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Fantasy Football 101

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Fantasy football is generally a season-long competition played by football fans in which participants draft their own team and compete with teams built by others. Individual game winners are determined by points accumulated by players based on their real-life performance in a game on the same day.

Leagues (Types of Fantasy Leagues)
A fantasy league is usually comprised of 8, 10, 12, 14 or 16 fantasy teams, each drafted and operated by a different contestant. Each contestant (owner) takes turns selecting players until all predetermined roster slots are filled. Team owners are responsible for choosing a starting lineup for each game, signing replacement players, and making trades if they choose to do so. At the end of the fantasy season, generally the final weeks of the NFL's regular season, a playoff tournament will determine the league champion. The number of teams qualifying for the playoffs is determined before the season begins.

Team Roster
The number of players on a fantasy football team varies from league to league, but generally includes at least two quarterbacks, three running backs, three wide receivers, two tight ends, one kicker and two defensive units.

Lineups
Each week, owners submit a starting lineup taking into consideration injuries, match-ups, and players on bye weeks. Lineup changes must be made prior to the start of each game in which the players in question are involved. If an owner fails to make adjustments in his starting lineup, it will remain the same as the previous week.

The number of players on a team's active lineup varies from league to league. One of the more commonly used combinations of players includes one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end, one kicker, and one defensive unit.

Scoring
There are variations in scoring systems, but many use the following system or something close to it:

A touchdown results in six points for the scoring player. If the touchdown is the result of a passing play, the quarterback is also awarded the same.

Field goals count as three points for the kicker. Some leagues offer more points as the field goals get longer. Generally, anything more than 40 yards counts as four points and anything more than 50 yards is awarded five points.

Kickers also receive one point for extra points after touchdowns, and a player scoring on a two-point conversion receives two points.

Offensive players can also pick up points based on receiving, passing, and rushing yardage. One of the more common formulas awards one point for every ten yards rushing, one point for every ten yards receiving, and one point for every 25 yards passing.

Offensive players can also lose points by throwing an interception (-2) or fumbling the ball (-1).

On defense, a team's score is based on how many points they give up, combined with bonus points for sacks, turnovers, and defensive touchdowns scored. There are a number of variations in scoring based on the number of points given up. Sacks generally add one point each to that score while turnovers provide two points each.

A safety results in a two-point bonus for the defense.

Some leagues include special teams play in the defensive score while many do not.

Trading Players
Teams are allowed to trade players as long as the deal is submitted before a predetermined trading deadline. Most leagues offer a system that allows other owners to protest trades that are too lopsided in one team's favor to prevent team owners from working together to build one super team.

Waivers and Free Agency
Any player that remains undrafted is classified as a free agent and can be signed by any team on a first-come, first-serve basis. However, if the addition puts a team over the roster limit, the owner must release one of the players on his roster.

A player who is released is then put on waivers, generally for a period of three to four days. Until a player passes through waivers, he can be claimed by any other team in the league. If a player on waivers is claimed by more than one team by the time the waiver period ends, he is awarded to the team sitting the lowest in the standings at the time the claim was made.

Playoffs
A playoff tournament is generally held the final two or three weeks of the regular NFL season, depending on how many teams are in the playoff field. Scoring is determined exactly as it is during the regular season with the winner of the contest moving on to the next round while the loser is eliminated.

The league championship is held when the playoff field has been narrowed to two teams, with the winner being crowned as league champions.

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