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Fantasy Football 101: Breaking Down Rosters

Welcome back again everyone. Today's article in the Fantasy Football 101 series will break down rosters - what positions you can have, how they work, and some of the impacts it can have on a league. We are going to look at everything from Quarterbacks to Head Coaches, Individual Defensive Players and Independent Special Team units...I may even mention Kickers and Punters. Without further adieu, let's start team building....

So you are building or have joined a fantasy football league. You understand the scoring system because of last week's stunning article, so now you are ready to go... but who is scoring those points for you? Fantasy Football rosters are composed of any number of combination of players, where everything has value (except the offensive linemen, who never get any attention until they play as bad as ours). Let's start with the basics.

What's in a Roster? You have starting players and you have bench/backup players. Starting players score points for you during your game, whereas those on your bench do not...Though total bench points is sometimes used as a tie-breaker in scoring systems. For each position on your roster, take Quarterbacks (QB) for example, there is usually a minimum and maximum you can have on your total roster as well. If you start 1 QB in your league, you might have a minimum of 1, and a maximum of 3, meaning you have to have 1, and can't have more than 3. Some rosters include Injury Reserve (IR) spots. IR spots are used for players who are out, how stringent the requirement is depends on the league. These injured players won't count against your roster limit as long as they are on IR, but they may still count against your min/max numbers, so be sure you know the rules. That is a roster, in brief.

Starting Players: Whoever is in this spot earns you points during the game week. Keep a close eye on starting players. I recommend a Monday, Thursday, and Sunday morning checkup on starters to make sure that they are healthy, going to play, and are still your best option for that week. I pick those dates because Monday is a good day to submit claims for new free agents/waived players, Thursday is a good day for a mid-week health update and precedes Thursday Night Football, and Sunday morning lets you catch any late week injuries or adjustments.

Bench Players: These are your backups. Its good to have a nice mix of players here so that you don't have to drop/add players every time someone has a bye week. If you are starting 2 Running Backs (RB), you might only need 1 back up if they have staggered bye weeks for example, though most people like to keep 4, or even 5, RBs around. You can switch Starters and Bench players anytime after the previous weeks games are over, but cannot have them "come in" after a player sustains a mid-game injury. Its just the way the game works right now.

Standard Roster: A standard roster typically consists of 16 players, 9 starters and 7 bench spots. The starters include 1 QB, 2 Running Backs (RB), 2 Wide Receivers (WR), 1 Tight End (TE), 1 Kicker (K) 1 Defense/Special Teams Unit (D/ST) and 1 "Flex" position. "Flex" positions give you the ability to choose between multiple different positions. Typical flex spots include a WR/RB spot or a WR/RB/TE spot.

Custom Roster Spots: Custom rosters can add or subtract from the above listed (2 starting QBs for example), change any number of the positions to Flex spots or add positions not listed above. They may include, but are surely not limited to: Head Coaches, Punters, separate Defense and Special Team Units instead of combined, and yes, the infamous Individual Defensive Players (IDP).

We are going to do a special on IDP, but for roster purposes, you can use Corners, Safeties, generic Defensive Backs, Linebackers, Defensive Tackles, Defensive Ends, and generic Defensive Line as well as a Defensive Utility Player, which works like a defensive flex position. As you can imagine based on the Scoring System article, adding all of these positions can have a big impact on how you draft, and how you score. The first big difference in an IDP league is that you either do defensive players ONLY, or you have massive rosters to manage. When I say massive, mine for example included 15 starters and 12 bench spots.

Now, I am going to save the position by position stuff until we get to player evaluation and roster analysis, after the Fantasy Football 101 series concludes. Suffice it to say, a regular WCG reader already knows what the above listed positions are, from Quarterbacks to Defensive Tackles, and if you look at the scoring systems article you get a feel for how to evaluate them...namely by statistics, not by wins and losses. Good luck, and see you next week.

Fantasy Football 101 Articles to come: Types of Drafts, IDP Special Report, PPR Special Report, What to Expect from your Provider

Other things on the back burner: Pre-Draft Fantasy Watch, A Year in Review: 2010 (5 part series), Post-Draft Fantasy Update, Fantasy Football Team Reports (8 part series, by division)

Previous Articles:

Fantasy Football 101: Introduction

Fantasy Football 101: What's in a league?

Fantasy Football 101: Scoring Systems