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Friday, September 5, 2008
Rules - Orientation

Fantasy Football League (FFL) orientation provides first-time users with a means of familiarizing themselves with the game and its features.

- If you have not yet created a FREE ESPN account, click here.
- To purchase a team, please see the Tour or click on the link off the FFL frontpage.
- To learn more about fantasy games in general, read our introduction to fantasy games.
- To learn more about League Manager, where you can customize the settings, lineups and scoring for an entire league, click here.
- For fantasy cheat sheets, player rankings and mock drafts, see our Draft Kit.

For first-time participants, mastering ESPN's FFL may seem like a daunting task. If you've never before played a fantasy game -- or are new to the internet -- trying to figure out what to do with your new team can be a little confusing at first. But like many things, playing FFL is as easy as an untouched scamper into the endzone once you know how it all works. Follow this step-by-step guide to getting your team primed for the start of the 2006 season, and that FFL championship could be yours!

Step 1 - Familiarize yourself with the FFL layout.
Take a look at the FFL frontpage. From the frontpage you can log in to your account, access your team, explore fantasy resources, peruse injury updates and get tips from ESPN's fantasy analysts. You can also access the Rules and FAQ (frequently asked questions) pages. This orientation will occasionally provide links to the rules, where you can read full explanations of some of the trickier parts of the game. While it may be possible to muddle your way through without reading the rules pages, you're bound to miss something. Before firing off an e-mail to the League Office, be sure to give the rules and FAQ a close look. Remember, if you need your account information updated, or you simply forgot your password, you can access Member Services for immediate assistance. Now that you know where to turn should you encounter trouble, you are ready to begin preparing your team for the season.

Step 2 - Setting up your team
Click on your team name (i.e. Smith 99875843) from the left hand column of the FFL frontpage. This link takes you to your preseason team set-up page. From there, you will find links to several vital FFL start-up procedures:

Step 3 - Joining/Creating a league
Now that your team has a name, it's time to find the owners against whom you'll be competing for FFL glory. You have the option of either joining an existing league or creating your own league with your own specifications. You must be part of a league in order to compete in FFL. If you do not join or create a league by the start of the season, you will be automatically placed in one. There are many things to consider when joining a league, as each has its own set of parameters. Below are the various options associated with ESPN FFL leagues.

For more information on leagues and league parameters, click here.

Joining an existing league is as easy a clicking your mouse. First, click on the league name to view the league settings. If the league sounds right for you, click on the "Join This League" button to place yourself in the league. Remember, you will need the league password if the league you are trying to join is private. Also, some leagues only allow access to particular types of teams (i.e. keeper leagues and winners leagues).

To create a league, click on the 'create a league' link accessible from the league directory page or the 'create new league' link from your team page. You will need to select the league name, league motto, and parameters for your league. You will not be able to change these parameters after creating the league. If you wish to alter league parameters after creation, you would need to create a new league with the desired settings and have league members move to the new league.

Once you have set up your team and joined a league, you are ready to begin preparing your team for the draft. Remember, if you haven't joined a league and are in the independent team pool, you must mark your team as "Ready" for the draft (the button is linked from your team set-up page). Teams can always mark themselves as "Unready" if they want to alter their draft lists.

Step 4 - The Draft
There are three types of drafts in FFL: single-list, multi-list and live drafts. Participants also have the option of enabling "Insta-Draft," which automatically places you in a league at the next available draft date.

Regardless of what type of draft your team participates in, you will benefit from ranking your players before the draft. You can rank players according to your preferences by clicking on the links for either the HTML or Java ranking tools (linked from your team set-up page). Do your homework, as the draft is the single most important part of building a successful team. Only the listed players are available for ranking -- rookies and/or players who deserve player-pool consideration will be added during the season. If you do not rank players, your team will be drafted (except in the case of live drafts) using the default rankings. These rankings are based on a combination of a player's 2005 statistics and their projected 2006 performance.

Review of draft types:

Draft days for the regular-season game begin in July and run intermittently up to the kickoff of the regular season on Thursday, September 9. Team owners have until midnight ET on the day before their draft to alter their player rankings. Drafts are run throughout the day listed, and team owners will be notified via e-mail when the draft is complete. Teams taking part in a live draft have a specific date and time when their draft begins. That information is listed on the preseason league page.

Once your draft has been run, things get even more exciting. Now you've got a team of your own. It has your name, and is populated by the players you ranked and/or picked in the draft. It is time to take the field in FFL!

Step 5 -The Regular Season
Each team drafts 16 players: 8 active and 8 bench players. Each week, you only earn points for players on your active roster. With the exception of Monday night's game, the composition of your active roster can be changed as often as you like, right up until a player's scheduled kickoff time. (Players in Monday night's game must be inserted into a team's active roster by 11:59 p.m. PT Sunday night for their stats to count). For additional information see the teams page in the rules.

The players on a fantasy team's active roster earn points based on the statistics they generate in real NFL games. Those fantasy points are added together to determine your fantasy team's weekly total. The points earned are dependent on whether you are participating in a league using the traditional scoring system or the performance scoring system. Each week your team will be pitted against another team in your league. Each fantasy team plays 13 regular-season games, corresponding with the first 13 weeks of the NFL regular season. During the final four weeks of the NFL regular season, the top four teams in each league will play each other in the playoffs, while the remaining teams compete in the consolation bracket.

Shifting players
In addition to the 16 players on your roster (eight active and eight bench), you also have the opportunity to add and remove players through the use of waivers, free agency, or trades:

Good luck. We'll see you on the gridiron!