Fantasy 101: Common Fantasy Football Terminology

In 2019 I had a draft with some co-workers as a way of bringing us closer together. The experience level ranged from grizzled veterans to eager newbies. On draft day there were people who showed up empty handed and others who had computers with their rankings all in a row. While this may not be indicative of how prepped someone is for their draft, assumptions could be made or of who is ready and who isn’t.

The first round kicked off (pun very much intended) and some rushed to their board knowing exactly who they were picking. One individual however walked gingerly up to the board and very politely asked “Which set of stickers are the quarterbacks?” What would have helped is if they understood some basic terminology. On the set of stickers there was an abbreviation of QB at the top of the page. While this may seem like a simple term, you don’t know what you don’t know.

Even the most experienced fantasy experts make mistakes, but make 2021 the year where you become the most knowledgeable player in the room. This starts with understanding the everyday terms you will come across this season. Down below are some common and even experienced phrases that will give you a leg up if it is your first or tenth year of playing.


  • Average Draft Position (ADP): This is the average pick in which a player is drafted.
    • In example, if Tom Brady has an ADP of 76 this means that this is the average of all the picks in which this player is taken.
    • It is important to remember that this is only an average. This means sometimes he gets picked earlier and sometimes he goes later.
    • Where this is helpful is if you know somebody in your league needs that position or likes that player, you may need to take someone slightly ahead of their ADP.
  • Breakout: A player who expected to vastly outperform their current expectations.
    • Previously, this player may not have produced at a high level in the past but the belief is they will experience this in the upcoming season.
  • Boom-Bust: The outcome of a fantasy performance will either be a high or low score. Many factors can feed into this, but these players generally have a volatile weekly output.
  • Bye Week: A week that is dreaded but necessary. Out of an 18-week NFL season, the league gives a team one week off in order to rest. Which means your players will not be playing this week.
    • This week will differ for most teams and it is important to pay attention when your players will need to be replaced on a given week.
  • Bench: Players you choose to keep on your roster, but their points don’t affect the outcome of your week.
  • Ceiling: When discussing a player’s ceiling, it is a reference to how high a players production could be in the best possible scenario.
  • Doubtful: Players with an injury status that will most likely keep them out of the upcoming game, however this is not confirmed by the team.
  • Expert Consensus Ranking (ECR): With all players within a specific position there is a ranking of each player that may be different from one analyst to another.
    • This ranking is the average that players are ranked by position.
    • Just because a player is ranked number 1 at their position doesn’t mean they should be taken ahead another players 10th best at their position.
  • Floor: When discussing the floor of a player, it references the worst possible scenario for a player’s output.
  • Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB): The budget allotted to all teams at the beginning of the season. The budget is how players are acquired between weeks. This works as a bidding system where a free agent goes to the team who spends the most money.
  • Injured Reserve (IR): A roster spot(s) separate from a teams bench. Players that carry the injured reserve tag can be placed here with the intention of returning later in the season.
  • Out: Players that will be held out of the upcoming game, generally due to injury.
  • Probable: Players with a sustained injury but it is not believed to be severe enough to hold them out of the upcoming game.
  • Point Per Reception (PPR): PPR is a form of scoring where players earn one point for each reception they have.
  • Questionable: Players with an injury status where it is about 50% likely they will play in the upcoming game.
  • Ranking: This is the order in which players are ranked based on the site you’re drafting on.
    • This is the order in which an individual may have players ranked.
    • Ranking will differ from fantasy analyst and site to site.
    • ADP is more of a cumulative of multiple opinions compared to one individual.
  • Starters: Players that you choose to play for your team in a given week. These points will count towards your score.
  • Superflex: This is a roster spot that is normally not included in standard leagues. This spot will allow for quarterbacks to be placed here which is not allowed in regular flex spots.
  • Sleeper: A player who is believed to have a breakout season.
    • This outcome is not guaranteed which will push these players to a later ADP.
  • Streaming: This is a strategy where players will be continuously picked up and dropped for players that have an upcoming matchup that is favorable.
  • Trade: A set of players sent to another team in an agreed upon return for other players.
  • Waivers: The standard format for adding players to your roster after each week. Players are picked up and dropped normally in a 1:1 transaction.
  • Waiver Order: The order in which teams can claim a player.
    • Priority is normally given to the last place team all the way to first place.
  • .5 Point Per Reception: This is a form of scoring where players .5 points for each reception they have.

Positional Terms

Running backRB
Wide ReceiverWR
Tight EndTE
Defense/Special TeamsDST
Individual Defensive PositionIDP

IDP Terms

Defensive endDE
Defensive linemanDL
Defensive tackleDT
Free safetyFS
Strong safetySS
Middle linebackerMLB
Outside linebackerOLB

This is just the beginning of many terms and acronyms in the world of fantasy football. The amount can be overwhelming but its important to remember this is supposed to be fun! It should not be against league rules however to have fun while crushing the competition due to foundational knowledge you now have. For any new players in your league this year, be sure to pass on this information to make your league as competitive as possible!

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