November 7, 2016
To understand the appeal of fantasy football you first have to know have fantasy football works. Typically a group of friends, co-workers or family create a league that can be from 8-12 teams. Within this league there will be a draft where each team picks a real-life NFL player to be on their team. The positions are normally: one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end, a FLEX (any position but a quarterback), a team defense (more on that later), and a kicker. Teams win based on how their players perform in games. Usually the final four teams will compete in a playoff to determine the league champion.
Fantasy football is a nationwide phenomenon (with over 75 million users this year, according to the New York Post), but why is it so popular? Sophomore Isaac Chambers says, “Fantasy football gives me a reason to watch every game on Sunday, not just my favorite team.” While most NFL viewers find interest in their favorite teams and the primetime games, fantasy football allows players to be invested in every game.
The NFL has created a new viewing experience called NFL Redzone, a channel that for eight hours every Sunday, shows teams in scoring range from every game and all the highlights. This provides a very convenient way for fantasy players to keep track of their team. NFL Redzone also show no commercials which means fans can be watching football non-stop for eight hours. Isaac Chambers says: “I love RedZone; it makes my Sunday. Without it, I wouldn’t watch as much football as I do with it.”
A crucial part of fantasy football is the draft. The draft is what sets fantasy players’ teams for the season. Most players do quite a bit of research before draft-day to get ready. Many leagues have parties or meet-ups on draft-day. If you had a lackluster draft it’s not all bad, there are many breakout players that aren’t drafted. At the beginning of every week, players can claim anyone that is not owned to add them to their team. However, not anyone can get who they want because the worst teams get first priority and the best team gets last priority. This leads to secrecy as the best teams don’t want the worse teams knowing who they are claiming.
One of the many appeals of fantasy football is that it brings people together through competition and of course, money. Throughout the United States, only 29 percent of participants do not wager on their leagues. Isaac Chambers doesn’t wager in his league because: “I would most likely lose a lot [of money] and it would take the fun out of the game”.
Many leagues can get very creative with rewarding the best teams and punishing the worst teams. Punishments range from being as innocent as wearing a last-place jersey, to getting a tattoo of a unicorn. First place teams usually receive trophies. Sophomore Jake Demelsveck uses: “a crown” as his leagues trophy.
There are also different formats between fantasy leagues. One format is Points Per Reception (PPR). In PPR leagues, every time a player makes a catch they receive a point. This format gives an advantage to wide receivers and pass-catching running backs. The other format is Standard. Standard leagues do not give points for each reception and favor running backs and quarterbacks. Isaac Chambers prefers PPR because: “wide receivers are more exciting to watch”. A survey from footballguys.com showed that 68% of fantasy players use PPR.
Another format that is much lesser known and rarely used is IDP, or individual defensive player. Leagues outside this format use a whole team’s defense instead of drafting individual players. Many don’t use this format because they either don’t know enough about defensive players, or it would take too much time.