ESPN Fantasy Basketball 101: How to play (2023)

Sep 26, 2022

  • ESPN Fantasy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Facebook Messenger
  • Pinterest
  • Email
  • print

You love basketball. You follow the NBA, root for your favorite team and watched in amazement as Stephen Curry led the Golden State Warriors to another championship.

And you still haven't played fantasy basketball?!

If that sounds a lot like you, this is the perfect season to give it a try -- there is just so much exciting stuff happening around the league. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic can do everything on the court. Luka Doncic and Trae Young have moved into the MVP discussion. Zion Williamson is coming back from a missed season. And superstars LeBron James and Kevin Durant continue to put their teams on their backs like they did 10 years ago.

There has never been a better time to jump right into the fantasy game.

Imagine having Curry on your team when he gets on a roll from 3-point land and carries you to victory. Or what it feels like to have LaMelo Ball on your squad when he stuffs the stat sheet in his third NBA season.

These are the moments you remember as a fantasy manager!

In fact, many of those who've played fantasy basketball over the years can recall specific games that certain players had for them. An epic scoring night by James Harden or Damian Lillard, or maybe a timely triple-double by Russell Westbrook.

So fun. So, so fun!

(Video) NBA Fantasy Basketball 101 [How to Play Fantasy Basketball]

If you're not an expert, don't worry -- we have everything you need to know about how to enter a league and draft a winning team. Even if you're a total beginner, you will still have the tools to experience the joy of fantasy basketball like millions do every year.

Make the league your own

Every fantasy basketball league is different. While there are basic rules and settings that apply across the board (you will learn about those below), each league takes on its own identity based on settings like roster size, injury spots, stat categories and other specifics.

We encourage you to join or start a league that fits what you're looking for. If you want to be more casual and set your lineups once a week, find a league that uses weekly lineup changes. If you're a little bit more diehard with all this and want to be able to add and drop players and craft new lineups on a daily basis, that's the type of league you should enter.

The bottom line is to do what's fun for you. Find a league that keeps you tuning in to watch your players every night.

With that in mind, we've put together ESPN Fantasy Basketball 101 to give you an overview of how to get started, how to prepare for your draft and how to play during the season.

Now it's time for you to sign up and join the fun!

Getting started

ESPN Fantasy Basketball FAQ

Click here for a quick reference for basic game-related questions.

How to sign up on the ESPN Fantasy app

Were you invited to an ESPN Fantasy Basketball league? Do you want to create your own as a League Manager? We have complete instructions for you right here.

(Video) NBA FANTASY BASKETBALL 101 | How To Play Fantasy Basketball

How to sign up online

Whether you were invited to join an already-existing league or want to create your own as a League Manager, you'll find everything you need to do so right here.

League settings

If you created your own league, you'll need to make sure all of your league's rules and settings -- including roster size, scoring, regular-season schedules and playoff schedules -- are to your liking. We have all of the details of how to do that right here. Note: This season

You've signed up, now what?

Check out your league and team pages

It's time to learn more about your league and team pages, so you know where everything is. We've got you covered with a detailed tour right here.

Know your rules

This might seem incredibly basic, but even veteran fantasy basketball players often assume they know their league rules even when they don't. The result of overlooking a rule can be costly, so be sure you know the rules before your draft.

Go to your fantasy basketball league page, click on League, then Settings. Here, you'll be able to find all the rules that are in place for your league this season. This includes roster construction, scoring, schedule, playoff structure and more.

Take the time to carefully go over every section. To make sure you understand the thinking behind each rule, check out our League Settings overview.

Draft prep

(Video) How To Play Fantasy Basketball

A good draft will put you in position to have a successful season, and taking time to prepare beforehand is key. That includes formulating strategies and printing out rankings that reflect your league's scoring format.

Don't worry, we have you covered with customized expert rankings and draft strategies in the ESPN Fantasy Basketball draft kit.

Autodraft prep

If you don't plan to take part in a live draft, that's OK. Our system will automatically draft for you.

Still, you have the option of guiding how our system will draft your team. Go to your Team page and click "Edit Autopick Strategy." Here, you can decide which player positions you'd like to pick in which parts of the draft and how many players at each position you want to select overall.

Mock drafts

Mock drafts are simply practice drafts that don't count for anything. It's a terrific way to get used to the ESPN draft software, make sure you know how everything works and test out different strategies. For example, that might mean drafting a point guard in the first round versus drafting a small forward in Round 1 and waiting on a point guard until the fourth round.

