Fantasy Football Glossary of Terms

I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, and while things are heating up, it’s still really early, so I’m trying to bang out some “evergreen” content before things really get hot. We posted a guide to creating and running an Auction League this week (check the bottom left column on the subscriber homepage), and we’re working on a massive guide to commissioning and a separate guide to creating and running keeper leagues. They’ll be up next week.

This week I also took the time to create a glossary of terms that we tend to use. Not just fantasy terms, but a lot of NFL-related terms and phrases we use. Check it out and feel free to let me know if you think I missed anything.

Fantasy Football/NFL Glossary of Terms:

Below you’ll find most of the prevalent fantasy football terms that have been added to the industry’s vernacular, and we’ve also included a lot of the terms that we use to describe many players, which are more NFL-related.

First up, we’ll list the fantasy terms.

Fantasy Terms:

3rd-Round Reversal/3RR – These drafts allow the bottom of the draft order to begin Round Three after also beginning Round Two, as is the case in a typical serpentine draft. This system is typically utilized in a larger, 14-team league. In that sized league, an 18-round 3RR draft would go as such: 1-14, 14-1, 14-1, 1-14, 1-14, 14-1, 1-14, 14-1, 1-14, 14-1, 1-14, 14-1, 1-14, 14-1, 1-14 , 14-1, and 1-14. We believe this method was creating due to LaDainian Tomlinson’s incredible 2006 season and that the thought process was those with the #1 pick in 2007 had an unfair advantage. Unfortunately, few players have been as dominant as LT was in ’06 since. But a 3RR attempts to balances out all draft spots by giving the later picks better picks in Rounds Two and Three.

3rd-year WR Theory – The theory that a WR tends to start his career off slowly his first two seasons, and then is poised to break out in his critical third season. It still happens fairly often, but recent history shows that a player’s second season is also a key year.

ADP – Stands for average draft position. This is generally a number that reflects overall when a player is being drafted, on average. For example, if Tom Brady’s ADP is 25, that means that Brady is being drafted, on average, 25th overall.

Auction Draft – This is a draft that is conducted by an auction, with a certain amount of “cash” used to bid on all players.

Basic Scoring/TD-Only – A scoring system that includes only TDs for scoring criteria, with FGs and XPTs also included.

Bench – Players on your roster who are not inserted into your actual fantasy football starting lineup for a given week. Most leagues do no reward fantasy points for those on your bench, but some leagues break ties by counting the points on your bench.

Bust – A player who greatly disappoints and fails to live up to preseason expectations.

Bye – Often denoted as “B” on the projections and cheat sheets, this is the week of the NFL season in which a player’s team is off, or on a bye.

Cheat Sheet – Typically offered as a one-page reference sheet here at, a cheat sheet lists players arranged by position and by ranking. Some of our cheat sheets may include information such as the player’s Bye Week (B), Projection Fantasy Points (Pts), Average Draft Position (ADP), Upside (Up), Downside (Down), and more.

Commissioner – A person who is typically in charge of running a fantasy league.

Deep League – A deep league is one that is generally larger than a typical 10 or 12-team league. We’ll typically refer to lower-end players as viable in deep leagues, meaning they probably aren’t viable in a 12-team league, but might be in a 14, 16, or larger league.

Downside – A term we’ve used since our inception in 1995, it describes the potential to disappoint. If a player is flagged in our projections as “Down,” it means the player has more potential than typical to finish significantly lower than projected.

Depth Chart – A listing of each team’s starters and backups at all the key positions. The depth charts at also include spots such as GLRB (goal line RB), TDRB (3rd down back), and list WRs by order on the depth chart, such as WR1, WR2, etc.

Draft – An event in which all members of a league gather to select their fantasy teams. Drafts can occur online, in person, by phone, by e-mail, or any other possible way of communicating.

Dynasty League – A league in which fantasy players can keep their entire roster from year to year.

Flex – This is a spot in a starting fantasy football lineup that you can filled by more than one position. Typically, a flex starter is either a RB or a WR, but TEs and even QBs can be used in some leagues.

Free Agent – A player who is not currently on any team’s roster. Most leagues have a waiver system and at times if a player is dropped from a roster, he has to clear waivers, which can usually take up to a week, or possibly a few days or a single day.

Handcuff – A term used for mostly RBs (but also other positions) that describes a starting player’s backup and the player fantasy owners might want to consider owning for insurance. For example, if you’ve owned Adrian Peterson the last three years (2007-2009), Chester Taylor was Peterson’s “handcuff.”

