Fantasy Football Glossary

Like every sport, Fantasy Football has its own terms and slang. Here is a glossary of terms and definitions commonly used in the game. Do you know the difference between a sleeper and a handcuff?

No? Then read on because learning the lingo is an important part of playing Fantasy Football.

Table of Contents

Auction Draft

Each coach is given x fantasy dollars at the start of the draft. Any coach can start the bidding on a player of their choice with the highest bidder winning that player.

Auction drafts are gaining popularity since they provide all teams an equal chance to draft top ranked players. Most of the major fantasy football sites now support an online auction draft format.

Recommended reading: Fantasy Auction Draft Tips and Strategy.


Your bench is all of your players who are not starting this week. It usually contains any players who are backups, on bye this week, sleepers or injured.

Bye Week

All teams in the NFL have to take one week off during the regular season (their ‘bye’ week). Any player on your fantasy team that has a bye in real life has no chance of scoring fantasy points that week.

Cheat Sheet

A list of NFL players that you will choose from during the draft. This will be your guide and game plan for the draft. It should include each player’s name, position, ranking, bye week, projected points and any other information you think is important.


A secret agreement made by 2 coaches that benefits one team in exchange for payment to the other. This type of activity destroys the credibility of a league and should not be tolerated.

Commissioner (aka: Commish)

Each league has one coach who also serves as the league commissioner. It is the commish’s responsibility to set up the league, schedule the draft, resolve any issues that may arise during the season and distribute the league prizes and trophies at the end of the season.

Recommended reading: Fantasy Football Commissioner Guide

Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS)

Coaches build teams and play against a large pool of other players online based on the games that day or week. Instead of a draft, teams are typically assigned a budget to build their team from scratch each week.

Fractional Scoring

Players get partial scoring credit for yardage less than the scoring threshold.

For example: Assume that your league scores 1 fantasy point for every 10 rushing yards. If your RB rushes for 19 yards he would score 1.9 fantasy points with fractional scoring instead of just 1 point under standard scoring.

Fractional scoring is usually recommended since it maximizes fantasy points and reduces the chance for a game to end in a tie.

Free Agent

Any player that is not on a fantasy team’s roster or the waiver wire. These players can be added to your team immediately.

Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB)

A Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB) is used instead of waiver priority to determine which team gets a player off of the waiver wire. Each coach gets x fantasy dollars (usually $100) at the start of the season to spend on waiver wire pick ups.

During the waiver period, coaches can secretly bid on players they want up to their available budget. At the end of the waiver period, the coach with the highest bid wins that player and the bid is deducted from that coach’s remaining budget. Ties are usually broken using time of bid, waiver wire priority or league standings.

Recommended reading: What’s the Difference Between FAAB and Waiver Wire Priority?


Using a spot on your bench to own your stud running back’s backup player as an insurance policy in case your stud gets injured.

Head to Head

Each team in the league competes against only one other team each week. The team that scores the most fantasy points gets a win.

In Person Draft (aka: Live Draft)

League members meet in person to conduct the draft. These are usually a good time with a lot of trash talk and beer.

Recommended reading: Fantasy Football Draft Party Ideas

Individual Defensive Player (IDP)

IDP leagues include roster spots for one or more defensive players instead of a team defense. An IDP earns fantasy points for their position stats (sacks, tackles, interceptions, etc) just like an offensive player.

Keeper League

A league where x number of players from each team stay on that team’s roster from one season to the next. Each coach selects which players they will “keep” for next season.

Keeper leagues encourage coaches to draft young NFL players who may not be expected to perform well until next season.

Online Draft

The league uses its host site to manage and conduct the draft. Players log in and make their selections online. Very helpful for leagues with coaches who do not live in the same geographical area.

Recommended reading: How To Decide Between Auction Or Snake Draft

Rookie (aka: Newbie)

Anyone playing their first season of fantasy football. Also applies to NFL players in their first season.

Running Back By Committee (RBBC)

An NFL team that frequently changes its starting RB (usually announced right before kickoff) or heavily uses multiple backs during the game (ie: one for short yardage, one for goal line and another for passing plays). This drives fantasy coaches nuts because it’s difficult to predict which RB will get the majority of carries from week to week.

Examples of a RBBC are the New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers and any team coached by Mike Shanahan.

Serpentine Draft (aka: Snake Draft)

A common method of drafting where teams are assigned a draft order from the 1st pick to the nth pick (where n is the number of teams). At the end of the 1st round, the draft order reverses with team n picking 1st.

In effect, all odd numbered rounds are started by the team with the 1st pick and all even numbered rounds are started by the team with the nth pick. The order will continue to alternate in this manner until all rounds are completed.

The teams at either end of the round get to pick twice in a row but have to wait a long time before the action gets back to them.

Recommended reading: Fantasy Football Draft Strategy Guide


Fantasy points are determined based on each player’s real life stats in the NFL that week.

Typical scoring stats include rushing/receiving/passing yards, rushing/receiving/passing touchdowns, turnovers, field goals, return yards and blocked/missed kicks. Leagues with Individual Defensive Players (IDP) have additional scoring for defensive stats.


A player that no one paid attention to who is now scoring big numbers every week. Usually a rookie or a veteran player that is benefiting from an injured player, coaching change or just plain got better.


Any top NFL player who consistently puts up big numbers each week. Adrian Peterson, Aaron Rodgers and Andre Johnson are all considered studs at their respective positions.


When two coaches agree to swap specific players between their teams to improve their respective rosters. The trade can involve any number of players from each team.

Many leagues have rules enabling the commissioner to nullify a trade if it is determined to be extremely lopsided or collusion is suspected.

Trade Deadline

Many leagues do not allow trades between teams near the end of the regular season. The date is usually within 1-2 weeks of the playoffs. This is to prevent a team with a poor record from giving away its top players to a team in the playoff hunt.

Waiver Priority

Determines which team can pick up a player from the waiver wire if multiple teams have claimed that player. The priority list starts the season in reverse order of the draft picks so the team that drafted last will have 1st priority.

Once a team has claimed a player from the waiver wire, that team drops to the bottom of the list and all other teams previously below it move up one spot.  A high waiver priority should be safeguarded to use on quality players if possible.

Recommended reading: What’s the Difference Between FAAB and Waiver Wire Priority?

Waiver Wire

When a player is dropped from a team, he goes on the waiver wire for a specified time period (typically 1-2 days) before becoming a free agent. During that time, teams can enter a claim on that player. When the waiver period ends, the player goes to the team with the highest waiver priority that claimed him. If no teams claimed the player, he becomes a free agent.

The reason for the waiver wire is to give all teams a reasonable chance to see that the player has been dropped from his original team.

Is Something Missing?

Please leave a comment if there’s a fantasy football term you want explained but didn’t find a definition for in the glossary.

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