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 111
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 11, with a few honorable mentions thrown in for good measure:
- Jeff Heuerman, TE, Denver Broncos
Don’t forget Heuerman got 11 targets in Denver’s first game without Demaryius Thomas. Considering the tight end landscape, he has starting upside for the rest of the season. Several top tight ends are on bye this week (Rob Gronkowski, George Kittle, David Njoku) and Heuerman is a serviceable fill-in.
- Jaylen Samuels, RB/TE, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Le’Veon Bell saga should end on Tuesday with Bell not reporting and missing the rest of the season. That means James Conner is the starter with Jaylen Samuels and Stevan Ridley set to be his backups. Conner is in the concussion protocol, so his status for Pittsburgh’s matchup with Jacksonville is up in the air. Samuels got eight touches, 29 yards and a touchdown spelling Conner against Carolina. Perhaps more importantly, Samuels has tight end eligibility in Yahoo leagues. If Conner has to miss any games, Samuels would be a sneaky tight end start.
- Brandon Marshall, WR, Free Agent
The difficult part of ranking waivers is everybody wants something different. Some need a bye-week fill-in, some need an upgrade, some need a long-term stash, and so on. Marshall falls into the “stash” category. Though Marshall got beat out by David Moore in Seattle, word is he’s the frontrunner to take Dez Bryant’s spot in New Orleans. Will that be worth anything for fantasy purposes? Probably not. But Marshall is joining the top offense in the league and has weekly touchdown upside. If you don’t have to drop anyone of value, adding Marshall is worth a shot.
- Josh Adams, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
Adams isn’t lighting the world on fire, but he was Philadelphia’s leading rusher and top running back once again. Considering positional scarcity, the Eagles’ main back ought to be owned in more than 20 percent of Yahoo leagues by now. Yes, the Eagles have a difficult schedule and the role hasn’t led to much production yet, but the second he goes for 70 yards and a touchdown your whole league will be gunning for him. Try to beat the rush by adding him now. Todd Gurley or Kareem Hunt owners who are on the verge of missing the playoffs should also be paying attention. Adams gets the Giants during their Week 12 bye.
- Rashaad Penny, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Penny finally lived up to the preseason hype against the Rams, rushing 12 times for 108 yards and a touchdown. Not only that, but he looked quicker and healthier than he’s looked all season. Of course, he’s fallen under 20 percent ownership for a reason. Chris Carson and Mike Davis have mostly outperformed him all year, leaving Penny without an offensive touch as recently as Week 8 against Detroit. But Carson and Davis both have injury issues and Seahawks coaches have repeatedly expressed their desire to get Penny more involved. If Penny can go for 100 yards against the Rams’ stout defensive line, he could do it against anyone. With the Seahawks playing the Packers on Thursday night this week, Carson could very well sit again, leading to more opportunities for Penny to vault ahead of Carson and Davis.
Anthony Miller, WR, Chicago Bears
Miller was an honorable mention last week, then had his best game of the season. That’s arguably enough to get him in the top five this week, but he’s left out for two reasons. One, wide receiver is so deep that he’s not as much of a priority. Two, he has a tough matchup with the Vikings. To his credit, though, he performed even with Allen Robinson in the lineup. Those desperate for wide receiver help could have Miller as their top add of the week.
Josh Reynolds, WR, Los Angeles Rams
Reynolds hasn’t caught a pass in two weeks, but it appeared Cooper Kupp suffered a serious knee injury in the Rams’ win over Seattle. Reynolds has had his moments in Kupp’s absence this season, making him a good speculative add.
Josh Doctson, WR, Washington Redskins
Injuries to Paul Richardson and Jamison Crowder have opened up more opportunities for Doctson. He now has touchdowns in back-to-back weeks and at least 40 yards in three of four. He has also had an amazing schedule for receivers (Giants, Falcons, Bucs) and only put up average numbers. Things are going to get a bit tougher for him, though he remains an option as arguably the top receiver in Washington’s injury-depleted offense.
Jonnu Smith, TE, Tennessee Titans
The volume isn’t there for Smith, but he’s now scored in consecutive weeks. Those looking for a bye-week fill-in could do worse than Smith, who draws a solid matchup with the Colts this week.
John Ross, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
It makes sense that Ross would have better numbers in A.J. Green’s absence. The former first-round pick has struggled with injuries and inconsistency, but the talent is undeniable and the opportunity is better than it’s been all season. Odds are Ross gets hurt or fails to produce, but he’s another player who would draw a ton of attention on the waiver wire if he has a big game. Add him if you have a spot, but keep him on your bench in all but the most desperate situations.
Waiver Wide 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.