The Short-List of Fantasy Football Terms


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Written by: Contributor | Best Company Editorial Team

Last Updated: April 13th, 2020

Domestic fans.

As the NFL preseason comes to a close, chances are you have been invited by the office sports guy, your roommate, or your Girl Scout Leader (it could happen) to participate in at least one fantasy football league. And given that fantasy football leagues cost companies a total of $13.4 billion in productivity last season, maybe you think it's time to see just what it's all about. In short, fantasy football is an opportunity to create and run your own professional football team, compete with friends, and in some cases win cash or prizes.

This list is by no means meant to be comprehensive, especially if this isn't your first fantasy football experience; however, if you're fairly new to this growing trend, you will find the following terms useful:

3rd-Year WR Rule: While not a proven science, the 3rd-Year Wide Receiver Rule is a popularly held belief among fantasy football junkies. The rule states that rookie wide receivers don't tend to blossom until their third year in the league. This rule can greatly affect a wide receive's fantasy draft status moving forward.

Auction Draft: An auction draft allots a certain amount of fantasy cash to each team owner, who can then use that cash to bid on individual players.

Breakout: Describes players who went from being average to holding a top spot among other players of his position; expectations of this player generally go from low to high.

Bust: The opposite of a breakout; a player for whom expectations start high, but gradually sink as average, even mediocre performances are churned out

Bye: NFL teams play 16 games in 17 weeks; the bye week (also known as a bye) is the week a given NFL team doesn't play. Fantasy owners should be conscious of bye weeks; starting a player who has a bye week will result in lost points.

Cheat Sheet: A list of players ranked according to their fantasy value. When putting your cheat sheet together, make sure you're familiar with the scoring system.

Depth Chart: Describes the quality and quantity of players you have drafted for a given position; for example, many NFL teams have a first-, second-, and third-string players. As the regular season is full of injuries, suspensions, and other unforeseen problems, it's important to have good depth at significant positions.

Draft: Most fantasy football leagues begin with a draft, where team owners take turns picking players. Draft order is often determined by the previous season's results, with the lowest-ranked team owner choosing first.

Fire Sale: When a team has no chance of making the playoffs, sometimes the team owner will trade away their best players to improve the chances of another team's success.

Flex: Describes a player who can be slotted for multiple positions; for example, running can sometimes enter your team's lineup as a wide receiver, depending on your needs.

Handcuff: What happens when you substitute one of your top players with his immediate backup, the second-string player

Injury Reserve: While not common to all leagues, the injury reserve allows owners to mark one of their players as injured and make a substitution to the roster

League Manager/Commissioner: The designated person in charge of maintaining the league, setting the rules, running the draft, authorizing transactions, and collecting entrance fees for paid leagues

Linear Draft: Some fantasy football providers allow the owners' draft order to endure through all rounds of the draft (see snake draft).

Mock Draft: A fake draft that allows owners to test their drafting strategies and gain insights from other owners. For new owners, this is an excellent chance to ask questions and learn from more experienced fantasy football owners.

Owner: The person in charge of a fantasy football team, responsible for setting lineups, drafting, etc.

PPR: Points per reception; certain leagues will award additional fantasy points for each catch a player makes, thus making wide receivers more valuable.

Reserve: Bench players that can be inserted into the lineup in the event that one of your starters is unavailable

Roster: The collection of players an owners has obtained either through the draft or trades with other owners

Scoring System: The two most popular systems of scoring are Basic scoring, and Performance scoring. With Basic scoring, fantasy points can only be earned through touchdowns, field goals, and extra points; meanwhile, Performance scoring also awards points for yards gained down the field.

Snake Draft: After owners are placed in random drafting order, the first round of the draft will go according to that order; however, the second round will go in reverse order, starting at the owner in the last position. This system will alternate with each round until all the players are drafted.

Sleeper: Lesser known NFL players that have strong potential to become breakouts

Stud: A player who has proved himself to be the best at his position; recommended to start every game

Transaction: A roster change such as a trade (in which owners will exchange players from their own team for players from another team), cut (when a player is removed), or pickup (when a player is acquired); some leagues assess transaction fees.

Waiver: If a player is cut from a team, he enters waiver status for at least one day; this means that other owners cannot immediately add that player, but must submit a waiver claim to the commissioner. The commissioner will then process the claim, and assign the player to the lowest-performing team.


While becoming familiar with fantasy football jargon is important to your success as a fantasy team owner, no fantasy football experience is complete without nachos, some lively trash talk, and good company on gameday. Best of luck this season!!

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