4for4 Beginner's Guide

By Brandon Niles (4for4 Scout) on Jul 1, 2010

Brandon Niles's picture

Brandon has been a regular contributor to 4for4 since 2006. He's an experienced writer with a background in communication, business and alcoholic beverages. Follow Brandon on Twitter: @2guysbrandon.

Updated July 5, 2012

In the world of fantasy football, it can be hard to know whom to trust. 

When I first came upon 4for4.com, I approached it with the same caution that I usually do when reading other people's opinions regarding the great sport of fantasy football that I've loved so much for the past 15 years. 
 
Then I noticed the "Scouts" and other tabs at the top. It included testimonials, information about membership, contact information, and most importantly, a listing of the 4for4 staff. Seeing the credentials of the professionals who run this site instantly made me take notice. Soon, 4for4 quickly became my favorite fantasy football resource.
 
Now, I'd like to offer a 4for4 beginner's guide. The site offers many outstanding features that you'll want to take full advantage of.
 
But first things first...
 

WHAT IS FANTASY FOOTBALL?

Fantasy football is the creation of your own personal NFL team. There are many different guidelines and variations to the game, but the principle remains the same. 4for4 does a great job of accounting for these different variations by allowing for varying scoring methods, league sizes, drafting restrictions, and even league longevity. 
 

Scoring Methods

Here's a typical standard scoring format:
 
Category Points
Passing Yards 1 pt / 25 yds
Rushing Yards 1 pt / 10 yds
Receiving Yards 1 pt / 10 yds
Passing TDs 4
Interceptions -2
Rush/Rec TDs 6
Field Goals 3
Extra Points 1
Two-Point Conversions 2
Defensive Scoring:  
Defensive TDs 6
Sacks 1
Safeties 2
Interceptions 2
Fumble Recoveries 2
 
Editor's Note: Point Per Reception (PPR) leagues are becoming more popular. They are typically the same as standard scoring except they also add a point per reception, which enhances the value of WRs, TEs and pass-catching RBs in comparison to QBs and run-heavy RBs.
 
I've personally seen variations that include scoring for individual defensive players, special teams, tackles, receptions, and just about everything else. The system listed above however is a great starting point. Whatever works for your league is just fine, but be aware that many reference sources use this type of system when evaluating draft strategy.
 

League Sizes

A typical league is ten or twelve teams in size and drafts in a snake-like manner (that is, #1-#12 in the first round, #12-#1  in the second round, and so forth). I have seen leagues as large as 16 and when I was in Iraq, I was part of a four-person fantasy football league (resources were scarce, but quality fantasy football players were abundant that year). 
 
Most agree that ten or twelve people is just about right. Too few people and everyone on every team is a superstar, which takes the fun out of it. Too many people and the talent pool is spread too thin, making the league far less enjoyable. 
 
Fantasy teams have starters and backups, just like real NFL teams do. Most leagues start 1 QB, 2 RBs, 2-3 WRs, 1 TE, 1 K, and 1 Defense. This is a standard way to set it up, but I've seen more and less of each position, and I've also seen KR and PR players and individual defensive players as well. A good idea is to start with the above as a base amount, and then adjust it for the size of your league. For example, if your league is only eight teams, then perhaps start a few extra players each week.
 
Editor's Note: Many leagues are now utilizing a "flex" position to allow for an extra RB, WR or TE in the starting lineup.
 

Salary Cap Leagues

Many leagues draft players. Some do not. Some leagues run off an auction or salary cap. Still others play the Start Em Once style (FFTOC). 
 
If your league does use a salary cap, then that means a certain dollar amount has been assigned to each player in the NFL. As an owner, you have to keep your fantasy team under a designated salary cap limit. Usually, the cap is around $100 million and the player values range from $1 million for the lowest level players all the way to $30-50 million for a few of the elite players. 
 
4for4 has an excellent way to balance out the salaries that should be given to players in the league. Operating off a percentage, 4for4's customizable auction bid values section can help you to allocate the right percentage of the salary cap to each player. 
 
This tool allows for you to customize how many players of each position are being drafted as well as the size of your league. This is an excellent way to start a salary cap league and to establish fair and realistic values. For more on player values, click here. 
 
For more information, click here.
 

Auction Leagues

For those in auction leagues, check out the above link. By using 4for4's custom Auction Values, you'll enjoy a huge edge over those other managers using a generic price list. The goal of auction leagues is to draft a number of top-tier players in each position for as little as possible. 
 
Editor's Note: For more on auction strategy, read Auction Strategy 101.
 

Keeper Leagues

Most leagues build their teams from scratch each year with a draft, which are otherwise known as redraft leagues.
 
However, keeper leagues are common as well. In this style of league, each team keeps a predetermined number of players from last season's roster. 
 
Often, you get to keep a player for last year's draft round. That is, if you drafted a player in the 12th round last year you can keep him as your 12th round pick this year.
 
4for4 has a section of the site dedicated to keeper leagues. They have great articles that can guide you toward creating your own keeper league (including the pros and cons of doing so), and they have valuable information regarding trade values of draft picks and players. They also include an excellent keeper league-specific cheat sheet to help you draft. Check out the site's Keeper Rankings tool, which reflects a player's current year and long term value.
 
 

TIPS, TOOLS & TRICKS

So how can you be the most informed manager in your league? The following are my own methods for succeeding in fantasy football. I haven't finished lower than second in the past eight years. Below, I will review how 4for4 addresses my needs perfectly.
 

