Fantasy football: Glossary of commonly used terms

As you peruse the many fantasy football columns offered by The Athletic leading up to and throughout the upcoming NFL season, you are likely to come across many of the terms listed below. Definitions of these commonly used terms have been provided in case their meanings are unfamiliar to you.

aDot — “Average depth of target” in terms of air yards the football travels per pass attempt. In 2021, Russell Wilson led all qualified QBs in aDOT at 10.2 yards. Marquez Valdes-Scantling led all receiving targets in aDot at 18.2 yards. The stat was created by fantasy legend Mike Clay.

ADP — Indicates a player’s “average draft position” based on an aggregation of fantasy football drafts.

air yards — Refers to the distance a pass travels in the air before it is caught or incomplete.

auction — A fantasy draft format in which every team manager is allotted a certain amount of “money” to bid against the other teams in the league for players. Teams must fill out an entire roster with the allotted budget. It is the preferred method of drafting for those who believe every team should have the option to try to obtain any player they wish to roster.

Bell-cow RB — A running back who is the clear majority leader (in terms of touch volume) in an NFL team’s backfield.

On the comeback — After making a pick in a serpentine-style draft, the “comeback” is when the draft works its way back to your next pick.

double-tap — A team that has back-to-back picks in a serpentine-style draft. For example, “I landed Jonathan Taylor with the first overall pick in the draft, then double-tapped wide receiver on the comeback.”

dynasty — A fantasy football format that allows managers to maintain their rosters year over year, more closely aligning with how real-life teams are run.

dynasty draft — An annual draft held by a dynasty league’s team managers to select the incoming NFL rookie class and any other un-rostered players.

fab — Also commonly referred to as “FAAB,” which stands for “free-agent (acquisition) budget,” the amount of “money” you have to use for bidding on players in your league’s free-agent pool.

Go to WR — The wide receiver who is the main target option for an NFL team. Sometimes referred to as the “Alpha” receiver.

Half-PPR — Fantasy football scoring format in which receptions are counted as 0.5 points.

cuff — Typically referring to a backup running back who is the next-in-line option should the team’s starting RB miss time. For example, Minnesota’s Alexander Mattison is Dalvin Cook’s handcuff.

keeper — A scaled-down version of a dynasty format, a keeper league allows for a limited number of players (three to five is fairly typical) to be “kept” and carried over to next year’s fantasy roster.

League winner — A player who has a heavy influence on a fantasy team’s success. A player can be a league winner by vastly outperforming their ADP and/or by going on a prolonged hot streak through the fantasy football playoffs.

Picking at the turn — A team that picks first or last in a serpentine-style draft. With the exception of the first and last picks of the draft, teams picking at the turn get to make two picks in a row during the draft process (the last pick of a round and the first pick of the following round).

platoon — Typically referring to an NFL team backfield in which volume is distributed equitably between multiple running backs. For example, the 2021 Denver backfield (Javonte Williams/Melvin Gordon).

PRP — A fantasy football scoring format in which players are awarded one point per reception.

QB1 — For fantasy football purposes, a starter-level QB. Typically based on a 12-team fantasy league, a QB1 is the equivalent of a top-12-scoring quarterback in fantasy points.

RB1/RB2/RB3 — For fantasy football purposes, a top-level starting RB. Typically based on a 12-team fantasy league, an RB1 is the equivalent of a top-12-scoring running back in fantasy points. An RB2 would fall into the top 13-24 range at the position, an RB3 in the 25-36 range and so on.

redraft leagues — Unlike keeper and dynasty leagues, redraft leagues make all players available to be drafted at the start of each new fantasy football season.

red zone — The area inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.

ROI — “Return on Investment,” in reference to how a player performs relative to where they were selected in a fantasy draft.

sleeping — A player who possesses more upside potential than they are being given credit for within the fantasy football community.

snakedraft — A serpentine-style fantasy draft format in which the order in which teams select players in Round 1 is reversed for each subsequent round.

super flex — A league format in which QBs can be used in a starting Flex lineup spot in addition to the standard Flex options (RB/WR/TE).

target — A pass intended for a particular player. In 2021, Cooper Kupp led the NFL with 191 targets.

TD-only — Fantasy football scoring format that only awards points for touchdowns.

TE-premium scoring — A fantasy football scoring format in which tight ends receive a higher value for receptions than the other positions.

Third-round reversal — A serpentine-style draft with a twist. In a third-round reversal draft, the order in which teams select in Round 1 is reversed for Round 2, with Round 3 following in the same order as Round 2. Round 4 and each subsequent round revert to the typical serpentine process. This draft method is thought to help level the playing field for teams picking late in Round 1 that don’t have an opportunity to select the most elite draft options.

Tier — A denotation of where gaps in expected fantasy value exist within a group of players, be it by position or in overall rankings.

Touch — Either a rushing carry or a reception. In 2021, Najee Harris led the NFL with 381 touches (307 carries plus 74 receptions).

Volume — For quarterbacks, volume refers to pass attempts. For running backs and receivers, volume refers to touches. In fantasy football, “volume is king” is a common refrain.

WR1/WR2/WR3/WR4 — For fantasy football purposes, a top-level starting WR. Typically based on a 12-team fantasy league, a WR1 is the equivalent of a top-12-scoring wide receiver in fantasy points. A WR2 would fall into the top 13-24 range at the position, a WR3 in the 25-36 range, a WR4 in the 37-48 range and so on.

YAK — “Yards after contact” when referring to a rusher. It can also be “yards after catch” when referring to a receiver’s additional yards gained after securing possession of a pass.

YPA — “Yards per attempt” for a quarterback, calculated by dividing the total passing yards by the number of pass attempts.

YPC — “Yards per carry” for a rusher, or “yards per catch” for a receiver. (It can also be referred to as YPR, “yards per reception.”)

zeroRB — A drafting methodology in which a team manager avoids the running back position in the early rounds of a draft.

zeroWR — A drafting methodology in which a team manager avoids the wide receiver position in the early rounds of a draft.

(Top photo: Marc Lebryk/USA Today)

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