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Fantasy Football Basics

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Fantasy football is easy to play, but hard to win. Here's why.


It doesn't matter come draft day whether you've watched a thousand football games or a thousand episodes of "Dancing with the Stars." Each fantasy football site provides a draft kit with player rankings and the ability to have players chosen automatically based on rankings. Your cat could draft a team. It doesn't even have to log on; the draft will be done automatically for it if it fails to show up or urinates on the keyboard causing your computer to crash.

The probability of outdrafting a cat on automatic pilot? Slim.


The ease of setting your lineup (or having someone else do it) once per week makes fantasy football accessible (and winnable) for anyone (except you).

Unlike fantasy baseball and basketball where lineups change daily, fantasy football lineups only need set once per week. Not sure who to start? Let a "team of experts" do it for you.

The probability of outsmarting the team of experts? Slim


Fantasy football scoring is simple. Your player scores; you score. Anyone can figure it out, even your Ecuadorian girlfriend who watches soccer every Sunday.

The probability of outwitting your Ecuadorian girlfriend? Slim


With the attendent ease of drafting and setting lineups, fantasy football championships become more a matter of chance than skill, even in leagues where all participants are knowledgeable. Let's take a look at your typical league with typical rules.

The most important position in fantasy football is running back. Each fantasy team has two starting running backs. There are only 30 starting running backs in the NFL, one for each team. Of those thirty, ten play for horrible teams and rarely touch the ball. Of the twenty who don't play for horrible teams, half will get injured and miss multiple games. That means half your fantasy league's starting running backs by mid year did not start when the season began. Throw in bye weeks and the chances of your league title being decided by someone nobody drafted is disproportionately high.

Throw in the randomness of defensive touchdowns, schedule imbalances, and multiple long distance field goals by some kicker with 12 syllables in his name, and your league title is won by your boss's 6-year old daughter, whose team was drafted by a cat.

The chances of winning your league are 1 in 10, regardless of skill, experience, or knowledge, unless of course you kick two teams out, in which case your chances increase to 1 in 8. Fantasy football scoring is simple: Kickers are unpredictable:

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