Fall is here with all of its perks, including the start of a brand-new NFL season. Football fans are dusting off their old jerseys and purchasing their season tickets.
However, a new breed of the game is showing up and football fever is sweeping both hardcore football heads and newbies. Fantasy football is in season and drafts everywhere have been completed as this online sensation takes over the nation.
What is fantasy football and why is America crazy about it?
Wilfred Winkenbach and some friends, who had ties to the public relations department of the Oakland Raiders, created fantasy football in 1962. The rules and scoring they developed ended up being the basis for the fantasy football everyone plays today.
The first round-robin fantasy football league wasn’t played until 1988, but it used many of the same regulations that Winkenbach came up with in 1962.
Fantasy football consists of drafting players by position and predicting which players will have a good game that week.
You then set your lineup based on who you project to have a better week and then watch the game, while an app like ESPN Fantasy or NFL tracks your players’ stats.
Players earn points for different feats they achieve during the course of the game. Yards, catches, rushes, touchdowns and even field goals all translate into points that add to your total, which ultimately decides whether you win or lose against an opponent.
Fantasy football can be played competitively or for fun and it’s great for new players because the learning curve is small and the players do all the work for you.
Some tournaments can be played for a big cash reward, where everyone has a $20 buy-in and the winner gets all the spoils.
“It motivates you,” says avid fantasy football player DJ Aguilar. “There’s a lot of people who say they want to play fantasy football but after a couple of weeks they stop checking their team and stop setting their lineup.”
“But when money is on the line? When you know there’s a chance you can win $280, you’re going to know who the sleepers are. You’re going to check the waiver wire,” Aguilar said.
Over the last couple of years, fantasy football has become an online phenomenon, pulling in over 32 million users in the United States in 2013, according to the NFL’s website.
Fantasy football gives fans more interest in each game because they’re not just rooting for the local team, or even their favorite team. They’re paying attention to every player on their team, furiously tracking their stats and screaming as players make it to the end zone.
Not only does fantasy football make football more exciting, it can also end up teaching newcomers more about the actual sport.
“I wanted to play mainly because I had never played before and I thought it would be fun. I also thought I could learn a little something about the sport,” says CSU-Pueblo freshman Lavinia Bispo.
Perhaps the best part about fantasy football is that it’s never too late to join. It doesn’t matter that the season has already started, or a couple games have been played. Anyone can log in to NFL.com or ESPN.com to start a free fantasy draft now.