What is Fantasy Football?

What is fantasy football?

It’s a virtual game that anyone can play, even if you don’t know anything about football.  When I first started playing, I hadn’t watched a full regular season NFL game…maybe ever.  Now, I stay up on a Thursday night watching two teams I don’t care about because I have a kicker playing and I need 6 points to win (true story).  I started playing fantasy football in 2011 and immediately became enthralled with the game.

Fantasy football allows me to be more social with my friends and other parents I know.  Being the dad of a 7 year old and a 4 year old, I find myself very busy between work and spending time with the family. It’s hard to make it out to watch a game with friends too.  Fantasy football allows me to stay connected to everyone…while still trash talking from my living room (safest place to trash talk by the way).

Let’s start with some basics about what fantasy football is and what a typical season looks like.

How do I play Fantasy Football?

Fantasy football is a game you play during the NFL season that allows you to manage a fake football team made up of real players from various NFL teams. You play the role of general manager selecting (drafting) which players are on your team.  Now that your team is set, you must coach them to victory…sort of. Each week you decide who’s starting (playing) for your team and who’s sitting on the bench.

Your team will be part of a league, usually made up of friends, family and general acquaintances.  However, if you’re interested in trying fantasy football on your own, most sites (ESPN, CBS Sports, Yahoo! Sports) offer the chance to join a public league.  Leagues will vary in size from 6-14 teams.


Each week your team will face off against another team in your league in a head-to-head match-up and it’s up to you to decide who you’re going to start.  As NFL games are played the players you select to start will get points depending on how well they play.  The players you choose to bench (not start) will not receive points towards your team total.

After all the NFL games for that week are played, the team with the most points in the head-to-head matchup wins.  The following week, you will play against a different team in your league…and so on and so on until the end of the fantasy football season.


At the end of the fantasy season (usually around week 14 of the NFL schedule), a set number of teams will enter the playoffs.  The number of teams in the playoffs varies from league to league.  For a 12-team league, it may be 8 teams.  In most fantasy football leagues, these 8 teams have the most wins during the regular season.

Traditional playoff rankings are set on a seed basis – this means if 8 teams are in a playoff, the team with the most wins will receive a 1 seed and will play the team with least number of wins – the 8 seed.  The 2 seed plays the 7 seed…and it goes on from there.  For any decent league, the playoffs will occur during NFL weeks 14, 15, & 16.

If your team wins its round 1 playoff game, you move on to the next round of the playoffs. The playoffs continue until only two teams left.  These two teams will play in your leagues fantasy football Super Bowl!  The winner of the league Super Bowl wins the championship and all bragging rights associated with it.

There you have it.  That is a very quick overview of what fantasy football is, how to play, and what to look forward.


Next up: 5 things to help you look like a pro at your first draft.