Rules - Orientation

Updated: June 23, 2008, 11:30 AM ET

ESPN's Fantasy Basketball (FBA) orientation was created to provide first-time users a means of familiarizing themselves with the game and its features. If you have not yet created a FREE ESPN account, click here.

To purchase a team, please see the Tour, or click on the link off the FBA frontpage. To learn more about fantasy games in general, read our introduction page.

For first time participants, playing ESPN's FBA can seem a little daunting. If you've never played a fantasy game before -- or are new to the internet -- trying to figure out what to do with your new team can be a bit confusing. But playing the game seems like running a three-on-one break once you know how it all works. Follow this step-by-step guide to getting your team primed for the start of the NBA season, and that FBA championship could be yours!

Step 1 - Familiarize yourself with the FBA layout.
Take another look at the FBA frontpage. From here, you can log in to your account, access your team, check resource links, peruse injury updates and get tips from ESPN's fantasy analysts. You can also access the complete rules. This orientation provides links to the rules, where you can read full explanations of some of the game's trickier parts. While it's possible to muddle your way through without reading the rules pages, you're bound to miss something. Before firing off an e-mail to the Commish's office, be sure to give the rules and FAQ a close look. Remember, if you need your account information updated or you simply forgot your password, you can access Member Services for immediate assistance. Now that you have an idea where some of the resources can be found should you run into any trouble, you are ready to begin preparing your team for the season.

Step 2 - Setting up your team
Click on your default team name (i.e. Smith 99875843) from the left-hand column of the FBA frontpage. From your preseason team-setup page, you will find links to several vital FBA start-up procedures:

    Team Name - Pick a good one. This name will be how your team is identified. Type in the desired location and nickname of your team (i.e. Dallas Mavericks), and click on the submit button. ESPN.com encourages franchise owners to keep their team names professional and free of racial slurs or other obscenities. The Commissioner reserves the right to change/remove any teams whose team name is construed as offensive.

    New Logos
    Unique Team Logos

    Team Logo - Design your own uniform. Complete with a dizzying array of logos and colors from which to choose. Give your team its own identity with a uniform that lets your opponents know you mean business.

    Edit Your Personal Profile - Everyone who plays ESPN Fantasy Games gets a personal profile which allows other owners to learn about them. Clicking on your name next to "Owner" will bring you to your profile page. ESPN.com encourages franchise owners to be creative with their profiles and to keep them free of racial slurs or other obscenities. Misuse of profile pages can be grounds for dismissal from the game.

Step 3 - Joining/Creating a League
Now that your team is named, it is time to join up with the FBA owners against whom you'll compete. You have the option of either joining an existing league or creating your own league with your own specifications. You must be in a league in order to compete in FBA. If you do not join or create a league by the start of the season, you will be automatically entered in one. There are many things to consider when joining a league. Each league has its own set of parameters, allowing fantasy team owners to compete in the FBA game type of his or her choice. Below is a list of the available options.

  • Access - Leagues are either public or private (see above). Public leagues are open for everyone to join. Joining a private league requires a password chosen by the league's creator.

  • Draft Type - Teams may draft using the multi-list, single-list or live draft methods. Draft methods and dates are detailed in the draft methods section.

  • Activity/Uber Level - The activity/uber level is determined by the league creator when the league is first created, and it is intended to help owners with similar levels of experience and interest form a league. Leagues take on the Uber level of the teams they contain. The five levels of Uber activity are, from low to high: Prospect, Rookie, Veteran, All-Star, and MVP. A player of any activity level is free to join any league. Check out the Uber Game for more information. Although a player of any activity level is free to join any league, please check the Uber guidelines to see which category best describes your interest level. Playing in a league where owners share the same views on trades, waiver pickups, etc. generally makes the game more enjoyable.

  • Season Type - Leagues are either single-season leagues or keeper leagues competing over three seasons. Only keeper teams can join keeper leagues.

  • League Size - 8-, 10- and 12-team league sizes are available. The league size will be set by the league creator. Due to different sizes, 8-, 10- and 12-team leagues all have different head-to-head schedules.

  • Date - Listed in the League Directory. The creation date indicates what day your league was originally created, while the draft date details what day your league's draft will be processed.

