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Every Day is Sunday in the Competitive World of Fantasy Football

By Ethan Volk

Photo by Ethan Volk
This photo shows the typical team page on Yahoo Fantasy.
Photo by Ethan Volk

Every Sunday afternoon, almost 16 million people sit down at their computers and stay up late at night watching various numbers on their screens change by the minute. This may sound mind-numbing and crazy, but it’s not. This merely describes the life of a Fantasy Football owner.

Fantasy Football began with three men at the Milford Plaza Hotel in NYC in 1963. The three men ­ ­ Bill Winkenbach, Bill Tunnell, and Scotty Stirling, did not know it yet, but the idea that they created that day would become a worldwide phenomenon. They tried to mimic the foundation of a professional NFL franchise, one where you “owned” all the key positions of a team: a quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, and offensive and defensive linemen.

The first league created was known as the GOPPPL, or Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League. The GOPPPL consisted of eight separate teams, all of which were created through a player-drafting process.

Over time, the entire concept of a Fantasy Football League became popular and started to spread all over the nation, eventually resulting in the first online Fantasy Football website, sponsored by CBS in 1997. Other websites, such as Yahoo! and ESPN, also offer users a chance to create Fantasy Football leagues. In addition, Fantasy Football has become so popular that the FX sitcom, The League, is based on Fantasy Football league.

Now, many first time users may ask, “How does Fantasy Football work?” Well, it’s actually quite

simple.

The entire process begins with the draft. Although the draft is the most time-consuming part of the process, it can also be the most entertaining. During the draft, each owner has the opportunity to fill the player slots on his or her team. The hope is to find the new breakout player to add to the roster. But what players and positions do you choose first?

It’s up to you! For the most part, each team is comprised of the following positions: one quarterback (QB), two wide receivers (WR), two running backs (RB), one tight end (TE), one flex spot (either a WR or RB), one kicker (K), one team defense (DEF), and a bunch of players on the bench. Deciding which spots you fill first, is a matter of both strategy and luck.

Each owner crafts his or her own strategy. Some common strategies include taking two RBs, drafting the starters, and then drafting the bench; but some owners just take the next best player, regardless of position. However, some drafts are known as Auction Drafts, in which each player is given a price, and each team only has a certain amount of money to spend on players. Because of this, many team owners in Auction Drafts draft according to both player quality and price, which leads to an eventful and lengthy draft.

So now that the teams are drafted, how does the scoring work?

In Fantasy Football, leagues are usually Head-to-Head, where one team goes up against a different team each week. These leagues are either known as Points Per Reception (PPR) or non-PPR. In PPR leagues, WRs, RBs, and TEs gain a point each time they catch a pass.

Aside from catching passes, players acquire points for their team by gaining passing, receiving, and rushing yards, as well as scoring touchdowns.

On the defensive side of the ball, team defenses can also score points in the form of points allowed, sacks, fumbles, interceptions, and defensive touchdowns. In many occasions, the DEF position can be the most influential part of a team’s weekly outcome.

In addition, players can also lose points for their team due to fumbles and interceptions, which result in the loss of one point. For defenses, the more real-game points allowed, the fewer fantasy points gained.

It may seem confusing at first, but Fantasy Football is a simple and exciting game, and often tends to be the topic of conversation.

While walking through the halls, you may hear people say, “I’ll trade you Lynch for Arian,” or “You got so lucky this week! The Chiefs’ defense has never scored that many points.” To the passing stranger, these comments are just random chatter, but the Fantasy Football team owner, knows exactly what you’re talking about.

After about 14 weeks, the “regular season” ends and the playoffs begin.

Fantasy Football Playoffs could quite possibly be considered the two most stressful weeks of an owner’s life. All the work and dedication a team owner puts into his team could potentially go right down the drain after a first-round playoff loss, especially if his or her team dominated the entire league all season.

In the end, though, a winner emerges and takes home all of the pride, sometimes including cash winnings, and the title League Champion. When football comes rolling back around in September, the whole process starts again, and the League Champion hopes to defend his or her title.

To an outsider, it may seem as though Fantasy Football could get boring from year to year, as it’s basically the same process, only with different players. But that’s what makes Fantasy Football so special – each year it’s a different story.

Each year, owners draft different players onto their teams and root for different players or different NFL teams than they did the year before. Some years you get your favorite player, and some years you don’t; but it’s what you do get and what you make of it that makes this game so special.

 

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