Fantasy football

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Fantasy football is a form of entertainment whereby people can act as a team "owner" and build teams (with existing players) in order to win the "league". There are similar types of entertainment involving basketball and baseball, the other two major sports followed in the United States.

Although the majority of fantasy football leagues are played solely for entertainment among friends and colleagues, with no gambling involved, there are leagues which are heavily promoted during NFL broadcasts, that do involve wagering.

Fantasy football (both wagering and non-wagering) was played by an estimated 56 million Americans in 2015.[1] This game fleeces the average participant of about $500 and also alienates his attention away from his work, his family, and the Bible.[1] The game is played as a virtual version of the football season in the NFL.

The NFL seeks to hook elementary school children on fantasy football by making it part of the math curriculum, thereby locking in the next generation of addicted television watchers of NFL games.[2]

People waste a total of about $15 billion annually now on all fantasy sports in the United States, and the vast majority of that (about $11 billion) is on fantasy football based on real NFL games. This is more than the NFL's total annual revenue, which is about $10 billion. These costs do not include the lost time wasted on this gambling activity, which is probably worth even more.

The concept is almost identical to a casino.

—CEO Jason Robins describing daily fantasy sports site DraftKings.[3]

Types of Leagues

There are four major types of leagues: Redraft, Keeper, Auction, and Salary Cap leagues.

Redraft League

In a redraft league owners lose all the players they had from the prior season. During the draft, the owners are randomly placed into which draft position they will have. Redraft leagues follow a serpentine draft format. The serpentine draft format is where the draft order reverses on even rounds. The draft looks like this: First round- a,b,c,d,e Second round- e,d,c,b,a Third round- a,b,c,d,e

Alternatively the draft is held in reverse order of the prior year's finish (just like the actual NFL draft, where the worst teams draft first).

Keeper League

In a keeper league owners get to keep a predetermined number of players onto their team for next season. A league where owners get to keep all of their players is called a dynasty league. After the first season of a keeper league, the draft follows the format of the NFL. Owners are generally able to trade their picks to other owners for players. Some leagues incorporate a salary cap into dynasty leagues to add to the "realism" of fantasy football. Where players are each assigned a salary and the owners are not allowed to go over the salary cap.

Auction League

In an auction league owners are generally given fake money to spend on players. Players are not drafted, but instead placed up for auction. Owners bid on the players they want and the commissioner takes the role of the auctioneer.

Salary Cap League

In a salary cap league owners are given a certain salary cap and the players are each assigned a certain salary based on last years performances. In a salary cap league players can be placed onto multiple teams. There is no draft per se since owners just pick the players they want as long as they don't go over the salary cap. These leagues are meant for thousands of people to join compared to the other leagues which are meant for 4-32 owners. These leagues go by a rotisserie scoring to prevent players from playing against themselves.


In order to participate in Fantasy Football, a player is allowed to draft real players onto their fantasy team. Participants assume the role of owner and fill specified positions and roles on the team.

As fantasy players accrue points in real life, a fantasy team can gain or lose points. The scoring of points can often lead to owners cheering for players and/or teams they normally would not follow.


Scoring can vary by league and is set by each league's commissioner, but a typical scoring system for a team defense league is as follows:

  • 1 point for 25 passing yards
  • 1 point for 10 rushing and receiving yards
  • 1 point for every reception (aka "PPR" for "points per reception")
  • 4 points for a passing touchdown (because QB's throw more passing touchdowns)
  • 6 points for a rushing or receiving touchdown
  • -2 points for every interception thrown or fumble lost
  • 1 point for each extra point made
  • 2 points for a two-point conversion
  • 3 points for each field goal made (often points are awarded for long kicks, e.g. over 40 yds)
  • 1 point per sack
  • 2 points for a forced turnover(fumbles and interceptions) on defense
  • 2 points for a safety by defense
  • 6 points for each touchdown scored by defense
  • 2 points for each blocked kick

Typical scoring for an IDP league is as follows:

  • 1 point for every tackle
  • .5 points for every assisted tackle
  • 6 points for a defensive touchdown
  • 4 points for a safety
  • 2 points for a sack
  • 1 point for half a sack
  • 3 points for a forced turnover


Many fantasy football leagues are designed to afford users the option to bet on games. This form of gambling is similar to that of an "office pool" where someone wins the "pot" at the end of the season.