Fantasy Football Teams and Leagues Basics

Daily Fantasy Football Starter Guide (2)

Daily Fantasy Football Starter Guide – Part 2

Teams & Leagues Basics

Fantasy football has been blowing up over the Internet in recent years, and if you are joining in on the fun, then it is time to brush up on the rules regarding teams and leagues. The popular game is still attracting more and more sports fans every day to join the trend. Whether you are a relatively new football fan who is interested in getting more involved with the game, or a seasoned veteran who is ready to take the world of daily fantasy sports by storm, our fantasy football basics are helpful for everyone who is prepared to compete during football season. When it comes to fantasy football leagues, several different configurations come into play. Multiples leagues can be confusing. However, with the correct understanding and explanations, picking the right league for you can be simple and fun.

Those who know the feeling of being successful at fantasy football know that it is an incredibly fun experience. Playing online fantasy football is all about having fun and winning money. Those who play on daily fantasy sports websites are called team managers or owners. As a team owner, it is your job to organize your fantasy football league. In this guide, we explore the ins and outs of drafting leagues and teams on your favorite fantasy sports website so that you have the best chance possible of coming out a winner and bringing home some real cash.

Customize Your Fantasy Football League

The fact is, if you want to customize your league fully to fit your lineups, you can do so through all of the major platforms. Almost every daily fantasy sports site has options for every asset of the game. Custom leagues on other major sites like and ESPN have up to 200 different customizable options from scoring preferences to position settings. Anything you would like to change is now easier to access on most leagues on the Internet. Although customizing your dream league to fit your needs is possible, typical sports fans will want to join a league that is easy to understand and with a number of variables decided for them. This article will explain the various types of leagues that are considered popular in the realm of fantasy football.

Standard Draft Leagues 

The most popular fantasy football league is the standard draft league. This league usually begins with 10-14 owners receiving a draft position that is used to shape their team. Each drafting round operates through a serpentine style draft, which means if you are the last team manager to make a selection in the first round, you will be the first to make a choice in the second. Given the exact amount of players you will need per position, you will adjust your roster each week with so many starting players and so many reserve players. However, once you set your lineup, your bench or reserve players will be unable to compete for points and will be locked until the end of the week. Apart from the individual league settings, standard draft leagues tend to split into either one of two types of leagues, total points and head-to-head.

Total Points Fantasy Gameplay

This style of play is found mostly on daily fantasy football sites that host big tournaments with many contestants. There are not any wins or losses but rather an overall comparison between two team’s point accumulation. In most competitions on DFS sites, a top percentage of players will win big while the top 50 percent or so will at least double their entry. There are no playoffs in daily fantasy sports leagues, but in traditional fantasy football, the top teams that have accumulated the most points will move on to the playoffs and then finally the Championship. The purpose of total points is to compare an individual’s team to the entire league rather than going up each week with someone new.

Head-to-Head Fantasy Gameplay 

In a head to head league, you will be facing a new opponent each week. In a seasonal league, you will battle to reach the playoffs. However, head-to-head fantasy leagues are not usually found in daily fantasy sports sites because they require a full season to operate.


In this type of format one fantasy team goes head to head against another team in a league each week according to a particular schedule. Every week the majority of head-to-head type leagues play regular seasons up to week 14 and then play in playoffs during week 15 and 16. The best four teams then go on to compete in a championship bracket while the next best eight teams compete in a consolation bracket.

Re-Draft Fantasy Leagues 

Teams that continue to enter into new season within the same league usually use a re-draft system to reset the player pools. The draft is serpentine style, and the order can be randomly determined or in order of rank from the previous season. The latter option gives the losing players a better chance at the next season such as in the NFL draft each year.

Points-Only Fantasy Leagues

In points-only leagues, league managers attempt to gather the most points as possible throughout the season to beat out the other teams. The team who has the most fantasy points at the end of the season is deemed the winner. With this type of format, week 17 is when things start really heating up as it is the most important week, especially as some players who have contributed highly to a team may not be around when they are needed. At this time, it becomes crucial to have good players on your bench. Otherwise, you will need to have a carefully selected roster of free agents that you can replace for the resting starters.

Auction Draft Fantasy Leagues 

Auction drafts are newer to the game but have been growing in popularity since the boom of the daily fantasy sports industry. Although auction drafts take a lot longer to finish, they bring far more complexity and strategy to the table. The way an auction draft works is that all team managers receive a given amount of money at the start of the draft. Each pick for each round, all team managers can place a bid on any player they wish when they come to the auction block.

Usually, some players will skyrocket in price while others will slip through the cracks. It is up to you to research which players will give you the most bang for your buck. In an auction draft, it is always necessary to build your team around one or two-star players that you know will be consistent. However, spending too much money on any given player can hurt your team strength in the later rounds.

Keeper Fantasy Leagues 

A keeper league is a more complex standard league but with the option to “keep” a certain number of players. Unlike in dynasty leagues where a team manager can decide to keep their entire roster for multiple seasons, keeper leagues only allow you to hold on to a few players that center your team.

The number of players each team manager can keep is predetermined and is only changeable through the League Commissioner. Keeper leagues are for more experienced players, although any team manager can start their multiple seasons run by joining a new keeper league. Check out our upcoming article on the full explanation of dynasty and keeper leagues for more information.

Dynasty Leagues 

Dynasty leagues are a long term fantasy football commitment. It can take multiple seasons to build and establish a consistent team. In a dynasty league, each team will have a serpentine fantasy draft, but instead of starting fresh the next season, they will retain all players from the year before. There is a new draft each season, but only for the incoming rookie class of athletes.

Dynasty leagues offer a unique experience through playing multiple seasons with the same team. Dynasty leagues are the closest thing to being an NFL franchise owner. If you have the time and patience to build a team over many seasons, the dynasty option could be for you.

Many team managers research college talent for the upcoming season similar to that of a real NFL team. Participants need to understand that in a dynasty league, the most valuable players are the young and strong prospects that are bound to develop later on. Veteran players come with the same risk that they would in real life, as they are only able to give a couple more productive seasons. It is smart to research which players have a long career ahead and which are bound to bust sooner rather than later.

Survivor Fantasy Draft Leagues 

This league type is an interesting one, as it plays similar to the game musical chairs or the hit TV shows Survivor and Last Man Standing. Survivor draft leagues start with either a standard draft or auction style depending on the league rules. After one week of play, the lowest scoring team will be booted from the league. The reason that many play Survivor Leagues is to test their ability to produce a great squad each week.

Many players will be stricken with injuries and by week decisions that can knock them out if they are not careful. A popular rule in Survivor Leagues is that you will not be able to trade with other team managers nor will you be able to pick up free agents. One off week could be your last, so consistent players are always the correct choice when it comes to drafting for a Survivor league.

IDP Fantasy Leagues

Individual defensive player leagues or IDP leagues are a way to bring all individual athletes to the playing field. Unlike in typical standard drafts, that allow for an entire team defense, team managers pick up individual defensive players to craft their team on both sides of the ball. These leagues require far more research and are not recommended for beginning players. However, if you are a big time fantasy football researcher, IDP leagues can be advantageous to create the best possible team. Check out the expansion article on IDP scoring and drafting differences.


When it comes to choosing a league, sometimes complexity can play in your favor. However, for those who are looking for a quick and simple form of fantasy football, then standard leagues are the way to go. Daily fantasy sports sites can have differing preferences for larger competitions. Be sure to look at our reviews and bonuses to determine which DFS site is right for you. Remember your limits and to enjoy the experience. Have fun and good luck!


Read on for the basic Scoring Rules in our Part 3 of the DFS Starter Guide.