Fantasy football has exploded in popularity over the past decade. The game has seeped so deeply into mainstream American culture that even housewives and grade school children are drafting fantasy football teams and talking trash on a weekly basis.
If you don't know what fantasy football is, here's a quick synopsis. Ten or more team owners take turns selecting football players at positions like quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, kicker and team defense. These players are awarded with fantasy points that represent their on field accomplishments. The goal is to collect a team of football players that score the most possible fantasy points.
Most leagues pit teams against one another in a weekly head to head format that culminates in a championship week face off between the two remaining teams. Other leagues use rotisserie scoring where teams are ranked by their players' performances across a wide variety of statistical categories.
Why People Play Fantasy Football
Most people play fantasy football because they enjoy participating in a social competition amongst people that they know. Fantasy football leagues typically involve people from the same workplace, schools and families. It is a lighthearted means of connecting with others and presents a talking point for instances of pregnant pauses.
For many people, fantasy football gives them a reason to watch football games. Plenty of sports fans are stuck in cities without NFL teams or very bad NFL teams. So, drafting one's own squad of players keeps the football season interesting. Others are more into the prize component of the game. Most leagues award a league prize or two to the team that wins.
Everybody plays because it keeps us connected to other people. Classmates, old acquaintances, former co-workers and others go their separate ways in life, but a fantasy football league has the power to bond them across vast distances and time spans. It's also the perfect activity to generate some workplace camaraderie that will unify employees and lighten the atmosphere.
The Ultimate Prizes of Fantasy Football
Most fantasy football leagues offer a cash prize to the victor and another, smaller prize to the runner-up. Some even provide a prize of lesser value to the team owner who finishes in third place. Some leagues pool the entry fees to provide a football related item to the wining team, like an official team jersey, a team helmet or other memorabilia.
The most serious of leagues offers the winner an all expenses paid trip to a location that the league members decide upon before the fantasy draft takes place. Other leagues play for prizes of less value like dinners or trophies. One of the cooler ways to reward the top team is to give him the standard prize along with the number one overall fantasy football draft pick in the next season's draft. Still, others play for the mere fun of the game instead of a tangible prize.
How to Prepare for Fantasy Football Drafts
Players who want to have a fantastic fantasy football draft will have to put in some work. Yet its fun work, not real work. Fantasy football preparation starts with watching a good amount of football during the season before the actual draft takes place. Other ways to prepare involve fantasy football draft guides found in magazines and on websites, various podcasts from the Internet and watching fantasy football television specials on sports channels like ESPN, Fox Sports and NFL network.
Fantasy football experts will testify that reviewing online blogs and fantasy rankings are the easiest ways to prepare. Most places provide downloadable rankings that you can print out and bring with you to the draft. The most important part of preparing is to take down notes that you can reference during crucial drafty day decisions. You can also participate in several live “mock drafts” on various websites across the web to simulate the fantasy football draft day experience.
Fantasy Football is Everywhere
Fantasy football has become so big that some leagues actually hold their drafts in the sports gambling mecca of the world, Las Vegas, Nevada. Leagues often rent out hotel rooms, banquet facilities and other meeting spaces to gorge on food and booze while drafting their teams. Hardcore leagues even allow owners to draft several different defensive players in Individual Defensive Player (IDP) style leagues. Others allow owners to “keep” a player or two from previous drafts for the next season, giving the game a legacy feel.
Each league provides its own unique twist on the activity so that the members stay actively involved and have as much fun as possible. No matter how your league approaches fantasy football, it is incredibly addictive and you'll likely be tempted to join additional leagues for even more fun.
The photo above is an original courtesy of EliteDaily.
For the record, I never actually played football. I have no doubt that I would get crushed running across the middle for a pass, every single time.
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