Whether you would like to start playing fantasy football, just signed up for your first league, or you’re a regular who plays in multiple dynasty leagues, this beginner’s guide will assist you. This guide is designed for beginners but is helpful for fantasy football owners at all different levels of expertise. If you’re reading this article, you’re on the right track. Let’s begin.

Step 1: Find a League to Join

Whether it’s through friends, co-workers or an online league like Apex, to play fantasy football you have to join a league. Putting a little money on the line is common – not only can you earn bragging rights, but a little financial reward makes the whole experience even more enjoyable. If you’re looking for somewhere to play, we always have spots available!

Step 2: Study Your League

The most important factors to study for your league are the rules and scoring. If your league starts two quarterbacks, the position will be drafted a lot earlier than if your league only starts one. In addition, scoring is extremely important. Apex Fantasy Leagues uses Points Per Reception (PPR) scoring, this makes players who catch passes more valuable. Little changes in starting positions or scoring can make a big impact on the values of players.

If you know the tendencies of your league mates, you can gain an additional advantage. For instance, if you have one of their favorite players, make them pay a fortune to acquire him.

Step 3: Use Rankings To Draft

By subscribing to the Apex list, you can receive my personal projections for free. To do so, sign up on the right sidebar of this page. My projections are tailored towards Apex’s PPR scoring format and use a Points Above Average scoring system to rank players at different positions equally. They’re updated throughout drafting season to reflect news and injuries. However, there is no perfect list so comparing where different experts rank players is a useful exercise. Just make sure that the rankings apply to your league’s scoring.

Step 4: Target Sleepers

“Sleeper” is an overused term for an undervalued young player who is typically drafted later than he should be. Young players are one of fantasy football’s biggest opportunities to hit a home run as player’s values are often volatile early in their careers. Young players present a unique opportunity to draft a player for cheap who could become very valuable.

Step 5: Know the Average Draft Position (ADP)

It’s hard to target sleepers without knowing where they should be drafted. Average draft position, known as ADP, provides insight as to where players are selected on average. The wisdom of the crowds is a valuable tool. If a player is typically selected in the 4th round but is available in the 6th round of your draft, you have the opportunity to select him at a good price, assuming he’s not injured. Fantasy Football Calculator’s ADP is always available.

Step 6: Practice with Mock Drafts

Partaking in mock drafts will help prepare you for how you can expect a draft to go. By preparing, you won’t be overwhelmed when you’re on the clock in your real draft. They will also help you find the players that you believe are undervalued and overvalued. In today’s day and age, mock drafts require very little investment – you can hop in one for free almost immediately at Fantasy Football Calculator.

Step 7: Avoid Rookie Mistakes

There are few general rules that apply to almost all fantasy leagues.

  1. Wait on quarterback – This is assuming you’re playing in a league that starts just one quarterback. In 2017, the difference between the QB that finished 5th (Kirk Cousins) in fantasy points and the QB that finished 13th (Blake Bortles) was just 32.94 fantasy points over the entire season or 2.06 fantasy points per game. To understand how minuscule that difference is, note that the difference between the running back that finished 5th (Melvin Gordon) and the RB that finished 13th (Dion Lewis) was 85.1 fantasy points for the season or 5.32 fantasy points per game.
  2. Wait on defense and kicker. While having a good defense and kicker can be a nice advantage, their success typically doesn’t correlate from year to year. It’s typically a good idea to draft just one of each, in the last two rounds of the draft.
  3. Don’t draft to fill your roster instead of selecting the best player available. Just because you already have some running backs and wide receivers, doesn’t mean that you have to select other positions. For instance, the best tight end available may still be available during the next time you pick so it would be beneficial to take the best player available.

Step 8: Don’t Be Afraid to Be Contrarian

Don’t hesitate to use a contrarian drafting strategy (like Zero RB) or to draft players who other owners don’t like because they underachieved the previous season. These opportunities can often create value. Disappointing seasons from good players sometimes result in extraordinary values in the following season.

Step 9: Keep Up-to-Date with News and Trends

There could be a player that we really like, but all it takes is one injury and that player can be worth nothing. During drafting season, staying up-to-date with relevant news is a necessary exercise. Rotoworld provides free up-to-the-minute player news.

In addition, it’s valuable to continue to read insightful fantasy football content. We do our best to provide actionable information for free. You can find all our articles on the Apex blog but some of our recent favorites include:

Offseason Headlines – NFC Edition: This article breaks down many of the big offseason moves in the NFC, explaining how we expect the transition to affect each player’s fantasy value.

The Peak Age for an NFL Wide Receiver: Age-related studies can be very valuable and this one helps us predict when a wide receiver is likely to break out or decline.

Carolina Panthers Overview: Will Norv Turner Help the Panthers Offense? An overview of how we expect Norv Turner’s coaching to impact the Panthers offense.

Step 10: Have Fun!

In fantasy football leagues, fun should come first! We are all trying to win but don’t be afraid to take players on your favorite team. When your fantasy game is on the line, you should like the player that your fantasy team is relying on.

One thing I can promise: football is a lot more fun to watch when you have a fantasy team!