101. Introduction To Fantasy Football
Welcome to MFL University. Over the years fantasy football has grown from a small hobby a few decades ago to it’s own industry with a variety of products and companies all working to help you have a more enjoyable experience. Here at MyFantasyLeague.com, our goal is to help you and your league-mates to get the best overall experience and have the most fun. After all, fantasy football should be about having a good time with your friends, family, and co-workers.
This first class, 101 – Introduction to Fantasy Football will take you through the basics of fantasy football. While it’s designed for the uninitiated, it should prove to be a good refresher for anyone.
What is Fantasy Football?
Fantasy football is an entertainment experience shared by a group of individuals - commonly friends, family, and/or co-workers - that allow them to emulate running a professional football team. One person acts as the league “commissioner” to setup the league and manage it throughout the season. Fortunately sites like MyFantasyLeague.com exist to make this job much easier. In addition, a number of other individuals take on the role of “owners” (the commissioner is also often one owner in the league).
Each owner selects players before the start of the season from the overall pool of NFL players to build up a fantasy “roster”. One key difference between fantasy football and pro football is that in the fantasy world, an owner’s team is comprised of players from different pro teams. For example, an owner’s QB might be from the Bills, but his RB from the 49ers. Through the course of the season, each owner “starts” a subset of players on his/her fantasy roster corresponding each week of the NFL season. As the actual NFL players accrue statistics, each fantasy league’s scoring rules translate these into “fantasy points” for each owner. At the end of each week’s games on Monday night, an owner’s fantasy point total is calculated by adding up the points from each starter on his/her fantasy team.
As the season progresses, invariably some players will perform better than expected and others worse than expected (especially if they’ve been injured). To account for this, leagues allow fantasy players to be added, dropped, and traded from a fantasy roster. Through the combination of building the best fantasy roster and starting the best fantasy lineup each week, the goal of a fantasy owner is to score the most points each week.
Most leagues operate on a “head-to-head” format whereby two owners will play against one another in a given week – much like two NFL teams playing against one another during the NFL season. As a result, each owner can pick up a fantasy win or fantasy loss to his/her fantasy “standings” record. Some leagues, however, prefer to skip this head-to-head format and instead allow owners to cumulatively add their weekly points together in a “total points” format. At the end of the fantasy season, the team with the highest total points wins. Of course, fantasy football offers fantasy leagues flexibility, so many leagues combine the head-to-head and total points formats.
At the end of the fantasy “regular” season, it’s also not uncommon to have a “fantasy playoff” where the top few fantasy teams in a league play in a single-elimination, bracket-format to advance to the league’s championship.
A Brief History
The first recorded fantasy football league started more than 40 years ago by a group of sports writers and employees from the Oakland Raiders. The Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League (GOPPPL) was started in 1963 as a way to gauge the expertise of these football aficionados through bragging rights as well as cash awards. It was also thought that this would increase the aptitude of all members beyond the Oakland Raiders franchise to help gain a better understanding of players from other teams. As is common today, the league started with a preseason draft and culminated with an awards dinner.
While much of the allure of fantasy football is in the camaraderie among league-mates, it’s safe to say that for the active fantasy participant - like the GOPPPPL owners - it helps to give a better understanding and appreciation for players outside of your favorite team, division, or conference.
You can read more about the history, league types, the draft, scoring and more at Wikipedia.