These practice drafts also let you see which players are going higher than expected and which are routinely slipping down a round or two (or more). This is extremely useful knowledge that you can take with you in your real draft and use to your advantage, avoiding those "sliding" players until later rounds when you have a good idea that they will still be available.

For an overview of how everything in the ESPN draft room works, click on this link.

The draft

Draft day is the most exciting day of the season, because it's when your team goes from a plan to a reality. It's when you finally get the chance to assemble the group of players you get to root for all season. Of course, you can always add and drop players throughout the year, but the draft is still the most fundamental part of your roster and you want to make sure you don't miss on your top players.

(Video) ESPN Fantasy Basketball Draft 2021-2022 | How To Win Your H2H League

If you have prepared for your draft by reading up on players and strategies, and by participating in several mock drafts, you're on the path to success. Believe in your hunches and don't look back.

To make everything go as smoothly as possible, be sure to follow these handy rules.

The season is starting, let the fun begin!


In most leagues, there are at least a few managers who enjoy the art of the deal. If you're one of those people, trading is going to be one of the most fun aspects of fantasy basketball. When done well, it's a great opportunity to improve your roster while unloading someone you perhaps no longer want or need.

There are several important factors to keep in mind. You must look at the roster of the team you're trading with and understand which, if any players, that manager might be willing to part with. For example, it'd be unwise to make a trade offer for a point guard on a team that is battling injuries and down to one healthy point guard. Also, while you may never want to send your best trade offer with your first proposal, be careful not to offer up too little. That can be offensive to the other manager and can lead to that person not only declining your offer but ending all future trade talks with you.

In-season strategies

Beyond trading, there are other factors to consider during the season like how to manage your games played in roto leagues, how to approach head-to-head playoffs, and how best to work the waiver wire. Check out the in-season strategies section of our draft kit.

Fantasy basketball etiquette

Every few years, no matter what type of league you're in, you'll run into someone who causes problems. Sometimes it name-calling on the message board and being a bully. Other times it is a constant stream of wild trade offers and questionable transactions. Whether you are in a hyper-competitive league or just trying to have some casual fun, you want to avoid being this way or having others in your league who conduct themselves like this.

Generally speaking, that just means following the golden rule: Treat others the way you'd want to be treated in your league.

(Video) ESPN Fantasy NBA Basketball: How to set your lineup


How does fantasy basketball ESPN work? ›

It allows you to assign a given point value to individual statistical categories, and each scoring period's winner is determined solely by which team accumulates the most fantasy points versus a single opponent. At the end of the week, you earn either a win, loss or tie before moving on to your next opponent.

How do you start ESPN fantasy basketball? ›

On the ESPN Fantasy App:

On the Fantasy Basketball tab, select "Create League". Enter your desired league name, the number of teams, scoring preference, draft preference, and draft time and date.

How do games work in fantasy basketball? ›

In an H2H (head-to-head) league, you face off against one team per week, your categories against your opponent's. In H2H leagues, the teams with the best records qualify for the playoffs, and the champion is the winner of the playoff tournament.

How do you play fantasy for beginners? ›

You select your own team of players, setting a lineup every week. Then, you watch as they run, pass, catch and score touchdowns, all of which are worth fantasy points. Every week, you are matched up with someone else in your league, and whoever has the most fantasy points that week, wins!

What is the most important position in fantasy basketball? ›

There is no doubt that point guards are crucial players in fantasy basketball, since they can score, dish out, steal, and hit triples. Taking the right player at the right time can be the key to a successful fantasy hoops season.

Do you change your lineup everyday in fantasy basketball? ›

As often as is allowed. Most leagues have either daily or weekly adjustments. If you're in a weekly league, make sure most of all your guys are playing at least three or ideally four times in a week. If it's a daily league just make sure every starting position is filled with a player playing that day.

What are the 9 categories in fantasy basketball? ›

Almost all category leagues are either “8-cat” (eight default categories) or “9-cat” (nine default categories). The eight default categories are points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, 3s, FG% and FT%. Turnovers are the ninth default, and they're the only difference between 8-cat and 9-cat leagues.

How many of each position should I draft in fantasy basketball? ›

At least 3 for each position, but don't pass up a strong player just because you already feel set at that position. It gives you trade flexibility if you're loaded at one position.

How do you draft on ESPN fantasy basketball app? ›

Step-by-Step Directions
  1. Click "schedule your draft" on the league home page.
  2. Select your draft type. ...
  3. Pick the date and time of your draft, followed by how many seconds each team manager will get per pick.
  4. Drafts can also be scheduled by going to the League Settings page and clicking on Draft Settings.

