Fantasy football takes over USD

Students obesess over their online teams

By Nick Manessis

For some it’s a hobby. For some it’s a way to keep in touch with old friends. For some it’s just something to pass the time. And for some, it’s an addiction: a 17-week long, nail-biting, adrenaline-pumping adventure that leaves most devastated, but few, champions.

That’s right, I’m talking about fantasy football.

You know, that thing your boyfriend is messing with on his phone at 9:56 on a Sunday morning, making sure his lineup is perfectly ready for the chaos of that week in NFL football which would begin four minutes later. Or that thing that has caused you and your best friend to trash talk one another all week long, celebrating obnoxiously and sending minute-by-minute updates of your team’s superior performance.

Now at this point, I am certain some of you are nodding your head assuredly, as you have experienced exactly what I am talking about. But with this said, there are certainly a few people scratching their head in confusion, still unsure of what I am rambling about. So I’ll quickly break down what exactly is fantasy football: Essentially, it’s a “football league” in which you draft players from the NFL for your own team, and then each week you match up against another owner in your league. Whichever team’s players perform cumulatively better than the other team’s players, wins that week. After 16 to 17 weeks of matchups, a champion is crowned.

After this quick description, one may ask: What is all the fuss is about? Just draft your team, set your lineup, and in 17 weeks you’ll see who wins, right? Wrong. There is actually a lot of strategy behind driving your team to victory. Each week, you want to adjust your roster to put in players that have the best matchups, and whether that means taking a chance and putting in a backup, starting a player whose status of playing that week is “questionable” due to an injury, or picking up a “sleeper” free-agent in hopes of having a big game, you must make the choice that leads your team to victory. This requires, at the least, setting your lineup a few minutes before that week’s games on Sunday – or in some cases, Thursday – and to the extreme, tracking live player-news on sources such as Yahoo, Twitter, and ESPN throughout the week, making numerous roster adjustments in order to get the best players on your team. And if you really want to maximize your chances of winning, you’ll choose the latter strategy, spending countless minutes online and on your phone tracking the news. Some players get suspended, some get hurt, and some just play bad, so the more proactive you are in fixing your team, the better chances you have of winning that week.

So at this point, fantasy football might sound even more silly than before I began describing it. Why in the world would someone spend all this time and energy playing FANTASY football? For starters, bragging rights. Nothing feels better than being able to text your buddy an abusive message after your team triumphed over theirs. But even more so is the fact that in most leagues, you play for money. And this money isn’t “fantasy money”, but actual money. Although for many leagues, the buy-in is around 10 bucks, some league buy-ins get up into the hundreds. I personally am in a league where the buy in is 100 dollars. But I am not alone. Junior Ryan Keaton told me he “invested 250 dollars in one league. It will be a league that lasts five years, so this is the initial payment. Win once, I’ve paid it off!”

Whether or not fantasy football “pays off” financially, which it rarely does, for millions of people it provides even more thrill for an already exciting time for sports fans. It may seem weird, and it may be silly, but fantasy football allows football fans to feel even more connected to the action. It may be called “fantasy football”, but the competition, exhilaration, and spirit of it is anything but “fantasy”.