The blue guy is sure to net me a ton of points. Yeah!
Stop looking at me that way.
Despite the title of this article, I have no intention of giving you my perspective on this weeks’ picks. Or your roster as it currently stands. Or the relative merits of your league and its earning power. Or your splits.
Or the laughingly illegal aspects of what you’re doing.
Every football season, the buzz gets louder and louder from the fantasy leagues, which have been growing exponentially. Services like Fanduel and DraftKings haven’t hurt, offering the possibility of much bigger pools and rewards, and in some cases, lottery-sized jackpots. Fantasy advertising and “for fun” leagues are available on nearly every sports outlet and site in the country, including this one. It’s safe to say that on a personal level, approximately 75% of the football fans I know are involved in at least one fantasy league, with a majority of those in several. They’ve sat through every draft; they’ve scoured all the stat rags; they know the twitch tendencies of every player at every notable position (except perhaps defense at large, where numbers are often accumulated en masse). They love it and swear by it, often to the point of superseding actual team loyalties and aversions, all in the name of a payoff, and better still, bragging right for an entire offseason.
For the first time in several years, I have no fantasy teams. Zip, nada. And I couldn’t be happier about it.
Witnessing the amount of time people dedicate to fantasy teams has forced me, not for the first time, mind you, to consider that fantasy football may actually be outstripping actual football for sheer interest. Consider this: There are countless fantasy players in this country that rarely watch games. They sit online all day, tracking their individual rosters and players, and calculating odds, trading players and rosters, and eating vast amounts of antacids. They spend the better parts of their weeks perusing injury reports and making corresponding roster moves. They’re rarely looking at anything beyond a laptop or mobile device, and you’d better not criticize or question them, because the consequences are dire. I wasn’t one of those guys, even at my fantasy worst. But I suspect some of the folks that will read this are.
It’s been an interesting season from a non-fantasy standpoint. Playoff and Super Bowl odds have changed seemingly by the minute, as we absorb how teams actually look, as opposed to the Vegas projections that have dictated our mindsets regarding relative success or failure. Injuries have certainly tempered or enhanced our expectations, as GMs scramble to find suitable replacements and coaches adjust their schemes to accommodate the roster changes.
So what’s the difference?
I come not to trash fantasy, or to praise it. It simply is, and I guess this is an acknowledgement that it’s gone from being a harmless, occasional fan dalliance to a multi-billion dollar industry, based almost exclusively off of an “owner’s” perspective (yeah, yeah, which is based on stats and recent trends, performances, etc. Shut up.)
I guess the only real complaint I have about fantasy football is that it seems to be killing team loyalty. Fantasy owners still claim to hold their own allegiances, but their reactions on Sundays tell a different story. The guys that operate in a dozen leagues, have a ten-year subscription to NFL Redzone, and rarely notice when you’re speaking to them are the worst offenders. They have no time for their own team allegiances. It’s all about the team they’ve created, as opposed to the actual roster.
Oh well. If that’s the only sacrifice, it’s a harmless one. It’s not as though the NFL cares; they’re certainly making an effort to promote fantasy play on their sites and in their advertising, because – as we’re WELL aware – the NFL never passes up a chance to profit from…well, anything. Interest in football from any venue is considered a plus.
So enjoy, folks. Keep clicking away, buying injury replacements, harassing your commissioner into giving you a break, and building it into the ideal point-scoring machine. If it makes your Sundays that much more entertaining and profitable, go for it.
I’m just kind of happy to not have the stress that comes with it.