Another day, another new feature: YOUR Questions! This site is for all of you, and I want to provide information that you actually want to read to help you out each weekend! Please feel free to ask any and every question you might have in whatever way works for you – comment on a post, shoot me an email, post it to the Facebook page, send a tweet – pick your poison! I’m always
happy overjoyed to get questions from you guys, so please send them in as they come to you!
The question of the year so far seems to be Fantasy Football – what is it, how do you play it, and why does it matter? GREAT questions, and very relevant to this era in football fandom. Let’s go through each facet:
What is Fantasy Football?
Fantasy football, in it’s traditional form, is a season-long game in which a participant competes against a group of other participants by drafting and fielding a fantasy “team” each week. A draft – much like the NFL draft (minus NYC, plus pizza) – is held prior to the season, and each participant is tasked with drafting a “team” of starters and alternates – usually between 15-18 components. Each week, the fantasy participant will select players to form his team for the week, which consists of one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end, one kicker, and one defense/special teams unit. Those components will earn fantasy points based on their performance on the field. Specific amounts of points and terms of winning are determined differently in different types of leagues, but generally, the participant with the most points at the end of the season wins.
There are also other Fantasy Football-esque style games, like Knockout/Survivor/Elimination Leagues (in which participants pick one sure bet to win each week and are eliminated as their picks are eliminated) and Pick’Em Leagues (in which participants pick the winner of each game and receive points based on correct picks). These are a lot of fun to play if you don’t have the time or emotional energy it takes to maintain a successful Fantasy Football roster.
How do you play?
Round up a group of friends and family and decide on what type of league you want to play in (and for most websites, even though Week 1 is over, you can still create a new league). The Yahoo! Survivor and Pick’Em Leagues are linked above. For traditional Fantasy Football, a few popular options are Yahoo!, ESPN, CBS, and the NFL. If none of your friends or family members want to play or if you just want to fly solo and compete anonymously, most fantasy leagues have a “public league” option in which you can compete against strangers on the internet. (But if you can, play with people you know. It’s so much more fun that way.)
After signing up for a league…what do you do? I’ll let the experts advise you on that. Here are a few resources to get you started:
Matthew Berry (just listen to everything he says…he’s a fantasy genius)
Why does it matter?
If you’ve never played fantasy football before, you’re probably wondering this. Why does everyone care about a fake game when there are REAL games being played?!
Mostly, because Fantasy Football will turn you into a points-crazed fanatic, and will completely change how you watch football games. There are good and bad components to this, in my opinion.
On the good side, playing Fantasy Football in any capacity makes you more attuned to the week’s on-field action. If you play in a traditional league, you are much more aware of specific players and positions, and that works wonders for your NFL know-how. If you play in a Survivor or Pick’Em league, you are keeping a constant eye on the outcomes of each game, which helps you to become more invested in following each week’s games. It helps football fans, casual or crazed, become involved in the game in a way that they have a hand in controlling, which adds an enjoyable (and otherwise impossible) sense of ownership to fandom.
On the bad side, playing Fantasy Football can make you forget that there are real games being played by real players who are out there for the love of the game to win the game, not to earn more fantasy points for your fantasy team. I think former Patriots and Chiefs General Manager Scott Pioli said it best in his article on the MMQB:
A large number of fans want NFL teams to be built “fantasy style” with top name players and top stats players. Over the last 10 years, I can’t tell you how many times I have heard comments from fans about the lack of opportunities that “their” players were getting. I’m sure Fantasy Football is good for the business of football, but it’s not good for players to hear they should be getting the ball more—or for teams just trying to do whatever it takes to win a game, not just compile stats.
He hit the nail right on the head. There are aspects of Fantasy Football that are great for football, but as a whole, it can at times detract from the real sport of football rather than add to it.
Do you guys play Fantasy Football? Have you noticed a change in how you watch or follow games because of it?