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Types of Fantasy Football Leagues

By Jared Smola | Updated on Thu, 18 Apr 2024 . 9:16 AM EDT

New to playing fantasy football?

Thats great! We are here to help. 

First, you get to decide which types of fantasy football leagues you want to play in. 

And here’s where the fun starts:

Redraft Fantasy Football League

The type of fantasy football league most of your friends are playing 

This is traditional fantasy football – and your best bet if you’re just getting into the game.

You’ll participate in a draft with the other owners in your league before the season starts, taking turns picking players to fill out a roster. 

You’ll then be able to change that roster throughout the season via add/drops, on the waiver wire, and/or trades.

Most redraft leagues are head-to-head, meaning you’ll play a game against another team in your league every week. 

Both teams set a starting lineup according to league rules

The team accumulating the most fantasy points in your head-to-head matchup wins for that particular week. The exact process and rules apply to all the other teams in your league for their head-to-head matchups.

So how do you get to the playoffs?
That commonly happens one of two ways:

The first is via win-loss record

The top teams in terms of win-loss record after 14 or 15 weeks advance to the playoffs, which are typically single elimination weeks until a champion is crowned in Week 17 or 18.  

The second way to make the playoffs could be via total points

This will have the same setup regarding a draft, waiver wire, trades, and lineup setting. 

But instead of playing head-to-head matchups, you’ll accumulate points weekly throughout the season. The team with the most points wins the league after 17 or 18 weeks.

TIP

Ready to get started? Check out our fantasy football team name strategy guide to find the right name!

Best Ball League

All you do is draft … and watch your team every week

This type of fantasy football league is probably the easiest to play.

In a best ball league, you’ll draft your team like in Redraft. But that’s where the similarities end.

The team you draft is your team for the entire season in Best Ball.
No adds or drops via the waiver wire, and no trades. 

Best Ball rosters are typically bigger than Redraft rosters to help owners deal with the games missed due to injury throughout a season.

The other big difference in Best Ball leagues is that owners do not set a starting lineup

Your optimal starting lineup will be determined after the conclusion of each week’s games to calculate your score.

Best Ball leagues typically use total-point standings, although there are some head-to-head Best Ball leagues.

Auction League

You can have any player you want … for a price!

A draft is one way to build your fantasy team with players. An auction is the other.

In an auction fantasy football league, each team starts with a set number of fictional dollars (typically $100 or $200). 

Teams take turns nominating players for auction, and each team can bid on those players. The highest bidder wins that player.
This process is repeated until every team has a full roster.

Many fantasy owners prefer auctions because they allow every team to acquire any player.

Compare that to a traditional draft in which the team picking 10th will never get the top-ranked player.

Keeper/Dynasty League

This type of fantasy football league is as close as you’ll get to being an NFL owner

To make your fantasy football experience even closer to the real thing, consider a Keeper or Dynasty league.

Redraft, best ball, and auction leagues reset rosters every season. But Keeper and Dynasty leagues allow you to keep players on your roster for a set number of years or their entire careers.

Keeper leagues allow you to keep a certain number of players for a certain length of time

It typically costs you a draft pick to keep a player.  

For example, if you selected Breece Hall in the 4th round of last year’s draft and want to keep him for this year, you lose your 4th-round pick in this year’s draft.

Dynasty leagues typically allow you to keep your entire roster from season to season.  

Trading and free agency are open throughout the year, not just during the NFL season.

And incoming rookies are dispersed via a rookie draft every offseason.  Dynasty leagues are a very immersive experience for hard-core fantasy players.

TIP

Ready to dive right in? Our Draft War Room draft tool adapts to any league and set of rules. To discover how it can build your winning team, take just a few minutes to check out this short video.

Guillotine League

This type of fantasy football league is brutal … Finish last in any given week and your season is over!

Guillotine leagues are a relatively new fantasy football format.

These generally operate like Redraft total-points leagues. The catch is that the lowest-scoring team each week is eliminated from the league. 

That team’s players are then dropped into the waiver wire pool for the rest of the league to acquire.

The last team standing after the rest have been eliminated is the winner.

PPR (points per reception) vs. Non-PPR (no points per reception)

A simple rule change that has been added to most types of fantasy football leagues

PPR leagues are less a “type of league” than they are a scoring preference. Even so, fantasy football players call them “PPR leagues.”

