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Fantasy Football Ultimate Guide: How it Works?

Written by: Ryan Sullivan
Updated October 14, 2022
11 min read
Fantasy Football Guide
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The good news about fantasy football is that it is as easy as it gets to build your league, your team, and the ultimate dream dynasty. The first thing you need to know is that the fantasy game operates pretty much exactly like the real thing.

It all begins with the draft, you then move into week-to-week matchups, the playoffs, and the final round to determine a league champion.

On top of that, to add to the simplicity, your fantasy calendar rolls right along with the NFL schedule. So, if you were ever worried that your pool might interfere with your fandom, you really shouldn’t.

Fantasy football accentuates your fandom and brings more excitement to the game than you ever knew possible.

With that said, there’s a few ways to play fantasy football. You could go the traditional route and play on any of the numerous pool hosting sites with your friends or you could take things up a notch.

The new fantasy norm is DFS – Daily Fantasy Sports – where you can play head-to-head with friends, family, foes, strangers…anybody.

You’ll go up against other fans just like you and play for real money. It’s the modern fantasy experience and it’s all at your fingertips.

Throughout the course of this guide, we’re going to take you through the different aspects of the fantasy game. We’re going to teach you how to prepare, how to strategize, where to play, and best of all – how to win!


The prep period for the fantasy year is everything. You need to take full advantage of this and be as keen as possible or you could lose your season before it even starts.

With that in mind, the most primal thing you can do is enter a mock draft. Once your league has announced the upcoming draft order (or even if they haven’t) getting back up to speed with a few mock drafts is essential.

The mock draft simulates a real live draft and allows you to get a better idea of where and when players will be selected. You’ll also be able to see where and how your opponents draft and react.

Don’t be naive and think you’re the only one with a strategy in place. Everyone is gunning for the top guys and waiting for the sleepers and rookies to fall.

A mock draft will give you a clearer idea of the likelihood of all of that coming to fruition. Join one, partake, and then join a few dozen more. Just so you have everything down like clockwork for when the big day finally comes.

When it comes to choosing your team name – check out our guide “How to Pick the Best Fantasy Football Team Name“!


This is a big one and while we hate to say it because you’re going to hate to hear it, patience in fantasy football is a virtue. Not only when it comes to the draft, but throughout the season as well especially when it comes to the waiver wire.

During the draft, we don’t emphasize patience, but it is vital that you’re comfortable working with a time limit as the draft clock ticks down.

Again, this can be achieved by participating in countless mock drafts. Patience when it’s your turn so you don’t rush a pick or panic is going to make a huge difference. Once the season starts, you need to employ that same attitude.

Fantasy football seasons are rarely won in the draft. It’s the waiver wire that wins you a year nine times out of ten.

Waiting for the right guy, who’s the right fit on your team and sees the right amount of action is everything.

To add to that, most leagues now operate using FAAB dollars as well. In other words, you now have a set amount of “fantasy dollars” that you can spend on waiver pickups to help your chances of landing that big-name free agent.

It’s essential you don’t burn your budget right off the bat.

As the season rolls along and injuries kick in, having a few bucks left in your FAAB wallet is going to go a long way.

How to Win Your Season

There’s no exact recipe.

It all has to kind of be done by feel. Kind of like Tom Hanks in Apollo 13, sometimes you’re going to feel like you’re flying blind.

In other words, you can write out a thousand strategies prior to the season, but just expect things are not going to finish exactly according to plan. You will have to improvise and maneuver your way through a number of unforeseen events.

Now that we’ve lowered your expectations, the next step is to stay hungry on that waiver wire.

Once the draft is through and the core of your lineup is set, the free-agent bin is where pools are won and lost.

Very rarely is it due to due trades or free agent pickups.

It is almost always thanks to player injuries and replacements stepping up or no namers shining when they get their shot.

These second-string and unknown guys are the keys to fantasy football greatness and they usually get their notoriety within the first third of the season. So, with that in mind, always be aware of the injury news and waiver wire transactions.

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Fantasy Football FAQ

Are Fantasy Football Winnings Taxable?

Yes. In 2018, a supreme court ruling helped get the ball rolling by legalizing regulated online sports betting in some US states. Regardless of where you live in the United States, sports betting winnings are taxable.

Is Fantasy Football Gambling?

That all depends on how you do it. If you’re in a friendly league with no money on the line on a Yahoo, ESPN, or CBS site, likely not. However, if you are playing on a Daily Fantasy Sports site, then technically yes. It’s the real money that separates it from gentleman’s bets.

