The national sensation of Fantasy Football has grown increasingly popular in recent years, so an outsider with no experience may wonder how it works and what makes it so interesting to people involved. The first thing to understand is that in terms of scale, Fantasy Football Leagues that players participate in can be drastically different. They can range from a social activity played with friends for a small prize or bragging rights, to a huge competition with millions of random players and a prize just as large. However, all leagues are based on similar principles that dictate how Fantasy Football works.
At the beginning of the NFL season, each league has a “draft.” This is when players pool their money that will constitute the prize that the winner will receive. The main goal of this process is to draft the best NFL players available to form a team of starting players and a bench. The points your team earns are based on how your starting lineup does in real life. Once one team selects a player, that player can not be chosen by another team in the draft. This causes fantasy players to research their draft targets and develop a strategy of who they want to pick first. One simple example of draft strategy is that many people choose to pick running backs and wide receivers first, because talented players in these positions score significantly more points for their teams than their less talented counterparts.
Throughout the season, you can make trades with other members of the league. The trades exchange players on your team for players on another member’s team. Sometimes, when both teams need a player from the other team, trades turn out to be mutually beneficial. However, most of the time, one person ends up with the better player(s) in a trade. As a result, people meticulously research and argue about the future performances of players they are looking to trade away or receive in order to get a good deal. Another similar element of Fantasy Football is the “waiver wire”. Essentially, the waiver wire is all of the players who were not drafted by any of the teams in the league so they are up for grabs. In an average league, people put claims on players on the waiver wire in order to add them to their team. Someone might do this if they feel like a player on the waiver wire is going to perform very well or if one of the players already on their team is injured and needs to be dropped.
Each week, you are matched up against someone in your league, and whoever scores more points that week wins. As stated earlier, these points are grounded on the real life performances of the players. For example, if a player gets a touchdown in a real game, the team who has that player gets 6 points. At the end of all of the games of the weekend, whichever team has the most points wins. Your wins in a fantasy league add up, and the top fantasy teams at the end of the NFL season enter into the finals. Whoever wins the finals of the league is awarded the money originally pooled at the draft.
The reason that Fantasy Football is such an alluring game to football fans is it allows fans to take an active role in NFL football. For those accustomed to taking a passive role in watching their favorite team, the excitement of drafting a team of players that you may not even support spices up a sometimes monotonous season. This supplies a reason to watch games and teams that you would not normally watch, making the season more entertaining, especially if your favorite team is not having a great season.
If you would like to start a league with your friends or relatives next year, you can create a league on the ESPN fantasy app, or the NFL fantasy app. There are also many tips on the apps that can help you start to play. These tips include player rankings and draft strategies at the beginning of the season. Later on, the tips tell you who to trade for, or trade away. All in all, fantasy football is something everyone should try, mostly because it is a fun social activity that allows football fans to take an active role in their passion.
Graphic: Amelia Chen