This first paragraph is backstory.  If you don’t want to read all that, skip to the second paragraph.  I remember my first time.  It was 2002.  I was with my friends.  I didn’t have any clue what I was doing.  The whole process was automated actually.  My introduction to fantasy football was me signing up for something on Yahoo.  A friend told me it was free and that I should do it.  I got an email saying the draft was over and my team was picked.  I took the minute or two it took to get to site (dial-up connection) and saw that I had a bunch of players.  My start QB was Chad Pennington.  At RB I had Clinton Portis.  Yahoo was even cool enough to draft me two kickers and two defenses.  I went 4-9 that year.  My record notwithstanding, I caught the bug.

I got a call a few months after the season ended.  A friend of mine who ran a fantasy football league had an opening.  He asked if I knew how it worked.  “Of course.  I’ve played before” I answered.  I figured my entry fee would no doubt return big money.  It was a keeper league and I was able to keep up to 5 guys if I gave up my first 5 draft picks.  I had no players.  I traded my first and fifth for Trent Green, Jamal Lewis, and Keyshawn Johnson.  Pretty good I thought.  My first draft pick was Jerry Rice.  A few people got wide-eyed.  After my 3rd pick, I could tell I knew nothing.  I got help and when I picked up Brett Favre (who somehow people had forgotten about), I felt like a child who just completed a simple task.  I was congratulated and even got a high-five.  I don’t remember everything that happened that year but I know a huge Jamal Lewis performance resulted in a trade where I got lots of “depth”.  I accidentally started Justin McCareins one week and won that week because of it.  My opponent was not happy.  I accidentally started Keenan McCardell instead of Keyshawn Johnson when Johnson got deactivated for the season.  The league was not happy since the top team in the league picked him up.  I somehow made the playoffs and made money that year.  I learned a lot that year.  Fantasy football involves luck.  I learned that if you’re not taking it seriously, owners will not take kindly to it.  I also learned that fantasy football is way more than I thought it was.  It was almost a religion.

Fast forward to now.  I’m in two deep ½ ppr keeper leagues (we keep 10 position, kicker, defense, and you can trade protection spots), a two player ½ ppr keeper, a one player keeper, and I am the commissioner of a dynasty league.  I’ve come a long way.  Okay, I’m done talking about me.

If you are dipping your toe in to the fantasy football pool, I salute you.  It’s fun.  It brings added enjoyment to sports.  It lets you learn more about the game.  Fantasy football can be gambling but it’s also a calculated risk.  Some players are better than others.  Some players have better situations than others.  Some are in a contract year and expected to be trying harder.  IF YOU’RE NEW TO FANTASY FOOTBALL, DO YOUR RESEARCH.  First and foremost, do your research on the league itself.  What is the level that you’re playing it?  Is everyone new?  Are there experienced players?  How long has the league been going?  What is the scoring system?  The amount of points for a catch (aka reception) can determine just how valuable a guy is to your team.  Secondly, do your research on the transactions.  Is the draft live?  Is it online?  Does your computer work with the system used?  Is there a waiver wire for players or is it first come first serve?  What about trades?  Is there a deadline?  Are there vetoes?  Third, get an idea of who your opponents are.  If they are friends, you probably already know a lot about them.  If you pay attention, you can figure out what players a person likes, the kind of player they like, how they trade, when they trade, etc.  Finally, never risk more money than you can afford.  No matter how good you think you may be or how sure you are you won’t lose, you can’t take luck in to account.  In 2015, a lot of players went on IR.  I know of a team that had Tony Romo, CJ Anderson, Jeremy Hill, Kelvin Benjamin, Jordy Nelson, and Dez Bryant.  Anderson and Hill were busts.  Nelson and Benjamin were on IR before the season started.  Romo and Dez both got hurt in season.  Before the season started, and before Benjamin and Nelson were hurt, the team looked promising.  By week 3, the team was sunk.  When it comes to daily fantasy sports, it can be addicting.  Be smart.

I love fantasy football.  I probably always will.  I plan on getting in to fantasy baseball and fantasy hockey more than I have in the past.  It can be rewarding.  You’re essentially a GM of your team without the headaches and real risk that goes with it.  Yes, it is also Dungeons & Dragons just sports related.  It takes strategy and intelligence.  That said, you never know what the dice (or in this case, luck, injuries, etc.) are going to do.