Fantasy Football 101: Key Terminology Defined

Cheat Sheet – A cheat sheet is a list created to rank players’ value, usually for drafting purposes. However, they can be used to place a priority on free agents during the regular season as well.

Depth chart – A depth chart refers to the term used to describe a team’s rotation of players. The players at the top of the chart are the ones who play most often, while the players below are backups. In fantasy sports, it is important to be familiar with the depth charts of teams in order to assign value to players; the reason being that players who do not see the field as often are unable score many points for your team. This should not be confused with the term cheat sheet.

Flex Player– A flex player is one that can be input into multiple positions in a team’s lineup. An example would include a player that may be listed as a running back, but can be put in as a wide receiver. This can occur in two different ways depending on the league administration method.

Method One:

Josh Cribbs – RB, WR – Here, Cribbs is listed as both a running back and wide receiver, so he can be put into a slot for either.

Method Two:

RB / WR – Insert any RB or WR into this slot. Some leagues have a certain amount of lineup spots designated for a flex play. Method two is usually reserved for deeper leagues (12 teams or more.)

Free Agent– Players who are not signed to a team are considered free agents. In the world of fantasy sports, these are the players who go undrafted and available for pickup.

GM – These initials stand for General Manager. This is a term commonly used to refer to an individual who controls all aspects of a fantasy team.

IDP League – IDP, or Individual Defensive Player, typically refers to a league format in which defensive players are drafted and given a spot in a lineup in the same manner as offensive player. This format is much less common

Keeper League – A keeper league refers to a league where players are retained after the fantasy football season has concluded and throughout the offseason. This can be likened to owning one’s own fantasy “franchise” since players drafted will often be true rookies. This format can be modified to limit the number of “keepers” a team is allowed. Players may trade, pick up free agents, or even release players in the off season as allowable under a particular league’s rules.

PPR – PPR stands for point(s) per reception. This term is almost always utilized in reference to a scoring format where a certain amount of points are awarded to a player for simply recording a reception. In these types of formats, wide receivers and running backs with pass-catching ability become exceptionally more valuable.

Sleeper– This term refers to a player that has potential to perform well above expectations despite not being recognized as a high draft pick or elite performer.

Waiver Wire – The waiver wire is a reference to the pool of free agents. In reality, the term “waiver” applies to the paperwork attached to the player when they are effectively waived from a team. Often times, there is a period of time to allow players to “clear waivers”. In many fantasy leagues, this time is given to allow teams to the time to find out when a player has been released. A waiver priority, also exists in many formats that contain a “waiver period” between when a player is released vs. when they may be picked up. This allows the teams in most need of help to get the best free agents when they become available.

Michael C. Jones is the Co-Founder and Editor of and has over 10 years of experience in fantasy sports, including basketball, baseball, golf, and football.

Want more insight on fantasy football? Follow Michael on Twitter (@MJisyourhomeboy)

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