Written By: Adam Freedman
Edited By: Ryan Windels and Sean McCarthy
Through the months of August to December there is usually one constant that is running through any “true’ football fans mind, Fantasy Football. Every Fantasy Football player understands the peaks and valleys that your team goes through in a given season. Dealing with injuries, finding surprise sleepers, giving up on fantasy duds, and predicting and choosing the best match ups and players every single week is what truly excites the Fantasy addict. Through those three stressful months you will experience ridicule from your friends when you lose, trash talk your opponent when you win, and even conflict when you may have to cheer against your favorite team so your players can do well. It takes constant dedication and devotion, a willingness to sacrifice anything in order to win.
Before Fantasy Football became the nation wide sensation that it is today it came for very humble beginnings. The history of Fantasy Football dates back to 1962 when Wilfren “Bill” Winkenbach, Bill Tunnell, and Scotty Stirling developed the rules for what eventually became Fantasy Football. Together with 5 other members they made history by founding the GOPPPL (Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League), which became the first ever Fantasy Football league. The popularity of Fantasy Football grew slowly until 1997, when CBS launched the first publicly available free Fantasy Football website. The game spread like wildfire and by the year 2000 almost all major sports media websites hosted Fantasy Football leagues. In a true testament to how widely popular the game has grown, in 2011 the NFL directed all teams to show fantasy statistics and scoring during games on their stadium video boards. Today, over 35 million people participate in Fantasy Football every fall.
Over the past couple of years as technology advanced so has Fantasy Football. The growth of the Internet changed how sports are delivered and has made them readily accessible to anyone at anytime. Fantasy scores and statistics can be updated almost instantly, status of a player’s injury can be given to you at the click of a button, and news about your player’s teams can be found in seconds. Even with all of this information ready for you right at your fingertips Fantasy owners spend multiple hours doing research on the upcoming matchups and countless more hours fretting about who they should add, drop, or trade for so they can gain an edge against their opponent. This shows that with fantasy football, finding the right statistics or information to help out your team isn’t a chore. It’s part of the process of owning a Fantasy team and helps give us the sense that we are working to do something special and achieve something great.
If you’re a real Fantasy addict you may get to the point where you would do anything to talk to Fantasy Football guru Matthew Berry AKA “The Talented Mr. Roto”. Matthew Berry is a writer for ESPN.com that provides fantasy advice for owners every week of the season. He is widely considered one of the most knowledgeable Fantasy sports writers in the industry.
Fantasy Football isn’t something that people can only spend 30 minutes a week on anymore, it’s turned into a way of life and has even started to effect businesses. According to Drew Guarini of the Huffington Post an estimated 22.3 million Fantasy Football players are employed and he conservatively estimated that they spend around at least an hour a week managing their teams while at work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the average hourly wage is $19.33. if you multiply that by the 22.3 million Fantasy owners, you find that over a given week $430.9 million is lost and over a given Fantasy season $6.5 billion is lost.
Here is a timeline of what a normal week looks like for a truly dedicated Fantasy Football owner so you can get a sense of what Fantasy owners are doing with their teams on a day-by-day basis. This chart even remains accurate to the Fantasy owners that work during the week:
Fantasy Football is like a drug. Once you start it, it is very easy to get hooked on it, and difficult to get off it. According to a study by Jeremy Lee of Louisiana State University, the three main reasons people get hooked are Control, Escape, and Achievement (pg.16). People get attached to the control that they possess over their team, being able to be in control of everything from what players to add or drop to what their team name is. People also use it to escape from their everyday lives where they could possibly be very stressed out. They can delve into a fantasy where they run a team and get pleasure and enjoyment out of it. Lastly people participate for the possibility of a sense of achievement. They would feel success when their team outscores their opponent and feel like they achieved something great if they win the league championship. Chasing this feeling of achievement could lead to Fantasy players to invest more time and money into finding and analyzing information that could help their team.
Fantasy Football is a game, and just like any game there are rules and guidelines on how things are run. The rules and regulations behind Fantasy Football are easy enough to where almost anyone can participate in a league and have a fun time. A typical Fantasy league consists of 8-14 teams, which can be run by your friends, family, or even complete strangers. Major sports websites, such as, ESPN, NFL.com, and Yahoo make it very easy to set up a league with your friends or to just join a random league with complete strangers. Each team contains around 15 players with 9 starting positions and 6 players on your bench. The number of teams and players usually varies from league to league depending on how your league commissioner sets it up. The league commissioner is basically the manager of the league, he is the guy that decides the league settings, sends out invites for people to join he league, and basically the overseeing of anything that happens in the league. Each week you will manage your roster by figuring out which players you want to start and which players you think should stay on your bench. Only the players that start for you would earn your team points. Your players can earn points in a variety of ways, such as gaining yards, making a reception, and scoring touchdowns.
The different ways your team can earn points is summarized nicely in this video.
Fantasy Football has become a large part of a football fans life. It effects how you watch sports, what players you cheer for, and it even affects our loyalty to your team. People no longer watch a football game to support a team or just enjoy some football. They now are rooting for certain players to do well and others to struggle. Fans would even cheer for a rival teams player if it meant that his fantasy team would benefit from it. According to Jeremy Lee’s research, in a 2006 study of team loyalty approximately 29% of people who play Fantasy sports would rather see their Fantasy team win than their favorite team. In 2011, Lee did his own research and found that about 41% of Fantasy Football players would rather have their Fantasy team win than their favorite team (pg. 57). These findings show that Fantasy Football is more than just a game to people. It’s what determines who we cheer for, it dictates how we watch games, and it even sometimes decides if we should do work or not. Fantasy Football is becoming more than just an addition to football; it is becoming just as important if not more so.
Lee, Jeremy, The Effects of Fantasy Football Participation On Team Identification and NFL Fandom, Louisiana College, 2011
Guarini, Drew, Fantasy Football Costs Employers Upwards of $65 Billion, Study Finds, Huffington Post, 2012