We all have that friend (or maybe we are that friend), who’s schedule revolves around the weekly professional sports match-ups. Not only do these friends insist on going on about their knowledge of every aspect of the game, but now they have a way to showcase that knowledge through managing their own Fantasy teams.

For those of you who are lost and confused when your co-workers, friends, and spouses talk about their fantasy team, look no further to get the inside scoop. And for those of you who think you have mastered the game, keep on reading because there is always room for improvement.

What is it?
Fantasy sports let you put your skills to the test by drafting and “managing” a team. You can join a league with your friends or join a public league for free, but often there’s a bit of betting involved. You have to scout players before a “draft” occurs.

Once your team is set and the season starts, teams within the leagues play each other. Points are awarded based on how well you do relative to that week’s real life sporting match-ups. The goal is to beat your weekly opponent and eventually make it to the playoffs. The top teams of each league make the playoffs and the winner is determined in a tournament style playoff.

How to play
Think you want to give it a try? Even though the official football season already started, Fantasy Football teams can still be created, and you can join new leagues. The past weeks of football will simply not count or be scored within your league. Hockey season has also just begun so you can create a Fantasy Hockey team, or wait until the start of basketball, golf, or baseball season to play any of these fantasy sports.

Here are the simple steps for creating a team:

  1. Find a place to play. Although there are many outlets to play through, I prefer ESPN because it also has a well-designed app to compliment the user-friendly site (click here to go to the ESPN fantasy football home page.) If you are joining a league with friends, make sure you all choose the same outlet. Other top options to play include NFL, CBS, and Yahoo. The basics of the game remain the same, it is really just the layout that differs between sites.
  2. Create a team. If you are creating a team on your own and planning to join a public league, click “Draft a Team Now.” If you want to create a league and invite friends, click “Create A League.” Leagues typically consist of 10-12 teams.
  3. Sign up. Enter the credentials needed.
  4. Choose a league. If you are drafting a team now, enter the draft lobby and choose a league or “Room Name” based on the time the draft is occurring, the number of players, and the type of league.
  5. Draft your team. Once you chose to join a league, a draft will occur at a designated time. A “snake” draft means that people will draft in a random order. However, an “auction” draft means that members are given a certain amount of points to distribute to the players they want the most.
  6. Make any trades or pick up free agents. During the draft, teams take turns choosing who will be on their team until all their positions are filled. After this initial draft, players can then trade within the league or pick up undrafted players in the “free agency.”
  7. Double check that you have the right positions covered. A standard team starting lineup usually consists of one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, one team defense, a flex position (which is usually a running back, wide receiver, or a tight end), and a kicker.
  8. Play. From here, the games actually start. Teams face each other and are given points based on how well their players do in real life. Each week, teams face new teams within their league. The team with the most points wins the game.

Tips for a successful team
Now that you have your team set, here are some tips on leading them to success:

  1. Pay attention to injuries. If one of your players gets injured, be sure to take them out of your lineup and swap them with someone on your bench. A player won’t get you any points from the sideline.
  2. Scout your players’ opponents each week. If one of your QBs is playing one of the best defenses in the league, and you have an extra QB on the bench playing the worst defense in the league, chances are you may want to swap the QBs on the lineup.
  3. Check your players’ bye weeks. Points aren’t given to players on their week off, so you will want to swap in an active player from your bench.
  4. Check the free agent pool often. Other owners may drop players unexpectedly and you have to jump to pick them up before others do.
  5. Stay up to date on NFL news. There are a number of apps to help you do this. Alerts can be sent to your phone to update you on any trades, suspensions, or anything else that may affect your team’s performance.

Fantasy football is a fun way to add a bit more competition to the week. For a good team, a bit of time may be required, but for those who wish to simply be part of the hype, just creating and watching a team will suffice.

Do you have any tips to share? Please share in the comments!


joanGuest Blogger: Joan Lawlor
Joan is a full-time University of Wisconsin—Madison student who also writes for the TDS blog. Joan has a love for travel and most recently returned from spending five months abroad in Europe where she visited 13 countries.


  1. If you’re looking for a more enriching, fully custom fantasy site, I’d suggest Madison, Wisconsin’s very own MyFantasyLeague. http://home.myfantasyleague.com/

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