Fantasy football started off in small groups among friends but has since ballooned into a billion-dollar industry. From experts that provide you advice to websites that manage your leagues, you can’t go anywhere on a football Sunday without seeing someone playing fantasy football. It’s added a lot of excitement to the games as now not only do you cheer for how teams perform – in terms of wins and losses – we all monitor player performance much more closely. There are plenty of fantasy football terms that newbies might not understand, so we have a great guide explaining things like what the waiver wire is, DFS and “Start Em or Sit Em”.
If you’re new to all of this, we’ll run you through what fantasy football is all about and why it’s become so popular.
What Is Fantasy Football?
Fantasy football is essentially where you and some friends (or competitors) build teams out of real players in the NFL and then compete on a weekly basis. How the players perform in real life – in terms of yards gained, touchdowns scored, etc. – impacts how successful your team is in fantasy. For example, if you have Tom Brady as your quarterback and Todd Gurley as your running back, how they perform in real life impacts your fantasy team.
You compete against others and win or lose each week based on how your team did. Eventually a winner of the league is determined and usually there are either some sweet prizes or some serious bragging rights.
Most leagues will begin with a fantasy draft, which is one of the most exciting days of the fantasy season. That’s when you draft and build your team. Although there are many different types of leagues, a typical roster will look something like a quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, a tight end, a defense, a flex position, a kicker and a few bench spots. During the draft, it’s your goal to fill out this roster and have some backups, because each week you’ll have to field a starting lineup with the aforementioned roster spots (excluding the bench spots).
The draft typically works in a snake format. The person who picks first will get the top overall selection but then won’t get their second pick until the 24th pick. The idea is you have to really research and evaluate who is the right player to take at the right time. Is it best to take a running back with your first pick? How valuable are wide receivers? How late should you wait to draft a defense? This all depends on your strategy as well as your scoring system.
One of the most important aspects of succeeding in fantasy football is navigating the waiver wire. Although most leagues only draft once (at the beginning), a lot of players will be left on the waiver wire and monitoring that and making moves is crucial to the success of your team. A great example in 2018 is a player like Patrick Mahomes. The Kansas City Chiefs quarterback went undrafted in many basic 12-team, one-quarterback leagues. However, he proved to be one of the most valuable fantasy assets. If you’re in a league where he was just hanging out on the waiver wire, making a move to acquire him – or being asleep at the wheel and not bothering to make a move – can make a significant difference in your league.
Every week of the season, there are surprise players who come out of the shadows and surprise us. Beyond that, there are also injuries each week that open up opportunities for players we may not have expected to have those chances. These players are often on the waiver wire and you get a chance to pick them up. Those who maneuver the waiver wire the best are typically the ones who succeed the most in fantasy football.
Top 5 Waiver Wire Pickups for NFL Week 17
Fantasy football is a full-time job. The best owners look to fine-tune their rosters every day, but waiver day is the most important. Those of you in deeper leagues looking for an edge should consider the following players, who are available in more than 80 percent of Yahoo leagues. Without further ado, here are the top five waiver wire pickups for Week 17, with a few honorable mentions thrown in for good measure:
- Nick Foles, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
Here we go again. Foles had a tough matchup against Houston but still put up 471 yards and four touchdowns to keep the Eagles in the playoff hunt. The problem is Carson Wentz has yet to be put on injured reserve so Foles could head back to the bench in Philadelphia’s season finale against Washington. If he doesn’t, Foles is a high-ceiling streamer in Week 17.
- Ted Ginn Jr., WR, New Orleans Saints
It’s difficult to say what to do with Ginn this early in the week. He immediately resumed his role as the number two option behind Michael Thomas this week, catching five passes for 74 yards. The bad news is the Saints locked up the NFC’s top seed, so they’re probably going to rest as many starters as possible. So, what will the Saints do with Ginn? Will he rest or will he lead the second unit? The uncertainty puts him lower on this list than he would have been had he done this a week or two ago. Adding Ginn is a huge gamble, as he has a wide range of possible outcomes. That includes the very real possibility that he’ll be inactive. If not, he could give underdogs some upside.
- Kendrick Bourne, WR, San Francisco 49ers
Dante Pettis went down with an injury that will more than likely force him out of next week’s game against the Rams. In Pettis’ absence, it was Bourne (4-73) who put up numbers, not Marques Goodwin (3-29). Further, Goodwin hurt his Achilles late in San Francisco’s loss to Chicago, so Pettis could be Nick Mullens’ top target next week. A volume play like Bourne could be useful due to Week 17’s unpredictable nature.
- Darren Sproles, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles had pretty much no running game to speak of against Houston, but Sproles managed to put up points as a receiver. His 37-yard receiving touchdown was his third score in his last four games. One never knows who’s going to be the top Philadelphia running back from week to week, but Sproles has at least established a decent floor in December. He’s not a glamorous option, but desperate owners could do much worse.
- Brian Hill, RB, Atlanta Falcons
Hill relieved the injured Tevin Coleman and subsequently outplayed him, rushing for 115 yards on eight carries. As an impending free agent, it’s tough to imagine Coleman demanding to play through an injury in a meaningless Week 17 matchup with Tampa. He likely sits, leaving the door open for Hill to have an even bigger day. The Bucs have been one of the best running back matchups in the league this year.
Mark Andrews, TE, Baltimore Ravens
Andrews is risky, for sure. If he scores fantasy points, it’s usually with one big play. But some owners might take that chance over what else is available. When Andrews caught two passes for 83 yards and a touchdown on Saturday, little did we know he would go on to be the third-highest scoring tight end of the week in standard leagues entering Monday night. Whether you’re in danger of losing Eric Ebron due to his concussion or you’ve given up on Rob Gronkowski after a Week 16 goose egg, Andrews is a decent Hail Mary in Baltimore’s do-or-die game against Cleveland.