IDP – Individual defense players. Leagues that used them are often called IDP leagues.

Injured Reserve (IR) – A player who is currently injured and, in most cases, is eligible to remain on a fantasy roster without taking up an official roster spot. Some leagues allow a player to be listed as only “Questionable” to be on an IR. Others mandate that a player must be officially listed as “Out” if he’s to be eligible for the IR roster exemption.

Keeper League – This is a league in which a certain number of players can be kept from year-to-year. Leagues that allow fantasy players to keep ALL players are typically referred to as Dynasty leagues.

Mock Draft – A fictitious or practice draft that fantasy players participate in to prepare for a real draft by spotting trends, testing strategies, etc.

Play-to-Win Pick – A term likely created by us here at, it describes picking a player (whether it be in the draft, on the Waiver Wire, or for a weekly start), who is an aggressive, upside play. This player may have more downside than usual, but also more upside.

Performance Scoring – A scoring system that awards fantasy points for yardage gained in addition to TDs. A typical scoring system gives 1 point per 20 or 25 yards passing and 1 point per 10 yards rushing/receiving.

Pickup – The act of adding a player to your fantasy roster.

Projections/Custom Projections – A listing of player rankings, usually listed by position, that includes projected stats for an upcoming season or week. Custom projections typically take raw stat projections for a variety of categories and customize the ranking to one’s scoring system.

PPR – Points per reception leagues; leagues that reward 1 point per catch.

RBBC – Running back by committee. This term can also be used for other positions to illustrate a committee approach at a position (WRBC, TEBC, etc.).

Roster – A fantasy player’s entire team consisting of all owned players.

Serpentine/Snake Draft – A type of draft that reverses order every other round. So the first three rounds of a 12-team Serpentine Draft would be: 1-12, 12-1, 1-12, and so on and so forth.

Standard Draft – This is a term that is not used often, but should refer to a draft in which the draft order does not switch every other round. For example, the actual NFL draft would be considered a Standard Draft (1-32, 1-32, etc).

Team QB – A method of drafting an entire team’s QB position, as opposed to one player. For example, if one drafted the Tennessee Titans in 2009, they would have gotten all points scored by Vince Young and Kerry Collins.

Tier/Drop-Off – Typically found on a cheat sheet, a tier or drop-off represents a fairly significant difference between a player or possibly a group of players ranked close together. For example, if there is an unusually significant difference between player A ranked 25th and player B ranked 26th, a tier or drop-off may be inserted between the two players. The goal is to show a drop-off in value so a fantasy player doesn’t immediately take player B right after player A is drafted. By showing a drop-off or tier, the fantasy player may opt to draft another position.

Upside – A term we’ve used since our inception in 1995, it describes the potential to exceed expectations. If a player is flagged in our projections as “Up,” it means the player has more potential than typical to finish significantly higher than projected.

Waiver Wire – This is a generic term that describes the available players in a league. The phrase “working the Waiver Wire” would entail studying a list of available players and picking up ones who can help your fantasy team.

NFL Terms

These are more NFL-related terms that we often use.

Big Time – This is a term we use for a player who we feel is elite, or is closing in on being elite. He’s a player who stands above his contemporaries as his position. We tend to use this term for QBs, but we can for RBs, WRs, and TEs as well.

Game Manager – This is generic term, but when we use it we are referring to a QB who tends to operate strictly within his system and is someone defenses don’t typically gameplan for. A game manager tends to avoid turnovers and completes mostly high-percentage passes.

Hit it up in there – This is a phrase that we use to describe a RB’s willingness and ability to hit the hole aggressively in-between the tackles, as opposed to trying to bounce too many runs to the outside, which is the downfall of many young players.

Intermediate Receiver – This is a receiver who tends to work best in the intermediate area, which is up to about 10-15 yards from the line of scrimmage. These types of players typically lack the speed to stretch the defense vertically, or to tilt the field coverage-wise. Wes Welker is a good example of an intermediate receiver.

Juice – A term often use here at, it describes a player who not only has speed, but also good quickness and lateral movement. We also use this term to describe a player who has enticing upside potential.

Lateral Agility – As the phrase indicates, this is a phrase we use to describe a player’s ability to move laterally, or from East-to-West. This can be an extremely important attribute for a RB or a receiver, and those who solely run well in a straight line can have serious limitations (like Darren McFadden).

