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ESPN Fantasy Baseball 101

Want to play fantasy baseball but not quite sure how it works? Don't worry, we've got you covered. Getty Images

So you're thinking about trying fantasy baseball?

You've heard about fantasy baseball for a long time. Your friends, family and coworkers play it every year, and they seem to have a lot of fun doing it. Now you're thinking about giving it a shot. Here is why you should do it.

It's fun!

Even if you know very little about baseball, you can play and have a great time. While winning a championship might be the ultimate goal, enjoying the camaraderie of your friends, family and coworkers is what draws everyone back each season.

On top of that, when you start pulling for your players and against the players on your opponent's team each week, you'll find a new way to enjoy watching MLB games. Suddenly, that Sunday Night Baseball game between two out-of-town teams carries some meaning to you because you want your players to succeed and your opponent's to fail.

It can be easy or challenging -- your call

Whenever you read some of our experts' columns on ESPN.com, it's clear that some people take fantasy baseball as seriously as MLB general managers do the real game. The good news is that the experts do all of the heavy lifting to make things easy for newbies such as you.

If you want to put on your general manager hat and obsessively compete with the best of the best, dig in and enjoy. But you also can draft a team and play with very little effort.

With that in mind, we've put together ESPN Fantasy Baseball 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

For frequently -- and infrequently -- asked questions, check out our support portal, where you can search for and find answers and solutions.

How to sign up on the ESPN Fantasy app

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

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 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.

League format

Fantasy baseball isn't as straightforward as fantasy football, which is almost always played in a head-to-head format in which everything earns you points and the manager with the most points wins. Our three most popular formats of fantasy baseball offer different experiences, and our experts provide you with an overview of each to help you decide and prepare.


You've signed up. Now what?

Know your rules

This might seem incredibly basic, but even veteran fantasy baseball managers forget to double-check their league rules. The result of whiffing on a rule can be horrendous, not only for the success of your team but also for having fun during your fantasy season.

To make sure you understand the thinking behind each rule, check out our League Settings overview.

Draft prep

A good draft will put you in position to have a successful season, and taking time to prepare beforehand is key. That includes collecting rankings that reflect your format -- e.g., rotisserie, head-to-head categories, head-to-head points or season points -- and considering different draft strategies.

Don't worry. We will have you covered with rankings, draft strategies and more, courtesy of our experts, in the ESPN Fantasy Baseball 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." There, you can decide which player positions you'd like to pick in which spots in the draft and how many players at each position you want to draft overall.

Mock Drafts

Mock drafts are simply practice drafts that don't count for anything. It's a terrific way to get used to our draft software, make sure you know how everything works and test strategies. Maybe most importantly, mock drafts allow you to make mistakes now -- so you won't make them when they count. Practice makes perfect.

Ready to hop in and give it a try? Click here to enter the mock draft lobby.

The draft

Draft day is the most exciting day of the season because it's time to create your team. If you have prepared for your draft by reading up on players and strategy and doing mock drafts, you're ready. Take a deep breath and relax. You've got this.

Need to know the basics? Here's what you need to know before you hop into the draft room.

Scout around: Take a look around the draft room, test each button to see what it does, and get used to the layout of the draft app. Once you're on the clock, things move quickly!

Players: You can sort them by position, MLB team, projected stats and more. More importantly, you can use the search to quickly find a player you want to draft.

Pick queue: Add players you might want with your next pick to the Pick Queue in the order you rank them. If your clock runs out -- be it because you took too much time thinking or because you had a computer glitch -- the system will pick the top player in your queue. The queue also helps you avoid forgetting about a player you want during the draft.

Be a cheater without cheating: Beforehand, print your rankings and cheat sheets and go over them so you're sure it all looks the way you want it to. Once the draft starts, cross off each player who is drafted, so you know who remains when it's your pick. This can be helpful as an extra line of defense so you don't forget any players during the draft frenzy.

Stay on the ball: When you are on the clock, stay focused, don't let others distract you, and don't panic. Use the entire clock if you need to. If possible, keep an eye on the rosters being drafted by other teams to see which positions they might be targeting in upcoming rounds. In other words, if every other team already has a closer or two, you might be able to wait an extra couple of rounds to take yours while targeting better values elsewhere. Keep your focus all the way until your last pick. You don't want to make any mistakes just because the draft is winding down.

When the draft is completed, wish everyone good luck, then commence talking trash!

Want to draft right now? Check out our Live Draft Lobby!


The season is starting -- let the fun begin!

Trading

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 baseball. When done well, it's a great opportunity to improve your roster while unloading a player 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 starting pitcher on a team that is battling injuries and is down to a trio of well-known starters at the position. Also, though you might never want to send your best trade offer with your first proposal, be careful not to offer too little. That can be offensive to the other manager and can lead that person to not only decline your offer but also end all trade talks with you.

Fantasy baseball etiquette

This section could also be called "Don't be that guy/gal." Whether you are in a hypercompetitive league or just trying to have some casual fun, you want to be a responsible fantasy baseball manager. Generally speaking, that means follow the golden rule: Treat others the way you'd want to be treated in your league. With that in mind, be sure to follow these basic fantasy baseball rules of etiquette.


Fantasy baseball glossary

Not sure what those terms you see in fantasy baseball articles mean? Confused by something in a tweet from a fantasy expert? Our glossary offers some help on common terms in fantasy baseball.