By Matt Gelfand

Photo Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

There are certain societal rules we as human beings are expected to follow. Don’t speak out of turn in class. Tip your server in accordance to the bill total. Don’t back-cut in any situation, ever.

These rules are instilled in us from a very young age. And if you’ve played fantasy sports (if not, why are you reading this post?), you understand that general rules of etiquette also apply to your fake league. This understood set of principles maintains order and prevents anarchy… or teams from quitting mid-season (we’ll get to that in a minute).

Here are five generally accepted rules for proper fantasy football etiquette. Avoid at your own risk.

Photo Credit: Chris Chambers/Getty Images

1. Show up for the draft

Nobody likes the autopick guy. Even worse is the autopick guy who forgot to pre-rank his players. He is the turd in your proverbial fantasy punch bowl. Because his team lacks a human element, the system tends to pick the best available players regardless of positional need. In most cases, this results in a team full of elite wide receivers and a bunch of flotsam. This automated strategy also means some crucial players may be taken off the board before they necessarily should be. Don’t be a turd. Show up.

2. Do your research

Chad Johnson, formerly Chad Ochocinco (Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

The second most egregious violation of draft etiquette is not doing your due diligence. Research the players a little… know who’s good and who isn’t. If you ever needed an excuse to read about football and watch highlights, this is it. There’s nothing cute, amusing (or smart) about drafting Chad Johnson (formerly Chad Ochocinco) in the first round, or playing dumb and asking other teams in the chat window who to pick. It makes you look foolish and immediately calls into question the compete level of the league in general.

3. Leave hubris at the door

We get it, you have sleepers. No wait, you have “the best” sleepers, the deepest of sleepers. You outwardly despise all fantasy experts for thinking his sleepers can even hold a candle to your sleepers. Listen, there’s nothing wrong with having pride in your intricate research methods or your use of some obscure statistic you found on Football Outsiders to guide your draft strategy. But in all likelihood, no one else cares. And the more you tout the picks, the greater the pressure for them pan out and prove you right. If they falter, be prepared for the impending message board backlash.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

4. Pay up

If you’re in a pay league (and if you have any self-respect, you should be), the commissioner usually sets a deadline for payment, typically before the start of the season. Write down this date. Save it to the “To Do” app on your phone. Tattoo it on your forehead. Do whatever you have to to remember that date. If for some reason you can’t afford the fee, start saving now. Constant reminders from the commish to pay make it look like you’re trying to skate by until your team is out of contention and there’s little reason to comply. Don’t expect to be invited back next year, Stingy Stu.

5. Don’t tank

Tanking mid-season is the most grievous of all fantasy football offenses. Not only does it take certain players off the trade market, it also provides validation for others to follow suit. And once two people quit, others conform and the bottom quickly falls out. That’s four or five teams that now let trade proposals languish for weeks, or start lineups half-filled with injured players or guys that lost their jobs weeks ago. It’s a deplorable move that tarnishes the sanctity of the league and, whether you care or not, lessens the rest of the league’s respect for you as a person. Sad, but true. Don’t do it.

See more about Fantasy Football.

Visit the NFL Kickoff section at CBS Local.

Matt Gelfand works in Boston’s Financial District as a business news writer, and is also a columnist at You can follow him on Twitter @GelfBHQ.