Moveable Chess Piece/Joker We frequently use this term to describe a player who provides versatility to an offense by being used in a variety of ways and in a variety of formations. A good example from 2009 would be Viking WR Percy Harvin, who was used as a receiver, on reverses, and as a runner in the backfield. Saint RB Reggie Bush is probably the best example overall.

Move TE – This is a term we often use here at for a TE who isn’t a traditional player at the position in that he lines up on the right side of the line and assists in blocking and receiving. A Move TE is typically a #2 or #1A player at the position, and he’s used primarily as a receiving threat due to his prowess as a receiver and/or his poor blocking. A good example would be the last few years (2009 and back) in Denver, with Daniel Graham as the “starter” and Tony Scheffler as the move guy.

One-Trick Pony – This is a term that we sometimes use that should be pretty obvious: It’s a player who has limitations and who usually excels in just one area. Most of the time, when we use this term, we’re describing a wide receiver who is, for example, mostly a deep threat and not much else.

Pressing the Hole – This is a term we use for some RBs, and it means they hit the hole assertively and wait until the last second to make their cut. Backs who press the hole see it quickly, and go. This can result in busting off longer runs.

Plodding Runner – This is a runner who is slow and sluggish, and one who doesn’t have much in terms of lateral agility and the ability to stop-and-start and set up defenders and create yardage on his own or have the speed to get to the outside.

Sandlot Player – This is a term we tend to use to describe QBs who have little discipline, technique, and precision to their game. These players tend to operate under a playground mentality and typically rely almost exclusively on raw physical talent. Veteran Daunte Culpepper is a good example, and in 2009 Jay Cutler lost his precision and morphed into more of a sandlot player, which resulted in more INTs.

Satellite Player – This is a term we use for players who cannot be the foundation of their offense, so they are more so ancillary players. We typically use this term disparagingly for a player such as Reggie Bush, who has proven he cannot be a true lead back.

Schematic Defense – This is a defense that primarily aims to win by scheme and design, usually be creating pressure packages that confuses opposing QBs. The opposite of a schematic defense would be one that simply lines up and plays.

Space Player – This is a term used for RBs who typically lack size and cannot handle the physical demands of running between the tackles and cannot break tackles or run over people. A space player, like Darren Sproles, is typically a fast player who can do a lot of damage and bust off long runs – if given space to run through.

Spread/Shotgun Spread – A spread offense typically features a QB in the shotgun formation with multiple receivers on the field aimed at spreading a defense out horizontally in the hopes of opening up multiple vertical seams for both the running and passing game to exploit. A shotgun spread offense can also frequently entail a lot of no-huddle. Some QBs, like Tom Brady, can excel using this approach but also under center, whereas others tend to be limited to playing in the shotgun spread, such as Matt Cassel.

Staring down the gun barrel – We often use this phrase to explain a QB’s ability and willingness to stand tall in the pocket and deliver the ball down the field, despite the presence of an intense pass rush. This is a vital attribute all the great signal callers have, and conversely many of the poor players do not have. Joe Flacco and Jay Cutler are good example.

Sustaining Runner – This is a RB who’s capable of putting an offense on his back and sustaining drives by consistently moving the chains and keeping the defense on the field.

Throw a guy open – This phrase describes a QB’s ability to throw the ball with a sense of anticipation and to his receivers before they are open or uncovered. Drew Brees may be the best in the league at this, while a player like Donovan McNabb typically needs his receivers to be open for him to get them the ball.

Willingness to pull the trigger – This is a phrase we typically use for QBs who aren’t afraid to make tough throws in tight coverage. Some QBs, like Brady Quinn, do not possess this attribute, and that contributes to his mediocrity. On the other hand, some players, like Jay Cutler, are too willing to pull the trigger in tight spots, and it results in their making decisions that are poor and turning the ball over.

Wildcat/Razorback – This general formation features a direct snap to a RB (it can be an actual QB) with an unbalanced line that aids in the deception of the play. When the Wildcat is used, the plays tend to look like a sweep behind zone blocking, but once the ball is snapped, the player with the ball can do a number of things, such as run or throw.

Wow/Big Time Throw – A “Wow” throw is one made by a QB that really stands out on film, or even on television. It’s usually a throw made by a QB with elite arm strength and/or one made with extreme accuracy. Typically, there are only 6-7 QBs in the league capable of making these types of throws. And just because someone makes one, it doesn’t mean he’s a good QB. For example, JaMarcus Russell has made some “wow” throws in the NFL.

YAC/RAC – This stands for yardage after the catch, and it’s used to describe a receiver’s ability to gain yards after catching the ball. Sometimes, the term is used as “RAC” which stands for run after the catch.

