This is a dictionary of fantasy football terms that should help define the lingo used in the community. You may also be interested in checking out our fantasy football beginner’s guide.
ADP (Average Draft Position): A report that lists NFL players by where they are being selected in fantasy drafts on average. ADP is a useful draft preparation tool.
Auction Draft: A type of fantasy draft in which owners obtain players through a bidding process. Each owner is given a certain amount of money to spend on players, and each player goes to the highest bidder. Owners take turns introducing an opening bid for a player.
Bench Players: Players you own whom you choose to not start. You receive no points for their performances as long as they remain on your bench.
Breakout: A player who improves significantly, becoming one of the game’s best, with an emphasis on how he performed previously during his career.
Boom-or-Bust: A player who could perform one of two ways in a season: really well or really poorly. It can also mean an inconsistent player who scores a lot of points one week, and very few the next.
Bust: A player who does not live up to expectations. This player may have suffered a season-ending injury, been suspended or simply was unable to perform well on the field.
Bye Week: Each NFL team plays 16 games out of 17 weeks during the season. The week a team is off is called its bye week.
Ceiling: The top of a player’s potential, whether it is scoring or his overall talent.
Cheat Sheet: A drafting tool that ranks NFL players in order of their projected fantasy point total. Since every fantasy league can have its own unique scoring system, make sure your cheat sheet is customized to your league’s settings.
Commissioner: The person who is responsible for maintaining the league, reporting the results of the fantasy matchups, running the draft, collecting entry fees and generally keeping things running smoothly. It is important for the commissioner to be unbiased, fair and honest.
Cut, Drop or Release: To remove a player from your roster.
Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS): Instead of playing in a league for a full season, contests are won or lost in one day or a very short duration.
Deep League: A league with more than 12 owners and/or rosters that are larger than normal.
Depth Chart: The depth chart is each team’s hierarchy. The starters at each position are listed first and followed by their respective backups. These players are also classified as first-string, second-string, third-string, etc.
Draft: Prior to the NFL season, fantasy owners select the players for their team. This can be done in one of two ways: an auction draft or a serpentine draft.
Dynasty League: A league in which you keep your entire roster from year to year. Before each season, a rookie draft is held to improve your team. Dynasty leagues are for more advanced fantasy owners and require a long-term commitment.
FAAB (Free Agent Acquisition Budget): A waiver wire method where each team owner is given a budget for the season that is used to bid on players on the waiver wire.
FF or FFB: Abbreviation for fantasy football
Flex: A spot in your starting lineup that allows you to use more than one type of position player, most often running backs or wide receivers. However, some leagues’ flex spot allows an owner to use a tight end or even a quarterback.
Flier: An ambiguous term that generally means chance, as in “to take a flier on a player.” It can also refer to a player who is worth adding as a free agent or off waivers.
Floor: The lowest potential for a player, whether when evaluating his career or his in-game performance. See: ceiling.
FPPG: Fantasy points per game
Free Agent: A player who is not currently on any team’s roster. If the league has a waiver system, free agents are players who have cleared waivers.
Gamble: A player with both high potential and high risk. Players in this category are usually injury-prone, have a history of being suspended or are approaching the end of their career.
Handcuff: Drafting your stud RB’s backup to mitigate the harm if the stud gets injured. A modern example would be drafting James Conner after selecting Le’Veon Bell in the first round.
IDP (Individual Defensive Player): A departure from the team defense approach, some leagues require each owner to start individual defensive linemen (DL), linebackers (LB) and defensive backs (DB). The number of starters and the scoring settings for these positions varies dramatically by league.
IR (Injured Reserve): An option in some leagues, an injured player can be placed on IR for a certain number of weeks. The player cannot return to the active lineup and does not earn the owner any points until that number of weeks has passed. However, another player can be added to the team since placing a player on IR opens up their roster spot. Players placed on IR in the NFL will not play for the rest of the current season.
Injuries: If a player becomes injured, he cannot play and, therefore, cannot score points for his fantasy team. Prior to a game, each NFL team is required to submit an injury report that lists each of their afflicted players and the general nature of their injury (knee, back, illness, etc.). Each team is also required to give each of their injured players one of four possible injury designations — probable, questionable, doubtful and out. These designations tell you the odds a certain injured player has of playing in the upcoming game:
Probable (P): There is about a 75 percent chance that this player will play this week. It is rare that players listed as probable miss the upcoming game.
Questionable (Q): There is about a 50 percent chance that this player will play this week.
Doubtful (D): There is about a 25 percent chance that this player will play this week.
Out (O): This player will not play this week. This is usually accompanied by an estimate stating how long the player will be unavailable (Out: six weeks – ankle).
Each team is required to release an inactives report 90 minutes prior to its kickoff. This report shows which players are active and inactive for the game. Also keep in mind that, to maintain a small competitive advantage, head coaches may not always be fully honest about an injured player’s chances of playing.
Keeper League: A league in which a certain number of players can be retained from the previous season’s roster by each owner. The number of players kept can vary by league.
Mock Draft: A fake draft that is used to practice drafting strategy and gauge where players will be selected in actual fantasy drafts.
Owner: The person who makes decisions regarding his or her fantasy football team, including who to draft, cut and start.
Pickup: A player to potentially add to your roster.
PPR (Point Per Reception): In some leagues, owners earn a fantasy point for each reception their players produce during a game. In these leagues, wide receivers and pass-catching running backs are much more valuable than in standard leagues.