Is Fantasy Football Free?

To start out, yes it is. No money needs to be exchanged on the small free sites. However, if you are looking to play DFS, free bets can be utilized and no money needs to be played, but a credit card will be required and if you do choose to go that route, money will need to be played and won on to withdraw.

Can Fantasy Football Commissioners Cheat?

Yes, they can, but you’d likely know. On sites like Yahoo and CBS, when the commissioner adjusts the settings, all of his moves are chronicled in the “Commish Updates” section.

Can Fantasy Football Commissioners Change Scores?

Yes, but this isn’t done in a cheating fashion (generally). If this is done, it’s generally to correct a team’s score due to a variety of reasons.

How Does Fantasy Football Work?

Once your team and or league is registered. Populate it with friends or by setting it to be a public league. You’ll then draft, set your lineup and begin your season while making weekly roster adjustments.

The team that wins the most weeks and finishes the playoffs and finals on a winning streak takes the championship home.

How Does Fantasy Football Auction Draft Work?

You will get a total sum of money to spend on X amount of players (at different positions). You then spend your money creatively to get the best guys for each roster spot or go heavy on a few big playmakers.

This type of draft is generally a Daily Fantasy Sports staple. Sites like DraftKings and FanDuel go heavy on the auction draft system.

How Do Fantasy Football Points Work?

The exact outline of this can be found in your fantasy pool or site’s settings. These are customizable in most pools so they’re a little subjective.

Generally, touchdowns are four points, made field goals vary with the yard line they’re kicked from (10 = 1 point, 20 = 2 points, etc), a missed field goal is -1, and so on and so forth.

PPR – Points Per Run or Reception – typically award 0.5 points per touch.

How Does Fantasy Football Draft Work?

As with any sports league, the draft is done with a previously decided upon order selecting players in that exact order.

The layout of the draft can be adjusted though.

You could select a “snaking” draft where the order goes first to last and then last to first in the following round, or you could go the traditional route where the order resets after each round.

How Has Fantasy Football Changed the NFL?

Fantasy football has allowed fans and at-home players to have a little skin in the game.

It’s made for a much more lively and focused NFL watching experience. In turn, the fantasy game has brought millions of new players and created a much more simplified way to learn the game.

What Fantasy Football Team Name to Pick?

Selecting a name is a difficult process.

It requires quite a bit of thought, innovation, and finesse. It’s generally done based on your drafted lineup. Find the guy with the best name and create a legacy with an amazing pun.

That’s the best way to go about it. Once you can land that perfect name, the rest is peanuts and your team’s tradition begins to build.

Which Fantasy Football App Is the Best?

There are a number of quality apps out there. Yahoo Fantasy is very highly rated,  but if you prefer having some actual money in the game though, the DraftKings and FanDuel apps are supreme.

Which Fantasy Football League Is the Best?

The most played online fantasy football site is Yahoo Fantasy Sports.

They have been in the game for years and were one of the original fantasy football builds from decades ago. They’re a very trusted source and are a free site for all experienced players and newcomers alike.

Which Fantasy Football Position Is the Best?

This has varied in recent years.

For the longest time, it was the running back spot that was the most valuable.

This is still true to an extent, however, Quarterbacks have become a talking point as of late and a solid and dependable wide receiver can be invaluable.

Unless you are able to draft Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs, your tight ends will be boom or bust. Meanwhile, kickers, defenses, and single defensive players are not considered to be a high priority.

When Does Fantasy Football Start?

The fantasy schedule begins with the first week of the NFL regular season. This can be adjusted to week 2 or 3 though to accommodate leagues that draft late.

When Is Fantasy Football Draft 2021?

This is entirely up to your league and your commissioner.

They decide when the league would like to draft and it’ll be held in one of three ways – online, auto pick, or offline.

Where to Mock Draft Fantasy Football?

There are a number of excellent websites that offer their services for practicing mock drafts.

Generally, these sites will also allow you to enter your league’s settings, draft order, and keepers ahead of time too. These websites can be found through a quick google search to seek out the most popular and used mock draft systems.

Which Fantasy Football Analyst Is Most Accurate?

There are a number of analysts who excel one year but crash the next.

We at WSN have always found Ryan Wilson at CBS to be the most consistent year-over-year.

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Ryan Sullivan

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Ryan has worked as a sports writer for the past decade and sports journalism for almost 15 years. He has worked in television, radio, print, digital, and podcasting since 2006. He is also the former co-host of the NFL Weekly Pick 'Em and Best Bets Podcast along with the Prop Drop on WSN.com.

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