for auction. Everyone can then bid on that player. This process is not really for newcomers as values of players are very relative to the draft itself. A very engaging and dynamic system that a lot of fun but people can overspend early and end up with very poorly balanced teams. Can take from 3-6 hours. Sometimes weeks depending on the draft timer.
1QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 FLEX, DST/K. 8 Bench. This is a pretty standard redraft league setup and most adp applies to this type of setup. It’s not too deep and even in a 12 team league, you should be able to start a decent player in every position
1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 2 FLEX, 1 Superflex. 12 Bench. This is more tailored to a dynasty league and requires much more depth in all positions. In a 12 team league you’re usually starting the 48th ranked WR and 36th ranked RB which is very deep into that position. Not to mention the 24th ranked QB (there are only 32 teams), and some teams will draft 3 QBs early. NOT for the faint hearted.
Hopefully this is enough to get you comfortable with the world of NFL fantasy. There is so much out there and once you dip your toe in you won’t want to stop. Soon we will be playing an Auction Draft TE premium league with negative 0.25 ppc and ppr and an incremental salary. Until then, have fun, do as many mock drafts as you can and make sure you have prepared to dominate your league mates and spot those bargains in your foray into NFL fantasy.