Projections: Often found on a cheat sheet, projections are estimations of player’s value in a week or over a full season. It attempts to guess the total stats for a player given a certain timeframe. Also found often on cheat sheets. See: Cheat Sheet.
QB1, QB2: In a 10-team league, a QB1 is a quarterback who ranks as a top-10 option, while a QB2 is ranked from 11-20 at the position.
QBBC (Quarterback by Committee): The QBBC strategy directs owners to pass on the big-name QBs and fill their roster with RBs and WRs before selecting multiple QBs in the later rounds. With some careful planning, you can draft two (or preferably three) QBs who have complementary schedules and greatly increase the likelihood that one of your QBs will have an advantageous matchup each week.
RB1, RB2: In a 10-team league, an RB1 is a running back who ranks as a top-10 option, while an RB2 is ranked from 11-20 at the position.
RBBC (Running Back by Committee): The RBBC strategy is being used by more NFL teams each year. Teams are having success using a fast, small back between the 20-yard lines and a large power back near the goal line. That goal-line player is also known as a “vulture.” Other NFL teams seem to rotate their RBs to keep them fresh. However, this creates difficulties in fantasy football since points are awarded for both yardage and touchdowns. Running backs who get the bulk of their team’s rushing yardage and touchdowns are becoming more valuable.
Scoring: Abbreviations include: TD = Touchdown; Yds = Yards; FG = Field Goal; XP = Extra Point; INT = Interception; Pts = Points. See: Basic Scoring and Performance Scoring.
Standard Scoring: A system where you receive points for yardage gained (as in 1 point for every 25 passing yards) in addition to the points awarded in a basic scoring system.
Superflex: A flex roster spot that allows an owner to start a QB, in addition the usual RB, WR or TE options of a flex spot. Since owners can start two QBs in a superflex league, quarterbacks are generally drafted much higher than in a traditional one-quarterback format. Also see: flex.
Snake Draft: A draft type that focuses on balance. In the first round, each team selects a player in accordance with the draft order (Team 1 through Team 10 or Team 1 through Team 12, etc.). The team that picked last in the first round would then pick first in the second round. The team with the first pick in the first round would have the last pick of the second round and the first pick of the third round. This weaving format continues for the entirety of the draft. Draft order is usually randomly selected by the league commissioner.
Sleeper: An NFL player who someone believes is going to have a breakout season but may be undervalued in fantasy drafts or is just not a well-known player.
Starters or Starting Lineup: The players from whom you receive fantasy points during a particular week. A typical starting lineup includes one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end, one kicker and one team defense. Some leagues include individual defensive players (IDPs) in lieu of a team defense. See: IDP.
Stream (or Streaming): Instead of having a dedicated starter week-to-week, an owner may prefer to stream a position. For example, instead of drafting a kicker, an owner can opt to pick up kicker via free agency every week based on matchup. This can also happen if a team’s primary starter is injured and the owner must reevaluate the position each week.
Stud: A NFL player who has proven himself to be a top-scoring fantasy player at his position. These players should be started each week regardless of matchup and should be benched only during bye weeks and when they are nursing significant injuries.
Team Defense: Many leagues require each owner to start a team’s entire defense. You earn points when any player on the defense records a sack, an interception, a fumble recovery, a safety or a touchdown. You lose points when that defense allows its opponent to score. Some leagues also include special teams accomplishments, such as kick and punt return touchdowns, as a part of team defense scoring.
Team Position: Instead of earning points from one specific player at a position, you earn points from every player at that position on a certain team. For example, if you start the Philadelphia Eagles as your Team QB, you would earn points for what every Eagles quarterback does during a game, not just the starter.
Trade: Swapping certain players from Team A to Team B.
Transaction: A roster change. Some leagues have a transaction fee. See: Cut or Drop, Pickup and Trade.
Waivers: Players cut in most leagues do not immediately become free agents and available to any team. Instead, they go on waivers for a day or more. While on waivers, owners can make a waiver claim for the recently released player. Usually, the claiming team with the highest waiver priority gets the player.
Waiver Order: Each team begins the season with a waiver priority number that is most commonly the reverse of its draft spot. So, the team that had the No. 1 pick in a 12-team draft would start off with the No. 12 waiver priority. Conversely, the team that had the 12th and final pick of the first round would have the No. 1 priority. Once an owner uses his or her waiver priority to successfully add a player, their priority number falls to the bottom of the league.
WR1, WR2, WR3: In a 10-team league, a WR1 is a top-10 wide receiver, a WR2 is ranked from 11-20, and a WR3 is ranked 21-30.
Zero-RB Strategy: When an owner opts to “fade” or avoid the RB position early in the draft due to their risks (injury, overuse). Instead, the owner will select WRs early in the draft. More common in leagues where there are three starting WR slots (instead of two) and one or more flex slots.
Fantasy Football Positions
- DST or DEF: Team defense
- K: Kicker
- QB: Quarterback
- RB: Running back
- RET: Punt or kick returner
- TE: Tight end
- WR: Wide Receiver
- CB: Cornerback
- DE: Defensive end
- DL: Defensive lineman
- DT: Defensive tackle
- FS: Free safety
- SS: Strong safety
- LB: Linebacker
- MLB: Middle linebacker
- OLB: Outside linebacker
- S: Safety