For more information on leagues and league parameters, click here. To join an existing league, click on the league name to view the league settings, and then click the "Join This League" button to place yourself in the league. You will need the league password if it's a private league. Remember, some leagues only allow access to particular teams (i.e. keeper leagues and winners leagues).

To create a league, click on the 'Create a League' link accessible from the league directory page or the 'Create New League' link from your team page. You will need to select the league name, league motto and parameters for your league. You will not be able to change these parameters after creating the league, you would instead need to create a new preseason league with the desired settings.

Once you have set up your team and joined or created a league, you are ready to begin preparing your team for the draft. Remember, if you haven't joined a league and are in the independent team pool, you must mark your team as "Ready" for the draft after editing your draft lists. Teams can always mark themselves as "Unready" if they want to alter their draft lists.

Step 4 - The Draft
There are three types of drafts in FBA: single-list drafts, multi-list drafts and live drafts. Participants have the option of enabling Insta-Draft, which automatically places you in a league at the next available draft date.

DRAFT TIP: Regardless of what type of draft your team participates in, you will benefit from ranking your players before the draft. You can rank all of the players to match your own preferences by clicking on the links for either the HTML or Java ranking tools. Do your homework, as this is the single-most important part of building a successful team. Only the listed players are available for ranking. If you do not rank your players, your team will use the default rankings. These are based on a combination of a player's statistics and their projected performance.

Review of draft types:

  • Multi-List - The multi-list automated draft method is the easiest method to use and is the recommended draft option for first-time FBA owners. Owners rank players in each of the 10 draft positions (see table in the multi-list section of the rules) prior to draft day. The order of the draft is randomly chosen and determines the slot from which each team will select.

  • Single-List - The single-list draft method is an automated draft that combines the multi-list draft's ranking categories in one comprehensive draft list. By ranking point guards, shooting guards, small forwards, power forwards and centers in the same draft list, the single-list draft allows team owners to draft the best-available player in any given round, regardless of position.

  • Live - The live draft provides the experience of a real-time, player-by-player draft process. Owners participate in each round of the draft by taking turns selecting players. The live draft can last up to three hours.

Drafts for the regular-season game begin in late Sep./early Oct. and run through the first two weeks of the NBA regular season. Team owners have until midnight Pacific Time on the day before their draft to alter their player rankings. Automated drafts are run throughout the listed day, and team owners will be notified via e-mail when the draft is complete. Live drafts take place at pre-selected time on the day in question. The league creator chooses the day and time from the available slots. The specific time and day are listed on the league page.

Once your draft has been run, things start getting exciting. Now you've got a team of your own. It has your name, and is populated by the players you ranked and/or picked in the draft. It is time to take the court in FBA!

Step 5 -The Regular Season
Each team drafts 12 players: 10 active and two bench players. On any given day of NBA play, you earn points only for players on your active roster. Players must be inserted into a team's active roster by 11:59 p.m. PT the previous night in order to count for the following day.

Shifting players
In addition to your original 12 players, you also have the opportunity to add players through the use of waivers, free agency and trades:

  • Waivers - A holding tank for players that are new to a league's unclaimed player pool. Every player on waivers has a date-stamp next to their name listing the day that player becomes a free agent. You can make a "pending claim" for the player, or wait to see if he becomes a free agent. If you do make a pending claim for a player and receive him, remember that you drop to the last waiver position in your league. As other owners make successful claims, you'll gradually move back up the rankings. See Waivers And Free Agency for more information.

  • Free Agency - An area for all unclaimed players who have cleared waivers. These players can be picked up on a first-come, first-serve basis without affecting a team's waiver position. See the Transactions page for all the details.

  • Trading - Teams in the same league are free to trade at will. If a trade is discovered that appears to be collusive or one-sided to the point that it cannot benefit one of the parties involved, league members may protest the trade and send it on to the League Office for review (as long as trade review is enabled - see 'turning off trade review' in the Trade Overview page).

FBA head-to-head play begins with the first games of the NBA's regular season. Your team's schedule is linked off your clubhouse page.

Good luck and we'll see you on the court!