Just about everybody in America knows that fantasy football is a fun way to follow the NFL season. But you don't have to be an NFL.com addict to do well in the game. In fact, even if you don't know John Madden from Trapper John, you can win in fantasy football.
In fantasy football, you're competing against 9 or 11 fellow players in trying to build the best team. You draft players at the start of the season, and each week you start a quarterback, some running backs and receivers, a tight end, a kicker and a defense/special team. Each player gets points for things they do on the football field. If your starting quarterback scores a touchdown in the game, you get points for it. Whichever team scores the most points each week wins.
Here are some basics for the newcomer:
1. Every team needs a star running back. These are running backs that carry most of their team's offense and, as a result, scores most of the team's touchdowns. You want to avoid running backs who are sharing the backfield with another running back, along with those who are pulled off the field in goal line situations in favor of some 300-pound bowling ball disguised as a fullback.
2. If a star running back isn't available when you make your first draft pick, the next best option is to take a star quarterback or receiver. Again, you want someone who is going to score a lot of touchdowns.
3. Draft more quarterbacks, running banks, and receivers than you can start on any given day. Each NFL team has a buy week, and players get injured, and it's always better to have someone ready to plug in than it is to have to go to the waiver wire for someone who wasn't good enough to be drafted.
4. Don't be afraid to make trades. They are a part of a game. The key to a good trade, like the key to a good stock transaction, is to buy low and sell high. If your top receiver is dealing with a quarterback injury, you might want to offer him for someone who is primed for a comeback.
5. Watch injury reports. Someone does not have to be in a full-body cast to be less than effective in an NFL game. And more often than not, a fully healthy second stringer is a better option than a starter playing on one leg.
6. Kickers are the most disposable part of the game. Never draft one before the final round of your draft, and never be afraid to switch kickers.
7. When it comes time to make a decision about whom to rest and who to start on a given Sunday, trust your gut. Nothing is worse than ignoring a gut feeling and learning that you left the week's top scorer on your bench.
Most importantly, have fun. Fantasy football is about enhancing your enjoyment of the game. Yes, it's nice to beat your friends and win a nice reward, but it doesn't mean a thing if you don't enjoy the experience. Now get out there and draft!