How do you start to play a basketball game? ›

The game begins with one player from either team at center court. A referee will toss the ball up between the two. The player that gets his hands on the ball will tip it to a teammate. This is called a tip-off.

How does the point system work in fantasy? ›

A standard scoring system is as follows: 1 point for 25 passing yards. 1 point for 10 rushing yards. 1 point for 10 receiving yards.

How do fantasy scores work? ›

Offensive players earn fantasy points by gaining yards for their team and by scoring touchdowns. A quarterback can earn points by passing the ball, running the ball, and scoring touchdowns. Wide receivers and tight ends mostly catch the ball and earn receiving yards and touchdowns.

How do you set points in fantasy basketball? ›

All Players
  1. Three Point Field Goals: 3 points.
  2. Two Point Field Goals: 2 points.
  3. Free Throws Made: 1 point.
  4. Rebounds: 1.2 points.
  5. Assists: 1.5 points.
  6. Blocked Shots: 2 points.
  7. Steals: 2 points.
  8. Turnovers: -1 points.

What order should you pick fantasy positions? ›

Ideally, this is how your first five picks play out: RB, RB, WR/TE, WR, WR. There's nothing wrong with grabbing an elite quarterback in the third, fourth or fifth rounds or paying up for a receiver in the second.

What are the 4 main elements of fantasy? ›

Fantasy literature often includes some of the following characteristics:
  • Magical Forces.
  • World Building.
  • Fantastical Characters.
  • A Dangerous Quest.
  • Mythical Creatures.
30 Jun 2021

What is the best pick to have in fantasy basketball? ›

Consensus Rankings
  • Nikola Jokic. PF,C — DEN.
  • Joel Embiid. PF,C — PHI.
  • PG,SG — DAL.
  • Kevin Durant. SF,PF — BKN.
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo. PF,C — MIL.
  • Jayson Tatum. SF,PF — BOS.
  • Tyrese Haliburton. PG,SG — IND.
  • Trae Young. PG — ATL.

Who is the number 1 pick in fantasy basketball? ›

Paolo Banchero, ORL: The No. 1 overall pick is an NBA-ready wing who averaged 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.9 blocks and 1.1 threes (33.8% 3Pt) as a freshman at Duke. With Chet Holmgren (foot) out for the year, Banchero will be the first rookie draft in most fantasy leagues.

Who is the best player to draft in fantasy basketball? ›

Fantasy Basketball 2022-23: Must-draft players by round
  • By Gabe Allen, RotoWire. ...
  • (1) James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers (Overall ADP 8.3) ...
  • (2) Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers (Overall ADP 20.7) ...
  • (3) Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans (Overall ADP 37.3) ...
  • (4) Jrue Holiday, Milwaukee Bucks (Overall ADP 43.7)
11 Oct 2022

What players should not draft in fantasy basketball? ›

Fantasy Basketball draft prep 2022-2023: Top busts you'll want to avoid in all drafts
  • Dejounte Murray, Hawks.
  • Kawhi Leonard, Clippers.
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Thunder.
  • Tobias Harris, 76ers.
3 Oct 2022

What does F mean in fantasy basketball? ›

F. Forward. Any small forward, power forward, forward, guard/forward, or forward/center.

Can you Auto set lineup on ESPN fantasy basketball? ›

Shift+Ctrl+W (Shift+Command+W on Mac) can be used for automatic setup of the current week.

What positions get the most points in fantasy? ›

Quarterbacks score the most, running backs and wide receivers aren't too far behind and tight ends are still valuable, especially the top guys.

What does STD mean in fantasy? ›

STD: Standard scoring format, typically used in football, where no points are awarded for a reception. Miscellaneous. PA Rank: Points Against Rank, used in fantasy football to rank defenses based on the average number of points allowed per game.

What do the green numbers mean in fantasy? ›

These are predictions to help set your expectations against your current matchup, but has no impact over the actual gameplay. Green text - Easy matchup. Gray text - Mild matchup. Red text - Difficult matchup.

How many defenses should I draft? ›

Never Draft More Than One Defense

Therefore, there's no reason to have two defenses clog up your bench. In the past, I've even gone without drafting a defense so that I could draft a player with upside instead. Then I just fill the void before Week 1. Also, no one is going to trade you for your extra "stud" defense.

How many running backs should I have on my fantasy team? ›

You have the right to designate a certain number of players in your squad. However, players drafted in a traditional team include two quarterbacks, four wide receivers, two tight ends, four running backs, two kickers and two defense/special teams (punt and kickoff return).

What should my fantasy bench consist of? ›

The bench has no rules regarding what positions you must have on it, but owners will typically carry additional skill-position players such as quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers. The reason owners carry extra of these players is because they have the highest potential to score the most number of points.