Zuzu – A term we often use here at, this describes a player who has good lateral quickness, someone who can make people miss and create yardage on his own.

Category: Fantasy Football, News, General


11 Responses

  1. Jimmerz says:

    I would have thought TGR was above this sort of thing…but I guess it’s one of those things you almost have to do.

  2. JBeau says:

    You’d be surprised how people ask “what do you mean by zuzu, John???” or “what do you consider an upside pick, John??”. Not that I needed this explantion, but it saves him from having to explain some of the terms he uses during the season….just simply point to this link.

  3. John Hansen says:

    Correct, Jbeau, and we’re putting on the main site as an article. Also, forgot one

    Stash-and-Hope – This is a phrase we often use (we might have invented it, but we’re not 100% sure we did) for picking up backups and long-shots on the chance they eventually see an increase in playing time. We use this phrase mostly with backup RBs. These are players who would start or see a major increase in playing time if a starter ahead of him got hurt, suspended, etc. So you would stash the player away on our roster, and hope something happens to elevate him on the depth chart.

  4. Rich A says:

    I prefer your Stash-and-hope better than the old “flier” term.

    An up and coming term is PPFD – which stands for Points per First Downs. With new scoring available on pretty much all websites (especially, many leagues are switching from PPR to PPFD, meaning that usually an extra point is awarded for players who either receive for a first down, or rush for a first down. This is not exactly like PPR, as some players are better than others at knowing where the chains are. It brings the VBD of the top WR’s close to the top RB’s, it helps out those WR, TE and RB who know how to catch a ball and fight for the first down, and also helps out the goal line backs and some QB’s a tad bit for rushing first downs.

    VBD may also need to be in your glossary. Before VBD came around, I was running Z Scores by position (Z score of 1 = 1 standard deviation), which has the same impact as VBD. But, VBD is now a popular concept not only for drafting, but in your upcoming Commish guide as it is important to craft your league’s scoring rules to level and stabilize the average VBD’s for QB, RB and WR. This in turn, will lead to the league owners having the flexibility to have different draft strategies, which ultimately leads to more fun and a sustainable, long term fun based league.

    Many leagues are running in deep with IDP, so a few IDP terms should be spelled out such as:
    Obvious Basics:
    T = Tackle
    A = Assist
    S = Sacks
    IDP Basic Stats are many times referenced by (T-A-S), where T=Tackles, A=Assists, and S=Sacks
    INT =Interception
    slightly less obvious
    PD=Pass Defense
    TFL=Tackle for Loss (official NFL Stat since ~2006)
    QBHit = QB Hit (official NFL Stat since ~2006)
    QBHurry= QB Hurry (not an official NFL stat yet, awarded for a non-qb hit hurry)
    QB pressure = reference term which is Sum of (Sacks, QB Hits & QB Hurries)
    What is not normally realized by IDP’ers:
    1) A Tackle is awarded automatically per every sack, so a player with stats of (20-5-15) means that the player had 15 Sacks, but only had 5 Tackles from Non-Sacks, which is quite poor.
    2) A TFL (Tackle for Loss) automatically generates a Tackle, and a TFL on a QB automatically generates both a Sack and a Tackle. So an IDP with (20-5-15) and 15 TFL’s means that they a) only had 5 non-sack tackles and Zero non-sack TFL’s (also known as run stuffs) – very poor stats
    3) Run Stuffs – are TFL that did not generate a Sack. This can be calculated as Run Stuffs= (# of TFL) – (# of Sacks).

    Cheers, Rich

  5. Rich A says:

    Another Suggestion:

    “Martzian” TE = glorified Blocker, guaranteed < 15 receptions per year

  6. MI-5 says:

    John –

    Can you define Goal Line Carry? I see it a lot, when you to the the targets and like after the games are final. Is it the one yard line, two yard line? Inside the five yard line. Please define.

  7. John Hansen says:

    Goal line we call inside the 10, red zone obviously inside the 20, but we’ll add that to the article on the site.

    Good suggestions, too, Rich, thanks!

  8. Speling Champ says:

    While some may change the channel or turn the TV off, those of us in FF land will still be on the edge of our seat — it’s all about GTP!

  9. Baller says:

    I’d like to see a list of the players you consider to be “special”.

  10. John Hansen says:

    Thanks, I updated the page on the site with a lot of the suggestions.

    Players who are special would make for a good blog post closer to the season like June, which I will do.

  11. Elida says:

    This makes everything so completely pnaiesls.

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