Find a public league to join or create your own private league. Free leagues like the ones at sports.yahoo.com are great for beginners. Many websites allow you to create your own league (with your friends) and help you manage the rules and scoring for a small fee.
Research the upcoming season's players and performance forecasts. There are many online sites and magazines that give detailed statistics and information on players and teams
Draft your fantasy team before the season starts according to your league rules. Each league operates according to their own guidelines. Choose players for each position as well as backups from any NFL team in the league. You will want to choose the best players available. After the draft, there will be opportunities for trades and pick-ups.
Determine your starting lineup each week by what team in your league you're playing and take into consideration the opponent's of your individual players. Most leagues have a deadline for when this must be completed each week.
Score points each week based on the predetermined scoring system of your league. Most often, you will receive points for your offensive and defensive players based on things like touchdowns, tackles, sacks, catches and yards run.
Win your fantasy league by outscoring all the other players and winning match-ups each week.
Types of Leagues:
There are basically two different types of standard draft leagues; head-to-head and total points. In a h2h a team matches up against a different team each week with the team receiving the most points declared the winner. At the end of the regular season, teams with the best won/loss records meet in the playoffs to decide an eventual champion.
Auction leagues can utilize either a h2h or total points system. The difference is that owners are given a predetermined amount of money to bid on players to fill their roster. Each owner may bid on any player he likes, and individual players can end up on more that one team. If an owner overspends on one player, the rest of his roster might suffer because he does not have enough remaining cash to fill other positions with quality players. So, this format requires you to put your money where your mouth is - kinda like the stock market.
Dynasty leagues are for the serious fantasy football owner and require a commitment over multiple seasons. After the initial draft in a dynasty league’s inaugural season, a predetermined number of players remain on the same roster from one season to the next unless they are traded or released. Each year after the initial season, a draft is held for NFL rookies, so fantasy owners must be more in tune to the talent in college than an owner in a standard draft league. These leagues drastically change the draft decisions an owner goes through when compared to standard leagues. Owners also het a more realistic experience managing a franchise as they must take into consideration how each transaction affects the future of their franchise.
A keeper league is like a hybrid between a standard draft league and a dynasty league. Each preseason, most of the players are drafted, however, owners are allowed to keep a predetermined number of players on their roster from the year before. Most league rules allow only a handful of players to be retained by each team from year to year.
This type of league utilizes defensive players on an individual bases as well as using team defensive units. Other leagues simply use team defenses. The additional players and positions to fill require owners in an IDP league to do a lot more research to determine which defensive players to draft, when to draft them, and makes it more difficult to determine which players and positions are most important. However, these leagues are often more rewarding to win.
Survivor leagues can utilize any type of draft, however, they usually use a standard or auction type. Systems of scoring can vary as well, but what makes a survivor league unique is that the team scoring the least amount of points in a particular week is eliminated for the remainder of the season. So in essence, on a weekly basis, all a fantasy owner needs to do is avoid having the lowest score of all teams in the league. Of course, as the weeks go by and the number of teams drop, it becomes increasingly difficult to do just that.
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.