Fantasy football for a total n00b: where to even begin?

I understand the rules of football, and I’ve watched The League. That’s about it. I’ve got friends already harassing me about how I should totally join their fantasy football league this year, based on the happy accident that simply copying Nate Silver’s march madness bracket has me tied for first in our group at the moment.

So if I did want to get into fantasy football, where would I start? How do I go from zero to not making a complete fool of myself? Is that even possible? What kind of commitment am I looking at if I want to do anything more advanced than picking players based on team mascots I like and who has the most intimidating beards?

Most FF sites will “pre-rank” players in a reasonably sensible fashion, so you can usually use that as a guide for your draft. For a beginning player, following this ranking is probably the easiest way to get a reasonable team with very little effort. You can then expand from there based on the amount of effort you’re willing to put in. Personally I think your first year at any fantasy sport will be a crapshoot anyway, and then subsequent years you will develop your own preferences, prejudices and strategies. Just like real football, there is a lot of luck involved. You will learn to love and hate players you didn’t even know existed.

Take advantage of all the info available on web sites these days. There are listings on everybody and every position. Get a good idea about the how the points work in a league you might join, how many of each position you would need etc. Draft QB, RB, WR first. Defense and TE last, unless you can get one of the 2-3 top TE’s.

Finally, the most important thing about fantasy sports of any kind is…You don’t win the league on draft day, but you can lose it. Winning requires all kinds of luck.

And don’t fall in love with players from your favorite team.