“So, how does it work again?”
“Ok, the teams are fictitious, but are the players at least real?”
“Aren’t we a little too old for this?”
These are just a few of the questions fantasy football players have no doubt had to deal with over the years. Responding with anything beyond the knee-jerk, “You just wouldn’t understand” is a tall task indeed. That’s why we here at Football Times are committed to easing your burden. We’re here to educate the masses, or at least relieve you of the duty.
Although fantasy football, and fantasy sports of all kinds, has existed for quite some time (since 1962 in fact), the internet has catapulted it into a whole new level of popularity. In the last 5 years alone, the number of fantasy team owners has skyrocketed into the millions. Now people who are not even fans of the NFL itself are lining up to own a team in fantasy land. But the increased visibility has done little to explain how the game actually works to casual observers.
Here’s a one sentence description of fantasy football: it is a game where each “owner” gets to construct, reconstruct, and “coach” a team of real-life NFL players. Sound complicated? It’s not. Each owner creates their own team using players from any and all of the real NFL teams. These fantasy teams are a part of fantasy leagues, where anywhere from 4–20 (or even more) fantasy teams compete against one another each week during the NFL’s regular season. Fantasy teams earn points based on each real player’s statistics during that week’s NFL game. Each player’s points are added together to give each fantasy team one score. Whichever fantasy team scores more points, based on the individual players, wins.
So isn’t it all luck? Well, some might think so, but they are probably dead last in their respective leagues. The skill in being a fantasy owner lies in deciding which NFL players to draft, trade, pick up from the free agent list, and, most importantly, start each week. These decisions can, and often do, vary greatly from week to week. The match-ups faced by NFL players depend heavily on what particular NFL team they are playing against that week, and fantasy owners must be aware as well. Thus being a successful fantasy owner requires careful analysis and decision-making skills.
Playing fantasy football enables hordes of NFL fans to live out their dreams: running a football team. The experience is, for many, cathartic. No longer relegated to calling in sports radio talk shows, fans can discuss the NFL, their favorite teams and players, all the while running their very own competitive team. It is little wonder the game has caught on so quickly.
The intricacies of fantasy football are far too many to explore fully here (other topics warranting discussion include drafts, league set-ups, scoring, etc.). But the basics are set forth above. Having finally figured out what exactly fantasy football is, playing the game should not be too difficult. Many websites offer free public leagues for people to join. If you have a group of friends who all want to play together, these same websites usually allow private leagues to be set up. Much more information on how to set up and run fantasy football leagues can be found elsewhere on this site.
For now, we’re glad you could join us.