When Does Fantasy Football Start? Drafts, First Games & More

Adam Taylor McKillop
When Does Fantasy Football start? Start dates, including best time to draft and official season start.
When Does Fantasy Football start? Start dates, including best time to draft and official season start. / ASSOCIATED PRESS
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If you're new to fantasy football and your draft is coming up, you're probably wondering what to expect. Plenty of your questions will revolve around best draft strategies and specific strategy for your draft position, but some of the questions will be even more basic.

One topic that will surely come up is simply a question of when does the fantasy football actually start?

When Does Fantasy Football Start?

There are a few different ways to answer this question, but we'll keep things simple. There are two important dates to consider for your fantasy season: the day of your draft (and everything that leads up to the decisions you make on draft night) and the official start of the 2022 NFL regular season, or Week 1.

There are many fantasy drafts that haven't even happened yet. If you fall in this bucket, and are reading this article, it's important to communicate with your league's manager or league teammates about coordinating a convenient day and time that works for everyone to draft your players.

The most important takeaway here? Make sure you find a time that you'll be able to sit on your computer, or at least on your phone, and make your draft picks. Auto-drafting is a strategy that rarely works.

Many leagues will opt to hold their fantasy drafts following the end of the preseason. This is a good time as final 53-man rosters are solidified, and the chance for preseason injuries is nearly cut in half thanks to no live action.

When is Week 1 of the NFL season?

If you've already drafted, or are comfortable with your league's draft date and time, the other important date to consider is the start of the official fantasy season.

Fantasy leagues begin at the same time the official NFL season kicks off. This makes it an easy date to remember for everyone participating. Week 1 of the season is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 8 to Monday, Sept. 12.

If you're opting for any members of the Buffalo Bills or Los Angeles Rams, it's very important to remember those teams kick the season off on Thursday night. You'll need to set at least part of your fantasy lineup before that game kicks off at 8:20 p.m. ET. Seriously, don't leave Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs or Cooper Kupp on your bench by accident, especially in Week 1.

Most of the action goes down on Sunday, Sept. 11. Sunday's slate features 14 games, with the first kicking off as early as 1 p.m. ET. Same idea, do no forget to set your lineup by mid-morning on Sunday.

What is the Best Time to Hold a Fantasy Draft?

Taking dynasty and keeper leagues out of the equation, there are varying opinions on the best time to hold a fantasy draft. There are really only two right answers though. The biggest priority is to pick a date and time that works for everyone participating in your league. It's not fun dealing with auto-drafted teams, and honestly, those people are more likely to stop playing once the going gets tough.

The other consideration is to draft as close to the start of the regular season as possible. We've reached the main hurdle of the preseason finales and final 53-man roster cuts, leaving us with a good picture of depth charts and pecking orders for each NFL franchise. My personal feeling? The closer to the season start, the better. There's still more than a week of practices and it's a bad feeling seeing your RB1 or WR2 go down with injury in those final practices before Week 1.


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Adam Taylor McKillop is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Adam Taylor also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username atmckillop. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel. 

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