American football players

UK fantasy NFL: where to get started

Playing fantasy NFL is a great way to get into one of America’s favourite sports. Despite this, not many people in the UK have cottoned on!

So, we thought it would be a good idea to sort you out with some of the very basics of American football, and to teach you how to get your teeth stuck into the world of fantasy NFL.

American football: how does it work?

Even if you’re itching to add another daily fantasy sport to your arsenal, you might be begging the question: how do you even play American football? Well, it’s fairly straightforward.

The teams

Fantasy NFL logo

American football is played by two 11-man teams. The team with possession of the football is called the offense, and the other is called the defense. The biggest league is called the NFL.

The time divisions

Unlike most British sports, American football is divided into four quarters of 15 minutes each. There’s a break of 12 minutes between the second and third quarters known as ‘half time’.


In a similar way to rugby, the main objective of the game is to score points by taking the ball from the starting point in the centre of the pitch to a designated area (known as an end zone) at either end. Each team must reach the opposite end, while simultaneously protecting theirs.

You can also score by using the field goal, which again is similar to the posts in rugby.

The scoring system is as follows:


Touchdowns are the biggest and best way to score in American football. If a team scores one, they’ll be awarded 6 points.

To score a touchdown, a player must have legal possession of the ball, and the ball must cross past the other team’s goal line.

An NFL player in action

Extra point

Immediately after scoring a touchdown, a team has the chance to score either 1 or 2 extra points. To score 1 point, the team must kick the ball between the posts. To score 2 points, the team must run or pass the ball into the end zone.

Field goal

A field goal is simply when the ball is kicked between the posts. This scores the team 3 points.

American football field goal

Field goal posts


A safety is scored when a player causes the ball to become dead, while in his team’s own end zone. This could be because of a number of reasons—the player could fumble the ball, or could accidentally go out of bounds with the ball. It can also occur if the player gets downed.

A safety results in 3 points.

Different types of players

The team is divided into two different types of players: offensive and defensive.

The offensive is comprised of the quarterback, who throws the ball to the wide receivers, who try to reach the other team’s end zone. There are also offensive linemen who attempt to stop the other team’s defensive players reaching the ball holder.

The defensive is made up of the defensive line, a linebacker and defensive backs. These players attempt to stop the other team’s offensive players from reaching the end zone.

There’s also a kicker, and a kick returner, who play only at certain times.

That’s the basics of American football covered, so you might be wondering:

How do I play fantasy NFL?

Well, the first thing to do is to join a league. There’s a massive selection of leagues at places like DraftKings, which is our recommended place to play fantasy NFL in the UK. 

NFL leagues to choose from on DraftKings

The great selection of leagues to choose from at DraftKings

You can then select your roster in much the same way you would for any other DFS sport, except for one crucial difference. The NFL uses a system called the draft.

The draft is the system whereby new players are allocated to teams, and it’s hugely important to pay attention to if you’re to succeed at playing fantasy NFL.

You can see our full article on the draft for more details, but for now we’ll just provide you with a few quick tips.

Fantasy NFL tips

#1:  In the opening rounds of the draft, pick the best players you can even if they don’t necessarily correspond to your needs. This will pay off later on.

#2: Pay attention to last year’s hotly-tipped players, and think very hard before drafting them! A common mistake of DFS players is to think that everything will work exactly the same as it did the previous year.

#3: Wait to draft quarterbacks, unless you see a complete bargain you need to snap up early on. There’s usually plenty of talent to go round in this position, so waiting until near the end of the draft will allow you to take advantage of other prime picks.

#4: Keep an eye out for other people’s tips. No matter how much of yourself you dedicate to your fantasy NFL career, there’s always going to be someone out there whose advice you can use to your advantage. It’s a good idea to check out websites like Bleacher Report, for example.

#5: Get multiple strategies sorted. You never know what’s going to happen over the course of the season, so keep on your toes and be prepared to shake things up if needed!

Well, that’s probably enough to be getting on with. Don’t forget to check back to DailyFantasyUK for more tips and tricks over the coming season—we’re here to scratch your DFS itch!

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