Plus, they’re worth looking at since PPR has surpassed non-PPR in popularity over the past two decades.

Once upon a time, players got no bonus points for a reception. Just yardage and TDs.

Today, those leagues are called “non-ppr” leagues. 

On the flip side, PPR leagues are now the most common. Your player not only gets points for yardage and TDs but also for catches. Usually, one point per reception.

In some cases, leagues score one-half point per reception. In either case…   

Getting extra points per reception will change your draft strategy

Those points per reception make certain players more valuable at three key positions:

WR RB TE
Think players like Chris Godwin (PPR WR18; non-PPR WR26) and Michael Pittman (PPR WR20; non-PPR WR27) from 2022. Both guys hit our projections of 140+ targets. Players like Jerick McKinnon (PPR RB20; non-PPR RB27) and D’Andre Swift (PPR RB21; non-PPR RB24) gained extra fantasy value in PPR. Both guys finished top-12 in receptions. Tyler Higbee (PPR TE6; non-PPR TE14) posted a career-high 72 receptions.

TE-Premium Leagues

The only fantasy football league Travis Kelce’s mom plays in!!

TE-premium (TEP) leagues are rare but worth noting.

In these leagues, TEs get 1.5 points per reception. So, again, it’s more of a scoring rule outlier that makes TE-premium leagues unique. 

But that 50% boost in TE receptions alters your draft strategy.

To no one’s surprise, Travis Kelce has been a legit top-5 pick two out of the past three seasons. And a first-rounder all three of those years. 

And clearly, other stud TEs have cracked the top 25 in overall production in a TE-premium format.

TIP

The Fantasy Football Players Championship (FFPC) has led the charge in bringing TE-premium scoring into the mainstream. All of their various leagues and tournaments employ the 1.5 points per reception for TEs. If this TE-heavy competition piques your interest, check out the FFPC. They have online drafts ongoing throughout the summer. And a live Main Event draft in Las Vegas on the NFL’s regular season opening weekend.

Superflex Leagues

If you love QB scoring, this might be the type of fantasy football league you’ll most love

Here’s another rule variation that has big draft strategy implications.

Let’s see why:

In most leagues, teams must start at least one “flex player.”
A flex player has almost always exclusively been an RB, WR, or TE. 

That’s right, no QBs allowed.

The rationale for excluding QBs from the flex position has always been that:

  1. They score the most points, and
  2. There are only 32 starting QBs in the NFL

So allowing a second QB into a starting lineup would cause positional scarcity right from the start of the draft (read: draft chaos!).  

In other words, there would be an immediate run on QBs in any such league that allowed two of them to start.

Superflex rules don’t care about your positional scarcity feelings

So after explaining the reasons why allowing two starting QBs would cause:

  • Lineup Anxiety 
  • Draft Panic 
  • Scoring Excitement
  • Insane Points Potential
  • Feelings of QB inadequacy 

Somewhere, someone decided to add a “superflex” position to their league rules.  And fantasy football has never been the same …

Superflex leagues are fairly common now. And some of the biggest online fantasy football tournaments use the “superflex” spot in their rules.

This might come as a surprise to you:

Winning superflex draft strategies don’t always come down to loading up on QBs with your first two picks. Seems counterintuitive, right?...

Final Thought 

The truth is that many winning draft strategies come down to being counterintuitive. And it doesn't matter what fantasy football league you choose to play in. They all have some unique or quirky rule(s) that you have to adapt to. That means that generic rankings will only partially fit YOUR league settings. That is where the Draft War Room comes into the picture. The DWR evaluates player value at each moment of your draft. Think of it as a real-time cheat sheet that live-syncs with your league. Plus uses 17 draft value indicators to show you the best player at every moment of your draft. Check out how it works in this quick video >

Other rankings are stale  before the 2nd round.

Draft using the best dynamic tool in the industry. Our fantasy player valuations (3D Values) change during your draft in response to...

  1. Exact league settings - direct sync
  2. Opponent and Team Needs
  3. Positional scarcity & available players
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You need a dynamic cheat sheet that easily live-syncs with your draft board and adapts throughout your draft using 17 crucial indicators.

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