There is a lot to learn about when trying to improve your chances of winning in Fantasy Football. There are lots of places you can go to get information on players and upcoming games to help you with your Fantasy Football Strategy, but there are also a few things that you can do to keep it fun that really have nothing to do with the final outcome other than bragging rights. Some sites, like Yahoo!, have little “Games within the Game” that you can play. Ultimately they have no effect on who has a better team but it can make things fun and actually helps you learn about how to play a little quicker.
Some of these games you might actually be doing without even knowing it. There is a “Medal” you can win for winning that week with the largest margin or having the best defense that week. If you score by a larger margin that week than anyone else in your league, then you get the “Biggest Blowout” medal. You really have no way of choosing to do this, you just pick your best players and if they score way more than the team you are up against that week you might get it. There are some that you have to actually try to get or do something out of the ordinary to obtain. One of these is to visit the “Toyota Hall of Fame“. Most people don’t even know about the Toyota Hall of Fame unless they look through the available medals that you can earn. (Most people don’t even know about the medals unless they spend too much time on their fantasy football site…) Most of these medals mean nothing to anyone except those others who are trying to collect medals, but some are naturally part of being a good team. There are a few that you get for having players that score more than 100 yards or if you win the league that season.
There is also a medal for playing other games, which kind of helps segue into this next section. You can get a medal if you can accurately predict which teams in your league will win that week. In the “League Pick’em” you are given the match ups for each week (who plays who in the league) and try to guess which member will win the match up. Usually the team who has been winning the most will beat the team who has been losing the most, but you never know. Sometimes the top scoring player will get hurt or a defense will wise up and double team Jimmy Graham and serve an upsetting shutout. There is also a chance that a team manager has a baby born that week and forgets to adjust his roster and loses when he could have easily won if he was paying attention to his team rather than spending time with his new daughter. Usually they will list the “Favorite” and “Underdog” based on the projected points of the players listed in the starting positions on that team’s current roster not adjusting for the bye week their QB has in week 9. This means that if you just go through and pick the “Favorite” for each week you will not have a very good chance of winning the medal. The best way to play this game is to go in and chose the team who has been winning recently. You can predict the entire season right now, so fill it out now then go back every week and change your predictions as you see fit. This way, if you forget to do it a week, you have something already there so you can get some credit. Again, this has nothing to do with anything other than bragging rights, but it is fun to do, and it helps you keep track of who has a good team and who you might be playing in the playoffs (not that there is any thing you can do to prepare to play against a certain team).
You can also participate in mock drafts. This is actually something that can help in your game play. Most people play the mock drafts before the football season officially starts and you get your actual team, but you can play these through out the first part of the season as well. Unfortunately most people that play this during the season end up skipping out before the game starts so you are left playing against the computer which is nothing like how real people would play and more like how an auto-draft would work if that is how your league picks players. There are basically 2 kinds of drafts, the standard “Snake” draft where you take turns picking players much the same way the actual NFL drafts players; and the “Auction Draft” where you are given virtual money to bid on players. Usually the top few players go for about 1/4 the money allowed and near the end they are picked up for only a dollar or 2. The standard draft is the most popular because it is easiest to understand, if it is your turn, you pick the best available player. The auction draft is best suited for people who understand the psychology of betting, like in poker. If you know how to work it, you can get a team you are more happy with than the standard draft, but it takes a few practice runs to figure out how to work it. After 4 or 5 tries, I was getting pretty good at it and actually prefer the auction draft. Almost everyone ends up with a team they like in this system. You feel like you have more input on who you get. There is also the “Auto-Draft”. This is where the computer decides for you who you will get. It is based off the “Snake” style draft, and it is smart enough not to get you 5 QBs. If you already have a few players in a position it will move on to the next most important position for you. Learning how the players are picked by playing a bunch of bots in a mock draft will help you understand how the auto-draft will work. You do have the ability to manipulate the results a bit by filling out a list of players you really really want and those you straight up refuse to play. I know Larry Fitzgerald is one of the best WRs in the NFL but I HATE Arizona and could never bring myself to cheer for anyone on their team, so I listed him on the list of players I do not want. You can also list a certain QB near the top of your wish list to almost guarantee you will get him. This is where knowing how bots chose players in the “Snake-Draft” helps you. The first 3 or 4 rounds will be your RBs and WRs, so if you have a good feel for when the QBs will be picked, you can list the one you want a few spots before then and as long as he is available then, you will get him. You can read more about improving your Fantasy Football Strategy through playing mock-drafts if you click here.
There are also a few things you can do in your league to mix things up a bit. You can make your league a PPR, meaning you get a few extra points for each reception a person makes, rather than just how many yards they earn, say 0.3 points per catch. This gives a little more value to the WR and TE positions. You can have a QB-Flex slot. This allows you to add a second quarterback on your active roster. You can also allow for an IDP position. This is where you can chose an “Individual Defensive Player”. This way can guess who will get the most interceptions or sacks in a game, and if you own the defense he plays for, you will be getting double points.
Apart from the side games available in your actual league’s site, you can find a number of websites that let you play Fantasy Football related games. There are also a few sites that let you play week by week so you are not stuck with the same players the whole season. I have not played on any of these sites so I can not help you with how to play there, but just know there are places to go if you are not getting your fill by playing in your normal league. Some of these sites will offer $1000 or more for predicting the top players of the week or even allow you to wager real money for a chance to win big bucks! (Since first writing this, I joined DraftKings to try it out. Signed up with $25, used $13 of it to test it out and won $75! Not bad (-; ) Whatever you decide to do, make sure you do not spend more than you can afford, be careful of scams, do research on these websites, and above all, don’t spend too much time playing fantasy football, remember that real life is more important!!