The NFL season kicked off back on Sept. 10, and with it, so did fantasy football for millions of fans across the country.
The premise is simple: “team owners” set up a league with their friends and then hold a draft in which they select players from all offensive skill positions to fill out their teams.
Throughout the season, owners manage their teams by choosing which players to start based on a myriad of factors like matchups, bye weeks and injuries, with the goal to make the playoffs and ultimately win their league’s championship.
There are two different types of drafts: snake drafts and auction drafts.
Snake drafts are similar to the NFL draft; there is a specific order the owners pick their teams in. Once the first round of picks is complete, the second round begins going in opposite order of the first round. The third round order is the same as the first round, and so on.
In auction drafts, owners have a certain amount of “dollars” to spend on their teams, and each player is worth “money.” The more expensive the player, the more valuable he is, similar to the concepts of drafting in one-day leagues like FanDuel and Draft Kings.
It should not surprise anyone that as the popularity of the NFL has exploded in the last decade, so has the popularity of fantasy football.
According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, there are roughly 33 million people who play fantasy football. Leagues are usually free to join, and most serious ones have members contribute money to a pool, with the eventual champion receiving all of the league’s money, only further heightening the competitive spirit that drives these leagues.
From a group of high school kids to businessmen in their 40s, it seems that these days everyone is in some sort of fantasy league.
Freshman Keith Henning agrees.
“I have a couple friends who play fantasy football and during the season they don’t come out much. Most of their conversations consist of vulgar trash talking,” said Henning. “I’d say that being in a league will either strengthen the relationship, or completely ruin it, usually ending on less than favorable terms. All in all I love fantasy football because it’s always a good time watching best buds become absolute savages to each other with the full intent to cause as much humiliation as possible.”
If that description of fantasy football sounds familiar, it might be because of the television show “The League,” which airs on FX, that has run for seven seasons now. The show focuses on a group of friends who play fantasy football together.
Fantasy football has arguably become as ingrained in American culture as football itself.
Still, many outsiders cannot understand the appeal fantasy football has to football fans. Perhaps it is easier to compare it to other fantasy sports.
In a 16-game regular season, users only have to set a lineup four times a month, allowing for even casual fans to participate and compete for money, rather than every day.
Compared to baseball, where there are 162 games, or hockey and basketball with 82 games, it is easy to see why so many people are actively engaged in their fantasy football league compared to other fantasy sports.
Overall, the growth in popularity of fantasy football is truly unprecedented.
Nothing else better illustrates this than the fact that for some time now, at 11 a.m. on Sundays, ESPN2 has hosted a pregame show dedicated solely to the fantasy aspect of football.
The show goes over player projections and delivers expert analysis to the millions of fans who tune in over the traditional NFL pregame shows.
If nothing else, fantasy football provides an outlet for fans of uncompetitive teams to remain engaged in the great sport of football.