Stay Informed

It pays to diligently read headlines, check all news sources and generally know what's going on in the NFL. But who has 16 hours a day to do all the digging? Solution: 4for4 actually does the legwork for you. 
 
For starters, the site has an e-mail service, which contains excellent information. It's easy to sign up and easy to sign off. This is a quick and effortless way to get quality information that will keep you up-to-date on fantasy-related news around the NFL. 
 
4for4 also has a section dedicated specifically to NFL news. Check this section out on your lunch break or before you go to sleep to find out the latest happenings in the NFL. This allows you to stay up to date on current fantasy-related events, without having to go to multiple sites. The news includes league news, team specific events, and positional listings of what's happened recently with each NFL player. This is great if you're wondering if that rookie quarterback has signed, or if you're wondering how well that injured running back is recovering from surgery. Other news sections on the website include rookie reports, off-season movements, and more.
 
Additionally, the site's highly detailed player projections and rankings are updated constantly to ensure the fantasy information you receive is current and relevant.
 
With expert and contributor-written articles posted frequently on the website, 4for4 also provides different perspectives on what's happening around the league. This includes fantasy trends, overvalued (and undervalued)prospects, tips for drafting from specific positions, early camp reports, and much more. There are even sections for special information such as individual defensive player (IDP) rankings. Reading up on the different sections can make you the most educated and prepared person in your draft room.
 

Practice Makes Perfect

I know this may sound silly, but practice makes perfect even in fantasy football. I remember when I was twelve years old, sitting down in my parent's living room, trying to figure out who would be available for my first few picks. Each year would go by, and I'd try to predict further and further into the draft. Now I practice the entire draft, with multiple scenarios to get an idea of who might be available, and to ensure that I maximize the value of my picks. 
 
4for4 has a section called Full Impact to help you practice for your draft. The section includes customized simulation, customized cheat sheets, and many other draft related tools. The Full Impact cheatsheets run off the official 4for4 player projections. However, now you can create a custom cheatsheet based on your league rules. You can run a mock draft using your rules and during the season you can get customized weekly lineup help and more. If your league has highly unique rules, Full Impact gives you the edge. 
 
Additionally a membership to 4for4 gives you a FREE Premium Copy of PC Drafter (a $17.95 value), which is a cutting edge draft tool. I've used it multiple times, and now I don't need to do my own simulations. I recommend everyone try it out for an absolutely great simulation and to help with the 'practice makes perfect' philosophy. PC Drafter also grades your draft for you after you're finished. You'll know right away how well you did in relation to the other simulated and user-controlled teams. In addition, PC Drafter will help you crush your actual draft as well. pcDrafter looks at all the key factors and makes suggestions each step of the way during your live draft or auction. As the GM, you can choose to take PC Drafter's advice or go another direction.
 
4for4 also compiles Average Draft Position (ADP) data from several different mock draft sites. This data will give you an idea of who's available each round of your draft based on a typical fantasy draft this summer.
 
Editor's Note: The ADP Draft Planner takes draft preparation to a new level leveraging real draft data from MyFantasyLeague to provide real-world availability for players at virtually any point in the draft. Wondering which TEs are likely to be available with the 10th pick in the 7th round? The ADP Draft Planner can tell you.
 

Update Your Rankings

There are many reasons to update rankings on a consistent basis -- injuries, roster moves, demotions and promotions to name a few. Players excel in camp, quarterbacks develop timing with receivers, offensive and defensive schemes change and so on. All these factors can lead to a change in rankings. 
 
As you go over stats and information daily, you consistently find new insights. For example, looking at a WR's stats from last year (e.g. 27 catches, 453 yards, and 6 touchdowns), that player may not seem like a good fantasy option. Later however, you may notice that over half of that production came in the last four games of the season. This changes things entirely. Keeping up with your rankings will help you to catch these potential oversights. Of course, that's an awful lot of work and diligence to do it right. 
 
4for4 has many tools at your disposal to make the above process much easier. In addition to the ADP listed earlier, 4for4 has a Draft Day Bargains report where they put their rankings up against that of ADP. This gives subscribers a perspective of where players are drafted, and where the experts think they should be drafted. This helps when finding bargain picks in the later rounds of you draft. It can also keep you from drafting a potential dud early on. 
 
4for4 also has time-proven cheatsheets for all you cheaters out there who don't want to go through the long process of thorough evaluation. Print off these cheatsheets and bring them to your draft, and you'll already be a step ahead of the competition. 
 
4for4 creates these cheatsheets based on expert opinions and time-proven forecasting models to give you an inclusive, effective list of rankings for each of the key fantasy positions. 
 
Making use of the 4for4 player Draft Board is also an excellent way to see what multiple people think of any given player. You can read many postings about the different players to help you decide where exactly you rank the fantasy prospects at each position. The Draft Board is interactive and includes discussion topics, latest reviews, and even average community rankings along side the official 4for4 results.
 

Don't Stop After Week 1

Some new fantasy managers pay less attention after their draft. They prefer to watch for injuries and bye weeks and stick to the roster they chose and the starters they established. This is a mistake. 
 
4for4 does all the legwork for you here as well. They have a full section dedicated to schedule analysis (a.k.a. Hot Spots), which can help you draft, and can help throughout the season. 
 
Once the season starts, 4for4 delivers valuable information to you each day to help you identify who has the best matchups, who's hot, who to trade away, who to pick up on the waiver wire and how all the key players rank for the remainder of the season. All this allows you to make the tough decisions that will eventually lead to a spot in your league's playoffs and maybe even a championship.
 

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Filed Under: Preseason, 2010