“Not this type of Fantasy Football”
It’s the end of July – a good six weeks before the NFL season starts – and already there is blanket coverage of teams training camps. Questions around starters (Johnny Manziel – Browns), holdouts (Marshawn Lynch – Seahawks) and new coaches (Lovie Smith – Tampa Bay) are making a lot of by lines however this is also the time when another NFL analysis starts to hit it’s straps – That is the beginning of Fantasy Football season strategy and planning.
Fantasy Football started as a game developed by an Oakland Raiders PR employee (yes The Oakland Raiders) in the early 1960’s and the rules are still the basis of today’s game. Initially this league had eight players – today there are over 19 million players.
The advent of better telecommunications and ultimately the internet meant that the game started to become more mainstream and could be played from any location. Newspaper versions of the game began and by 1989 there were over 100,000 players nationwide in the USA.
Not wanting to miss out on the growing phenomenon the NFL released their own official game in 2010, and Fantasy football is now the single most important marketing tool for them.
Basically the rules today consist of selecting nine players made up of a mix of one quarterbacks, six offensive players a defence and a kicker. There is a six man bench made up of whatever mix an entrant wants. Points are gained for passing yards, running and rushing yards, defensive plays (sacks, number of points conceded etc) conversions and of course touchdowns.
Today’s games have constantly updated stats and fantasy football points scrolling at the bottom the each game. Leagues become competitive. Drafting players becomes an art (drafts can be done on a live basis or computer generated).
Every different competition ranks players on the basis of forecasted points each will receive on a season basis and per game – it’s a statistical overload – and gamers love it.
Some leagues involve real money as entry fees – most play for the thrill of it – and it’s all about the right to brag about selecting a rookie running back from the San Diego Chargers who’s fantasy numbers are in the top quartile versus his team that’s season has been a flop. Adrian Peterson anyone?
Speaking of which Running backs are the premium players in fantasy leagues – the ability to rush 100-200 yards per game makes them the top earners in terms of points in most cases. Running backs as a position in real NFL teams however are now not seen as important as they once were. Not one running back was drafted in the first round of this year’s draft and opinion is they can be seen as indispensable and injury prone. Whether this will start applying to player rankings in fantasy football it remains to be seen. The top 6 ranked players in most fantasy leagues this season are running backs.
As a fantasy football player there starts to become some downsides – you start supporting individual players in some cases against your own supported team!
And the downside for actual players is twitter abuse becomes common in terms of poor performances and lack of forecasted points – seriously this is what it can get to.
It’s easy to join the fun – public leagues allow anyone to join a random league of likeminded NFL stats nerds. Rugby has its own version of Super 15 Fantasy Rugby however it will never reach the heights of the NFL version – stats are not something traditional rugby fans dine out on.
Watching NFL as a Fantasy Football player changes a fans perspective forever. The number of rushing yards Kansas City Chief’s Jamaal Charles completes in his opening game will never seem so important.
Don’t forget to follow Hamish on Twitter