Fantasy first-timers

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At the end of this past season, I took over a fantasy football team in a league that my friends run. Someone had quit on them, and they were desperate to get someone to fill the void, so they asked me–even though I’m not exactly a sports expert!

I’d like to re-join the league next year, but I don’t really know much about fantasy sports. What kind of tips would the experts give to an eager fantasy first-timer who wants to run with the pack next year and not embarrass himself?

Fantasy football is fun, especially when you’re playing in a league with friends. Even if your team doesn’t turn out to be particularly good, you’re sure to enjoy next season. Of course, that doesn’t mean that it’s not a bit more fun when you’re dominating the league, so let’s talk about getting better at fantasy football!

There’s no shortage of fantasy football advice online, but it can be intimidating to the uninitiated. Part of what makes fantasy football a little tricky is that not every league has the same rules, so your first task will be to determine what rules your league is playing by. Does your league do an auction draft, or a simple traditional one? Will your team face off head-to-head with another owner’s team each week, or are scores tallied up at the end of an entire season?

Once you know what the rules are–in general and in your league specifically–you’ll know which advice columns are worth reading and which ones you should ignore. Check out the many fantasy football sites online and read up on strategy as the season approaches. Keep in mind that the latest player news and tips will be more relevant closer to the beginning of the season! Some advice, however, will be timeless: for instance, the idea of a “handcuff” is a general suggestion, not a player-specific one.

If you draft within an app like the ones offered by ESPN or Yahoo Sports, then you’ll have a lot of helpful tools at your disposal. As you draft players, you’ll see rankings and suggestions sorted out before your eyes! But if the draft is done in person with pen and paper, you may want to print out rankings (ideally tiered ones) from the internet or buy a magazine with rankings in it. With rankings in front of you, you’ll have some basic guidelines for drafting without having to memorize every player in the league.

Above all, have fun! No doubt you’ll try some things that work–and some things that don’t–next season. It’s all part of the joy of fantasy football.

“When you’ve got something to prove, there’s nothing greater than a challenge.” — Terry Bradshaw

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