Every fall, 20 million like-minded fans participate in the phenomenon that is fantasy football. For those of you who play, your season has already started, and you may already be regretting your first-round pick of Saquon Barkley. For those of you who don’t, we’ll catch you up to speed.
For most participants, fantasy football is a full-time, 17-week commitment. The game is controlled virtually on any mobile device, complete with victories and losses that will determine your overall ranking in this armchair activity.
Fantasy football starts when you draft a team of about 15 players; you can build your fantasy team from any player in the NFL. The “draft” consists of rounds, with each allowing every participant to draft one player. The rounds continue until everyone has drafted their full team, and the game begins. The game is built on a point system, so every week you try to decide the lineup that is going to score you the most points in a head-to-head matchup with another participant in your league. These points are calculated from the statistics NFL players put up in real-life games. For example, offensive players gain points for yards and touchdowns, while defensive players gain points for fumbles, interceptions, defensive touchdowns, and stopping the offense from scoring.
The honeymoon phase only lasts for so long, and just like the NFL season, anything can happen. Players can get hurt, traded, or benched, causing them not to live up to expectations. At the end of the day, the only goal is to win by accumulating the most points by the end of the season.
Fantasy football is a platform that allows its participants to be the next Vince Lombardi, known famously for his coaching style with the Green Bay Packers, while simultaneously allowing you and your next-door neighbor to argue over who will be the star player in your fantasy draft. It’s a game that the shy student sitting in the back of your economics class or the environmental studies major in your sorority can be a part of — all you need to do is build your team.
A love for the sport isn’t the only thing that draws people to the world of fantasy football; the comradery and competitiveness create this love-hate relationship between fans and players that evidently draws people to this high-stakes game.
Abigail Dinius, a junior nursing student, said, “I like playing fantasy football because it helps me bond with my dad and gives me more people and players to root for other than my local team.”
Over time, fantasy football has become synonymous with gambling. Players often have buy-ins at the beginning of the season, with the winner taking the pot and the biggest loser often enduring some kind of embarrassing punishment. Therefore, some intense competition could end up leaving you with a minus sign in front of your bank account balance or send you on an unavoidable trip to the barber for a terrible haircut. Lachlan Ansley, a freshman business major, said, “I love betting on sports. It has been both good and bad for me. Yes, I’ve gotten my head shaved on a sports bet, but I’ve also made $500, so I think it evens out.”
Whether it is the unconditional love for your fantasy team that makes you bet your last paycheck on the playoffs or the kind of competition the game instigates, fantasy football is a game that anyone can play, and I encourage you to do so. The draft is still open, so for those of you who haven’t hopped on the bandwagon, it’s still possible. Here’s to all your fantasies coming true.