The NFL is the first and premier U.S. sports league to launch a pay-to-enter fantasy sports contests. With NFL training camps starting tomorrow, it’s time to watch and pick your fantasy football team. The potential revenue for hosting this American past time is huge. Entry fees range from $10.99 to $124.99. Rewards are prizes that include pro football memorabilia. NFL fantasy football is only available in 43 states. Why? State gambling laws are different from state to state. So sorry Charlie, you can’t play if you are in Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, North Dakota, Montana and Washington. So what is Fantasy Football? I believe it is best explained by Jim McCormick, an IDP and fantasy football analyst for ESPN.com. Here is his breakdown, verbatim:
Fantasy football participants are "owners" and "managers" of teams that engage in competitive leagues, accruing "fantasy points" based on the statistics of real football players. The vast majority of leagues are scored on a weekly basis, matching up teams in a head-to-head scenario in a rotating schedule. The teams in the end with the best records make it into the fantasy postseason (often held from Weeks 14-17 of the NFL schedule).
The goal is to collect the most productive players across a variety of positions. In a standard league, you are asked to fill out your starting roster with a quarterback, two running backs, one "flex" player (a slot for either a running back or wide receiver), two wide receivers, one tight end, one team defense/special teams (you draft the entire Pittsburgh Steelers defense and special teams, for example) and a kicker. To fill out your roster with depth you are afforded seven bench spots. This may seem like an absurd number of players to manage at once, but as the season wears on you'll wish you had even more room on your roster.
Fantasy leagues can adhere to any variety of rules and settings desired, but for the sake of simplicity, I suggest perusing the scoring settings in the ESPN standard leagues. Before you join any league, it's imperative to have a sound understanding of the scoring and roster settings so that you can capably build a successful team. The players make up a marketplace, so consider the players as commodities; that their value fluctuates based on the rules and regulations of a given league. In the Draft Kit you'll find a number of helpful scoring-specific guides.
The draft marks the beginning of the fantasy football season. Often held in the weeks leading up to the NFL season, the draft is when you initially construct your roster. Most leagues are comprised of 10 to 12 teams and the drafts are conducted in either "snake" or "auction" formats. Pick by pick, you build your team and fill out your roster. Draft day for many leagues has become a holiday of sorts, with spirited trash-talking and camaraderie becoming core traditions. Once you get a good grasp on the elemental rules and settings in fantasy, take a few minutes to read Christopher Harris' valuable take on drafting strategies.
NFL and ESPN offer fantasy football leagues. You can check out which one suites you better online.