Zay Jones, WR, Buffalo Bills
Jones finally scored more fantasy points than Robert Foster, though he only had 15 more yards and Foster left some big plays on the table. Jones also scored most of his fantasy points on a 31-yard touchdown with 1:08 remaining in a lost game. Foster is still the Buffalo receiver to own, but Jones has some upside if that’s what you’re after.
D’Onta Foreman, RB, Houston Texans
The Texans barely used their running backs in their loss to Philadelphia, but Foreman was the one who found the end zone. This is mostly a situation to avoid, especially with Lamar Miller’s injury status looming over everyone. Even if Miller sits again, it could easily be Alfred Blue getting the touchdown next week against Jacksonville. But the potential opportunity with Miller out would make Foreman a risky FLEX play in deeper leagues.
Cordarrelle Patterson, RB/WR, and Rex Burkhead, RB, New England Patriots
The Patriots leaned heavily on the run against Buffalo, thanks in large part to an ineffective passing game. Sony Michel and James White led the way as far as fantasy points, but Patterson and Burkhead got some run as well. Patterson had 66 rushing yards on four carries and Burkhead’s 17 touches were just one less than Michel. As we all know, any New England running back can carry the load at any time. It’s fair to expect the Patriots to feature another run-heavy attack next week against the Jets, meaning all four of their running backs are in play. Michel and White are definite starts, but Patterson and Burkhead are also defensible FLEX plays.
Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 16: Cleveland Browns, Mike Davis, Robert Foster, Kalen Ballage, Jamaal Williams
Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 15: Robert Foster, Damien Williams, Ian Thomas, Elijah McGuire, Kenneth Dixon
Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 14: Dante Pettis, Antonio Callaway, Curtis Samuel, Jeff Wilson Jr., Jaylen Samuels
Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 13: John Ross, Antonio Callaway, Curtis Samuel, LeGarrette Blount, Jordan Wilkins
Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 12: Lamar Jackson, Gus Edwards, Curtis Samuel, Dontrelle Inman, DeAndre Washington
Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 11: Rashaad Penny, Josh Adams, Brandon Marshall, Jaylen Samuels, Jeff Heuerman
Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 10: David Moore, Adam Humphries, Cordarrelle Patterson, Jeff Heuerman, Josh Adams
Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 9: DaVante Parker, David Moore, Devontae Booker, Josh Adams, DJ Moore
Researching & Setting Your Lineup
One of the most challenging parts of fantasy football is deciding how to set your lineup. Most teams will have a roster that includes a number of bench players, which means you have to make some decisions on which quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers you’ll go with.
Setting your lineup is never easy because you don’t really now how the players will perform. All you’re doing is trying to put your fantasy team in the best position to succeed. For example, if you have a star quarterback who is up against a top-ranked defense or a second-rate quarterback going up against one of the worst defenses in the NFL, what do you do? Or if you have a superstar wideout who is banged up versus a decent wide receiver who is healthy?
Setting your lineup is always a tricky thing to do because we don’t really know how teams will perform, how focused they’ll and what the game flow will be like. The best you can do is research and put your team in a position to succeed.
DFS has risen to popularity in the last few years as it offers a completely new way to play fantasy football. The traditional type of fantasy football is a season-long affair. You draft players, try to win each week and do everything you can to get to your championship game and win. However, it can sometimes be a bit of a burden as you have to devote a lot of time and energy to the success of your team. While that’s fun, DFS offers a more short-term solution.
DFS is a type of gambling where you can play fantasy for a day and try to win. Instead of holding players for an entire season, DFS allows you to pick players for any given Sunday, and try to win with those.
Each week, you’ll pay an entry fee to play against people all over the world. You’ll be given a salary cap and then you have to determine how to spend it. Star players will cost more money while lesser-known players might come on the cheap. You have to set a roster with quarterbacks, running backs, etc. and then watch how they perform. If your team outscores everyone else, you might take home a payday in the thousands or more. And the beauty of it is that you’re not married to your team for the whole season. You can play a Sunday, take the next off and come back to it whenever you like.
Keys To Success In Start Em and Sit Em
Each week, fantasy football enthusiasts have to decide on who to start in their line and who to sit. Each team typically has multiple options at every position but you only get points for players that you start. In other words, if Jameis Winston has a 40-point performance and he’s on your bench, but you started Drew Brees and he only scored 20 points, then your team gets the 20 points. That’s why you have to really examine who is your best bet to start and who to sit. Here are a few keys to look at:
Check Out The Opponent – Take a look at the defensive stats and see who is more or less likely to succeed. For example, if your quarterback is facing the 29th ranked pass defense, that’s a good sign. You’d much rather that than having your quarterback face a defense that leads the NFL in sacks.
Check Out The Injuries – This is one of the aspects that’s often overlooked. Of course, if you’re quarterback is banged up with a thigh or rib injury, that’s important to keep in mind. The team might be more cautious with him and may decide to hand it off more. That could impact his fantasy production. Furthermore, check out the injuries at other positions. Is the quarterback’s offensive line banged up? Will he be missing his best receivers? And what about the opponent, are there key injuries on the defensive side? These types of roster situations can have a big impact on your player’s production.
Check Out The Storylines – While that seems general, what we’re referring to here is extraneous factors. For example, if you are starting a quarterback on a team who has had a terrible year, are mailing in their efforts to end the season and are just waiting for their head coach to get fired. Those players might be less motivated than a team that’s playing well and is fighting for a playoff spot. Also, are there revenge factors? What’s the weather (indoors or outdoors with wind and snow)? These types of factors can have a significant impact on who you should start and who you should sit.