How do I maximize my fantasy basketball game? ›

Fantasy Basketball Strategy Talk: Maximizing Your Games Played
  1. Do NOT Go Under Your Limit.
  2. Don't Count on Injuries to Save You.
  3. Don't Take Games Away From Your Stars.

What is the best lineup Optimizer? ›

The Best DFS Lineup Optimizers for Maximizing Earnings in 2022
  • Draft Dashboard supports a range of usable DFS tools.
  • Daily Fantasy Nerd's affordable plans provide great value.
  • DFS Army's expert staff makes their tools more effective.
  • DFS Pass combines an optimizer with stellar daily fantasy content.
21 Aug 2022

When can you start drafting for fantasy basketball? ›

The first day of the NBA season is set for October 19, 2021. In order for your League's season to start with the first day of the NBA season, you must sign up by 11:59:59 PM ET on October 17, 2021 and your draft must be started by 11:59:59 pm ET on October 18, 2021.

Can you do your draft on the ESPN fantasy app? ›

Pick the players that can give you the best amount of points. If you can rack up those fantasy points with your draft picks, you will remain at the top of the competition charts every week. To draft players on ESPN's app, you must first open the app and select 'My Team'.

What app should I use for fantasy basketball? ›

DraftKings – Leading Brand in Daily Fantasy Sports

Along with FanDuel, DraftKings is easily the most recognizable daily fantasy sports app in the US.

What are the 5 basic rules of basketball? ›

What Are the Rules of Basketball?
  • Only five players per team on the court. ...
  • Score more than your opponent to win. ...
  • Score within the shot clock. ...
  • Dribbling advances the ball. ...
  • The offense has five seconds to inbound the ball. ...
  • The offense must advance the ball. ...
  • Ball and ballhandler must remain inbounds.
7 Jun 2021

What should a first time basketball player learn? ›

The first fundamental to instill in young players is that basketball is a team game. If there's one lesson you want to leave with them, it is this — no team is going to win unless each player contributes. Everybody has to learn how to dribble, pass, defend, rebound, and hustle if the team is to play well and succeed.

Do you win fantasy by points or wins? ›

The fantasy playoffs usually take place between Weeks 13 and 17, with most leagues opting to forgo a matchup in Week 17 because the players that matter usually sit the week out. How does scoring work? In head to head, you compete against a single opponent and the team with the most points wins the matchup.

How many fantasy points is a yard? ›

In the vast majority of leagues and fantasy football scoring systems, a yard is 0.1 fantasy points, meaning 10 yards equals one full point.

How many points is a goal worth in fantasy? ›

The Scout breaks down the different ways your players earn points in Fantasy Premier League
For playing 60 minutes or more (excluding stoppage time)2
For each goal scored by a goalkeeper or defender6
For each goal scored by a midfielder5
For each goal scored by a forward4
12 more rows

How is ESPN fantasy basketball scored? ›

Total season points: Points-based scoring allows you to assign a given point value to each individual statistical category (i.e. assist = 2 points, rebounds = 1 point, etc.) Standings are based on the accumulation of points covering all statistical categories and combined into one total points column.

How does ESPN fantasy scoring work? ›

In a standard league, the eight players on a team's active roster earn points based on the statistics they generate in actual NFL games. These fantasy points are added together for a weekly team score. Statistics from bench players do NOT earn fantasy points.

How do you win a fantasy game? ›

Fantasy Cricket Tips That You Should Know About [Updated for 2022]
  1. Understanding the player's performance. ...
  2. Knowing the pitch performance: ...
  3. Check weather conditions: ...
  4. Find out which players are playing: ...
  5. Calculate the cost: ...
  6. Keep an eye on players who are providing bonus points: ...
  7. Master the art of balance:

How many points is needed to win set? ›

Tennis is played in points: Four points win a game, six games win a set, and two or three sets win a match. You can decide how long you want your game to be but most matches are played as best-of-three or five set contests.

How do you score points in fantasy golf? ›

Golf Fantasy Points Scoring System
  1. Double Eagle: 20 points.
  2. Eagle: 8 points.
  3. Birdie: 3 points.
  4. Par: 0.5 points.
  5. Bogey: -0.5 points.
  6. Double Bogey: -1 point.
  7. Worse than Double Bogey: -1 point.

How do I join a fantasy basketball league? ›

If you received a fantasy basketball invite via email, Facebook, Twitter or SMS to join a friend's league, you must click the unique link on the invite to join that league. Please check your email or other messages for your invite to join the league.

What is NBA fantasy basketball? ›

Q: What is Fantasy Basketball? A: Fantasy Basketball gives you the opportunity to run your own team of professional Basketball players. You draft your team of the best players from across the NBA and receive points based on those players' performance in NBA games each week of the Basketball season.

How do you score points in NBA fantasy? ›

All Players
  1. Three Point Field Goals: 3 points.
  2. Two Point Field Goals: 2 points.
  3. Free Throws Made: 1 point.
  4. Rebounds: 1.2 points.
  5. Assists: 1.5 points.
  6. Blocked Shots: 2 points.
  7. Steals: 2 points.
  8. Turnovers: -1 points.

Which pick is best in fantasy basketball? ›

Consensus Rankings
  • Nikola Jokic. PF,C — DEN.
  • Joel Embiid. PF,C — PHI.
  • PG,SG — DAL.
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo. PF,C — MIL.
  • Kevin Durant. SF,PF — BKN.
  • Jayson Tatum. SF,PF — BOS.
  • Tyrese Haliburton. PG,SG — IND.
  • Trae Young. PG — ATL.

Who is the best first pick in fantasy basketball? ›

2022-23 Fantasy Basketball Mock Draft 1.0: Pace yourself for the breakout
  • 1.01 Nikola Jokic - C, Denver Nuggets. ...
  • 1.02 Joel Embiid - C, Philadelphia 76ers. ...
  • 1.03 Kevin Durant - F, Brooklyn Nets. ...
  • 1.04 Giannis Antetokounmpo - F, Milwaukee Bucks. ...
  • 1.05 Luka Doncic - PG, Dallas Mavericks.
13 Oct 2022

Who should I not draft in fantasy basketball? ›

Fantasy Basketball draft prep 2022-2023: Top busts you'll want to avoid in all drafts
  • Dejounte Murray, Hawks.
  • Kawhi Leonard, Clippers.
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Thunder.
  • Tobias Harris, 76ers.
3 Oct 2022

Is ESPN fantasy basketball free? ›

Play Fantasy Basketball for Free - ESPN. It's not too late to play! Draft your team now to play the rest of the Fantasy Basketball season! You'll start fresh with a 0-0 record.

How do you set your lineup in fantasy basketball? ›

Set your lineup
  1. Select any empty position.
  2. Tap the Add Player icon. next to the player you want.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 until your team is full.
  4. Tap Submit lineup.
  5. Tap Enter contest.
  6. If prompted, tap Ok to finish.

Is ESPN fantasy free? ›

All ESPN games are completely free to play. - Create a fantasy football, fantasy men's basketball, fantasy women's basketball, baseball, or hockey league to play with friends or join an existing league to compete against other fans. You can play our standard game or customize the rules to your liking.

How often do you set your lineup in fantasy basketball? ›

You gotta keep up.

Unlike the NFL, in which there are only games three days a week, the NBA has games pretty much every day. What that means is that you are going to have to adjust your lineup almost every day if you want to be on top on things. Yes, every day.

How do you score fantasy? ›

General fantasy football scoring system rules
  1. Passing yards: 1 point per 25 yards. Passing touchdowns: 4 points. Rushing yards: 1 point per 10 yards. Rushing touchdowns: 6 points. ...
  2. Sacks: 1 point. Interceptions: 2 points. Fumbles recovered: 2 points. ...
  3. Solo tackles: 1 point. Assisted tackles: 0.5 points. Sacks: 2 points.
1 Jul 2022


1. How To Play Fantasy Basketball (For Beginners)
(ezBUCKETz Fantasy Basketball)
2. How to play fantasy basketball - NBA Fantasy 101
(Ball Boys Fantasy Basketball)
3. How To Use ESPN Fantasy Tutorial
(Fantasy Spartan)
4. ESPN Fantasy Basketball: How to Build your Fantasy Team!
(The Basketball Philosopher)
5. How To Set Up A NBA Fantasy Basketball League | All The Settings
(Locked On Fantasy Basketball)
6. How to open your Espn fantasy basketball league
(Simple Tips)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Eusebia Nader

Last Updated: 03/05/2023

Views: 5719

Rating: 5 / 5 (60 voted)

Reviews: 83% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Eusebia Nader

Birthday: 1994-11-11

Address: Apt. 721 977 Ebert Meadows, Jereville, GA 73618-6603

Phone: +2316203969400

Job: International Farming Consultant

Hobby: Reading, Photography, Shooting, Singing, Magic, Kayaking, Mushroom hunting

Introduction: My name is Eusebia Nader, I am a encouraging, brainy, lively, nice, famous, healthy, clever person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.